Sea of Thieves offers players a vibrant, cartoon world of stories big and small – but perhaps none of them are as significant as the tale of developer Rare itself. It’s hard to believe that Kinect projects aside, it’s been over nine years since we last saw a full game from the studio. Much has changed since then, with the studio’s reliance on custom, per-game engines replaced by a shift towards Unreal Engine 4. But this game is a title quite unlike any other built on the Epic middleware – Sea of Thieves is beautiful and unique.
From the moment you first begin your adventure it’s clear that Rare’s latest has a lot to offer visually. With its vast oceans, gorgeous cloud simulation and richly detailed islands, it’s an attractive game and it feels like the pre-release media never quite captured its essence. Its open world is hand-built but its rendering is dictated by procedurals to a large extent, from the dynamic time of day transitions and the often dramatic weather simulation through to the varying ocean conditions, there’s a light, cartoon style here powered by some serious maths.
We’ll take a closer look at the technical make-up of Sea of Thieves a little later on, but let’s get the rendering basics out of the way first. After lacking support throughout the entire beta run, Xbox One X functionality is baked into the final code, delivering a full 4K pixel count. Interestingly, the standard Xbox delivers 900p in its final form – a mere 17.4 per cent of the X’s rendering throughput, delivering a blurrier output than the pristine presentation of the enhanced console. It’s not an unattractive game on the standard Xbox by any means, but X is the place to be for the best experience.
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