Sea of Thieves
Videogame piracy is more fun than ever, writes Andrew Whitehead
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.
EVERY PIRATE IN THE WORLD IS A PLAYER, WICH MEANS IF YOU SEE ANOTHER SHIP, THAT’S ANOTHER SHIP CREWED BY REAL PLAYERS