Pirates had a huge presence at E3 this year (Two games as a matter of fact, but in my mind only one matters). After the roaring success Rare Ltd. had a last year’s conference they came back had had some very cool things to show off.
In all honesty, I was not at E3…. that was Ryan’s privilege. BUT because he was so busy and I had time to play in the Technical Alpha available for E3 attendees at the Sea of Thieves booth I’m able to report on my extended experiences with this game. I’m not exactly sure how much play time the E3 hands on players are getting at the conference, but I would imagine it couldn’t be any more than 20 minutes at most. I was able to log in for the whole three hour play test session on Wednesday afternoon and another hour and half on Thursday. As a technical alpha participant I am still under NDA and cannot share any screenshots or video captures from my own play time, but like a true pirate I’ll steal the screenshots and trailers presented at E3 and from the public press release. YaHAAAAAR!!!!!!
So after seeing last year’s presentation I was enamored with the whole idea of being pirate on any type of adventure I wanted. This concept is one of the best I’ve seen for a cooperative video game, and the art direction taken makes this piece of work look absolutely fabulous. This Rare Ltd. team is without a doubt putting out their best work. The whole ambience from the dynamic seas and weather to the lighting present both day and night is just phenomenal! I’ve been lucky enough to have been participating in the technical alpha for a few months now and every time this game gets better and better.
This year Sea of Thieves brought to the table a bunch of new ideas and content. Yesterday was my first opportunity outside of the E3 trailers to see the new stuff, and by the beard of Long John Silver himself I was blown away! I wasn’t the only one impressed either; as a matter of fact, Sea of Thieves had such an impressive showing at E3 2017 that it was nominated for GameOctane.com Best of E3 2017. (Update: More on this later)
The first new feature to catch my eye was the new/updated weather system which brings storms and way rougher seas. YAAAARRR!!!! My crew and I were chased and gave chase to other crews directly into the storms for some pretty crazy sea battles, the outcomes for both fights allowed the pursued ship to get away without sinking, but there were times when the rain, waves and wind nearly capsized my trusted vessel (I know for sure that the yard [the cross beam] on our main mast was touching the water at one point). It was tense, crazy, and super fun.
Another feature shown at E3 was the new ways to find treasure. The first way demonstrated in the trailer and gameplay shown at E3 was the looting of a sunken ship. This addition was super cool. My crew found two separate shipwrecks, both of them had the ship nose down in the water and surrounded by sharks and seagulls. Only one of the wrecks had treasure on it, so it’s unclear if one of them had already been looted and or if it never had treasure to begin with. This made the exploration of each shipwreck a gamble. Do we leave the our own ship vulnerable to attack in the hopes of finding treasure? Or how many sharks are in the area? Because one shark isn’t too much danger, but multiple can be very hazardous. After assessing all these factors is it worth the possible water damage to my wooden peg leg or not? (hehehe just kidding). The questions I have about these shipwrecks include their permanence? And respawn rate? Will sunken player ships become these wrecks? Because currently once the ship goes down it disappears to be respawned for the player crews.
The second new way that treasure is discovered in Sea of Thieves are the riddle maps. This method for treasure hunting tapped into my inner Goonie to search and puzzle solve on the islands to which I was guided. This was super fun! And it brought a lot of attention to the recently added caves. Each cave was unique with different lighting, shrines, cave paintings, and waterfalls. I’m hoping and waiting for a full blown Goonies Easter Egg with a ship trapped in a giant cave swarming with undead skeletons. Finding this would take my already made year for gaming way over the top. One thing my crew ran into during my play session was a cursed treasure chest. This chest when carried would instantly make you drunk, so walking, swimming, and jumping were extremely difficult to do in a straight line. I look forward to other cursed chests and see how they change overall gameplay while holding or transporting them for $$$.
Other new additions since we saw this game last year include new character and enemy models (pirates, skeletons, and sharks). New ships with fancy figureheads and printed sails add way more details. This gets me excited to customize my own ship, as well as figure out what else is customizable for all of the awesome pirate adventures. The most surprising and fun addition to gameplay was the ability to launch yourself out of the cannon this can save you the swim to an island or help you sneak onto and board an enemy ship during a sea battle.
From port to starboard and bow to stern this game is a fantastic experience that I can see myself pouring hours and hours into. I’m looking forward to everything Rare has in store for all of us as we live out our true pirate fantasies. Even if all the fantasy includes is drinking barrels upon barrels of grog and puking everywhere while you stumble around, because someone has to the the pirate who drinks and hangs out with the pigs under a bridge…..
Now for the update, as of last night the crew at GameOctane.com has deliberated and voted. We are proud to announce that Sea of Thieves won the Best of E3 2017 award from GameOctane.com. It’s incredibly deserved as it brings awesomeness right to the palm of your hand, congrats to the other awesome game that were nominated. This was a good year for gamers, because the showing from developers was so strong. A huge thank you to all of them for their hard work!
E3 Gameplay Trailer