I always felt like something was missing from Sea of Thieves. I loved the sailing and general moment-to-moment play of Rare's open world pirate sim, but the game's thin worldbuilding and lack of meaningful questlines often left me feeling adrift. Rare has made admirable attempts to right the ship with additional quests and storytelling since launch, but it still never quite captured my imagination in the way I hoped it might.
Anyway, it appears the reason I never gelled with Sea of Thieves is simply because it wasn't Monkey Island. I know this because Microsoft has just announced an expansion to Sea of Thieves themed around LucasArts' legendary adventure games, and suddenly I couldn't be more excited to set sail in Rare's a-vast ocean.
Fittingly titled "The Legend of Monkey Island", the expansion is a three-part adventure that will see players freely exploring key locations from the series, such as Mêlée Island and the eponymous simian landmass, as well as meeting the series' most famous characters like Lechuck, Elaine, Murray the Talking Skull, and of course, Guybrush Threepwood, mighty pirate.
According to an Xbox Wire interview with Sea of Thieves' Creative Director Mike Chapman, the Legend of Monkey island is set after the third game 'Curse of Monkey Island,' and asks the question "What if Guybrush and Elaine had their honeymoon in the Sea of Thieves?" It seems this is a canonical story, too, with Chapman adding "we wanted to pull from the most beloved elements of the franchises while also trying to pick a time period where an untold story could be unveiled."
The expansion isn't just a thematic infusion of both games, it also aims to bring some mechanical elements over from LucasArts' original adventures, including puzzles designed to be solved in a point-and-click style. "You can speak to the characters, and start to understand what the puzzles are going to be as they slowly unfold in front of your eyes," Chapman explains.
It's a neat collaboration for its own sake. But I'm excited by this for a more specific reason too. I've always wondered what an open-world (or should that be open-sea) Monkey Island game might look like, with actual sailing and cartoonish swashbuckling thrown into the mix with the daft jokes and dafter puzzles. Monkey Island strikes me as a setting that would work on a larger scale, all it requires is that you maintain the series' particular tone.
And frankly, this doesn't seem that far off what I'd imagined. Sea of Thieves has always had a slightly Monkey Island-ish attitude, embracing goofiness and fun over, say, an authentic portrayal of the horrifying effects of scurvy on the human body. So a Monkey Island crossover doesn't require that much massaging to make it fit. In any case, I'm very keen to see how exactly Rare and Lucasarts' worlds mesh together.
Sea of Thieves' Monkey Island adventure weighs anchor on July 20.