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Feature: How Sea of Thieves’ random events made a lasting impression

Sea of Thieves Screenshots

At large showcase events you generally get to see a lot of games, but only a little bit of each. It’s hard to a make a judgement on a 15 minute demo, but those special games will grab a hold of you from the off, and have you crying out for more once you’re done. A few weeks ago, Microsoft let a number of games media folk into a dimly-lit function room with the intention of letting them go wild on a few upcoming Xbox One games. Out of everything there — and I’m as surprised as anyone with what I’m about to say — Sea of Thieves left the biggest impression.

Seen as Rare’s comeback to proper games, the veteran studio’s pirate-themed co-op affair isn’t something that would normally interest me. I don’t mean anything bad by that, I just don’t generally go for these ‘create your own adventure with friends’ style titles. When I give a stand-up comedian money, I want them to make me laugh; I don’t want to write my own gags using his pen and paper. For the 20 or so minutes I had with Sea of Thieves, I was happy to use the Leicester-based developer’s biro, though.

On PC, this looks an absolute treat: inviting waters crash up against hulking ships, and sunlight illuminates lush islands that bare treasure for you to unearth. That was my first goal, in fact: locate a treasure chest on an island. Helped along by my teammates that were working the event, I jumped on a vacant pirate ship and set sail for a nearby island, so we could line our pockets with silver and gold. I steered the vessel while everyone else did the hard work of looking after the sails. All in all, it was a smooth enough journey (except for the part where I narrowly missed a humongous rock that was in no way difficult to see from distance) and we parked up by a postcard-looking paradise. What impressed me about Sea of Thieves is how free it feels; there was no waypoint on the map telling us where the treasure was, or even where we were. We had to figure out our position by spotting landmarks on the map near our person. I We They eventually found where we needed to dig, and after a few thrusts of the shovel, we were rolling in pirate dough. A rollicking success.

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