It's hard to know where to start this Review. I first played Sea of Thieves back in September, 2018. While I had a good amount of fun messing around with my friends and having a good time, I found the game back then a little lacking and a little harder than it should be to pick up controls.
2 years later, this game has improved massively. I've really managed to delve into this with such ease now and I'm still having a lot of fun grinding this. I'll try and break this down into categories to be as thorough as possible.
Gameplay: This for the most part I've found completely serviceable. Once you get the hang of where everything is accessible it becomes second nature to control and navigate your character across the seven seas.
Combat is a very mixed bag for me. Most enemies you encounter on land are manageable at least and depending on server lag a moderate challenge. I feel like when it comes to other players, it really comes down more to chance because of how simplified the controls are in this instance.
Naval wise this game is where it really shines. I found that combat on a ship is fun and rewarding no matter what your fighting. I often will cut out of a voyage if I see something that would be worth attacking.
When it comes to actually progression, especially in relation to achievements, this game could be considered overly grinding. Maybe even punishing. This can be slightly helped by becoming an emissary but I still feel like it might be something that should be balanced.
Social: This game is built around the idea of playing with other people and for the most part this game succeeds in making that feel like a natural part of the game. Playing with others really make this game feel more rewarding. I do think that at times Rare may have made this unbalanced for people that prefer to play solo or would rather sail in separate crews, as while it is entirely possible, does make some things next to impossible in-game to complete.
Narrative: Overall, the game doesn't have an incredibly visible story but traversing between islands and talking to NPC's make you aware at how rich the backstory Rare have made in this game. It's intriguing and if you are following the commendations available, even possibly rewarding. The addition of Tall Tales and other story based voyages have definitely improved this as well.
Graphics: This game really shows to me that you don't have to be a AAA game to be beautiful. The style they chose for this game is incredible and works very well for this genre, especially the customisation. I feel like every asset they made for this game had a lot of thought put into it and was lovingly crafted.
I'd also like to say separately that the ocean is absolutely gorgeous in this game and quite possibly the best looking water I have seen this generation.
Audio: This game sounds beautiful, being one of the ones I'm currently using Dolby Atmos on, it feels incredibly immersive. The music is a great accessory and frequently makes me pull out an instrument to start playing Shanties. Most NPC characters are pretty serviceable if not repetitive.
Technical: From this standpoint, I really feel like the overall stability of the servers on this game are mixed. Loading in always feels like a 50/50 on whether or not it'll be Good, Manageable or Terrible. It can really impact how combat with enemies works as I mentioned in the gameplay section. Other than that I don't find many issues with the game itself that don't seem to because of Server issues.
Value: If you are a valued user of Xbox Game Pass then this game is definitely worth a shot. If you're not then I would still say to try it. At it's current retail and with its free updates and drastically improved content, you would make worse purchases. I would fully recommend that you either know people who already have this or are willing to find people once you start playing as solo work can often take away its worth.