Sea of Thieves is one of those games in which every game is a surprise, and where there is never a lack of good humor and wonder. It has been almost four years since we set sail for the first time in a world of brave pirates in search of wonders and fantastic treasures in lands sprinkled with innocent humor. Last June we enjoyed A Pirate’s Life, the content that brought together Pirates of the Caribbean and Sea of Thieves, a collaboration almost predestined since Rare jumped on board. Now, Rare presents the roadmap of new adventures for Sea of Thieves, which will renew the gaming experience. We at MeriStation have had the opportunity to chat with the studio to tell us in better detail.
A more dynamic adventure system
"Looking back at last year, it seems crazy, with Pirate's Life and the reception it got," recounts Mike Chapman, creative director of Sea of Thieves. "Since we started the project, we love to reinvigorate it with new things, and bring more progress for players. But we do have to be honest in one respect: at the start of each season, we were seeing players sign up enthusiastically, but then the experience became very static, so that got us thinking about how to maintain interest in the content, make it more dynamic, and bring a touch of mystery to it."
Joe Nate, Executive Producer, outlines what Sea of Thieves' ambitious new path is all about. On February 17, the next season of Sea of Thieves sets sails with Shrouded Islands, which begins the arc of future content updates that incorporate new tools, systems, and game elements, as well as the start of the progression of seasons and emissary ledgers. The most notable new feature is the Adventures: chapters that will be part of an overall narrative arc in the game and will bring more lore to the Sea of Thieves universe. "Each event is the episode of a larger narrative with which we seek to engage players on an emotional level," clarifies Nate. We want the Sea of Thieves universe to grow and always offer new stories, with key moments in the adventure. The progress of these adventures will also have an impact on the game itself. An example of this is the Golden Sands battle, where we will arrive to see how the island has been devastated. The team confessed that seeing such an iconic place broke their hearts a bit, although this will serve as the starting point of an exciting story for players.
As for the Mysteries, these will be given in parallel to the Adventures. These are small secret missions that will offer puzzles to the player and in which we will develop a story. An example of this is the investigation of a murder, in which we will discover who the murderer is and their motivation. Finding these Mysteries will be similar to hunting for an Easter egg, since they will be found all over the world. As the community progresses in solving a mystery, new clues will become available.
A changing sea
Likewise, the next seasons of Sea of Thieves will include new mechanics and ways to explore new territories, more closely tied to the narrative. Likewise, the story will develop as the community positions itself on one side or the other. "We want players to play a vital role in the adventures and get involved beyond being spectators," says Nate. As a teaser, we have been shown the sea forts as new locations. "One of them will be a Spanish colonial fort, and we'll be fighting ghost officers of the Spanish fleet," Chapman adds.
After the release of the first adventure on February 17, we will get a new episode every 3 weeks or every month. Lasting approximately 45 minutes or 1 hour, we will only be able to play each event during the time it is available. "Each of the adventures has a very transformative impact on the world of Sea of Thieves itself, so it is not possible to replay old chapters once their period has passed," Nate points out. They also hope that this adventure system will also be welcoming to new pirates joining Sea of Thieves.
Farewell to Arena, the competitive mode
However, certain sacrifices have been necessary to build this new vessel. Mike Chapman elaborates: "If we want the adventure system to improve Sea of Thieves, we have to optimize development time and invest it in a satisfying and stable experience for players". In order to do so, Rare is shutting down the competitive Arena mode, a decision that has been tough for the team. "We are aware that this decision will not please everyone and we will soon share details on what this closure will look like and how we will compensate dedicated Arena players.
Mike Chapman, excited about the new journey that awaits the pirates, reflects on the Sea of Thieves journey: “The SOT journey has been almost 4 years in the making and we’ve been very involved. The nice thing about Sea of Thieves is that there are always a lot of ideas to grow the community. In 2021 we had the best numbers and the community is constantly growing. A Pirate’s Life has been the biggest moment in SOT’s history and working with Disney has been a dream come true. And it’s impossible not to be inspired by ( the attraction of) Pirates of the Caribbean when you’re making a pirate game. Now, with the new Adventure system, we’re in for an exciting journey and we’ll see where it takes us.