Open-world sandbox action-adventure game Sea of Thieves released onto Xbox One and PC this week. Despite garnering a million players already, the newest game from legendary developer Rare released to middling reviews, currently sitting at a less than impressive 71 on Metacritic.
In combination to the lackluster critical response -- and juxtaposing it's explosive start -- is the divisive chatter around the game. Across social media and forums, there's a mix between people really enjoying the pirate adventure, and others who have pointed out the game's repetitive nature and apparent lack of content.
One critique of the game comes from none other than a former Rare employee and artist on the game, Rob Beddall, who recently took to Reddit to provide his take on the new release, and perhaps air some built-up grievances.
According to Beddall, many of the critiques that have been launched at the game since its release, were launched long before it by some Rare employees, who “voiced their concerns that the game was insanely repetitive and shallow.”
“I worked on this game for over 2 years,” Rob Beddall wrote “A lot of internal people voiced their concerns that the game was insanely repetitive and shallow. This was about a year ago before I left. I guess nothing has changed. I’ve been waiting a year for this day and the shit storm that would hit once everyone realized they had been sold half a game. I’m gonna sit back with a few beers and watch the story unfold.”
Beddall continued, saying the following when asked by a user if Rare was blocking criticism:
“I think they probably chose to ignore it yes, “ wrote Beddall. “After each organised playtest session we were encouraged to give feedback on the experience. We would play for around 45 minutes to an hour each time. Perhaps once a week. After the first few sessions, people in our barn (Rare is split into 4 wings of offices they call Barns) were finding any excuse not to play... because we weren't bug hunting and such, but expected to play the game as a average player would, it just got very boring very quickly. Admittedly, the first few sessions were hilarious... but the experience wore thin very quickly. I always thought that the initial Unity prototype that was developed along side the unreal version at the beginning was more fun.
Elsewhere on the thread, Beddall provided further insight into the game's development:
“All I can say is that the plans and ideas for the game were bigger than what was released but there were never any solid plans on extra game mechanics,” he wrote in another post. “For instance there were originally 7 different zones I think but that was cut down to 3. The main game loop has always been the same though. Personally I was hoping for dungeons and raids and such but that has never been a thing. My worry would be that it’s taken [Rare] 4 years or so to produce what’s there. Which isn’t a lot in terms of variety.
“The main pirate ship was constantly being worked on the whole time I was there. That’s 2 years for 1 asset. It became a bit of a joke among us. Personally I think they need to be a bit more relaxed and not be so anal about perfection if they’re going to release DLC. Otherwise there’s just not going to be enough content.”
Further, Beddall shed light on the game's early design, revealing numerous things that didn't make it into the final product:
“The original idea was that it was a buddy adventure. Like the kids movies the devs grew up with. Where 4 friends or so would be pulled out of their ordinary life and go on some wild adventure. I think that initial idea was awesome and had so much potential. We were even taken on an outing near the beginning of the project to watch The Goonies at a privately rented cinema with free beer to get a feel for what the game had to FEEL like when you played it. I absolutely believe that they had all the best intentions of making a truly awesome game. I personally just feel that they spent too much time on the tiny details rather than adding content.”
“I’m not sure if they made it into the final game but in the prototype you could steal other players ships, and you could set ships on fire … often accidentally by trying to cook food. It was a blast.”
"Funny anecdote, even after working on it for 2 years or so.. there were still a lot of people who were working on it that wouldn't have been able to tell you what the actual game was... or was going to be. It never seemed like a solid idea.”
In the thread, Beddall clarifies that he doesn't think Sea of Thieves is a bad game, but rather that it just has issues. Further, he went on to say that many of the folk at Rare worked very hard on the product, despite at times not knowing what exactly they were working on or where it was going.
All that said, one question still lingers: is Beddall is making this all up and is he actually a former employee of Rare? Well for starters, given the incredible insights and specific anecdotes Beddall provided, he would have to be a heck of a liar with a lot of time on his hands to conjure up such a tale. But both of those are possible, especially on the Internet.
However, Stevivor (who first reported on the story) notes that it confirmed his identity. But hey, maybe they got it wrong. If you're still skeptical, you don't need to look any farther than Beddall's Artstation resume to see that he indeed worked on Sea of Thieves for three years, with multiple pieces of concept art to boast. The resume also notes that before his time at Rare, Beddall was notably the lead artist on Worms Battlegrounds (which has been confirmed as well).2comments
Rare and Microsoft have yet to provide any comments on the matter.