Sea of Thieves

Videogame piracy is more fun than ever, writes An­drew White­head

Hyper - - EDITORIAL -

Buck­ing the re­cent trend in videogame trail­ers re­ly­ing on maudlin cover songs play­ing over slowed-down game footage, Rare chose to ac­tu­ally show Sea of Thieves be­ing played by real peo­ple. Real, overly ex­citable peo­ple. They wanted you to see gamers ad­ven­tur­ing with friends in a mas­sive open world. Hav­ing a few laughs, get­ting pissed, fall­ing into the ocean, be­ing left for dead. Typ­i­cal pi­rate stuff.

“[Sea of Thieves is] all about you and your friends go­ing on adventures to­gether in an emer­gent shared world,” says Rare Stu­dio Head Craig Dun­can. “You’ll see other sails on the hori­zon and you’ll know – be­cause ev­ery pi­rate in the world is a player – if you see an­other ship that’s an­other ship crewed by real play­ers.”

The ba­sic idea is you’re a pi­rate with a ship, in an un­charted world, and while you can go it alone, there’s more than a slight nudge that you should ask for help with man­ag­ing you sails, can­nons and steer­ing.

Be­cause it’s still in de­vel­op­ment, Rare wasn’t quite ready to show off all as­pects of the game, so I can’t say how the guns or swords will work in com­bat. But rest as­sured you’ll be board­ing en­emy ships blun­der­buss mus­kets blaz­ing when Sea of Thieves is ready for mar­ket. An­other as­pect still be­ing tin­kered with is the con­se­quences of death and how to make dy­ing a mean­ing­ful event with­out it feel­ing like a mas­sive set back. Quite the plank-walk.

One thing that has been con­firmed is the in­clu­sion of sea shanties. Any­one can whip out an in­stru­ment and get the party started while oth­ers come along and fol­low their lead. The game has heaps of lit­tle team-build­ing tasks, like search­ing for loot and re­pair­ing the ship dur­ing an at­tack, all of which are part of Rare’s plan to fos­ter emer­gent so­cial sit­u­a­tions to bond over.

“We’re cre­at­ing this world and we’ll hand it over to the play­ers then let them do what they want to do,” says Lead Designer Mike Chap­man. “The thing we keep say­ing is be the pi­rate that you want to be. That’s a big thing for us.” The de­vel­op­ers were keen to point out Sea of Thieves fea­tures a fully hand­crafted world with some pro­ce­dural el­e­ments lay­ered into the game to keep long-term play­ers on their toes. They also want to make a shared world for all play­ers, but not an over­crowded one. “We don’t want ships ev­ery­where,” adds Dun­can. “And if you go on an is­land, we don’t want there to be hun­dreds of peo­ple there al­ready. We want ev­ery time you see a sail on the hori­zon to be a mo­ment.” Sea of Thieves is the type of game I can see friends – par­tic­u­larly those who may not have the re­flexes for shoot­ers and the like – band­ing to­gether to play. Gath­er­ing a small group of pi­rate on a ships, ex­plor­ing a newly dis­cov­ered is­land, singing songs and fight­ing krak­ens. It sounds like a pretty good way to spend a night on­line, me hearties. Best prep your best pi­rate di­alect.


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