Sea of Thieves

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Sea of Thieves Game Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Pirate sim promotes teamwork but has unmonitored chat.

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 10 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 39 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Encourages teamwork, strong camaraderie among groups of up to four players (whatever benefits one member benefits all members). Fosters friendship, social bonding as players share memorable, unexpected experiences.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Typical pirate behavior, including treasure hunting, thievery, drinking. Players can choose to attack and/or steal treasure from rival crews.

Ease of Play

Straightforward controls make it easy to select, use items, weapons. Sailing is a bit tricky, but crew members tend to teach each other the ropes. The bigger, more social the crew, the easier the voyage.


Players use pistols, rifles, swords to attack human-controlled pirates, computer-controlled skeletons. No blood, gore; defeated skeletons disappear among clattering bones, while defeated pirates go to Davy Jones' locker before respawning. Ship-to-ship combat involves cannon fire, explosive barrels.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Player characters can imbibe "grog," inducing drunken state that involves staggering, belching, vomiting. It's used as a humor device; being drunk is detrimental to all other activities, from moving around to reading maps.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Sea of Thieves is a cooperative multiplayer game that simulates the life of a golden age pirate. Players -- friends and/or strangers -- band together in groups of two to four to sail ships on treasure hunting voyages, where they sometimes encounter skeleton enemies and other human crews that they can fight using guns, swords, and cannon fire. There's no blood or gore; skeletons disappear in a clattering of bones, while defeated humans are banished to Davy Jones' locker as they wait to respawn. Playing as pirates means players spend most of their time looting and fighting, but the team-oriented play strongly encourages communication and teamwork and can help build friendships. Parents should also note that player characters can drink "grog," causing them to become intoxicated, which results in staggering, belching, and vomiting. It's used as a humor device rather than a means of powering up.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byMartymicfly March 27, 2019

Great game! But a little less Grog would be nice...

This game is great! Being a pirate is amazing, battles are a riot, sword fights are epic, and sailing/manning your boat is challenging. All of these components... Continue reading
Adult Written byAsherRoseman May 10, 2019

A revival of a game.

This game launched with minimal content, but they've completely revitalized over the last couple of months. They've added a campaign, and a new Arena,... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byItsBlueVenom September 21, 2020

Awesome Xbox exclusive game with lots of content

Sea of thieves is an awesome Xbox exclusive game where you play as a pirate that you can chooses when you first start, your pirate can be chosen by generating i... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byUsernameIsName September 22, 2019

Pirate simulator 2018

Sea of thieves is a "pirate simulator" where you sail the seas with up to three buddies gathering and selling treasure for gold, if players use text... Continue reading

What's it about?

SEA OF THIEVES aspires to give us the power to live out our greatest pirate fantasies. Players band together in groups of two to four (you can also play alone, but it makes things significantly harder) to form a seagoing crew. The team votes on a voyage, identifies its goal on a map, and then sets about raising and angling sails while navigating a sloop or galleon toward the objective. You may encounter other player-controlled ships along the way, which could lead to seafaring combat likely to involve cannon fire, patching hull holes with planks, and bailing water with a bucket. Once you've arrived at your destination, you'll drop anchor and head ashore, find the location where X marks the spot, pull out a shovel, and begin digging for treasure -- keeping an eye out for angry skeletons, poisonous snakes, and any additional supplies or loot that might be scattered around the island. Treasure in hand, you'll head to the nearest outpost to trade it for gold -- which can be spent on gear and items to make your pirate stand out -- and to increase your pirate reputation so that you can purchase more perilous (and rewarding) treasure hunting voyages.

Is it any good?

It's best to go into this entertaining teamwork-building pirate adventure without any expectations. That's because Sea of Thieves doesn't play like your typical online game. It's not about growing your pirate avatar into a powerful character with peerless skills and invincible gear -- veterans and rookies can play and voyage together with virtually no difference in their abilities, save the senior player's experience -- instead, it's about sharing an adventure with friends. The best parts come when players are calling out to each other over their headsets in a joint effort to accomplish an objective, whether it's the crew member in the crow's nest saying she sees a galleon with masts raised on the horizon or someone else excitedly announcing his shovel has hit wood. It's an extremely team-oriented experience, with everyone working toward and sharing in the same goals, rewards, and failures. And once a voyage is finished, players won't necessarily be talking about the loot they acquired or what they spent their gold on, but rather anecdotes about the time they cooperated to perform an anchor-assisted 180-degree turn to come about on another ship, spied a shipwreck and dove into the sea to find a glowing skull, or stood together on the bow to witness a shimmering sunset creating a sea of sparkles (water has never looked prettier in a game).

Still, this might not be to everyone's taste. There's a sense of progress -- mostly to do with reputation -- but it's not what veteran gamers might expect. And while play is wonderfully emergent and filled with unscripted events and surprises, a lack of variety in voyage types and settings carries with it a real risk of repetition. Players in it for the long haul won't be returning day after day and week after week to discover new loot and gear, but rather to enjoy a social experience with friends (or strangers). If that sounds like the sort of game you want to play, then unfurl your sails and get ready for a terrific simulation of life as a pirate.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about maintaining online safety when playing a game like Sea of Thieves. What are some warning signs that you might be playing with strangers who are up to no good?

  • Talk about the golden age of piracy. Is there anything to be admired about real-world pirates, or did they live only despicable lives of crime, looting, pillaging, and murder?

Game details

  • Platforms: Windows, Xbox One
  • Price: $59.99
  • Pricing structure: Paid (Note that this game is also included in Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass subscription service.)
  • Available online? Available online
  • Developer: Microsoft Studios
  • Release date: March 20, 2018
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Topics: Adventures, Ocean Creatures, Pirates
  • ESRB rating: T for Crude Humor, Use of Alcohol, Violence
  • Last updated: June 19, 2019

Our editors recommend

For kids who love socializing

Themes & Topics

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