You may not finish all five Pirates of the Caribbean-themed Tall Tales, but the first one is worth playing, with or without a crew
Sea of Thieves: A Pirate’s Life makes a great first impression, even as someone who’s been away from the base game for well over a year and isn’t particularly attached to the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. But free is free, and I had to see the new crossover story for myself — the first chunk, at least. If you’re on the fence, I recommend doing the same.
First off, it’s worth noting that A Pirate’s Life could be your first experience with Sea of Thieves period (outside of the tutorial) and you’d be fine. As Chris detailed in his guide, starting the Pirates of the Caribbean questline is pretty simple, and there’s even a main menu listing to spawn you into the world in the precise spot needed to get everything underway. From there, you’ll hop in your ship, sail into a portal, and enter a distinct story-driven zone in which you won’t need to worry about rival players wrecking your fun.
The first Tall Tale, A Pirate’s Life, plays out like a walking tour — with light puzzle-solving and platforming — through a moody theme park-inspired area. It’s so cool.
Whether you’ve recently been on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride or you’ve gone on it at some point in your young life (you think), you’ll surely recognize narrated snippets (“Dead men tell no tales“), the iconic catchy music, and even some familiar set decorations.
Rare nailed the atmosphere in every facet, and for folks who haven’t spent a lot of time up close with Sea of Thieves, the studio’s craftsmanship here will be even more impressive.
Gameplay-wise, the mission gets a bit more interesting when the cave corridors open up into a mini hub. There’s a chatty skeleton in a suspended cage in the middle of the area, and you’re free to poke around for secrets and find a meandering way up to rescue him. Once you do, you’ll carry the captain’s skull around and eventually climb up a barely-still-standing tower to summon the Ferryman’s ship. I can’t get enough of this visual design.
Without oversharing story specifics, once aboard the ghostly vessel, it won’t be much longer before you meet Jack Sparrow and start blasting away at a rival ship.
Again, for new players especially, even if they’re going it alone, this is a nice little combat tutorial without it feeling too forced. You have all the supplies you need to load and fire cannons, take out otherworldly foes with your sword or pistol who clamber aboard, and munch on food to heal up. For this sequence, you don’t have to worry about steering the ship or protecting Jack, or anything like that. It’s a smooth on-ramp. I shook off my rust.
A Pirate’s Life took me over an hour to complete, and that’s just one of five Tall Tales.
I also dug into the second mission, The Sunken Pearl, which feels more like the traditional open-ocean Sea of Thieves experience in that you’ll sail out to a conspicuous marker in the sky and need to adjust for the changing winds along the way. Once there, you’ll then dive down — way, way down — by following bits of wreckage until you reach the seafloor.
After finding a key item in the sunken Black Pearl, making sure to stay oxygenated every so often using bubble vents, you’ll engage in some on-foot puzzling and combat. The second Pirates of the Caribbean Tall Tale doesn’t feel quite as tight or directed as the first, but it’s still decent, doubly so if you enjoy Sea of Thieves‘ whole vibe on a lower-profile day.
Will I keep plugging away to finish Jack Sparrow’s arc? I’m not sure. Maybe with a crew.
As much as I feel like you can play this stuff alone and have a good time, the feeling was admittedly much stronger in the more linear and finely-tuned first Tall Tale. From the look of things past the second mission, the rest of the Pirates of the Caribbean campaign will be more enjoyable with at least one other shipmate, if not a full four-person crew.
Don’t let that stop you from diving into A Pirate’s Life, though — even if you only complete the first part, it’s worth your time. It’s a treat. I may have moved on from the wider Sea of Thieves experience after mostly getting my fill of the game earlier in its lifecycle, but I’m glad I showed up again. I wonder how Rare might try to top this; it won’t be easy.
If you’ve got Xbox Game Pass, queue this up!