No sooner has Sea Of Thieves found its sea legs that Rare and Microsoft announce a perplexing decision. One of the game's big selling points was its easy PC to Xbox One cross-platform play, but will soon offer the option for gamepad-using Xbox players not to cross the platform strait into Windows waters. It's understandable - the game has a strong PvP element, and mouse and keyboard may give players the advantage, especially in the upcoming Arena mode - but it's still a little sad to see the idea floated at all. Below, Rare's Joe Neate details the decision in a developer blog video.
PvP is clearly a big focus for Rare on the game right now. They're planning on gradually overhauling combat until all weapons have their place in a rumble. This is all in preparation for the upcoming Arena expand-o-update, which will offer players structured, competitive piratical games to play against each other instead of just wandering the seas for ships to plunder. In that context, I can see mouse-assisted gunnery and swashbuckling might give a small advantage, but Sea Of Thieves has never really been about pinpoint precision. Hopefully not too many Xbox players will choose to sail the gamepad-only seas. I admit to even playing it on PC with a controller, especially in these cold winter months.
Still, even if the player-base is to be fractured a little, the game should still be seaworthy. The past month has seen new life breathed into it; the result of a fortuitous series of events. The recent Shrouded Spoils update greatly bulked up the number of skeleton-crewed ghost ships and sea monsters to fight, giving players a lot more to do outside of PvP. When Atlas's launch over the holidays hit choppy waters, streamers looking for something piratical (and possibly less cutthroat) for their audience gave Sea Of Thieves a second look, and many ended up seeing how much it had improved.
Sea Of Thieves remains a Windows 10 exclusive, and you can find it on the Microsoft Store here, and currently half off (for the next few hours, at the time of writing). Personally, I reckon the best (and cheapest) way to get into it is the Xbox Game Pass subscription. The game's install size is to be halved next week too, so it's a lighter load for your hard-drive to haul.