Sea Of Thieves’ “tools, not rules” design keeps it unique four years later

Sea of ​​Thieves weighs anchor and sets sail for its seventh season, which is now live. The free update is headlined by its new suite of Captaincy features, which allows players to name their ship, customize the Captain’s Cabin, and embark on all-new Captain’s Voyages, among many other new tools. For rare and long-time players, this update feels a bit like the culmination of the last four years as much as a new chapter.

The features coming to the game in Season 7 have been developed and requested for a long time, but they also seek to reshape the game in major ways for years to come. I recently sat down with Sea of ​​Thieves Creative Director Mike Chapman and Lead Designer Shelly Preston to discuss the journey so far, the major Season 7 update, and what’s next. could be on the horizon for the game. More than anything, I wanted to know why Sea of ​​Thieves still doesn’t have a close comparison in the gaming world. Where are the Sea of ​​Thieves likes?

Lecture en cours: Soyez plus capitaine : plongée officielle de la saison 7 de Sea of ​​Thieves

“Je pense que si vous nous aviez posé cette question en 2018, je pense que nous nous serions attendus, à ce jour, à peut-être au moins voir l’ADN ou l’inspiration”, a déclaré Chapman, ajoutant que l’équipe accueillerait plus de jeux où “le le cœur du gameplay est piloté par l’interaction joueur à joueur.” Pourtant, la paire a clairement indiqué que même s’ils manquaient de concurrence directe, ils ne manquaient pas d’inspiration. Le jeu lui-même fournit encore beaucoup.

“Sea of ​​Thieves est construit sur ce fantasme de pirate dont tout le monde a une idée, mais cela signifie en quelque sorte des choses légèrement différentes pour différentes personnes”, a déclaré Preston. “Pour certaines personnes, cela pourrait être des batailles plus acharnées et sanguinaires, ou pour quelqu’un d’autre, cela pourrait signifier l’émerveillement de mettre les voiles et de ne pas tout à fait savoir ce qui se profile à l’horizon. Et le fait que nous pouvons créer différents aspects qui parlent à tous de ceux-ci, mais ensuite il est habité par des joueurs qui sont tous des individus uniques, comme vous ne pouvez pas, vous ne pouvez pas concevoir cela, que les gens sont des gens. Et ils sont dans ce monde ensemble[…]I don’t think it will ever inspire us creatively.”

Even expansive open worlds such as GTA Online, Fallout 76, and No Man’s Sky, while they each resemble Sea of ​​Thieves in different ways, never quite capture Rare’s unique pirate game cadence. Its open lens is almost antithetical to most live games that can feel so relentless and reward-focused. Sea of ​​Thieves offers plenty of rewards for players, but more than other games, it feels like the journey is the destination.

The shared open-world setting gives players the brushes, but doesn’t tell them what to paint. To put it succinctly, consider the team motto, which Chapman says may need to get a tattoo on his back: “tools, not rules.”

So the Season 7 update is something of a bookend, the start of a new chapter in the game’s history that offers veteran players brand new ways to experience the open world, while also providing new players a more robust tool integration. .

Players looking to become captains can now purchase their own ship with in-game gold they earn by adventuring. They can then give it a name and customize their cabins with a new class of unlockable scenery and cosmetic items meant to tell the story of each captain without a word. Stock your shelves with Tall Tales trinkets to fondly reminisce about your first trek to the Shores of Gold, or fill the room with flaming statuettes if your greatest adventure was in The Devil’s Roar, Sea of ​​​volcanic biome. Thieves which serves something like the game is hard mode.

A captain's cabin will reflect their lived experiences like never before.
A captain’s cabin will reflect their lived experiences like never before.

Each captain’s ship will tell its story however it sees fit, much like the Day-One Eye Patches, Pirate Legend Hooks, and Wild Rose Jackets do for the Swashbucklers themselves. Optional cosmetic loadouts mean your ship will retain its aesthetics, right down to the patched-up holes in the hull, if desired. The Sea of ​​Thieves community is big on roleplaying – seriously, check out Twitter, where many of them tweet exclusively in character. This attention to detail is for them, and it’s what Chapman called “little magic touches.”

Another new wrinkle in the update is what Preston was hesitant to call quality-of-life features, including simplifying the first few moments of a new session. “It’s a balance,” she told me. “We’re adding new things and bringing new features and continuing to grow, but the things that are there aren’t going to get obsolete or left behind. They’re going to go with the journey.”

Historically, players would wake up on an outpost and spend a few minutes filling their ship with fruit, planks of wood, and cannonballs to better prepare themselves for what may lie ahead. But in the Captaincy update, captains can shorten this process to a simple transaction with outpost vendors: give them some gold and your ship will be stocked instantly.

Such a feature not only gives future new players a different view of the game than long-time players had when they arrived, it’s there for seasoned players as well. More than a quality of life solution, this system allows players to better play their role as captain of their own ship. Streamlining is almost like a bonus effect.

“I think as the game grows, it’s worth thinking about all the players, veteran players, new players, and also you feel it yourself,” Preston said. “We can go back and we can say, ‘There’s a better way to do this, we can improve this, we can bring something that will make this more efficient for the players. “”

Sovereign NPCs, dressed like the pretentious powdered wigs they like to think they are, now also await at every outpost, and they’ll streamline your loot trades by becoming a one-stop shop for selling chests, skulls, and more. Again. But due to their exaggerated self-perception, they only deal with captains – they don’t have time for an ordinary buccaneer. Collectively, that and the other new systems — naming your ship, maintaining its image across sessions, and paying for a little extra service — is why Rare considers updating Captaincy the VIP experience.

The Season 7 Update Scroll is longer than a Pirate Legend's to-do list.
The Season 7 Update Scroll is longer than a Pirate Legend’s to-do list.

As a longtime fan of the game, it’s clear to me that the sheer scale of new content in season 7 makes it one of the biggest updates in the game’s history, but with Captaincy finally scratched from the list, I was wondering what was left on the players’ wish list.

“Something magical and unexpected, something that moves the story forward in a big way[…], all those little musings of “I wish I could do that in Sea of ​​Thieves”. I think we have an example of features in production that tick all those boxes,” Chapman teased, pointing out that it’s too early to reveal exactly what he means.

“There are things that we’ve wanted to do for years that maybe the community doesn’t know about that are kind of more internal, we’ve always wanted to do that type of release as well. So there’s always a mix , there are things requested by the community, things that we also want to do, and then there are things that are a little more reactive[…]That’s the beauty of live service.”

“I think the game has gotten so much richer than what we launched in 2018,” Chapman said, “but it never lost heart.”

The products discussed here were independently chosen by our editors. GameSpot may get a share of the revenue if you purchase something featured on our site.

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