Over the past few months, Rare has teased some of the features and mechanics that comprise its incoming treasure-hunting adventure sandbox Sea of Thieves via its 'Inn-Side Story' series. I've been steadily impressed with each passing instalment, however the latest is the first that's made me really want to give it a whirl.
Focussing on co-op, the following short sees lead designers Shelley and Andrew Preston discussing the roles players will assume when navigating their ships at sea and when locating their prize on land.
"Every single mechanic has been built to be social," says Shelley above. "We didn't want the person on the wheel to be able to sail the ship and see where they're going on the map and do everything all at once. Splitting it up so that the world map is on the middle deck is a deliberate decision so that the line of sight is broken, so that a crewmate needs to go down there, have a look, shout up to the guy on the wheel like, 'oh, we need to go north'."
Andrew adds: "Likewise, not all of the information is on the map either—the person on the wheel has some information and the person on the map has other information. All the rocks and smaller nuances of the world design—you have to see them."
Shelley then suggests that while the person on the wheel may not be able to see all the rocks and reefs ahead, a player in the crow's nest above, or out on the bow of the ship, will and therefore can help steer the players below. She says: "You all need to work together to give each other the information you need to navigate."
I've yet to play Sea of Thieves (it's launched an Insider Programme, should you be interested in early access) so will need to see how this works in practice to pass proper judgement, but the idea of ascribed roles—where the workload is evenly shared, and no player can rightly commandeer responsibility—out at sea sounds really cool. This idea carries over into the latter half of the above video, where only one player can carry the treasure map and his or her companions are forced to huddle round in order to get a decent view.
Sea of Thieves is without a concrete release date for now, however is expected to launch in the first half of this year as a Microsoft cross-buy Play Anywhere game.