Sea of Thieves is an upcoming pirate-themed adventure game, exclusive to Xbox One and Windows 10. As an Xbox Play Anywhere title, it will feature cross-platform purchasing and play, allowing up to four friends to sail a vast open ocean filled with treasure, angry skeletons, and various other mythical, deep sea beasties.
The game is running an extensive closed beta at the moment, allowing thousands of Xbox One players to join the Sea of Thieves Insider Program, helping Rare steer the rudder of this whimsical game's development.
I was lucky enough to try one of the game's most recent builds at this year's E3 show, and it remains as fun and laugh-out-loud hilarious as it was when I first tried the game last year.
So far, we don't know a great deal about the features planned for Sea of Thieves. We know that it has treasure maps and riddles, naval combat, boozing, and shipwrecks to plunder. We know smaller boats are on the way, pirate customization, and ship designing, but what about the nitty gritty? Rare has been pretty secretive thus far, but while we wait to learn more, here's five ideas I'd like to see, and five more I absolutely have to see arrive in Sea of Thieves, lest Rare land themselves in Davy Jez' locker, yarrgh matey, and all that.
These are features that absolutely MUST be included in Sea of Thieves at some point, for the relentlessly arbitrary reason of I said so. But trust me on this, these features are absolutely quintessential to maintaining the fantasy of being a great, golden age pirate. After all, I know all about piracy, I used Napster in the 90s.
1. Fishing mechanics
You may wonder why this is so high on the list, given the action-packed nature of plundering the high seas with your scurvy-wracked, drunken crew mates, but even pirates need a bit of R&R when the blood shed ends. And what better way to do it than with some good old fashioned fishing?
Rare! Think of the food nutrition pyramid.
Sea of Thieves has some of the most gorgeous water physics ever seen in a game, it'd be a shame if it went to waste by not including the ability to fish. And beyond the camaraderie of a bit of co-op fishing, washed in the soft orange hue of the game's gorgeous sunsets fishing could solve a secondary problem.
In the build I played at E3 2017, Sea of Thieves pirates could eat bananas to replenish health. Bananas, and only bananas. A quick internet search revealed the harrowing information that you can in fact overdose on the potassium if you eat too many bananas all at once. Imagine surviving a shark attack only to be sent to the ferry of the damned on the back of a bad banana diet?
Let us fish, cook the fish, and eat the fish, Rare! Think of the food nutrition pyramid.
2. Bar brawls, pistol duels, fisticuffs!
What pirate adventure would be complete without mass bar brawls? Every scrap of pirate fiction out there features at least one angry bar fight, either over stolen treasure or from a pub gambling misadventure.
Sea of Thieves already has plenty of brawling, but it all takes place out in the ocean, behind canons and cutlasses. What about a good old fashioned fist fight system, where your blood alcohol level could play a part? And if that doesn't resolve differences, perhaps the combatants could go out the back for a pistol duel to the death. I feel as though there's going to be a lot of differences to resolve in Sea of Thieves.
3. Pirate gambling
Speaking of bar fights, perhaps we could do with more reasons to be in bars in the first place. Card and dice games were often prohibited for religious reasons in 17th century Europe, making them a prime candidate for pirate tomfoolery.
Perhaps we could gamble over gold, perhaps ship supplies, and if it all goes wrong we could refer back to item 2.
4. Pirate pets
Another no brainer — pirate pets! What pirate is complete without his or her parrot pal? Of course, it would be a little odd if every Sea of Thieves pirate had a parrot, so perhaps we could expand to other creatures in that whimsical Rare way. Perhaps the pets could be used to send messages, or recover items out of reach, or remain purely cosmetic.
What about a fearsome pirate shoulder shrimp? A vicious companion crab? A terrifying turtle? The possibilities are endless!
5. Sea serpents, mythical beasts, ancient evil
We already know that the almighty giant Kraken will eventually make its way into Sea of Thieves in some form, but by no means should Rare stop there.
There are dozens, maybe hundreds of classic, mythological sea creatures. From the evil pirate-baiting Sirens, to benevolent sea gods like Poseidon, giant sea leviathans, or perhaps more modern C'thonic monsters that dwell in the lightless depths.
It shouldn't only be players that make sailing the Sea of Thieves a perilous experience — a menagerie of menacing monsters should have a role to play too.
Maybe, possibly, kinda
Here are a few gameplay features that I'd like to see, but I'm not sure we would necessarily see, either because the development would be too long and costly, or perhaps it would interfere with Rare's vision for the game. But here's a few features I think could add to Sea of Thieves' sizeable ocean world.
1. A class-based structure?
Rare hasn't spoken much about the game's progression mechanics, and there were none in any of the builds I've played at events thus far, but it's fun to speculate about how they could work.
Could a class-based character structure work in Sea of Thieves? There could be a class that focuses on melee combat, maybe even stealth, one that focuses on guns and cannons and perhaps one that gains advantages sailing a ship. Rare might be reluctant to pigeon hole (parrot hole?) players into specific roles, but I think some form of gameplay style customization could be cool, even if it's rudimentary.
2. NPC cities
Sea of Thieves public event builds have had NPC outposts that contain taverns and fencers who will purchase your treasure for gold, but beyond that, we don't know what sort of NPCs we'll get to meet.
Hopefully, there'll be vendors for purchasing goods, supplies, and weapons, perhaps even customization options, but what about larger pirate settlements ripe for tomfoolery, or even NPC villages or towns we can raid and plunder? We are pirates after all, right?
I suspect an expansion of NPC settlements is already in the road map (sea map?) but, I have incredibly fond memories of World of Warcraft's pirate capital, Booty Bay, and all its violent, player-ganking glory.
3. Home bases
Although your personal ship is effectively like a customizable home base, it would be pretty cool to be able to claim one of Sea of Thieves' random islands and defend it as your own.
It might impede Rare's vision of having players out at sea as much as possible, bumping into each other in the game's connected world, but the addition of player bases would add additional cosmetic and gameplay progression mechanics, particularly if rival pirates were given a reason to invade your base.
4. In-game secrets
I already know from my interview with Rare at E3 2017 that the studio is injecting in-game easter eggs based on legends created by Sea of Thieves insiders. There's a tavern named after a player, and in my most recent session, I found two skeletal feet sticking out of the ground, representing a player who took a misadventure from a cliff.
Beyond easter eggs, though, it would be cool if Sea of Thieves had additional dungeons to explore and plunder to uncover that went beyond its maps and riddles. Whether they're lore items or tangible loot, reasons to stick around on an island once the treasure has been found would be a welcome boon.
5. Clan or fleet systems
Finally, I'd like to see some in-game clan or fleet systems, where multiple crews can band together to create pirate fleets for communal plunderin'. Whether Microsoft introduces some deep Club integration features like we've seen from previous leaks, or sets them up in-game, it would be cool to see either way.
At E3 2017, Rare described to me their plan to allow players to become notorious within the game's world, recognizable by their customized flags and sails. How awesome would it be if the Windows Central pirate fleet was the most feared pirate crew on the seven seas? Ahem.
Sea of Thieves is a bit of an enigma, in the sense that we see so much of it on the game's official YouTube channel and in Microsoft's marketing, yet we still seem to know so little. Rare isn't ready to show off how progression, customization, and questing will work, but these are all things that are on the horizon, so to speak, for when they are ready for the prime time. What features do YOU think need to come to Sea of Thieves? Hit the comments, yarrghh, matey, etc.
Sea of Thieves remains one of Microsoft's most compelling upcoming exclusive titles, and it's currently slated for launch somewhere within the first half of 2018.
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