Ahoy me hearties! Drop the anchor and prepare to board, because Sea of Thieves is one ship you'll most certainly want to be on when it sails into our waters sometime during 2017 (pirate ships are slow, ok?).
Rare announced their latest project, 'Sea of Thieves', back at E3 2015; but what can we expect from this exciting new IP by the legendary developers of much loved titles such as Banjo-Kazooie, GoldenEye 007, and Kameo?
So What Will Our Journey Entail?
Sea of Thieves will have players exploring a treacherous, shared open world; seeking treasure, singing shanties, and battling rival crews on the high seas as you sink their ships and plunder their treasure! Not only that, but there are tales of a mysterious creature lurking in the deep, ready to drag even the most feared pirates to the murky depths of Davy Jones' locker...
Hoist The Main Sail And Raise The Anchor, We're Pirates Now!
Now what pirate adventure would be complete without a trusty pirate ship? None, that's the answer, because how the hell are you going to cross the ocean without one? Well not to worry, because Sea of Thieves will allow players and their crew of scurvy-ridden scallywags to sail their very own pirate galleon!
With their crew, players can take the helm of a huge pirate ship, plundering and pillaging with ease as they bombard enemy ships with an arsenal of devastating cannons! A good team of pirates will easily be able to take down rival ships, as one player captains the vessel whilst the rest fire the cannons, hoist the sails, and repair the ship after a barrage of enemy cannon balls.
A poorly coordinated team, on the other hand, will find themselves having a hard time staying afloat on the vast oceans of Sea of Thieves. If your team fails to communicate properly, or perhaps decides to stage a poorly timed mutiny during a battle, then you may be seeing the bottom of the ocean much sooner than you think. As cannon balls splinter your hull and your mighty vessel begins to take on water, your team must scramble to repair the damage, all whilst staving off the persistent enemy bombardment with returning cannon fire and agile movement. Without the team working together to do all of these things, your ship (or what's left of it) will disappear beneath the waves, never to be seen again.
However, Sea of Thieves will still be accessible and enjoyable for players who prefer to go it alone. I mean, at least it saves dividing up the treasure! For players who can't assemble a crew of salty sea dogs, there will be the ability to sail a smaller ship, allowing solo players or smaller groups to take to the high seas and plunder treasure to their hearts' content!
Though there is a cost to playing alone unfortunately, not to deter solo players, but to ensure that all players can enjoy the game in a way which is fair and balanced. Mike Chapman, lead designer of Sea of Thieves, talked about the game's approach to single player experiences in the shared open world. He said:
For us, we want to allow people to be the pirate they want to be. If you want to be the solitary pirate who sails around on a small, one-man ship, we want to allow you to do that.
However, he later followed up with:
It's better to play with other people, but I don't mean that mechanically. It makes sense in the world. If I have a bigger group, I can control a bigger ship. I can man more cannons. I can repair at the same time that someone is on the wheel. You're gonna be a little bit more limited when you're on your own, but not because we're limiting players.
This makes sense, in my opinion, as a small ship captained by one lone pirate would obviously stand no chance of surviving against the full arsenal of a pirate galleon.
After a busy day looting lost treasures and killing rival crews, a pirate wants to dock their ship, and visit a nice warm tavern where they can put up their feet and drink rum through the night with their pirate pals. Well in Sea of Thieves, players can do exactly that!
Visit the inn at the end of your pirating day and sit by the fire place with a flagon of grog, singing sea shanties and playing the accordion with your trusty crew (if pirates can be trusty). But if you stumble back to your ship afterwards, your vision blurring and your feet dizzily shuffling along the pier, just stay away from the ship's wheel. Sailing under the influence is never a good idea...
As well as visiting taverns, players will also find an abundance of activities to take part in on both land and sea. In an interview with Eurogamer, the design director for Sea of Thieves, Greg Mayles, said:
We know some players will be happy to sail around and have a good time, spot things like shipwrecks, go find washed up things on beaches to take advantage. But we also know many players will want some kind of known goals - who will want things to do and quests to go on.
He then went on to say:
There will be quests for treasures, quests for loot. Quests to take down bounties. You will be asked to track down shipwrecks. You will discover lost islands. But there won't be a grand, overarching story. That's because Rare wants Sea of Thieves players to craft their own, aided by the tools and activities which the game will provide.
So it seems that Sea of Thieves will aim to provide players with an impressive amount of content to enjoy, without including a linear storyline to follow during their time in the open world. This promotes exploration with or without friends, allowing players to make their own stories and chart their own course in a world packed with treasure to find, monsters to fight, and shipwrecks to plunder.
Personally, I'm cautiously optimistic about this storytelling direction, as No Man's Sky's non-linear approach to quests and exploration led to a game which was best described by one user's steam review, stating that the game was "A mile wide but only an inch deep". However, I hope that the world of Sea of Thieves can provide a rich experience for players who seek to bask in the lore of the world, even without the inclusion of an overarching linear story. This may be helped by the handcrafted world which Rare have created, packed with secrets to discover and a world of mystery to explore.
Kraken' Down On Piracy...
Nobody ever said that piracy was easy, and being a pirate in the world of Sea of Thieves will undoubtedly be a dangerous and unforgiving experience at times; especially thanks to a variety of enemies constantly seeking to cause your untimely demise.
On land, you may find yourself facing a group of undead skeletal pirates, trying to skewer you with their cutlasses as they defend a buried treasure chest. At sea, you may be made to walk the plank by a band of malicious mutineers; and at that point you'll be faced with the hard choice of death by cutlass or death by hungry sharks.
However, neither of these scenarios are that bad...especially when you consider what could be lurking in the depths, waiting for the best moment to strike and drag weary sailors down to the abyss...
In other words, it's been confirmed that players will be able to battle a Kraken! A goddamn Kraken. Now there's no confirmation how this fight is going to be triggered by the player, though it's been speculated that the Kraken fight may be some sort of large bounty, or possibly a raid boss which a crew of players will have to work together to take down; similar to the powerful raid bosses found in the Borderlands franchise for example.
So Arrr Ya Ready To Set Sail?
Well as I mentioned previously, Rare have given a release window of 2017 for Sea of Thieves to sail on to our screens, meaning that there's not much time left (hopefully) before you and your crew will be clashing cutlasses and drinking grog like real life good for nothing pirates!
Just don't come crying to me when you get marooned for having a drunken sword fight on deck.
To see Sea of Thieves in action, check out the gameplay video below:
Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed the article! Let me know your thoughts on Sea of Thieves in the comments below, or feel free to tweet me at @PeachyBaws, it'd be awesome to hear what you think!