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

Games TM - - CONTENTS -

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.


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.

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