Sea of Thieves design director discusses the Kraken boss battle and beyond

Sea of Thieves Find Kraken
Sea of Thieves Find Kraken (Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

The Kraken is a legendary gigantic octopus or squid-type creature large enough to devour entire ships whole. Likely inspired by exaggerated tales of the real-life giant squid, the Kraken has been a staple of oceanic myths in movies, games, and books for years and years. Considering Rare is building Sea of Thieves with pirate myths and legends in mind, it would have been criminal to leave out this particular one.

In the tease, we were shown a video from the Kraken's perspective, with its tentacles rising from the depths, encircling a single vessel. The scale of the Kraken we were shown was truly awe-inspiring. Its tentacles were large enough to wrap a ship and lift it out of the water, and grab players as though they were toys. If the implementation even approaches the teaser, I'll be an incredibly happy (and terrified) pirate.

To learn more about how the Kraken works, we sat down with Rare Design Director Mike Chapman.

Q&A with Rare's Mike Chapman

Jez Corden, Windows Central senior Xbox editor: How will the Kraken work? Will it spawn as part of a quest? Will it be there for launch?

Mike Chapman, design director on Sea of Thieves: The Kraken will 100 percent be in for launch. It's a random world encounter, deliberately so. The Kraken is a thing of myth and legend, to have it something that's triggerable by players like it's a controllable game mechanic is just the wrong way to approach the Kraken.

All these emergent scenarios you get is going to make the Kraken feel so awesome to encounter.

The Kraken is this fierce force of nature that can take you by surprise. It's this merciless thing that can strike while you're out there in the world. When we talk about conveying different emotions in players, the Kraken is like on the end of that "awe," "mystery," "terror" scale.

When it comes to ship sailing, you're just an extra cog as part of a more complex system. The ship is effectively a piece of wood that requires people to sail it, load the cannons, fire them, etc. When you've got systems like that, and you've got something the sheer scale and complexity of the Kraken, that has eight independent tentacles, its own A.I. brain, its got a set of strategies of things it can target on the ship. The Kraken will play differently each time you fight it.

Sea of Thieves Kraken

Sea of Thieves Kraken (Image credit: Xbox)

Imagine a scenario where the Kraken is simultaneously attacking multiple ships, you're sailing past, you see the Kraken against the sunset, do you go and save those guys? Or do you sail away? Or do you sail in and pick off the stragglers?

There will be rewards, deliberately so, physical rewards like chests and so on.

All these emergent scenarios you get is going to make the Kraken feel so awesome to encounter. Some of the stuff it can do, it can literally pick players up off the deck, it can ingest players, it can slam them in the water, dunk them under water, it can throw players across the map. It can wrap the ship, rock the ship, punch holes in the ship. You can fight the tentacles to get them to release you, it sprays ink, it's going to be epic.

Are there going to be special rewards for killing the Kraken?

There will be rewards, deliberately so, physical rewards like chests and so on.

While we're on the topic of pirate myths and nautical legends, I found a giant sea serpent skeleton under the water once, with a shipwreck inside its rib cage as though it had swallowed an entire vessel. Could that be a thing?

So, as you can imagine, with a game like ours which is this fantasy pirate world where all these nautical legends can come to life, it's overwhelming the amount of ideas that we've had, the amount of things that we've prototyped, the amount of things we want to bring to this world. Games as a Service – that term gets banded around a lot – but it's the perfect delivery system for our game, because the possibilities are endless.

Take a look at our communities on Reddit or our own forums, they're full of ideas. All of those take development time, they all take work, but they all have to fit in and not jeopardize our principles and vision.

So, the hard thing is prioritizing just what is the right thing to put in for launch. We have all these things we want to do – but what's good enough for launch? What sells our vision? So, as you can imagine, we'll add new threats at sea, new threats on the islands. There's new stuff on the islands we haven't shown off yet, that will be there for launch. More things in the sea. We're looking at all of that.

Release the Kraken!

There are many Kraken-like boss fights across video game history, but few take place on the open ocean, particularly in a game that is as dynamic and emergent as Sea of Thieves. The idea of battling this gargantuan beast with multiple crews sounds like the sort of stuff that could form permanent video game memories for some, if Rare can nail the vision that we were shown.

Take a look at the links below for more of our Sea of Thieves coverage!

Sea of Thieves launches on March 20th, 2018 for Xbox One and Windows 10 as part of Xbox Play Anywhere for $59.99, or as part of Xbox Game Pass for $9.99 per month.

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden is a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by tea. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his XB2 Podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!