Following months of teasers, Rare finally explained how Sea of Thieves' co-op mechanics work in practice last month, and my interest levels shot up a notch in turn. The developer has now dropped an extended eight minute-long snippet of in-game footage which looks suitably chaotic.
As Rare has mentioned previously, in Sea of Thieves each member of your team is ascribed a personalised role during treasure hunting operations. Specific checks and balances stand to ensure this works in practice—for example, the world map can only be viewed below deck which means one player must hop downstairs, check the map, and relay the directions to the rest of the crew above while navigating the ship.
In the footage below, collaboration among the team appears to work well initially—to the point where certain crew members begin serenading those hard at work with accordion-levied sea shanties. After reaching their destination, the team successfully locates a box of treasure, before setting off again. They then encounter a rival vessel and things go decidedly downhill from thereon.
This division of labour idea really interests me, however I think it's best portrayed when things aren't going well. When the dev team is attacked by the opposing pirate ship above, I love how hectic things become—suddenly certain crew members are launching counterattacks, some are frantically defending their treasure, and others are scrambling below deck, trying in vain to patch up their sinking ship. It looks stressful but great fun.
Sea of Thieves is still without a concrete release date, however it is expected to launch in the first half of this year as a Microsoft cross-buy Play Anywhere game. More information can be found via the game's site.