This sightless Sea Of Thieves captain sails with the help of callouts and hurdy-gurdies

Sea Of Thieves fishing
(Image credit: Microsoft, Rare)

Piracy has never been exclusively the domain of the able-bodied. As true in 2020 as it was in the golden age of buccaneers, one Sea Of Thieves streamer is still proving that you don't need perfect eyesight to be a terror on the high seas.

As spotted by the scoundrels at Rock Paper Shotgun, streamer and accessibility consultant SightlessKombat joined Rare for a night of high-seas plunder earlier this week—providing insight into how he plays the ocean sandbox as a self-declared "Gamer Without Sight."

What follows is a masterclass in creative use of audio to direct himself around Sea Of Thieves' map. Starting from one of the game's taverns, SK uses the sounds of his crewmates' hurdy-gurdies to direct himself towards their ship. Once aboard, he takes the helm, steering effortlessly towards the target island with the crew acting as navigators. 

That he's mapping out an audible space while also chatting to the developers and listening in to his own stream's chat (delivered via a text-to-speech tool) is all the more incredible.

One highlight, in particular, is when the crew make landfall on an island infested with skellies. With several of his companions rushing ashore for swashbuckling treasure hunts, SK remains aboard with the cannons. Using his sighted crewmates as impromptu artillery spotters (and by listening for the distinct rattle of reanimated ribs), he manages to nail several shamblers before the crew scarper. 

Of course, throughout the stream, SK talks to the devs about Sea Of Thieves' accessibility features. Some, such as having text-to-speak options on menus, are always good shouts, but SK also finds novel use out of several smaller considerations—from using the compass' audible footstep tracker to navigate precisely, to using controller vibrations to help catch fish. 

It's not perfect. SK laments that he needs to use the website to check his progress towards pirate legend, or that navigating around the ship himself is a stumbling point. But Rare have an entire internal team dedicated to making the game more approachable to people like him, and SK seems to be in pretty frequent contact with them.

"It's mostly a matter of when, not if," SK explains at the 57-minute mark. "You can see the potential for it, and it just needs tweaks, improvements, and extra little things."

Natalie Clayton
Features Producer

20 years ago, Nat played Jet Set Radio Future for the first time, and she's not stopped thinking about games since. Joining PC Gamer in 2020, she comes from three years of freelance reporting at Rock Paper Shotgun, Waypoint, VG247 and more. Embedded in the European indie scene and a part-time game developer herself, Nat is always looking for a new curiosity to scream about—whether it's the next best indie darling, or simply someone modding a Scotmid into Black Mesa. She also unofficially appears in Apex Legends under the pseudonym Horizon.