Welcome to 2018! 2017 is officially behind us and therefore not worth talking about (never mind that I’m still talking about 2012). There are loads of games on the metaphorical horizon, and quite a few of them are worth getting excited about. Far Cry 5, Red Dead Redemption 2, and Kingdom Hearts III (fingers crossed) are some of the big titles soaking up the attention, and we’re very much looking forward to them.
If you’ve been keeping your ear to the ground for the past year, however, you may have heard tell of another game soon being released from a little developer known as Rare. These are the guys who brought you such classics as Battletoads for NES, Banjo-Kazooie and Goldeneye 007 for N64, and the various Donkey Kong Country games. It’s been a while since they’ve been in the spotlight, but they’re ready to take a stab at something new – with a cutlass.
Everyone’s thinking it, I’m just saying it… pirates!
That’s right, we’re talking about Sea of Thieves! Set for release on Xbox 360 and PC March 20, 2018, this is an open-world co-op pirate game that really has us chomping at the bit. Here are some of the reasons we’re fired up to see this grog-filled pirate-fest in action.
It’s been made clear that a large portion of the game will be spent in a ship on the open ocean. That’s just fine, because while the rest of the game has a bit of a cartoony vibe, the water effects are absolutely fantastic! This is good, because you’ll have plenty of time to take in the view. You’ll also be spending some time under the waves as well – there are wrecked ships to loot, which is a fun new twist on things, assuming you can avoid getting eaten by sharks.
The developers have also made it clear that they want storms to be a real part of the game, rather than just “Hmmm… it’s gone slightly dark and the waves are a bit bigger.” Your ship will be riding some major waves, which means you’ll go from looking straight up to straight down as you make your way through each storm. In addition to the roller coaster effect, the ship will become much more difficult to steer. Even with someone constantly at the wheel, it’ll fight to go with the wind and the currents. Because, y’know, ships.
Sea of Thieves is about pirates, which means combat, which means cannons. Cannons will obviously play a big role in sea combat, because giant holes in the enemy’s hull aren’t going to make themselves. This means loading, aiming, and firing with precision, which is a real feat with a thousand-pound, explosive medieval weapon. What makes the cannons so great, though, is the fact that you can fire yourself out of them. Let that sink in.
Fire. Yourself. Out. Of. Cannons.
Honestly, why bother with the rest of the list? That’s the only reason I need to play this.
But combat doesn’t end with cannons. You also get a blunderbuss (basically a hand cannon) and a cutlass. So armed, you will be tasked with exploring islands inhabited by the skeletons of those who came before you. In case you weren’t planning on taking said skeletons seriously, at least some of them are armed.
While there are rumors of something akin to a plot, it currently appears that the bulk of the game will be focused around following maps to sweet, sweet treasure. Pirates are notoriously loot-hungry, so I’m happy to see an emphasis on “find stuff, cash in stuff, buy grog with cash from selling stuff.” Random chests do make an appearance, but the real goal is digging at the proverbial X-marked spot. Of course, shiny loot chests will often be guarded by skeletons or pursued by other pirate crews, so it’s important to keep in mind that whoever is carrying a chest is unable to fight. Makes sense – heavy loot is good loot.
Sense of Humor
While this game is decidedly modern, there are definitely some things we can expect from the makers of Banjo-Kazooie – namely, a quirky sense of humor. Aside from firing yourself out of a cannon (which I will bring up as often as possible), there are a few other aspects of the game where Rare’s classic humor shines through.
First off, you have access to grog, which you are able to start drinking immediately, should you so desire. However, this can lead to stumbling off the ship before you’ve even left site of the outpost, so maybe leave the boozing until you have loot to celebrate. On the topic of celebrations, you will be able to play three instruments – concertina (a sort of accordion), fiddle, and hurdy gurdy (like a lute with a jack-in-the-box handle attached). If you decide that hauling up the anchor is too much physical labor for you, just play a morale-boosting tune on your concertina; I’m sure it’ll go over very well.
As a side note, if you play any of your instruments while drunk, you will play out of tune. I suppose in a game where mermaids show up to transport you back to your ship, drunken, off-key fiddle-playing counts as realism.
At the very core of Sea of Thieves is a desire for teamwork to prevail. It’s important to remember that you are, indeed, part of a crew – you can handle a dinghy by yourself, but anything larger will require a concerted effort from multiple players. The helmsman can’t see straight ahead while the sails are unfurled, and the map showing your ship’s location is below decks, so constant communication is required between all crew members. There’s no chance of turning this into a one-man show, even if you are a brightly rendered incarnation of Jack Sparrow.
Personally, I avoid games that force multiplayer on me, because people tend to be horrible and I use games to get away from them. That said, I’m really rather excited about this aspect of the game. There’s proper co-op, requiring coordination among the whole crew, but it’s combined with PvP (other crews attacking you for your loot) and PvE (skeletons/gravity). It seems like Sea of Thieves has a chance to be “the best of all worlds” sort of game, and I desperately hope that time proves me right.
Heard any other Sea of Thieves news? Got anything to add? Let us know in the comments!