Sea of Thieves Explained (Somewhat)

Sea of Thieves Inn-side Story #1

My game of show from E3 was most definitely Sea of Thieves. Despite looking absolutely phenomenal, there wasn’t much in the way of explanation. What is Sea of Thieves? What type of game is Sea of Thieves?

Executive Producer Joe Neate and Design Director Gregg Mayles sat down for their first “Inn-side Story” and gave us lots of details.

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Sea of Thieves is a “Memorable Multiplayer Online Game”

Joe Neate coined that phrase, and I love it. Piggybacking off of Joe’s comment about seeing those sails on the horizon, Gregg said they want every interaction with other players to be special. That would indeed be lost by having 30-100 ships on the screen like a regatta.

“Live the pirate life”

“Be the part you want to be”

“The freedom to do what you like”

“Island hopping, sailing where you want, following a map, or doing what you like”

“Willthere be a Kraken? of course…”

“Can I go on quests? Seek treasure? All of those things you expect”

That all sounds perfect. Although they didn’t come right out and give us a perfectly clear expectation of gameplay, we at least know that they intend for this to be at least a moderately open-world pirate adventure where we can explore and “do whatever we want” all while knowing that other players are in the world too… and they’re free to act as pirates.

Sea of Thieves sounds more and more like the game I want to play.

  • It’s interesting to me because of PotBS before it. I always thought PotBS would’ve been a better game if they’d 100% scrapped the idea of having playable character parts of the game and just focused on ships, trading/piracy, and the port mechanics more like EVE online. All the resources they poured into the character design/combat/port and mission area graphics, etc. Could have just built a menu for the ports like EVE space stations, and then shoveled tons more resources into the naval combat and trade/piracy/port control mechanics instead.

    PotBS naval combat mechanics were some of the most fun I’ve ever had in an MMO. There’s things that could’ve been done better with it, but all-in-all, it was a good time.

  • If its an MMO (or MMO-like game even), and everyone is doing what they want, AND the focus is kinda PvP based (pirates gotta pirate someone, right?), at some point one person’s ‘do what they want’ prevents another person from doing something. That right off the bat raises a flag for me, unless the plan is for the game to be full PvE, and all the stuff you pirate is NPC and resets or is instanced (otherwise 5min after launch all early ports will be dry-looted).

  • Another thing: They said they want ships sailing around solo, so that it feels special. What stops a guild from sailing around as a group of five ships (or 50, or 500, depending on server limits) and killing every solo ship until people stop sailing solo in PvP areas?

    I don’t see how player encounters can be memorable if the game allows for random player encounters (PvP), while still having the hope that people will sail around solo if the result of combat matters at all. If the result of combat doesn’t matter, how can that be memorable?

  • @SynCaine: This won’t be a MMO. I think they softly put that notion to rest by saying the first M in their MMO was “Memorable” not “massively”. It’s going to be a “there are maybe 20 other people in my *world*” game.

    You raise a very good point about the solo play, though. I initially interpreted this as someone can go and explore on their own but couldn’t necessarily control the ship. One person raising the sails, manning the cannons, etc… but that doesn’t make much sense either now that I think about it. I’ll want an answer as to how it’ll play out with solo players.

    @Gali: PotBS had problems with execution. Neat ideas for global economy, but the execution killed it entirely. Key point again is that PotBS was also “MMO” where this will be “5 crews on a map” kind of play.