The Big Story: sea of thieves
With Sea Of Thieves now ruling the Xbox One waves, we sit down to talk pirate lore with the creators of the official comic tie-in
It’s never easy building on the rich lore of a videogame in another, instantly passive, medium. Whether it’s offering new adventures for the characters you desperately love (or passionately despise), or introducing brand new ones to the fold, creating an expanded corner of a digital universe is quite the narrative mountain to climb. Especially so when the world you’re adding to is all about an oceanic sandbox driven by player stories and their own spontaneous piratical adventures.
Luckily for writer Jeremy Whitley and illustrator Rhoald Marcellius – the creators behind the new tie-in comic for Sea Of Thieves – developer Rare was more than willing to open up the vaults of its new pirate adventure. This meant that the team from Titan Comics were given the perfect inspiration to spin a new yarn in an exciting new universe of plunder, kraken and copious amounts of grog.
“Honestly, for me it was the ideal amount,” Whitley tells OXM, as we discuss how much collaboration there was between the legendary studio and the comic creators. “Rare made all of its information available, gave us a peek at a lot of the inside information, and best of all gave us a chance to play the game during closed testing. In short, for a world that’s not yet open to the public, they gave us every chance to see what it would be like and to understand the inner workings of the world.”
In fact, the freedom of its setting, and the narrative canvas the Twycross-based studio has built for the game, gave Whitley (who has written for Marvel’s The Unstoppable
Wasp and Thor Vs Hulk) plenty of room to flex his creative muscles. “Since so much of Sea Of Thieves is open for the players to make it the kind of story they want, there wasn’t a tight story that we had to stick to. It was more a question of creating a story and team of characters who could live and thrive in this world. They’ve given us direction where they needed it, but given us the freedom to make sure the comics are a new adventure in this fantastic universe,” he reveals.
However, as with any tie-in media, this comic faces the added challenge of creating something that expands the world for players who’ve already set sail across Sea Of Thieves’ virtual waves, as well as offering an engrossing introduction for readers who might want to make the jump of on-page panel to on-screen ocean. For Whitley, it was all about finding the right balance between the two.
“My biggest concern was that we make a story that could introduce the characters and the world while keeping the reader excited and on their toes,” he explains. “The world of Sea Of Thieves is so exciting and expansive we could spend years
running around and showing off all of the fun stuff there is to do there – but we wanted something that would pull readers in right away and give you the same sense of excitement we had playing the game. So the idea of making the first story a race between two crews that tied into the mythology of Sea Of Thieves seemed like the perfect way to start.”
Ocean colour scene
With issue one now on sale, and a longer run planned through 2018, there’s clearly plenty of potential for the comic series to take advantage of, including adding in the occasional secret that’ll help weave the comic and the game even closer (although you’re going to have to be paying extra close attention to spot them). “We’re not going to give away all of the game’s secrets, but there is sure to be a secret or two experienced players will end up recognising,” teases Whitley. “I’ll say for sure that if players see a group of strange figures milling about on a deserted island in the middle of the night, they might want to stay away.”
So we’ve covered potential narrative nuggets hidden in its pages, but will this new comic share any new characters with the game (and vice versa)? Turns out there will be a familiar face popping up in both, although Whitley says you’ll have to read the printed story itself to find out who that might be. “Interesting question,” he muses. “There is at least one character in the game who plays a part in the comics. As for whether the characters from the comic ever play a part in the game… that’s probably up to Rare, but I wouldn’t be opposed to it… if they live that long!”
If you’ve spent even the smallest amount of time in Sea Of Thieves, you’ll know pirate lore – and the legends that inform the way of life of these maritime thieves – plays a huge role in shaping the openoceans of its sandbox setting. The same looming stories and figures will shape the journey of the comic’s main characters, twins Lesedi and DeMarco Singh, whose father just so happens to be the most feared and revered reaver to ever… well, reave.
“I think in a way the comic is all about legends and legacy,” says Whitley. “Their father is a legend both well known and respected among pirates. Lesedi desperately wants to prove herself to be as great a pirate as her father was, while for DeMarco it’s more about making his own legend.
The Sea Of Thieves is a world full of legends, curses and mysteries, and our crew will be diving into all of them head first.”
The first issue, which introduces the wily Lesedi and the rogueish DeMarco, as well as their respective crews for the voyage ahead, is out now, but what can we expect from the ongoing stories of these particular sea-faring rapscallions? “So issue one is all about a bar fight,” says Whitley about the journey readers will be joining him for in future instalments. “Issue two gets into the real meat of what many players will love about Sea Of Thieves: combat on the high seas. We’ll be loading up cannons, jumping from ship to ship, and leaving some to a watery grave. This story is a race, so we’re going to be moving fast and not everybody will be making it through in one piece. I think our readers are in for a good time that will expand the fun they’ll be having playing Sea
Of Thieves. We’d love to keep telling stories and bringing legends to life.”
Sea Of Thieves issue 1 is on sale now, with more issues scheduled throughout 2018.
Above Issue one introduces the two crews we’ll be following on this adventure.
Left Eagle-eyed fans will be able to spot similarities between the comic and the game itself.