WTMG Opinion Piece

How Sea of Thieves Could Be Microsoft’s Next Big Franchise

No pressure, Rare.

There is no doubt that Microsoft had a rough 2017 as far as software releases go. There were delays, cancellations, a confusing E3 that wasn’t very clear on what was actually an exclusive title or not. But there is one new IP that I haven’t lost faith in even after the delays and a few lack luster gameplay showings, and that is Sea of Thieves. A brand new IP from Rare that isn’t focused on the Kinect (thank goodness!), and that looks like it captures the silly, gameplay focused spirit of their older titles. Let’s take a look into why I think Sea of Thieves could be Microsoft’s next big franchise!

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An Ever Expanding Sea

As I’m sure everyone is aware, Sea of Thieves is a multiplayer focused pirate game where you will set on many journeys across the vast sea to become the most renowned pirate. What has me excited about the way Rare is handling the exploration is that every island is completely handcrafted. The only things that are procedurally generated are the random ship wrecks that you can dive in and explore. This gives Rare the ability to ensure there is structure to their world.

The great thing about a game set on the seas’ is that it is also virtually limitless as far as expanding the map. This is where Rare can really dive in and provide a ton of after launch support and continuously add more and more content to their world by adding more outposts and islands to explore. Considering this is also a pseudo-MMO game they will be able to add new public events on new islands, or a special island with a boss that your server all needs to travel to and take down. There really aren’t many restrictions on them creatively as long as MS is willing to keep supporting them financially to provide regular and frequent updates and content.

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Post Launch Booty

Like previously mentioned, Rare is setting up Sea of Thieves to be an ever expanding game, so let’s look into what the game is and could be. There has been some good information coming out about exactly what we are going to be able to do in the game. There are factions to rank up in, riddle quests, human and AI bounty quests, resource and animal gathering for factions and of course good ol’ treasure hunting. Now, not everything has been announced, but that’s not going to stop me from speculating here.

There have been hints that there will be public events, of what nature or size has yet to be revealed, but one fantastic rumor is a Kraken boss where the server you’re on will have to group up to take him down within a time frame. They could add in a section of a map that is always storming and filled with AI ghost ships as a public event. Battling ghost ships and storming sea would be a great time with your friends. Moving outside of public events, they could even add special missions like tracking down Davy Jones and Black Beard etc. A faction could even request you taking them alive and returning them for a bounty. We also know they are not shying away from using mythical beasts. Having to track down and kill Sirens, Banshees and all sorts of monsters besides skeleton bosses would be a nice addition to the game.

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Be Your Own Pirate

Recently announced is that there will be smaller ships to sail alone or just with a second partner. This is fantastic news for the folks who don’t have a full crew of friends or don’t care to get joined up with randoms. But this also brings up some more questions of what that’s going to limit you to.

Rare needs to make sure they balance this well because this is where a lot of the single player folks are going to walk the plank and not come back. Smaller ships need to be quicker and more agile, allowing them to out maneuver the large ships so they aren’t at a massive disadvantage. There also needs to be a healthy amount of additional quests a single player can embark on. Don’t add too many things that require multiple crew members to succeed or it will alienate the single player fan base. Treasure finding, riddle solving, resource gathering is all easily done single player, so lets make sure we keep it balanced for our small crews.

I would like to also cover how to handle the annoying one in your crew, the griefers and campers. Every part of Sea of Thieves is online and every boat you see in the distance is a player controlled boat (for now). This adds a lot of tension to every situation. You’ll constantly have to be on the look out for scalawags camping the outposts or looking to just sink your boat and steal your hard earned booty. Such is the life of a pirate. This is why I suggest that certain outposts where you can turn in your chests should be friendly zones. Perhaps these zones have a smaller payout then a blackmarket dealer, but you don’t have to worry about a crew killing you right before you’re about to cash in that epic treasure chest you spent an hour finding. These zones can be areas to recruit and socialize with other players without the worry of being stabbed in the back. Crews out on the seas should also have the ability to have a vote system to make a player ‘walk the plank’ (boot them from the team) so you don’t have to deal with a griefer on your team.

Being your own pirate also means being able to customize your characters and your boats. It has been confirmed that your characters and your boats can all be customized and while they haven’t showed off the ship customizing yet, this is something they can easily keep expanding upon. Which brings me to a point about the dreaded Micro Transactions. MTs have been confirmed to be in the game, but only for the cosmetic items. All progression is tied to actually playing the game, everyone can obtain all the same weapons so no one has an advantage over the other (unless you bring your cutlass to a blunderbuss fight).

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A Dreary Pirate Life

I know I have been going on about all the things I hope Sea of Thieves will be and that it someday could be, but lets also put a critical eye on what it is as of now.

Sea of Thieves is a lot of fun, in short bursts and if you have a good crew. I was able to play the early closed alpha tests as the updates where rolling out and I had a blast each time I did. Every crew I got into was fun, patient and helpful, mostly because we all didn’t know exactly what we were doing. But there got to be a point where it started getting a bit dull just finding the ‘X’ on the map. There also weren’t very many opportunities to get into an PvP maps since the player size wasn’t large for the closed testings.

This is where Sea of Thieves is either going to shine or be quickly swept under the rug a couple months after launch and that is in its content and how frequently new content will be added. Obviously there will be players who will just love the open sea exploration, but for players like myself who need an objective, we need more intriguing things to cycle through than just finding treasure on a map. The recent news has definitely helped ease some of that worry with the additions of factions and bounties etc. but there needs to be that constant evolution in a game like this. There needs to be a hook that keeps players logging in every day and I just don’t think they’ve found that yet. Or at least haven’t announced it yet.

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Sea of Thieves is in an interesting spot where I can absolutely see Rare’s vision in what they’re creating and I can also envision the limitless possibilities they have with this IP, but at the same time I can also see them sinking their own ship due to lack of support. If Rare and Microsoft team up and back this game fully, there’s no doubt in my mind that Sea of Thieves could be their next massive Multiplayer IP. It certainly has the ground work laid out, now lets hope the execution and the support carry it forward to 2018’s stand out new IP.

Do you have any questions or any other ideas for Sea of Thieves? If you do then shoot me a comment and let’s chat!

 

 

GameStop, Inc.

Our resident Californian ginger, also one of the only ones on the team who has a family (aka life). When he’s not taking care of sick kids he’s playing games with a wife who’s just as much a gamer as him or actually reviewing them for us, making him a valuable member of the team. Even if he’s pretty much stolen all our souls. His favorites include Dark Souls, Fallout 2, Majora’s Mask, and Shadow of the Colossus.

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