Even more rum than the OXM new year’s party

XBox: The Official Magazine - - START - Pub­lisher Mi­crosoft Stu­dios Devel­oper Rare

“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.

Salty sin­ga­long

“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

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