Grab the grog: Sea Of Thieves launches tomorrow

sea of thieves ama

I promised myself I wouldn’t get excited about another multiplayer game because I don’t have room for them right now, but Sea Of Thieves is launching tomorrow and here I am, desperate to leave behind my mundane, landlubber life and start a new one on the high seas. Rare also hosted an AMA on Friday, which reminded me of its impending arrival. The Q&A session was quite dry, but that’s not a problem the game has.

Sea Of Thieves is obviously going to be a game best played with a crew of ne’er-do-wells, but my attempts to partner up with strangers during the beta only ended in failure, leaving me alone on an island with nothing but the NPCs to keep me company. I decided to try the solo pirate life to see how it fit.

A lot of my troubles were less down to not having a crew to lean on and more due to a lack of information. Sea Of Thieves hides more than treasure. It took me a good 20 minutes, because of some bugs and a general lack of guidance, but eventually I had myself a job and a cage in which I could house a wild chicken. Progress!

Up until that point, I’d mostly stuck to dry land, apart from that one time my sloop unexpectedly sunk to the bottom of the sea, right next to the jetty. When you set off, leaving the islands behind, you can almost taste the adventure. Or maybe that’s just salt. It’s exciting though! Like Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag, Sea Of Thieves doesn’t so much simulate sailing as it does capture the feeling of commanding a ship. The best bits, the thrilling bits, that’s what we get to enjoy.

Without even a single peg-legged pal to help me out, I did start to feel like I was out of my depth. I found a wee island with some chickens no problem, and managed to capture one and store it on my ship, but it was the return voyage that would cause me trouble. Before I get into that, though, chickens! Gosh they’re great. I am a very big fan of Rare’s decision to not abstract the transportation of goods and poultry. You have to protect your cargo from other pirates but also generally look after it. Chickens need love. I kept mine in the nicest part of my sloop because I’m a gentleman. Do you need to sing to your feathered cargo? I’m not sure, but my chicken seemed to delight in my many shanties.

chickens

With my feathery friend safely stored in the captain’s quarters, I headed back home, and that’s where things went a little awry. The problem with the sea is that water generally looks the same whether you’re looking east or west, and that’s why I ended up sailing right into some sort of supernatural storm. The chicken was not at all pleased. When you don’t have at least one matey checking their compass or climbing up to the crow’s nest, it can be extraordinarily tricky to navigate the watery world.

I did eventually realise that I was going the wrong way, but getting back on track proved to be a lot harder than it was to get lost. I kept having to change roles, taking my hands off the wheel to check the compass or tug on some ropes or check on my distressed chicken. When I finally got back to the island I started on, I felt like I’d grown into a new man. I’d seen some stuff. The chicken, too. We were both hardened by our experiences.

Anyway, it was the wrong island and I had no idea where I was meant to deliver the chicken. Presumably it’s still on my boat. Everything went wrong, but I’m eager to get back to mastering the high seas when Sea Of Thieves launches tomorrow. This time with featherless friends.

I guess I should mention some stuff from the AMA. There’s a reason it wasn’t very informative: Rare are trying to keep everything a surprise. Which is great when you’re hosting a surprise birthday party, but less so when you’re trying to sell people a video game.

Joe [Neate, Executive Producer]: I think we’re only ever likely to cover a few months ahead to maintain mystery (so you can be surprised and delighted) and so we can be reactive. Things will change as Sea Of Thieves evolves. We want to have the time to reveal what the features mean for players before we put them in their hands. We’ve taken a show not tell policy for the entire project so far and we’re committed to that.

So don’t expect a roadmap.

Elsewhere the team predictably defended the terrible Windows Store and promised that things were coming in the future, as they are wont to do.

41 Comments

  1. shrieki says:

    non-abstraction of goods an poultry ? also every single piece of cargo? now that raises my attention.

  2. Premium User Badge

    Ninja Dodo says:

    They’ve probably just learned not say anything they’re not 100% certain will make it into the game exactly as described because of how gamers react to the uncertainty of the development process. If you can’t deal with change and occasional disappointment, that’s what you get.

    • April March says:

      If it’s so, it’s quite clever of them to spin “we’re hiding our roadmap from the players so they don’t hype stuff we’re planning and don’t bite our throats off for throwing away stuff that didn’t work” as trying to instill wonder and mystery.

      • Premium User Badge

        Ninja Dodo says:

        Well, in fairness… “we can’t trust our customers not to go psycho on us if we’re fully transparent about our process” is not a good marketing message.

        Slight exaggeration, maybe, but the past couple of years have certainly demonstrated that gamers on average cannot handle the volatile nature of game production. Which is pretty sad, because I personally found the increased transparency brought on by crowdfunding a positive development.

        • Premium User Badge

          Ninja Dodo says:

          I don’t doubt that leaving room for surprise and mystery is ONE of the reasons, but I definitely think there are other reasons too.

  3. poliovaccine says:

    They hosted an AMA just to state they want to keep as much a surprise as possible?

    What incorrigible *trolls* hahah

  4. Shadow says:

    Looks like an interesting game. A shame, since I’m still running Windows 7 x64.

    It’s as if they don’t want to make money.

    Oh well.

    • Lord Byte says:

      You were allowed to freely change to Windows 10, for free! Like no money whatsoever. Ah well, looks like you don’t want to go with the times…

      • aircool says:

        I’m sure Win 10 is needed for the cross platform play. Or maybe not. However, we all know how stubborn people can be when it comes to upgrading windows, I waited almost a year.

        Still, Win 10 is almost 3 years old now and any PC bought in the last 2.5 years will be a Win 10 PC, so I’d say that the majority of gamers are probably running a Win 10 PC.

      • Shadow says:

        Why should I be compelled to change operating systems when Microsoft dictates so? Is that what it means to “go with the times”, according to you?

        I tend to wait till an OS has truly matured to make the change, and so far, Win10’s features haven’t enticed me. In many ways it’s mainly an OS to undo the previous clusterfuck that was Win8. For the moment, I see no need to upend my system for a somewhat improved Win7 with less backwards compatibility, more issues, more superfluous Microsoft apps and assorted garbage shoved in my face, along with invasive advertising and a still more aggressive update system than 7’s.

        Yes, it can be tweaked, I’m sure, and the time will come. I’m not some kind of luddite holdout, but for the time being, Win7 64bit is rock solid, supported until 2020 and enjoys full compatibility with all but those token apps and games Microsoft restricts to Win10 for no sensible reason other than to push people to migrate.

        PS: According to the Steam Hardware Survey, even though Win10 x64 is rising rapidly (2.71% last month), Win7 x64 still has a significant majority presence, encompassing 68.50% of the surveyed audience versus the former’s 25.41%. So yeah, while new PCs come with Win10, I don’t think gamers in particular are buying entirely new computers every 3 years.

      • Guvornatwo says:

        That update did terrible things to my graphics card and it hasn’t been the same since, so the update got rolled back. My rule of thumb for a happy life is stick to the OS that came with your machine…

      • April March says:

        I did change to Windows 10. Then my computer went on the fritz, and I had to switch to a new one. It came with 7, and the free exchange period was over.

        Am I still entitled to W10, because I switched while it was free and logged in with my Microsoft account? Maybe. I don’t know how to find that out. Meanwhile, 7 is doing all I need it to do, just as well as W10 did.

    • woodsey says:

      Windows 7 is almost 10 years old; XP started getting dropped around the same age. It’s not unreasonable.

      The real issue is the bloody Windows Store exclusivity.

    • Rindan says:

      It’s a trivial amount of money to lose in sales but it lets them not have to waste resources supporting and old OS that anyone can just upgrade to anytime they want.

      You just are not worth the money to support. There are just not enough weirdos who game who also won’t take a free upgrade to a nearly identical OS. They don’t hate money and are foolishly leaving it on the table. They just won’t get enough extra sales to justify supporting an old OS that pretty much no one uses for gaming anymore, so they are really just saving themselves money.

  5. Squishydew says:

    Definitely dont trust this game, keep reading about a lack of content and now the AMA which was incredibly uninformative.

    • 2helix4u says:

      For sure, its definitely going to lack content.
      I think it was the Progression video I watched? But it basically laid out the whole game:

      ” You do fetch quests to grind reputation with one of four factions, as you level up your rep you get cosmetic items and titles – oh and your quest scroll is somewhat customisable”

      But they repeatedly said this over 10 minutes in sorta Molyneux-esque politician language that made the game sound way more involved than if you actually boiled down what they were saying. At least they weren’t doing a NMS level lying but it was sorta obfuscating how little there will be in the game.

      e.g. direct quote: “Elements, such as your reputation progress, mean that your progress in sea of theives is not a one dimensional number! how you look to others, the titles youv earned and the voyages you have allow for -far- richer interactions between players,”
      Translation: Your reputation is 4 different numbers. You will look different and have a word in front of your name. This offers way more than if everybody was just playing the same pirate called Bob.

      For what its worth its beautiful and the sailing is good, but you can’t even customise your boat beyond its colour.
      Since the tagline of the progression is “become a pirate legend!” how many people don’t think of ending up in a huge scary boat with more cannons etc? When you think “become a pirate legend!” the game hopes you’re thinking of earning the Legendary Pirate title and having a really fancy eyepatch.

      • Guvornatwo says:

        “When you think “become a pirate legend!” the game hopes you’re thinking of earning the Legendary Pirate title and having a really fancy eyepatch.”

        And getting access to the Legend’s tavern, unique missions and a massive boat.

        As someone who was concerned by the lack of stuff in the early betas, the last beta really raised my hopes.

      • Daemoroth says:

        Do Plunkbat and Fortnite lack content? Does that make them dull because they only have two and one map respectively? And absolutely zero progression?

        This whole double-standard of roasting EA for saying loot boxes were for a sense of “pride and achievement” and then lamenting that the next game DOESN’T provide a sense of “pride and achievement” in the form of “reward systems and unlocks” really gets irritating.

        Pick one: Do you play games for the FUN? As in, is FUN the reward? Or do you want your games to put a golden star on your forehead every time you manage to clear a fence without landing on your face?

        I absolutely despise this generation of gamers who think that games should “reward” them somehow, especially when that gets applied so randomly it’s tough to figure out what qualifies.

        PS – The pubs are solely to blame for creating monkeys trained to expect bananas every time they press the correct button. Take that button away and get accused of skimping on “content”. Just saddens me that people don’t open their eyes and realise that this system doesn’t have to define every game nor does lacking it mean the game itself is lacking.

        • Rindan says:

          I think the point is that the loop just isn’t fun. You can have something that is “identical” like PUBG in that it is the same maps over and over, but it has a pretty complex gaming loop. You can have a lot of very different experiences jammed into one sessions, and have very different experiences across sessions. Because you are competing with humans, you always have the added complexity of humans making things interesting.

          The point is that a game isn’t grindy and repetitive by how many levels it has or whatever, it’s by it’s gameplay loop. Are you doing the exact same thing over and over again with little variation in how you do it? That’s grindy.

          So, I believe that the accusation people are making against this game when they say it is grindy, is that it is simple. You do a handful of specific tasks with minimal variation to watch some numbers go up. Grindy. Some people love that stuff, but some people want to be a fucking pirate.

        • raizhassan says:

          I think your missing one important dimension here, namely Fortnight BR is free, and Rare wants me to cough up $100 AUD for Sea of Thieves. So yeah I do expect a little more content.

  6. Guvornatwo says:

    For the record, you can pick up the cage at the Merchant Alliance stand where you get the cargo mission. However, you have to ask them for it AFTER you have got the mission i.e exit the conversation and restart it. As of the beta you can potentially pick up infinite cages just by starting the mission, picking up a cage then cancelling the mission which is useful for art link to reddit.com

  7. PearlChoco says:

    Windows Store only?

    Oke byeeeee.

    • aircool says:

      You’re missing out. I drew the short straw of checking it out for my friends during the stress tests.

      Win 10 – no problem
      MS Store – no big deal
      xbox app – fucking nightmare but manageable
      Game – absolutely fantastic.

      Glad I bought it. Have been unable to distract myself since the end of the last beta. Can’t wait to get on the mic tomorrow with a crew. However, I’ll likely spend a few hours solo when it launches tonight.

      • Walsh says:

        Yeah, I don’t get it. It now lets you pick a drive to install to, which was everyone’s biggest complaint. Other than that, it’s the same as every other app store. Click buy, click install, move on with your life.

        • woodsey says:

          I thought the big complaint was that you couldn’t quit or lose connection during downloads (many of which are like 100GB in size) without having to restart the whole thing.

        • aepervius says:

          No there is a difference : the other digital store front support all other OS, and at least the previous one while MS intentionally restricted support to Win 10. Without entering into the merit of whether win 10 is any good or not, or the problem with advertising, privacy with it, the simple fact they refuse to support the immense majority of OS, which ALL major publisher for PC do, is right there a slight difference at the very least, don’t you think ? As for functionality, there is nigh much in DX12 which would warrant that only win 10 is supported. But it is the publisher choice : they prefer to get the money forefront from MS for the exclusivity to that store, rather than steam/ubi/ea sales or which ever shop. Make no mistake it was a sole financial decision and has nothing whatsoever to do with win 10 or dx12.

          • Shadow says:

            It’s quite a questionable decision to restrict a multiplayer-only game’s playerbase like this. This is indeed a financial move, and may imply the developers are mainly interested in making a quick buck than ensure the longevity of their game.

            With these restrictions, unless Sea of Thieves turns out to be positively mind-blowing, expect it to be dead in a year or so.

        • brucethemoose says:

          My (past) problem with the MS app store was GFWL, and MS’s numerous other failures.

          EG if I were to buy a game on it, would it still launch 2 years from then?

          However, it doesn’t appear to be a pile of junk well on the way to its grave like GFWL, and multiplayer games tend to die pretty quickly anyway.

      • kud13 says:

        As of right now, there’s no major single-player games thaT’d tempt me to transition from Win 7 to WinStore.

        The only “exclusive” that comes to mind right now is ReCore.

        Oh, and the new Age of Empires DE. But I never really got into the original AoE, so I’m not crazy about that, either.

        Thankfully, so far the Windows Store really doesn’t have any games I’m particularly interested in.

    • c-fan says:

      Amen to that! Last time I trusted MS with my games (Game for Windows Live) they had server issues while I tried to register a CD-key.. So that locked my account for some reason. The e-mail used to make the account was long gone. (My fault for not updating it, I wasn’t aware what address I used years ago.) After 5 months of e-mails and telephone calls I gave up. Having the CD-keys of every title on the account and every bit of info overall wasn’t good enough to get the account unlocked. Since I had never used the account on Xbox live and bought something with a Visa card, they refused to help in any way. So my 27+ games was lost, and I will never trust MS again. 😛

      • Xelos says:

        My for, GFWL was a waking nightmare, I remember being constantly locked out of my single player saves because it threw a tantrum…

  8. aircool says:

    The only part of the game that confused me was the xbox app and how to join your friends.

    Sailing solo is perfectly viable and you’ll get used to slick sailing in no time (which will help you slot into a larger crew easily). You have to be more furtive in your approach to the game and keep a constant lookout, but that’s what the game encourages; play the way you want to play.

    In fact, the whole game is based around freedom. Everything is very hands on, so when you’re carrying a treasure chest, you have to drop it to fight or use any of your items.

    No lootboxes (except treasuuuuure), no star cards, no time/xp gated items (except vanity items), no skill trees, no K/D nonsense and everyone has the same stats and access to the same weapons/equipment.

    There seem to be a few horror stories about on the internet, but I’ve never been in a discouraging situation in the game. However, I’ve had a lot of fun with other people (usual caveat of joining a guild, perhaps RPS will have one) and some pretty chilled experiences by myself.

  9. BaronKreight says:

    You know what? This game costs 4k RUB in Windows store in Russia. This pricing is buffling. All AAA PC games go for 2k RUB in Russia. Ghost of a Tale costs 465 RUB. Vermintide 2 is 500 RUB. Srsly who is going to buy their game in Russia?

  10. Vilos Cohaagen says:

    The Windows Store is unreliable, badly designed, hard to use and even harder to fix problems with. It does not even work when I’m using a VPN which these days is insane. I also have not firgotten nor forgiven them for the travesty of GFWL. It is highly likely they will abruptly pull the plug one day on the Windows Store and will leave everyone hanging.

    Steam has its issues, but as of yet has not lost my confidence. GOG would be preferable for me, but either would do. I’m not going to risk £50 on the Windows Store ever.

  11. Evan_ says:

    Ahh my, I will have so much fun with this.. once the Steam version is released. I don’t mind some waiting.

    • April March says:

      I’ll wait for the DRM-free version.

      Eh, who am I kidding…

  12. Nauallis says:

    Does the morbidly obese pirate signify a successful pirate, or an unsuccessful pirate?

  13. hamandspam says:

    I get people are annoyed about the Windows Store/xbox app thing on principle, but c’mon. I was initially ‘ugh’, installed it anyway for the SoT alpha, and have never noticed it since. For me, it’s never launched on start-up, and to open SoT I hit Windows, type ‘se’, and enter. Done. I only open the Xbox app to befriend Xbox players that I am thrilled to be able to play with.

    Leaving the two apps running in the background is hogging 5.6 MB of RAM, mind. I understand a lot of people have more than my lowly 8GB, so maybe the latency this creates will be less noticeable for you.

  14. MataDor says:

    This is day 1 buy for me if it hits Steam one day. This game would fit my gaming group perfectly!
    But I will never again but anything from M$ game platforms.
    Back to R6 Siege then :)

  15. ViscountBiscuit says:

    It means they wrote the game using Windows UWP, which is what the XBox One uses, but only works on Windows 10 PCs.

    This is Microsoft’s latest misguided attempt to fragment the PC platform and kill off win32 which makes the PC so useful, but doesn’t get them a sweet slice of that 30% app store action. It’s apps… but on the PC.

    No developer in their right mind would fail to create a win32 version unless UWP was mandated. It’s deliberately excluding about 70% of your audience. Win32 works on Windows 7, 8 & 10, but UWP only on Windows 10.

    UWP also only supports XBox pads, and any web based interfaces will be using MS Edge, so that’s something to look forward to.

    It’s really not that hard to port a game from UWP to win32, but as Rare is an MS company I wouldn’t be holding my breath for that. See also: Halo 2.