Now we know how we’ll spend our time in Sea Of Thieves
Rare opens up on its progression systems and how you’ll make yourself a pirate legend
Before now, Rare has been talking in vague terms about exactly how we’ll be spending our time playing Sea of Thieves when the massively multiplayer pirate sim launches on Xbox One and PC, but finally it has placed its cards on the table, and we’re impressed with the ideas it has brought forward. The promise of building your own pirate legend and having a multiplayer experience that is open and customisable remains intact.
Up until now we’ve known that treasure hunting and skeleton pirate fighting would take up much of our time, but exactly how, why and when these things would come into play, how they were initiated, remained something of a mystery. It turns out that Sea of Thieves has its own economic system through a series of Trading Companies, each of which have specific interests and tasks for you to complete. It’s these companies who will give you quests and missions to embark upon, earning you rewards specific to that company. First we have the Gold Hoarders, whose interests are fairly self-explanatory. They will give you keys to treasure chests lost around the world or riddles pointing in their direction with the promise of big rewards if you return the chests to them.
The Merchant Alliance are traders, and they earn their coin in more traditional ways. For this company you’ll be asked to transport goods (animals, barrels full of explosives) across the treacherous seas, either to their purchaser or back to the company. As with everything else in Sea of Thieves that you might store on your ship, it can be stolen by other crews or destroyed in battle, so protecting your shipment is allimportant. Some of these missions will also have time limits attached to them, encouraging you to stay on course and navigate the seas
as best you can (do you plough through the thunderstorm ahead or navigate around?).
Lastly we have the Order of Souls, who are our mystical traders. What they want are the souls of fallen pirates, but thankfully (at least for the moment) that doesn’t mean the souls of other players in the game, but of the skeleton crews you’ll meet around the world. Bring back the skulls of these undead seadogs and you’ll be given rewards. We’ve seen already that some of these crews now hold fortresses on islands around the world, so taking out some of them may prove to be quite a challenge.
And what do you get for your troubles? Well, gold for starters, which you can then spend on various resources and cosmetic items at stores at ports around the map, but also company-specific items. As you progress with each company your standing with them will increase and they’ll give you clothing and cosmetic items for your vessel that will tell the world that you have built up a reputation with that faction. As you sail the high seas you’ll be showing off how well you’ve done with the Order Of Souls or Merchant Alliance through the way your ship and your pirate look. New weapons and items will also become available through these quests, and they should get tougher and more rewarding as you go.
However, while there’s a reputation system with each company, there is no official levelling system for each player in Sea of Thieves. That means that when a company gives you a mission you can take it to your crew and you can all venture out on that quest, regardless of how long they’ve been playing or how far along they are personally with that faction. You throw your parchment on the captain’s table on the ship and everybody can see what it entails and what the rewards are likely to be. Then you each get to vote on what to do next and the mission with the most votes can be clearly seen and accepted by the crew. That said, you could just shout everyone else down and demand they go on your mission. That’s probably fine too. Sea of Thieves really isn’t trying to enforce too much structure on to how you go about playing the game.
Rare has said from the start that it wants players to create their own stories and for the game to become a living, breathing space for events to happen, rather than having a narrative driven by the studio. All of the systems and tools put in place right now look to be honouring that commitment. Thank goodness we don’t have much longer to wait.
“YOU’LL BE SHOWING OFF HOW WELL YOU’VE DONE WITH THE ORDER OF SOULS OR MERCHANT ALLIANCE THROUGH THE WAY YOUR SHIP AND YOUR PIRATE LOOK.”
working as a four-player crew is easily the best way to enjoy playing Sea of Thieves, but now we know that it really doesn’t matter how long someone has been playing for them to join you and share your adventures, that makes finding candidates a lot simpler. there’s no barrier for crew entry unless you choose to enforce one.
right: no matter how many times we play Sea of Thieves we can’t get over how amazing the ocean looks and how well the water physics interact with the ship. Rare was always going to have to do a lot of work in this area, but it deserves a great deal of credit for how much it adds to the experience.