Living in the tense geopolitical hellscape that is Earth 2017, it's easy to forget the childlike thrill of adventure inherent in swashbuckling with a crew of buddies across the virtual seas. It's been a while since we covered Sea of Thieves, Rare's game of cooperative piracy, but it looks like development is chugging along nicely and, as far as we know, on track for a release early next year.
Detailed in a rather comprehensive video after the jump, Rare lay out (in piratical form) a list of oddly low-key yet vital features coming to the next alpha build of the game, available to anyone in their Insider Programme.
Text chat, scuttling, a basic criminal punishment system (no loyalty amongst thieves, after all) and a new class of smaller, solo-friendly ship are the order of the day. My gut feeling tells me that Sea of Thieves is ideally played with a gang of close friends, rather than a random crew online, but this next version will at least allow the less sociable (or less microphone-equipped) pirates to enjoy themselves. The smaller ship type seems ideal for playing as a duo, as well.
I wonder why many of these features - basic interpersonal interactions for a cooperative online game - are coming so late into development, just a few months from the launch date. But at least they're presented in an amusing fashion. I especially like the option to vote unruly players into the brig, a feature I can't help but think will be used to orchestrate many a scurrilous mutiny. A painful sting if you're with a crew of strangers, but potentially hilarious amongst friends.
You can sign up for the Sea of Thieves alpha on the official site here, although whether you'll be picked is another matter. The game is set for release sometime in early 2018, although if Microsoft stick to their guns, it may well remain a Windows 10 exclusive.