We didn’t really know what to do. I hadn’t touched Sea of Thieves in nearly a year and they’d never played it before—salted pirates we were not. Our sea legs came quickly as our ship ran a little too ashore during our first treasure hunting quest. The island in question, Shipwreck Bay, was a small chunk of sand that punched up through the ocean in between some ominous rock faces that jut out a little too high out of those fathomless depths. After patching our hull, we took to land in search of treasure. We drove our swords through a few skeletons, dug up our treasure, and decided to make our way back to port. It was pretty easy. We were excited!
Sea of Thieves is special because it affords players two very different types of experiences: structured leveling that gives way to some rather intense PvP play or fucking about with your friends as you stumble your collective way into weird discoveries, danger, and high adventure. We engaged in the latter. The game was more or less a platform in which we could just get together and talk, but then we stumbled upon a meme. That was the turning point.
If you know Sea of Thieves and/or the painfully low bar for videogame and videogame-adjacent humor, then you probably know about the banana cronch meme—I won’t explain it here because to do so means potentially giving traffic to a video that features someone who really does not deserve to be seen. And I honestly don’t feel like typing that person’s name here. That being said, the meme that stemmed from Sea of Thieves found its way into the game. On a random island that our quest sent us to, there was a skeleton with a full banana—skin and all—in its mouth with some words scribbled around it. The joke came full circle, we saw it, we sighed and carried on. But after seeing that stupid skeleton with its stupid banana, our Sea of Thieves experience took a dark turn. We explored the island, grabbed the loot we needed, stashed it below deck and raised anchor.
As we navigated the crosswinds back to port, another ship broke the horizon. Was it a player ship or a skeleton ship? The answer to that question came all too fast as the ship careened towards us, and in doing so revealed itself to be a skeleton ship. Then it let loose with all of its cannons. We scrambled. My friend started firing our cannons at them, and I tried navigating us into safer water. The situation was nothing more than a minor annoyance until a lucky (for the skeletons) cannonball hit my player square in the face while I was piloting our ship. Respawning back into Sea of Thieves takes a few minutes and I left my partner to fend for themselves while my screen loaded. Turns out, we’d both get used to dying and respawning during the following minutes. My UI was no longer visible after I respawned and thus I couldn’t navigate my inventory to grab wood to repair our hull. So as our swiss-cheesed ship filled with water, I just bailed it out of the ship for minute after minute. The skeleton ship refused to leave us be, and after a time, I noticed something breaking the surface of the water behind us—a chitinous dorsal fin and a big one at that. Oh, great…a sea monster! We did our best to escape the trailing best and the tenacious skeleton crew. Eventually, we somehow made our way back to port.
Our poor sloop was still full of water, but it was not from the holes in the ship. Those had been repaired by my friend whose UI, luckily, was still showing up for them. The water sloshing around the deck was from the colossal storm that poured down on us when we were on our final approach to port, to safety. Grabbing all of our loot and turning it in led us to breathe a collective sigh of relief. Someway, somehow we made it. Sea of Thieves gave me one of the most rewarding and fun cooperative gaming experiences I’ve ever had in games, and that is something I’ve been longing for. While I still do not understand almost anything about this game, I can confidently say that it is the best time I’ve ever had on the (virtual) high seas.