| Benedikt Wenck |
SPRAY whips into the weather-beaten face of the pirate. In front of him the sea rises in wild waves, in the distance shine the first lights of a harbour town. There he’ll get to spend some of the loot from a big treasure find.
Lifting the treasure was not easy – a heavy storm, armed skeletons and venomous snakes all had to be faced. The treasure had to be dug up at the spot marked X and on the way home other pirates tried to seize it from him. It was only with the help of his three sinister companions that he managed to escape.
This and similar adventures can be experienced in ‘Sea of ??Thieves’, an online multiplayer game by developer Rare. In the era of the Nintendo 64, Rare produced top-notch titles such as ‘Banjo Kazooie’ and ‘Perfect Dark’.
Things got quieter after Microsoft bought the developer in 2002. Now with ‘Sea of Thieves’, Rare wants to get back on the map.
The concept behind it is a kind of mixture of ‘Destiny’, ‘Star Trek Bridge Crew’ and ‘Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag’. First, players choose a pirate in a random generator.
With up to three other players they then set sail to seek treasure. A lot takes place in the pubs of Caribbean islands where the crew receives missions.
The missions generally follow the same format: Find an item on an island and bring it back. The items can be treasure chests, the skulls of dead captains or even animals. As a reward the pirates receive gold pieces which they can trade for items for themselves or their ship.
Each successfully completed mission leads to a more complex one.
Other pirates are a constant danger as the world, with its big ocean and numerous small islands, is shared with other players. Some missions involve raids and ambushes on other pirate crews.
Cooperation within a crew is important as each ship has different tasks to be achieved from steering the ship to setting the sails. Then there’s loading and firing the cannons and repairing damage to the ship.
So it’s useful if crews can communicate by headset and assign tasks. Certainly a single player will have little chance upon encountering an enemy ship.
So far, however, the game offers relatively little content. There are only two ship models to choose from and the missions differ only slightly from each other.
Also, the scope of the items won as rewards leave much to be desired. For example, it takes a long time to win enough gold to buy a new sail.
Then there’s the ultimate danger to the ship, the monstrous Kraken, which at the moment consists of little more than a few tentacles protruding from the water.
Overall, one would wish for more opportunities for progress, more ships, longer adventures and different battles. Developer Rare has promised more content as the game grows over time.
Certainly with its breathtaking graphics, interesting setting and opportunities for interaction, ‘Sea of Thieves’ has the potential to be a big hit but right now it feels unfinished. Potential players might be best advised to wait a while before running off to sea. – Text & Photos by dpa