One of my favourite things about video games is exploration.
I love the feeling of being transported to somewhere unfamiliar and given a new world to discover. Not knowing what lies in store over that mountain in the distance, or who I’m going to meet on on my way there, pulls me in every time.
This is why I always find myself returning to The Elder Scrolls Online (ESO). I’ll suddenly decide to stop logging in after several weeks of playing little else but will then go straight back to it again a few months later. I’ve now spent over 35 hours with a new wood elf character since getting bitten by the bug again in July, and there’s no sign of it stopping yet.
It isn’t ESO I’d like to talk about today though but another game I was initially drawn to thanks to its exploration element. Sea of Thieves called out to me when it was released by Rare in March 2018 for two main reasons. First up was the setting: those blue waves, sandy white shores and shadowy caves spoke to my inner adventurer of long voyages and hidden secrets.
The second reason will come as no surprise to anyone who visits the blog occasionally. My fondness for the Monkey Island series definitely had something to do with the attraction. I’ve had a thing for wannabe pirates and fine leather jackets since playing the original point-and-click on my Amiga 500 as a kid in the 1990s. Sea of Thieves gave me the opportunity to step into that world for an evening by becoming a swashbuckler intent on making their fortune out on the sea.
You can therefore imagine my excitement when I saw June’s announcement trailer revealing that The Legend of Monkey Island was coming to Sea of Thieves. In this crossover, a new arrival at the Outposts is seeking help in hunting down Guybrush Threepwood after his disappearance while sailing. Players travel to Mêlée Island via the Sea of the Damned where the hapless buccaneer is now revered as a legendary pirate of unparalleled talent. There’s clearly something very wrong…
I obviously wanted to play The Legend of Monkey Island when it was released last month. But there was a small problem: my previous experience with Sea of Thieves hadn’t gone well. Everything was fine while completing the Maiden Voyage tutorial, which gave me exactly what I wanted from the game in the form of beautiful beaches, tranquil waterfalls and the promise of treasure. If the rest of the title had been similar, it would have had a shot at making it onto my favourites list.
Friend-of-the-blog Phil then joined me and our first hour together was great. I have to admit that he did most of the work while we sailed, despite me trying to help where I could and not get in the way. We made it to a spot marked on our map and set out to find some treasure on a small island (after I was momentarily distracted by how cute the snakes were, and then ended up chasing a pig). The good news was that we eventually managed to find what we were looking for. The bad was that we also found other players.
A team of four ambushed us and knocked me down repeatedly, waiting to immediately do it again each time I respawned. I knew Sea of Thieves was a competitive multiplayer but I hadn’t realised just how relentless it would be. I gave up trying to defend myself after Phil raised our white flag and they ignored it, killing me six times in a row. The initial enjoyment of sailing in our boat, discovering islands and even being crushed by a massive Kraken sunk below the waves, along with my desire to continue playing.
The game was uninstalled from our Xbox One that night and I hadn’t returned to it since. But here it was again several years later, with an alluring promise of adventuring through Mêlée Island and meeting Guybrush. What was this Monkey Island fan to do? Thankfully, two good friends were on hand to form a pirate crew. Phil, along with Ellen from Strength in Sarcasm, offered to team up and carry my butt through The Legend of Monkey Island just so I could experience it.
The carrying wasn’t needed at first though. Because none of us had played Sea of Thieves in ages, we hadn’t realised that that this crossover was a Tall Tale – a longer quest focused on story, which took place in an instance without other players. This meant I could run around the island talking to non-player characters (NPCs) and solving puzzles free from the fear of getting repetitively attacked (and without Phil and Ellen feeling obliged to constantly watch my back).
It took us around four hours to complete last week, longer than the estimated two to three. Ellen’s love of jumping off the highest points she can find and my reaction to being on Mêlée Island delayed our progress somewhat. We behaved like kids that evening. Seeing one of my favourite games from a completely different vantage, meeting Guybrush in a game rather than being him, and meeting a cast of familiar NPCs was enough to have me regressing back to that child in front of her Amiga.
Giving The Legend of Monkey Island a go is a must for anyone who adores the series like I do. Having the opportunity to see parts of locations previously hidden in the original 2D artwork and being able to walk all the way from one place to another in 3D is pretty amazing. Murray has always been my favourite character thanks to his positive mental attitude. It was therefore good to see him still upbeat and ready to take over the world, despite needing rescue from the Scumm Bar.
After reading about my previous experience with Sea of Thieves, you may be thinking that we logged off once this Tall Tale had been completed. But no: we stayed online and ended up also finishing one of the regular quests too. Knowing what to expect and being a little more organised meant we were successful this time around. With Phil steering our brigantine, me with my spyglass on the lookout for other players, and Ellen jumping out of the crow’s nest at every opportunity, we actually managed to retrieve and deliver the treasure.
We’re planning on returning again during our regular game night this week. Perhaps we’ll run into other players and I’ll be killed repeatedly again, but knowing what to expect now and being on a crew with supportive friends means I’m actually looking forward to it. I’m also really excited about the second instalment of The Legend of Monkey Island, hopefully releasing this month. There’s nothing quite like wielding a bottle of root beer and spraying ghost pirates into oblivion.
Yo ho ho and a bottle of cider for Ellen.