Is It An MMO? #8 — Sea Of Thieves Lacks The "Massive" Part, But Makes Up For It With Vibes

Do the numbers really matter if the MMO feeling is still there in Rare's shared-world, pirate-themed, action-adventure game?

Matthew D'Onofrio
By Matthew D'Onofrio, News Editor

sea of thieves multiplayer

The characterization of a massively multiplayer online game, or MMO, is self-explanatory. Or is it? By definition, it means a large number of players on the same server — hundreds, thousands — and a big open world that continues to evolve. So does Sea of Thieves, Rare’s action-adventure game, hold the candle?

In case you weren’t aware, Sea of Thieves is set in an open-world environment where players can explore a vast sea, islands, and interact with others in real-time. Everyone is a pirate — with a first-person perspective to boot. They can sail ships, engage in naval combat, search for treasure, and embark on quests. The game has both cooperative and competitive gameplay elements, and players can form alliances or battle against each other to claim loot.

sea of thieves ships

What’s interesting about Sea of Thieves is there’s flat out no progression. Besides faction ranks and skins, characters do not get stronger over time. There’s no leveling up, or even crafting. So it’s not an RPG, that’s for sure. But the game does feel like an MMO at times, even though it’s not labeled as such.

Sea of Thieves features a shared world, meaning that players will encounter other crews of players during their adventures. In fact, the game is designed to be played with a crew of up to four players, and each player takes on a specific role on the ship — like steering, navigating, or manning the cannons. Sea of Thieves even goes as far as encouraging players to form alliances, as well as giving the option to betray and backstab. Players can steal loot from each other, attack each other's ships, and engage in high-stakes battles. There’s even full-loot PvP, meaning a player will lose all their treasure if the ship they were sailing is sunk.

sea of thieves fishing

A single server in the game used to hold up to six crews, but that number dropped down to five last year. Still, a maximum of 16 players may be active in the same instance. That number isn’t exactly “massive,” but it’s still more than Destiny 2 — “an action MMO” that allows only up to 12 players out in the field.

So, in conclusion, do the numbers really matter if the MMO feeling is still there? Maybe to an extent, but some MMOs are so dead nowadays that you would be lucky to see 15 other players while out adventuring. Plus, games like Sea of Thieves that utilize servers and instances have it so that encountering others is opposed to “true” MMOs that have worlds so large that their player base is spread too thin if the population isn’t big enough.

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In this article: Sea of Thieves, Rare.

About the Author

Matthew D'Onofrio
Matthew D'Onofrio, News Editor

Matthew “dinofries” D'Onofrio is a writer, content creator, podcaster and — most importantly — a gamer. With such a strong passion for video games and a severe case of FOMO, it's no surprise he always has his finger on the pulse of the gaming world. On the rare occasion Matt's away from a screen, you'll find him strumming away on his acoustic guitar or taking care of his cat Totoro.

More Stories by Matthew D'Onofrio

Discussion (1)

Flintstone 11 months ago
no its not a mmo.
its a small group game a SGG :)

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