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Sea of Thieves is Rare's grog-drinking, accordion-playing pirate silliness simulator

Hayden Dingman | June 22, 2016
Sea of Thieves was our favorite game of E3 2016—at least, what little of the game currently exists.

“What’s SprintyJohn doing?” I heard one of my teammates say over chat. Let me tell you what I—SprintyJohn, world-renowned pirate—was doing: I was standing on the prow of our ship, playing my accordion as we sailed headlong into battle. While others unfurled the sails and manned the cannons, I played accordion. As cannonballs flew over my head, I played the accordion. As my fellow pirates patched up holes in the ship, I played accordion.

And what was I playing? What song rang out across the waves? A wheezing version of “Ride of the Valkyries,” of course.

Sea of Thieves is amazing.

Drink up, me hearties

More than amazing. Sea of Thieves is one of the best games I played at E3 2016.

It took me by complete surprise. Prior to getting my hands on it, the most exciting thing about the game was “It’s made by Rare,” and that’s not exactly saying much in 2016. Rare has a great pedigree but not much to show for the last decade or so barring Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts and a few Kinect games. A pair of trailers during Microsoft’s E3 press conference didn’t inspire me with any more confidence, and so when I sat down to play Sea of Thieves it was with zero expectations.

Sea of Thieves

And then I spent twenty minutes laughing my eye-patch off.

At least in its current incarnation, Sea of Thieves puts you into a crew of five, gives you a ship, and bids you set sail. That’s it. No goals, no objectives, no missions. Just you, four strangers, some mugs of ale, and the sea.

It’s still enthralling. One of the key features of Sea of Thieves is that you’re actually responsible for manning the ship. Everything from the sails to the wheel to the anchor is under the crew’s direct control. (And while five people were in our crew here, Rare says there is currently “no cap” planned for how many crew members you can have on the same ship in the final game.)

So a typical session might look like this: Four crew members grab onto the wheel to raise the anchor. The fifth takes over steering. Once the anchor is up, one member lets down the sails while a second climbs to the crow’s nest to look out for enemy ships. The other two play accordion, or maybe get drunk off grog.

Sea of Thieves

Spotting an enemy ship, the lookout yells “Hard to...wait, is starboard left or right? Ah, screw it. Go right!” Then he jumps out of the crow’s nest and lands on the deck without a scratch. One crew member starts firing a cannon into the air for no reason. Another crew member falls overboard and then says “Hey wait! Wait for me!” The person steering crashes the ship into an island because he also drank his grog.

 

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