Rare talks captaincy, personalization, and waterfalls ahead of Sea of ​​Thieves’ big new update

For those who have been with Sea of ​​Thieves since its release in 2018, the captaincy update is a thing of legend; originally intended To be the first post-launch update of the multiplayer pirate adventure, it will give players the opportunity to get their own perpetual vessel out on the sea, and – in a proposition that still excites the pirate in me today – in a Begin the season in spectacular theatrical fashion, bursting through the giant waterfall of the legendary hideout in the world. But then Sea of ​​Thieves had a slightly wobbly launch, and the rare focused its attention on taking out the game’s sandbox After criticism of its limited origins. With this, the captaincy update was kept aside but never forgotten by the player base, gradually becoming the stuff of legend with the passage of time.

But then, earlier this year, it came back. as announced During Microsoft’s June ShowcaseThe captaincy and ownership of the boat, after this time, was back on the cards. Now, the wait is finally over, with Sea of ​​Thieves’ nearly five-year captaincy update launching later today. It promises to offer a detailed new framework for the adventures to come – unfortunately any watershed-destroying ship shenanigans – and before its arrival Eurogamer had the opportunity to chat with Rare, who hopes that Captaincy will bring you into the sea of ​​thieves.

“I think we all knew what it was like to be a ship captain in a game about delivering the ultimate pirate fantasy,” explains creative director Mike Chapman on the genesis of the update, even before we released Sea of ​​Thieves. The idea—the idea of ​​a ship captain, and the identity of that ship’s captain being expressed through a ship—was just something we’ve always wanted to do.”

Sea of ​​Thieves Season Seven – Official Content Update Video.

Essentially, Rare’s original plans have evolved as Sea of ​​Thieves has evolved, and today’s captaincy update, Chapman says, is “much deeper than we originally envisaged” back in 2018. . In fact, it goes beyond saveable cosmetics, an introduction that as chief designer Shelley Preston puts it, the confluence of systems, “build a framework for deep meaning and deep emotional connection for the player to their ship and their adventures”.

Captaincy in Sea of ​​Thieves extends to a breadth of new features, including a new progression system that is essentially – like last year’s seasonal progression model and, to a lesser extent, 2020’s messenger system – the game’s existing And one way to revamp the mechanics of the future to give players a new incentive to engage with them. But before that, it starts with a boat—more specifically, the ability to buy your own boat with the gold in the game.

Initially, players can own and name each type of ship (although once a ship reaches legendary status, more ships of that type can be purchased) and everything about these ships – unlike regular boats – Opposite – will persist between sessions. A boat’s name is permanent and will be announced remotely through a spyglass to other pirates; Its cosmetics will still apply at the start of a new season, as will battle scars reflecting on your past adventures, unless you opt to repair the ship. Customization goes even deeper now, with the overhauled captain’s cabin offering not only new opportunities for self-expression (you can reupholster everything from tables to drapes), but a home for new trinkets and trophies which are unlocked through the game and represent your remarkable achievements in the world.

Trinkets and trophies provide a way to further personalize your ship and show off your achievements.

Preston explains that the idea is to take the wealth of existing material from Sea of ​​Thieves and “[wrap] It kind of gives that extra meaning to the captain and crew… it takes your ship from being something that’s your home for a session – maybe you set it on fire at the end and that’s it. that is, you won’t see it again – for that permanent representation [your] journey.”

And if you’re wondering whether the ability to save ship’s position between seasons brings us closer to the much-requested ability to save the pirate’s on-person cosmetics, there’s some pretty good news. “It’s something a lot of us want to do,” Chapman says. “And it’s come to the fore lately, because we’ve been really pushing this with the ship. So it’s very much on the roadmap of the future… We love the idea of ​​people having little roleplay outfits called They formulate with different savings. Loadouts of different cosmetics. So that’s on the roadmap. It’s not scheduled for a specific season, but we’re going to try to bring that as soon as possible.”

Although Sea of ​​Thieves’ captaincy update introduces several captain-exclusive perks—the ability to re-stock barrels for gold on a shipwreck, a new one-stop drop-off point at an outpost run by the new Sovereign faction , and a wide selection of trips available directly onboard, giving players more control over the type and length of an adventure – it’s the new Milestone system that’s at the heart of it. In their simplest form, milestones serve as a sort of running record of your adventures—designed to appeal directly to players who love their stats, according to Preston—but it goes beyond that. Turns out, tying in a new progression system enables captains to pursue particular playing styles, either intentionally or systematically, known as alignments.

Captain-exclusive perks include access to the Sovereign at an outpost, which is a faster way to turn into treasure.

By reaching certain milestones, captains gain the ability to unlock displayable rewards and cosmetics that reflect their preferred playing style and their achievements within those alignments – some being permanently locked on that ship. on which they were earned, and others, such as the Shroud Ghost Trophy, tied to individual pirates so that crew members could continue their progress while serving under another captain.

“While milestones are stats,” Chapman explains, “they are uncapped stats, and you almost cash out and reach thresholds where you gain access to these trophies that uniquely describe what you’ve achieved. But there are stats beyond that, that doesn’t run anything and they’re purely for bragging rights and they go on forever.” And to complement the endless tracking of milestone stats, some of the trophies will gradually evolve into fancier, more dazzling forms as those numbers always tick higher—as an ongoing background goal for those wanting some extra structure for sandbox play. to serve in

At its most reductive, Milestones doesn’t seem too far from the kinds of reward-based stat trackers typically in any other live-service game, but it’s all about what Chapman calls a “classic Rare and Sea of ​​Thieves.” Style [of bringing] Those little special touches to elevate it.”

“So I see your ship in the world,” he elaborates. “I look through the spyglass; I see the name of your ship, but the banners are based on the play style that you have chosen to represent yourself. When I board your ship, the part of your logbook form is reflected [its crew’s] Style of Play – You see what they are up to, you see the things they have chosen to put forth, the achievements they are most proud of. You can mix and match whatever you want but the way your captain’s cabin looks is a reflection of the things you’ve done in the world… and so the system becomes deeply personal to those who playing on that ship. And it’s really the magic of how we enhance the experience.”

And it’s a system that Rare Overtime plans to develop. “Now that we’ve got that concept,” says Chapman, “we’re going to lay down that framework for captaincy.” So as we think about all of our ambitious plans for the future, how do we continue to expand that sandbox. – Adding more alignment, more ways to role play with your ship – we’re introducing something that really is a new way to think about your Sea of ​​Thieves sessions.”

The new milestone progression system is at the heart of the captaincy.

The captaincy, of course, comes as part of the long-awaited seventh season of Sea of ​​Thieves, which is expected to restore the momentum of the game after Season 6 which was pushed to breaking point in five months. While Rare was grappling with the complexities of a captaincy update. scene. That delay – though softened somewhat by the regular influx of monthly narrative adventures – had a rather exciting start to the year as Sea of ​​Thieves. broke the gate in january With the promise of a bold new focus on evolving the narrative and a 2022 roadmap of tantalizing new features across the four planned seasons. Inevitably though, Chapman admits, those plans have now changed.

“You know, we feel really good about what we’ve done [the captaincy update],” he says, “but we are kind of assessing what the implications are. I think one thing we want to prioritize is that we don’t adversely affect the regularity of the content. It’s just trying to stretch that line of getting players regular content and it still feels like an evolved world while we’re still doing the big ambitious things we want to do. So we have nothing to announce right now. But we are tweaking things a bit.”

“But honestly,” he says of delays, “it’s always unexpected, as much as we’re very diligent up front. Running a live service overall is such a complicated endeavor. And you don’t always want to go safe. After stuff; you want to go after big ambitious updates that really push Sea of ​​Thieves. And with that, you take a little risk. And you don’t realize that complexity is going to take a hit until You don’t get on the road long enough. So you can really just try and reduce that delay and make sure you’re still providing the players with a cohesive experience. So it’s just Depends on what we do and when. I was going to say that we probably won’t go back to two ambitious, complicated seasons one after the other, but we’re going to do a lot more with Season 7 and the next season. are doing.”

Be More Captain – Official Sea of ​​Thieves Season Seven Deep Dive.

Though currently, Rare is just excited to see how the players will react to the captaincy now, as the years long journey of its release has finally come to an end with the arrival of Season 7. “We often have a little sort of watch party. TV when [an update is] released,” Preston says, “so we’ll jump on some streams and we’ll see people go in, and just that moment… when you name your ship and [the Pirate Lord engraves it]… I’m really curious to see people have that moment, where it’s their name they’ve probably dreamed about and probably been thinking about for a while, looking at it, and then on their adventures moving forward. ,

But as the conversation ends, I can’t help but address a conspicuous absence in all of Rare’s revelations so far. Will I eventually have to give up my fantasies of blasting through the cascade of legendary hideouts in the world, as originally teased ahead of launch? “The way I think about it,” responds Chapman, “the pirate fantasy of having a hideout that you sail to still sounds great to me. I’m not declaring anything, but I think we want to deal with it. We want to focus on the same level, we want to go deep on it the same way we’ve gone deep on it.” So it’s not a yes, so okay, but it’s a no either. For now, I am calm and my thoughts can return to the important question: What am I going to name my ship? Ant on deck? Briefcase anchor? Not much time to decide.

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