After years of developing Kinect titles and struggling to showcase their unique talents, Rare, the esteemed British developer, seems to have made a triumphant return with their thrilling pirate adventure game, Sea of Thieves. With its captivating blend of nautical exploration, treasure hunting, and intense battles, this Xbox One and PC-exclusive game has garnered considerable excitement as one of the most anticipated releases of 2018. In this article, we have compiled all the essential information revealed so far about Sea of Thieves, primarily from hands-on impressions at Gamescom, developer interviews, and official videos. We will keep updating this article as new details emerge.
Pirates and Ships
At the heart of Sea of Thieves lies the player’s pirate avatar, which can be fully customized in terms of gender, appearance, physique, and outfits. The game intentionally avoids rigid classes or specializations to emphasize individual skill rather than stats. While players may naturally fall into specific roles to support one another while crewing together, this informal approach allows for organic gameplay experiences without restrictive playstyles.
A pirate’s existence is inseparable from their ship. From small, nimble skiffs for solo navigation to massive galleons armed with cannons, the game offers a range of vessels that trade power for speed, maneuverability, and ease of piloting. Sailing larger ships requires a crew effort, with rope adjustments on the deck, navigational charts below, and helmsmen relying on the unfurled sails for visual cues on the ship’s course. Although it is not as complex as real-life sailing, the developers have striven to strike a perfect balance between teamwork, skill, and accessibility, bridging the gap between simulation and automation.
Both pirates and ships can be upgraded and customized both aesthetically and functionally through gameplay. Pirates can acquire new outfits, discover better gear, and even replace limbs with classic prostheses. Ships, on the other hand, can be equipped with custom figureheads, upgraded cannons, and other enhancements. Advanced items and upgrades will be visually distinctive, making formidable opponents easily identifiable from a distance.
The Expansive World
Sea of Thieves boasts an expansive ocean to explore, teeming with islands waiting to be discovered. The circumference of the game world alone is estimated to take six to eight hours to circumnavigate. These islands are divided into distinct regions, each evoking a unique atmosphere, such as the classic Caribbean environment or a dense wilderness filled with ancient civilizations. Unlike procedurally generated filler content, every area of the game has been meticulously designed by craftsmen to ensure a truly bespoke experience. As players become more acquainted with the world, they can rely on landmarks for navigation. The world is also populated by various hostile creatures, including skeletons and krakens.
In addition to the vast wilderness, the game world features numerous ports, outposts, and cities inhabited by non-playable characters (NPCs) who function as merchants and quest-givers. However, it’s worth noting that the developer has confirmed that every ship seen on the horizon will be controlled by other players. NPCs, for the most part, remain confined to the land.
During the E3 2017 demonstration of the “Voyage of the Secret Shrine” mission, we witnessed a group of pirates exploring a cave tomb filled to the brim with skeletons. After securing a valuable treasure chest, they swiftly plunged into the water and returned to their ship. As a storm brewed, the pirates encountered an enemy ship, engaging in a lively battle that left visible damage on both vessels. In a daring move, one of the pirates even catapulted onto the enemy ship, engaging in a fierce sword fight before delivering a final shot with their pistol.
Cooperative Gameplay Experience
Sea of Thieves enables cross-platform gameplay between Xbox One and Windows 10 PC users without any restrictions. Unlike previous games like Gears of War 4 that limited cross-play options, Sea of Thieves embraces seamless cooperative play across platforms.
In-game communication among players is facilitated using contextual phrases and gestures. Console players can access a radial wheel, reminiscent of recent Battlefield games, by pressing up on the directional pad. The wheel contains essential phrases such as “follow me” and “need help,” allowing players to communicate without uttering a single word. However, what sets Sea of Thieves apart is the contextual nature of its communication system. For instance, when a player takes control of the ship’s steering wheel, they are presented with specific options to indicate the need for repairs or dropping the anchor. Furthermore, a navigator below the deck can use non-verbal cues to assist the captain in determining the ship’s trajectory and reaching objectives. PC players can communicate effortlessly with a single keystroke. Additionally, all phrases will be automatically translated into the player’s native language, promoting seamless cooperation even among players who cannot directly communicate with one another.
Quests and Adventures
Although Sea of Thieves will not feature an overarching story, it will be filled with numerous smaller stories that can be completed within one or two gaming sessions. Structured, narrative-based quests will be complemented by procedurally-generated quests that involve familiar tasks such as searching for sunken ships and unearthing buried treasure, ensuring a varied and engaging gameplay experience.
The Allure of Booty
As expected, treasure plays a central role in the world of Sea of Thieves. Players will have the opportunity to embark on thrilling adventures to discover buried treasure. However, locating these hidden treasures is not as simple as marking an “X” on a mini-map. Instead, players must examine the treasure map, compare it with the navigational chart on their ship to identify the island, and rely on landmarks to pinpoint the exact location of the treasure. True to Sea of Thieves’ commitment to immersion, treasure physically exists in the world, requiring players to transport it back to their ship and sail to a safe port where they can finally cash in their findings for rewards.
One of the most dangerous threats in Sea of Thieves comes from other players who are also seeking treasure. Outside of designated safe harbors, players have the freedom to engage in ship-to-ship battles, circling each other and unleashing broadside cannon fire. Alternatively, they can engage in up-close combat with cutlasses and blunderbusses. The constant risk of ambushes in the open world encourages players to team up and watch each other’s backs.
Davy Jones’ Locker
With the occasional death being an inevitable part of Sea of Thieves, the game employs a fair penalty system. When players perish, they will be transported to the ghostly “ferry of the damned,” reminiscent of the waiting room for the recently deceased in the movie Beetlejuice. Here, players can exchange tales of their untimely demises with fellow ghosts. By engaging in conversations, players have the chance to persuade the ferry’s captain to send them back to the living. However, it is possible that they may need to fulfill certain tasks for the captain before being resurrected. Ships that have sunk will remain intact, leaving any remaining treasure vulnerable to enterprising divers. Once players return to the living realm, they can summon a magical mermaid to restore their ship.
Release Date and Pre-Order Information
Sea of Thieves is scheduled to be released on March 20, 2018. Pre-ordering the game will grant players access to the exclusive “Black Dog Pack,” which includes stylish clothing and enticing items. Additionally, pre-order customers will receive an invitation to the closed beta. Rare has already invited fans to participate in several technical alpha play sessions. To stay informed about the game’s development, including upcoming alpha and beta opportunities, you can follow Sea of Thieves on Twitter or join its official Insider Program.
Sea of Thieves promises an immersive and thrilling pirate experience that encourages teamwork, exploration, and intense battles. With its vast open world, diverse quests, and the ever-present threat of rival players, this game undoubtedly offers a unique and exciting gameplay that caters to fans of pirate adventures. So mark your calendars and prepare to embark on an unforgettable voyage when Sea of Thieves sets sail on March 20, 2018.
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