sEA OF tHIE VES
Even more rum than the OXM new year’s party
“To me, Sea Of Thieves is basically every pirate show or every pirate film you’ve ever seen that you can actually play,” claims executive producer, Joe Neate, on one of Rare’s illuminating development vlogs. “You can be immersed in – and you can be – the pirate you want. I think that’s the promise of the game for me.”
That’s not the sort of promise Team OXM lets you walk back on, unless you fancy walking the plank. Luckily, Rare’s nautical MMO looks set to deliver the essential pirate adventure we’ve always dreamed of. It’s by far the most ambitious project the studio has ever embarked on (no offence Grabbed By The Ghoulies), allowing you and your friends to steer a ship across multiplayer oceans, seeking treasure, causing chaos and terrorising the high seas. But only if you know how to work together.
“Our philosophy when designing the ship was focused on creating compelling cooperative mechanics that could bond players together,” says Mike Chapman, lead designer. “Working together and sailing the ship cooperatively just feels completely natural. A great example of that is the wind in the game, which is this dynamic force within the world that players can take advantage of by raising and lowering their sails, and angling them into the wind. We consciously avoided things like crosshairs on screen because we wanted you to feel like you were on the deck, right there in the action.” Early footage shows a remarkably clean HUD, bar the names hovering over other players. Otherwise it’s a crisp, clean cel-shaded pirate fantasy. Endless summer, the game.
“We’ve had so many great play sessions at Rare where we’ve been adventuring on an island,” Chapman adds. “We’ve seen another ship, we’ve all dashed back, we’ve got on the anchor together, we’ve worked together on the sails to angle them into the wind, and it’s moments like that where you’re all working together where you really feel like you are part of a crew.”
But what if we don’t want to help angle the sails or drop the anchor, or even polish off the rum? What if we’re just here to jam with the band? “Pirates classically sing shanties when they’re sailing together, and we wanted to put instruments in, in a way that is light-hearted and fun and fits the tone,” says senior designer, Shelly Preston. “We wanted instruments that were pirate themed.” “The closer you get to another ship, you’re just going to hear that music getting louder and louder. So it allows players to create their own soundtracks and influence the mood of the crew – for example, playing a really spooky song when night falls and you’re entering a misty area. If someone is already playing a shanty with the hurdy-gurdy and I start playing my concertina, I’ll dynamically join in with what they’re playing.” “One of the most memorable experiences for me,” says Andrew Preston, another senior designer “was when we were all sailing into battle and we were all playing Ride Of The Valkyries while trying to catch up to another ship.” Pirate-themed Apocalypse Now, only less philosophising on the moral pitfalls of man, more intense accordion playing? We’re already jigging to its salty beat. All hands on deck for the multiplayer event of 2017.
“The closer you get to another ship, you’re just going to hear that music get louder”
It’s got everything you could ever expect from a pirate adventure: storms, seabeasts and shanties! above