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

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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.

Sea dogs

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.”

Start­ing out

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.

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