One week after launch, Sea of Thieves is sailing the choppy ocean of live operation with two million players already. The developers uploaded an update video about the “hectic” week they’ve had and the preparations for the game’s first post-launch patch.
With demand for Sea of Thieves “off the charts,” Rare is working hard to scale the game’s servers to allow everyone to get on and play. Other issues, such as rewards not appearing and character details disappearing, are being investigated and fixed.
Today’s Patch 1.01 — which pretty much requires players to re-download the entire 20GB client — deploys a host of fixes and performance upgrades. Get the lowdown on the pirate life after the break!
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).
Rare has a reason to rejoice this week, as Sea of Thieves has sailed to a number one spot on the sales chart in the UK. The studio has only done this twice before, with Rare Replay (2015) and Banjo-Kazooie (1998). There are no specifics on how many titles have been sold, although this is a good indicator that the multiplayer pirate sim has enjoyed a strong start.
It’s going to need it, though. Sharp criticism has emerged from both players and even one past artist on the project of the game’s shallow repetition and meager content offerings.
Former Sea of Thieves artist Rob Beddall said that warning signs were popping up years ago internally, but Rare did not address them: “A lot of internal people voiced their concerns that the game was insanely repetitive and shallow. This was about a year a go before I left. I guess nothing has changed.”
Forget group-kicks: If you’re a tool in Sea of Thieves, your own shipmates might just opt to stuff you in the brig – “a holding cell located on the bottom of the ship that disruptive players can be sent to after a democratic vote is held by their shipmates,” explains Polygon in a piece last week. The idea is to give toxic or obnoxious players a chance to apologize or shape up, even roleplay their way out of the situation they created.
This kind of penalty isn’t entirely new to MMOs, whether we’re talking jail in Ultima Online or Age of Wushu, but it’s certainly creative, right? At least as long as the majority of your ship isn’t toxic and you’re the one being shoved into a cell.
What’s the most creative in-game way you’ve seen an online game studio thwart toxicity?
Do you have too much money? Awesome. Star Citizen has some ideas for where you can spend it – say, on some new ships? Some old ships? Some reskinned ships? Some ships you missed the first time ’round? Some ships you want to upgrade to? Some ships you could’ve gotten cheaper if you’d done it ages ago?
“To commemorate the incoming 3.1 patch, we are offering a War Bond option to give you all one final chance to pledge for this selection of flyable ships at their original concept prices,” says CIG. The roster includes versions of the Anvil Terrapin, Tumbril Cyclone, MISC Razor, Aegis Reclaimer, Aopoa Nox Kue, RSI Constellation Aquila, MISC Prospector, and Drake Dragonfly.
Meanwhile, Chris Roberts dropped by the live Reverse the Verse yesterday to discuss the state of the game, compare it to Sea of Thieves (he says SC has more content but is less polished, which sounds about right), and ponder a minimum viable product for the masses who evidently prefer playing video games to testing them (crazy, huh?). To that end, CIG has posted what it’s calling the Alpha 3.2 Feature Survey for backers to essentially allow them to vote on which features the team focuses on for the next-next update.
Sea of Thieves’ character customization got you down? Star Citizen won’t be making that mistake. This week’s Around the Verse details the game’s roadmap for the character customizer arriving with the 3.1 alpha – and yes, tweaking your dudes and dudettes is going to be a game in itself.
“The character customizer being introduced in Alpha 3.1 is being polished by several teams working to fine-tune this highly anticipated feature,” says CIG’s Eric Kieron Davis. “The gameplay feature team is tweaking the options for eye and skin color as well as the way they’re presented within the customizer. We want to make sure the interface is intuitive and responsive as possible and the UI team continues to make adjustments to the customizer to ensure that. The character customizer is one of the most exciting new features coming online with Alpha 3.1, as it will allow citizens to begin their journey, creating an avatar that can fully represent them within the Star Citizen universe.”
Citing “unprecedented numbers” of players rushing in to play Sea of Thieves over the past few days, Rare has acknowledged the multitude of issues that have cropped up since launch. These include access difficulties, delayed rewards, delayed achievements, performance problems, and missing items.
To take your mind off of these troubling portents is Lord of the Rings and Stranger Things actor Sean Astin, who stars in a trio of short trailers in which he takes a tour group around the “Museum of More Pirate.” Samwise Gamgee the Pirate? We thought Hobbits couldn’t swim!
The team also indicated that it will patch in a “death tax” in an upcoming patch as a gold sink for players who die. The specific rate has not been established, but it sounds as though players will have to pay a variable fee depending on how they kicked the bucket.
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?
Not playing Sea of Thieves for its launch today? You can still get your pirate on in an MMORPG: RuneScape has rolled out the punny Pieces of Hate update.
“RuneScape returns to the high seas today, launching Pieces of Hate, the epic finale to one of the MMORPG’s longest running stories. The concluding voyage of the 13-year old pirate quest series challenges players as they dive into the depths of underwater expeditions, conquer sea monsters, and battle zombie pirates, and is released just two weeks after RuneScape introduced deep-sea fishing into the game for the first time.”
Jagex says the questline will ultimately upgrade players’ teleporting books and create a use for rum that isn’t just drinking it – although why you’d waste good rum like that, I have no idea. Just remember that you’ll need 68 fishing to actually deep-sea fish, and you’re going to need an assortment of decently leveled skills to actually take meaningful part in the new content too, including agility, thieving, firemaking, and construction.
It’s officially Sea of Thieves day; the game launched here in the US in the wee hours of this morning. During our awards rollout at the end of 2017, I called Sea of Thieves one of my most anticipated multiplayer games for 2018. At the time, I could easily imagine my MMORPG guildies, already fond of playing pirates, rolling into the game to crew a ship on the high seas.
But last year’s hype seems to have faded away over the last few months as a critical mass of gamers checked out the pre-launch version of the game and came away with more questions than answers about the game’s PvE content, its unchecked PvP, and maybe above all else, its downsized character creation system. It never was an MMO, but these revelations made it seem even less an MMO than a lot of folks had been led to believe after the E3 demos, subduing the buzz.
How about you? Are you playing Sea of Thieves? Are you waiting to see how it develops? Or have you given it a hard pass?
Ahoy and avast and all that, pirate peeps. Are you ready for Sea of Thieves’ official launch? If you’re in Australia, you’re already in. The rest of us will find the servers opening up throughout the day and into tomorrow.
Here in the US, west coast players will be able to charge in tonight at 9 p.m. PDT, while east coast players will be in at midnight EDT on what is technically Tuesday, March 20th. Bummer.
Incidentally, there is a day-one patch, but it’s not anything to freak out over – just some snark.
You can see the whole unlock list on the official site, and then get caught up on the scene since open beta testing began – including concerns over PvP and a lack of content and customization. We’ve tucked the launch trailer and new Sean Astin live-action trailer down below too.
One of the concerns that some players have held about Sea of Thieves, especially after its public betas, is that the pirate game appears to be a little light on content and goals.
Fortunately, Rare has a lot more tricks up its sleeve for both launch and beyond. In a developer livestream, the studio discussed more content than it had previously been promoting, including different kinds of PvE skeletons to fight, hidden lore books to discover (with special rewards attached), and the pursuit of legendary status. This endgame activity will give player pirates access to their own secret hideouts and a new faction that has its own types of voyages.
Also in the works? Player-owned ships, pets, campaign events, and the ability to save favorite pirate characters on the random generator.
Rare released the launch trailer for next week’s release, so give that a good gander after the break!