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"Attention PlayStation users! Rare's highly anticipated pirate game, Sea of Thieves, has officially launched on a new platform."
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“Attention PlayStation users! Rare’s highly anticipated pirate game, Sea of Thieves, has officially launched on a new platform.”


One evening several months ago, Mike Chapman, the leader of the creative team for the cooperative pirate game, Sea of Thieves, joined producer Joe Neate to play the game. This was not a typical playtest, as they were joined by a crew of players whom they had never played with before – a team from Sony Interactive Entertainment. The plan to bring the Xbox exclusive game to PS5 had just been formed, and this was an opportunity to go into the details. Neate says, “We were informing them about the game and discussing its unique features.” Chapman adds, “It was such a surreal experience trying to find treasure on an island with a group from a different platform.”

The release date for the PS5 is set for April 30th, and pre-orders are now available. However, this is just the current step in the evolution of the exciting game known as Sea of Thieves. Developed by veteran British studio Rare, it was launched on March 20th, 2018 and is considered their most ambitious project to date. The game offers a cooperative pirate experience, allowing players to explore a vast multiplayer world filled with buried treasure and epic ship battles. The game’s design focuses on giving players the necessary tools rather than imposing strict rules. This approach carries a considerable risk, as players are free to create their own pirate adventure without a predetermined storyline, skill progression, or complex character development systems. The potential for unique and thrilling stories lies within players as they gather their crews and engage in battles with other pirates for fame and fortune.

Sea of Thieves.View image in fullscreen

After encountering technical issues upon its initial release, Sea of Thieves eventually gained a loyal following and saw success. Since 2018, there have been approximately 100 updates and expansions, including new content inspired by Pirates of the Caribbean and Monkey Island. The introduction of elements like commodities and captaincies has brought depth to the gameplay, but Chapman believes that the longevity of the game can be attributed to the emphasis on player agency and role-playing support. He notes, “We provide players with simple yet powerful tools, allowing them to unleash their creativity. It has been our goal to remain true to this concept.”

Supporting a diverse community has been crucial to our success. According to him, this is an important aspect of establishing a shared world. Whenever we implement a new game mechanic, it may seem simple, but it must consider the fact that it will be used in a communal setting. The mechanic must accommodate a variety of player motivations, as PvP and PvE players will utilize it differently. We put a lot of effort into designing mechanics that will not only enhance gameplay over an extended period of time, but also prevent unwanted emergent gameplay patterns. Our team prioritizes understanding player psychology to ensure that our game mechanics promote the types of stories we want to see. This is where our design team is currently focused.

How did it feel to consider opening the game to a completely new community? According to Neate, at the leadership level, there was initially excitement and then the question of how it could be done. Going to Steam with the game beforehand helped them prepare for the technical aspect and also brainstorm ways to connect with and establish the game in a different community.

Sea of Thieves

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Rare is developing for a Sony platform for the first time in its 40-year existence, which is remarkable. It was a surreal experience for the team to receive slides about a platform they never thought they would have a chance to work on. However, their tech team was eager to start experimenting and learning about it, so they kept the kits secret and secluded. The team was both excited and curious about this opportunity.

Neate states that Rare is collaborating with co-developers who possess PlayStation knowledge and that Sony has been exceptionally cooperative by scheduling frequent catchup calls and providing its technical team for assistance whenever necessary, even during the confidential stages of the project. Neate amusingly adds that while visiting Sony’s studios, they had to refrain from wearing Sea of Theives merchandise, which one can imagine the reasoning behind.

One significant advantage of preparing for the arrival of a new community is that it has allowed the team to pause and reassess the structure of the game. Season 11 of the game was launched in January with the understanding that PS5 players would be joining, prompting a revision of the onboarding system. This has resulted in a more cohesive pirate journey, with content becoming available at a more manageable pace, and a quest board highlighting the locations of previously hidden items in artefacts or on the map. Additionally, Rare has plans to introduce an offline solo mode in the March update. According to Neate, this mode will not require Xbox Live or PlayStation Plus subscriptions and will allow players to experience all of the Tall Tales content and company progression as a solo player. It will serve as another way for players to appreciate the game before potentially deciding to engage in multiplayer gameplay.

Rare emphasizes that their recent efforts have been directed towards creating a user-friendly and intuitive experience, taking into account the upcoming PS5 community. However, they also have bigger plans in store. Dedicated fans have expressed their desire for new mechanics, systems, and tools, and these are in the works.

Chapman stated that in the past year, they have pushed the limits of what players can experience in Sea of Thieves. Features such as owning a ship, joining a pirate guild, and utilizing the quest table have been added, as well as updated tutorials. Safer Seas mode allows players to focus solely on that aspect and play through all the story content. The team’s focus now is on expanding these possibilities even further, adding more to captaincy and guilds. Moving forward, their aim is to continue enhancing the sandbox experience.

The passage has undergone a considerable journey since its launch six years ago, and Chapman and Neate, who have been with it from the start, continue to be enthusiastic. “We’re very excited about the new platform and the possibilities it brings,” says Chapman. “I believe we’ve positioned ourselves for many more years of a continuously improving game.”

Source: theguardian.com