Sea of Thieves Release: Everything That We Know

Microsoft, makers of the Xbox One entertainment console, is spending more time concentrating on its exclusive games instead of marketing deals. At least, from the outside that appears to be true. 2015 was stacked with exclusive games for Xbox and marked the first time owners of Sony’s PS4 received Call of Duty content earlier than their brethren on Xbox One. The avalanche of exclusive Xbox games continues in the latter half of 2016. Halo Wars 2 and Gears of War 4 are both coming. Joining them is the Sea of Thieves release.

Sea of Thieves is a pirate game. That’s the simplest way to put it, really. Players help crew a massive battle ship, one that they’re free to command or simply take orders on. Microsoft first revealed the Sea of Thieves release at its Xbox Media Briefing in 2015, committing to a launch sometime in 2016.

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Read: All The Big Games at Microsoft’s E3 2016 Media Briefing

Sea of Thieves Story Experience

What if you could be a pirate? What if your friends could be your crew? What if you could make those friends walk the plank and follow your orders. Those are the questions that Rare is asking with the Sea of Thieves release.

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Featuring a mostly cartoon art-style, Sea of Thieves involves all things pirate-related. The trailer Microsoft showed at E3 2015 included footage of players crewing a boat and actually making each walk the plank. It also included a few scenes of island exploration and combat with another ship. To be clear, that other ship was also crewed by a team of Xbox Live users. The trailer ends with one ship ramming another.

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During a hands-on session at E3 2016, video game website IGN was able to find out more about the game. Everything on the ship is a real-life approximation of what it’d actually take to run a real pirate ship. Before you can fire a canon, you’ll need to load it with canon balls. When under fire from an enemy ship, it’s helpful to have someone below decks patching damage for water can fill your ship. Leaving dock means raising the anchor.

Sea of Thieves Release Window

To be frank, the Sea of Thieves release date remains a mystery.

Microsoft has previously said that the Sea of Thieves release will come sometime in 2016. The company confirmed as much at the beginning of the year when it detailed all the titles that Xbox One owners can expect during the calendar year on Xbox Wire. Unfortunately, the entry only says, “2016” and leaves out a specific season or quarter.

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Problem is, a recently published summary of E3 2016 news on Xbox Wire doesn’t list a release date or release window for Sea of Thieves at all. There’s some speculation that the game may be delayed. Certainly a lack of progression system and economy system in the demo that Rare showed at E3 2016 isn’t helping with those rumors. That same summary mentions that Sea of Thieves will launch in a basic state and get functional upgrades over time.

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Sea of Thieves for Xbox One & More

Microsoft also confirms in the piece that appeared on Xbox Wire that Sea of Thieves won’t be an Xbox One exclusive release in the truest sense. Console gamers will only be able to experience it on Xbox One, but owners of other game consoles will have the option to purchase the title for their PC thanks to Xbox on Windows.

No, Microsoft is not bringing Sea of Thieves to Valve’s Steam Store. Sea of Thieves is coming to the Windows Store. This means that anyone with Windows 10 installed on their PC will be able to play. It seems that both versions of the game will arrive on the same day.

Sea of Thieves User Content

Besides the battle play with friends, Sea of Thieves features custom generated content so that players can create missions for each other.

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Talking to Games RadarMicrosoft employee Kudo Tsunoda confirmed user-made content will make its way to the game. “I think with Sea of Thieves, what you’re really going to see as you find out more about the game, is that it’s also about allowing people to create their own memories.”

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Sea of Thieves Release: What We Don’t Know

  • We don’t know how the game’s Xbox Live connectivity across platforms will work. For example, Microsoft could – and probably should –  let Xbox One and Windows users play side by side. That’d be huge, no existing Xbox Live game does that right now thanks the cancellation of Fable Legends. We also don’t know if Microsoft will let those that purchase one version of the game unlock the other. It’s a trick the company tried with Quantum Break.
  • It’s unclear how much of Sea of Thieves uses first-person mechanics vs third-person mechanics. Most of the trailer has a first-person camera, but switches to third-person during its waning seconds. First-person games don’t allow you to see much more of your character than their arms and maybe their legs.
  • The price of Sea of Thieves remains a mystery. Typically, games for Xbox One cost $60, but Microsoft has started to move more and more of its franchises to free-to-play models where players get extras for spending real money. Before its cancellation, Fable Legends was set to be a free-to-play game. Gigantic is also a free to play game. Both titles sport Xbox Live integration with Windows.
  • We don’t know if Sea of Thieves will have a progression system and economy, but both seem likely.

There’s no telling when Microsoft might have more information to share about the Sea of Thieves release. If it’s still slated for 2016, perhaps there’ll be more news in the fall.