Sea of Thieves
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7.6

A whole heap of info on Sea of Thieves has emerged today after a preview embargo lifted. First and foremost, Rare has confirmed that Sea of Thieves will never have loot crates, ironically enough.

Hold your horses though, because Sea of Thieves will still have microtransactions and DLC. On this front, Rare has vowed that any time money is spent, players will know exactly what they’re spending it on. Anything brought in through monetisation systems won’t affect a player’s power, nor will it impact progression. So there won’t be XP boosters or exclusive ships that can demolish anything in their wake.

Rare’s plans for Sea of Thieves are many and varied. In a nod to a certain coop sci-fi shooter, game designer Ted Timmins told The Guardian “We’re talking about being a 10-year title, and it’s what we’ve done already that gives us the confidence to commit to that.” So far, fans have been pleased the closed alpha version of Sea of Thieves for 15 months, and in that time Rare has put out 150 updates filled with fresh content, bug fixes, and tweaks.

From the sounds of things, Rare kept a lot of content back from players in the recent closed beta. In the final game, there will be a Kraken, which acts as an event out on the high seas. This will require several ships to hunt it together for fame and glory, while the Kraken itself can wrap entire ships with its tentacles and swat players off ships.

Killing the Kraken comes with its own rewards, but everyone feeds into Sea of Thieves’ progression systems. Faction reps can be increased by undertaking treasure hunts and quests, while higher rank players will get access to their pirate hideouts on a remote island. Actually finding your unique hideout will be a mission in and of itself, and here you’ll find the Tavern of Legends, frequented by pirate ghosts. They’ll be handing out voyages and missions which are the most difficult raid content, and each will come with exclusive outfits and rewards.

Rare’s being a bit coy with what the raid content will entail, but there will be skeleton outposts that require multiple crews to work together to overcome the skeleton boss. Only, there’s only a limited amount of loot available at the end, and a whole lot of players trying to work together to get it. I think you all know how this ends.

Looking forward, the types of content to be added after launch will include new end-game tasks and ultra-hard raid-type events, while there are plans for new quest types and activities that can lend themselves to emergent gameplay. Fishing is one at the top of the list, and Rare hopes that it can implement trading companies who can set fishing quests, buy your haul, or even up rare exclusive items. It sounds as if the vast majority of the content updates are going to be free, “there’s no season pass, there are no DLC packs, that stuff will be delivered for free, we don’t want to separate our players”, says Joe Neate. Rare will instead have microtransactions in the form of cosmetics.

First in the hopper will be pets. Pirates will be able to buy their own pets for a one-off fee, and they’ll be physical objects in the game. You can pet them, or fire cats from cannons, and other players can even pick up your pet monkey and run off with though. Don’t worry though, they’ll always find a way to come back to you.

PC gamers may also be aware that Sea of Thieves is Rare’s first-ever game on PC. We saw earlier today with the system requirements that Rare is taking optimisation and performance seriously. One of the first challenges Timmins set the team was to get Sea of Thieves up and running on the most basic hardware possible, which is how Sea of Thieves ended up playable on integrated graphics. “We went as low as we could and played it with our art director, and for him to go "yeah, pretty happy with that," that was our "great, right, we've got it in writing now, we've got it working on the potato, let's go up from there," explained Timmins to Windows Central.

Everything we see and hear about Sea of Thieves sounds absolutely fascinating. Rare has got the framework in place from which it can add system upon system, whether that’s new sea creatures, trade guilds, exclusive loot or even underwater caves. Whether they can actually pull through and deliver that content is another matter entirely, but we can’t wait to find out.

Sea of Thieves is out on March 20th for Windows 10 PCs and Xbox One.