It’s funny how we assume that there are monsters in the water. Sure, there are definitely big things down there, and some unusual things, but even when we know about all of that we still hold a feeling like there’s something even worse down there, something lurking and evil. Of course, Sea of Thieves is not constrained by the limitations of reality… and its trailer for the game’s first major content update, The Hungering Deep, hints that there’s more to this than just speculation and legend.
Of course, the grizzled pirate in the trailer is more than willing to sneer at the idea of these being “just stories,” but… well, we don’t want to spoil it. It’s only two minutes long, and if you’ve been needing a pirate to weave tales for you, this will deliver. Just… try to avoid bridges for the rest of the day.
After a month at sea, one can imagine your character in Sea of Thieves is more than ready to stop in to port. But you’ll soon be setting sail from that port once again, no matter where it is. Just make sure that you first pick up the Eye of Reach from merchants for just one gold piece, a special commemorative item for a month since launch. Heck, while you’re there you ought to take part in lots of stock; the newest patch adds a variety of new styles for ships, weaponry, and characters, offering a wider range of options for everyone.
The patch also adds in regional variation for merchants, so players will need to head to head to the Ancient Isles to pick up the Sovereign sets, while more common attire like the Bilge Rat options may be freely purchased anywhere. There’s also performance tweaks and bug fixes to enjoy, so while you’re dressed up all fancy-like you can expect a steadier gameplay experience. All good things, yes? Enough to make you forget that you’re still trapped in a leaky wooden boat after a month.
It’s really hard for me to not to gush hard about Sea of Thieves. I know many out there won’t agree, and it’s easy to say why, especially for RPG and theme park fans. It also may be because I’m late to the party, as the game came out while I was at GDC. That being said, Massively OP doesn’t do ratings because we expect the games we cover to evolve, but we do post impressions and hands-on coverage, and as I’ve played the game before and after it’s latest patch, I figure it’s time to lay out some judgments. Don’t worry, we’ll run through the game’s grimy pockets before looking at its actual treasure!
Don’t worry, death-prone pirates: You won’t have to pay the piper more than once when you go down to Davy Jones’ locker.
Some players raised concerns over the recent announcement that Rare was planning to institute a death tax in Sea of Thieves for each time someone kicked the bucket. The concern here was that in addition to being a gold sink, this piled on the pain for losers in PvP situations who may already be ganked or griefed.
Happily, this won’t be the case. A spokesperson for Rare said that it won’t be going forward with a harsher death penalty: “We’ve heard the sentiment there, so I can confirm that death cost is, well, dead. Thanks for the feedback here. We’re listening.”
The devs are also paying attention to the griefing problem (yes, the one everyone was pointing out a month ago).
No MMORPG player will be surprised to hear that Sea of Thieves’ biggest problem right now is that too many people are wanting to play – launch success works against it. In a candid dev video, Rare says that peak time – about 5 to 10 p.m. EDT, when west coast, east coast, and EU players are all piled in together – is the worst, up to four times as many people as showed up for the biggest beta.
“At one point, our server engineer told me we had 5000 people coming in per minute,” Studio Head Craig Duncan says – and the game’s seen more than a million unique users overall in the first 48 hours of live play.
Rare further says that they’re working out the delayed rewards and achievements problem (likely related to the heavy load) and missing items (they promise that’s a temporary client bug). “Please bear with us,” they say.
Whether you are personally playing it or not, there are a lot of ambitious pirates trying to cram their way into Sea of Thieves with this week’s launch. Unfortunately for Rare, the studio has seen its servers struggle to keep up with the influx of players and perform as expected.
In fact, Sea of Thieves even disabled the ability for new players to join the game yesterday. “For those playing and those joining we are continuing to work on improvements to the game in order to ensure the playing experience will be optimal,” Rare said. “Please be patient as we are working on updates.”
For those who can get in, there’s a rush to be among the first to encounter the kraken and mysterious stranger. Have you been playing over the past day or two? What’s your take so far?
In Sea of Thieves, your character is a pirate roaming the high seas for boxes of treasure, but in real life you won’t need to exchange your own treasures for random in-game treasures. Design director Mike Chapman has stated that microtransactions are possible for the game post-launch, but loot boxes are definitely out of the question for future development. So you might drop a little coin to get a nice skin or cosmetic gear or whatever, but you won’t be looking at lootboxes no matter what.
Of course, if your computer can’t handle the game you probably won’t be looking at anything whatsoever, so you might want to check out the game’s system requirements before eagerly declaring that it’s a sailor’s life for you. The bare minimum specs still require a Windows 10 machine, so if you’ve stuck by an older operating system we’re sorry to inform you that Windows ME is no longer going to keep you in the game. Check out the chart to see if you need to upgrade, and if you refer to buying new hardware as “trimming up the mainsail” in the checkout line, the employees at the store likely won’t care.
The beta client for Sea of Thieves has been updated once again, but don’t get your hopes up about playing it right way, as the game is still inaccessible. What you should get your hopes up about is the fact that a new build means a new bunch of stuff to datamine, and that means hints about what’s coming next for the game’s development and the player experience. Among the things that have been found in the current build? References to an open beta and Order of Souls quests.
Open beta is, of course, what it sounds like: The Order of Souls is the faction pirates can curry favor with by sailing in pursuit of mystical and magical phenomenon. The build also contains new options in the pirate generator, new styles for pocketwatches and spyglasses, more hideout objects, and various other bits of game information. Obviously, nothing has yet been officially announced, but it’s a significant burst of forward movement for players eager to learn whatever they can about the title ahead of further testing and release.
The seas of closed beta be choppy ones for the stoutest ship to navigate, but many captains who seek the blue in Sea of Thieves have found their efforts brought low by an accursed error. Two errors, if your tale be true! But the right fortunate news is that some have discovered how to tack into the wind when this error is a-spied on the horizon; the only catch is that ye must retrieve your doubloons from the digital store of Microsoft what sold ye the title in the first.
Aye, those who request a refund from the direct purchase on the Box of X and then purchase a fresh copy of the game on Amazon have been proper reporting that the closed beta works correctly, so fairly warned be ye. Alas, those captains falling afoul of the fabled BronzeBeard error code have yet to be seen again, and we know not if the sea may ever give up the dead thus confined to her briny depths. Know that ye have one fix, just the same, for my tale be a true one; also know that none shall think ye a coward for waiting until these errors be proper corrected.
Rare has a new Sea of Thieves video out this week that is a listicle… a listavid? I don’t know. It’s a video that is a list, and this particular list talks up 10 of the game’s high points: its “quintessential pirateness,” friendship-oriented gameplay, deep exploration, opportunity to write your own legend, console/PC crossplay, stream-friendliness, and Rare’s own experience building games, welcoming community, and current test schedule. Mutiny not required!
My favorite, however, is #4’s appeal to MMO players specifically.
“This world is a shared world,” Rare says. “Every sail on the horizon is a crew of real players on their own adventures. How you behave when you cross paths is up to you.”
It’s a quick (and staggeringly pretty) watch below.
As I mentioned in MassivelyOP’s Best of E3 Overthinking article, I came away from this year’s con thinking Sea of Thieves was the best playable online multiplayer game with a playable demo there, despite that demo being “terrible.” What I mean by “terrible” is that it created the potential for some of the worst parts of gaming to come true. There’s a reason most MMOs demo a battleground, boss fight, or newbie experience: Those are easy to demo, especially for non-MMO fans. Some demos give players a zone to explore, which is better, when done well. Rarely are people put into a situation where the entire demo requires coordination, but Rare did it, and it paid off, despite the fact that it’s not selling an MMO.
Allow me to explain.
Alpha is beginning for Rare’s pirate-themed sailing MMO Sea of Thieves — technical alpha, that is, for a thousand lucky Windows 10 players.
“Starting this Saturday, May 20th, we’ll be inviting a small initial batch of players to test this first PC release on Windows 10. This test will run from 7 – 10 p.m. BST, and it will be open for these 1,000 invited PC players only. And when we say small, we mean it: this won’t be an armada of PC players just yet. We’re looking to invite around 1,000 Windows 10 Technical Alpha testers to start.”
Rare says that you lucky thousand seafarers will be focused on auto-detection – “how effectively the game analyses and assigns low, medium, high, or ultra settings” – as well as generating feedback on control schemes. It’s basically the same build features from the Xbox One tech alpha.
“Similarly to our Technical Alpha on Xbox One, we’ll be starting slowly but gradually building up our audience,” says the studio.
What’s going on right now with the piratey Sea of Thieves? The game is currently in its technical alpha (the best kind of alpha there is!), with the team occasionally posting developer gameplay videos to entertain and enlighten the masses.
In this week’s Tales from the Tavern Podcast, the team discusses those play sessions, the recent additions to the game, and a studio update. The team also hinted at some things to come, such as “putting emergent things into the world to mess with the players.”
Curious about when Sea of Thieves will be coming out? Previously the team had said “early 2017,” but in the show comments, they clarified that “we haven’t announced a release date yet. Fully focused on the Tech Alpha for now!”
Check out the full hour podcast below!