He rarely talks about Captain, Customization, and Waterfalls before the big new update for Sea of ​​Thieves

For those who have worked with Sea of ​​Thieves since its release in 2018, the Captain update is a thing of legend; Originally intended Being the first post-launch multiplayer pirate adventure update, it will give players the chance to get their ship stationary at sea, and in a suggestion that still pisses off the pirate inside me to this day – start their sessions in glorious dramatic fashion, blasting across the massive legendary lair waterfall into the world. But then a slightly wobbly Sea of ​​Thieves release happened, and it was a rarity She shifted her focus to embody the game’s sandbox After criticizing its limited essence. With that said, the Captain Update was put aside, but the player base never forgot about it, and it gradually became something of a legendary as time went on.

But then, earlier this year, she came back. as announced During Microsoft’s presentation in JuneThe captain and boat ownership, after all this time, are back on the cards. Now, the wait is finally over, with the Sea of ​​Thieves Commander Update launching nearly five years later today. It promises to provide a detailed new framework for the adventures to come – excluding any ship tricks that breach the waterfall, unfortunately – and before arriving Eurogamer has had a chance to chat with Rare about what she hopes the Captain will bring to Sea of ​​Thieves.

“I think even before the release of Sea of ​​Thieves,” creative director Mike Chapman explains about the genesis of the update, “we all knew that the idea of ​​being a ship captain in a game was about delivering the ultimate pirate fantasy — the idea of ​​a ship captain, and the embodiment of a ship’s captain identity was from During a ship – it was just something we always wanted to do.”

Sea of ​​Thieves Season 7 – Official Content Update Video.

Inevitably, Rare’s original plans evolved as Sea of ​​Thieves grew, and today’s Captain update is, says Chapman, “much deeper than I originally imagined” in 2018. Indeed, it goes beyond salvageable cosmetics, offering the confluence of systems Which aims, as lead designer Shelley Preston puts it, to create “a framework with a deeper meaning and a deeper emotional connection to the player with their ship and their adventures.”

Captaincy in Sea of ​​Thieves extends a wide range of new features, including a fundamentally new progression system – much like last year’s seasonal progression model and, to a lesser extent, the 2020 envoy system – a way to rework the game’s current and future mechanics to present it New incentive for players to engage with them. But above all that, it starts with the boat – more specifically, the ability to buy your own boat with in-game gold.

In the beginning, players can own and name one of each ship type (although once a ship reaches Legendary status, more ships of that type can be purchased) and everything about these ships – unlike regular boats – will continue between cycles. The name of the boat is permanent and will be announced to other pirates through binoculars from afar; Her cosmetics will still be applied at the start of a new session, as will battle scars that reflect your past adventures unless you opt for ship repair. Customization is now deeper too, with the overhauled captain’s cabins providing not only new opportunities for self-expression (you can rearrange everything from the table to the curtains), but providing a home for new trinkets and trophies that unlock through gameplay and are remarkable achievements in the world.

Ornaments and trophies offer a way to personalize your ship and show off your achievements.

The idea, Preston explains, is to seize the Sea of ​​Thieves’ fortune from existing content and “[wrap] In a way that gives extra meaning to the captain and crew…You take your ship from being something in your house for a session – maybe you set it on fire at the end and that’s it, you’ll never see it again – to this permanent representation of [your] a trip.”

And if you’re wondering if the ability to save a ship’s condition between sessions brings us one step closer to the much-needed ability to save pirate cosmetics, there’s some very good news. “It’s something a lot of us want to do,” Chapman says. “It’s been coming up a lot lately, because we’re really pushing it ship. So that’s a lot on the roadmap for the future…We love the idea of ​​people having little role-play clothes that they make by providing different lots of different cosmetics. So it’s on the roadmap.” It is not assigned to a specific season, but we will try to get it as soon as possible.”

Although the Captain Update for Sea of ​​Thieves introduces several perks exclusive to the captain – the ability to restock barrels for gold at the shipbuilder, a new one-stop landing point at outposts operated by the new Sovereign Faction, and a wide range of excursions available directly on the ship, giving players greater control over the type and length of the adventure – it’s the new Milestone system that’s at the heart of it all. At its simplest, Milestones serve as a kind of ongoing record of your adventures — designed to directly attract players who love their stats, according to Preston — but they go beyond that, tying in a new progression system that allows Captains to pursue certain playstyles known as alignment, either intentionally or organically.

The Captain’s exclusive perks include access to Sovereigns in an outpost, a faster way to deliver treasure.

By reaching certain milestones, captains gain the ability to unlock viewable rewards and cosmetics that reflect their preferred play styles and achievements within those amusement – some permanently locked to the ship they won on, others, like the locked Ghost Cup, linked to members of the Pirates so that crew members can continue their advance while on duty under another captain.

Chapman explains, “While milestones are stats, they’re untapped stats, and you’re almost cash-in and reaching thresholds where you can get to these trophies that uniquely explain what you’ve done that thing. But there are also other stats that, they’re not driving anything and they are They exist only for bragging and are gone forever.” And to complete the endless tracking of Milestone stats, some trophies will gradually evolve into fancier variants and more luminous as these numbers keep rising – serving as a sort of constant background target for those who want some extra structures to play the sandbox.

At its most reductive, Milestones doesn’t seem too far off from the kind of bonus-based stat trackers common in any number of other live-service games, but they all wrap up in what Chapman calls “those 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 explains. “I look through the binoculars; I see your ship’s name, but the signs are on the playing style you’ve chosen to represent yourself. When I board your ship, it reflects the appearance of your logbook.” [its crew’s] Gameplay – You see what they’ve been up to, you see the things they chose to pin up front, and the accomplishments they’re most proud of. You can mix and match anything you want but the way the captain’s cabin looks is a reflection of the things you’ve done in the world…and so the system becomes very personal for the people playing on that ship. And that really is the magic of how to step up the experience.”

It is a rare system that plans to evolve over time. “We’ve come up with that concept now, we’re going to put that framework in place for leadership,” Chapman says. “So when we think about all of our ambitious plans for the future, in terms of how we’ll continue to expand this sandbox — adding more alignment, more ways to role-play with your ship — we’re launching The start of something that really represents a new way of thinking about your Sea of ​​Thieves sessions.”

At the heart of driving is the new Milestones progression system.

Captaincy arrives, of course, as part of the much-anticipated Sea of ​​Thieves Season 7, which will hopefully restore the game’s momentum after Season 6 that stretched to breaking point over five months as Rare grappled with the intricacies of Captain Update behind it. viewer. This delay – although mitigated somewhat by the regular flow of monthly narrative adventures – removed what had been an exciting start to the year as Sea of ​​Thieves. They stormed the gate in January With the promise of a bold new focus on narrative development and a 2022 roadmap to spark new features across four planned seasons. But inevitably, Chapman admits, those plans have now changed.

“You know, we feel really relieved with what we did [the captaincy update]’ He says, ‘But we’re kind of assessing what the spillovers are. I think one thing we want to prioritize is that we don’t negatively impact the regularity of the content. It’s just trying to walk this line of delivering regular content to players and it still feels like an evolving world while still doing the big ambitious things we want to do. So we don’t have anything to announce yet. But we exchange things a little bit.”

He says of the delay: “But frankly, this is always unexpected, as much as we’re very diligent up front. Running a live service as a whole is a complex endeavor. And you don’t want to always go after the safe stuff; you want to follow the big, ambitious updates that really move Sea of ​​Thieves Forward. And with that, you take a little risk. And you kind of don’t realize that the complexity is going to hit you until you’re completely late down the road. So all you can really do is try to reduce that lag and make sure you’re still giving a great experience to the players. So it’s just that it’s all about With what we’re after and when… I would say we probably won’t go after two consecutive ambitious and complicated seasons, but that’s pretty much what we’re doing with season seven and next season.”

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

Back in the present, Rare is simply excited to see how players will respond to leadership now that his years-long journey for his release is over with the advent of Season 7. TV when [an update is] ‘So we’ll jump in some streams and we’ll see people come in,’ says Preston, ‘and only at that moment…when you name your ship and [the Pirate Lord engraves it]…I really look forward to seeing people go through this moment, where they might have dreamed of their name and might have been thinking about it for a while, seeing it appear, and then set sail on their adventures. ”

But as the conversation ends, I can’t help but address this apparent absence in everything Rare reveals so far. Will I finally have to give up my fantasies of blasting through the fabled bunker’s waterfall, to the world, as it originally teased me before launch? “The way I think about it,” Chapman replies, “The pirate fantasy of having a lair you’re navigating still seems pretty cool to me. I’m not declaring anything, but I think we’d like to deal with the same level of focus, we’d like to dig into that the same way we’ve gone into this. So this is not yes, exactly, but it is not. For now, I am satisfied and my thoughts can return to the crucial question: What am I going to call my ship? The ant on the deck? Anchor bag? There is not long to make a decision.