Sea of Thieves is a game about capturing the most essential parts of the pirate life — right down to the free-flowing alcohol. Not only is drinking a mechanic in Rare’s upcoming, landlubber-averse multiplayer game, but the development team intimated during a Gamescom 2016 meeting that it could help improve the player’s real life experience as well.
Among the items befitting a player’s salty sea captain is a cup of grog, always filled up and ready for glugging. When the player tips back a cold (or, more likely, lukewarm) one, she’ll get woozy over time, but executive producer Joe Neate said that there is one other important consequence.
"Booze has an emotional value" in Sea of Thieves, he told us. "When you [drink], you have fun — just like in real life."
This is supposed to carry over to the player’s living or bedroom, preferably with friends. Although the game only offers online multiplayer, the Xbox One and Windows PC has players working very closely together — meaning they could communicate their desires to bring the party into the real world. Although there’s no cross-platform play as of now, Rare hopes to implement it somewhere along the line, so that players may make Sea of Thieves-themed Saturday night plans regardless of platform. (The game also supports the upcoming Xbox Play Anywhere function to support cross-saves.)
Neate even mentioned the possibility of a team of pirates deciding to make their ship a party boat. Sipping on grog will likely make Sea of Thieves’ ship battles tougher, however — and they’re already fairly taxing. We played through a few combat sequences during a short demo, acting on our captain’s orders to pull up the sail, man the cannons to defend against other teams’ attacks and plug up holes in the deck to keep our boat from sinking.
Sailing along the seas shared by all players, our team of four had our hands tied with the repetitive tasks at hand (that only grew more so over the course of the 15 minutes). Now imagine doing all of that after having a few too many, virtually or otherwise.
Just as in life, it’s best to consume in moderation. But aside from all the sailing, Sea of Thieves will also feature some land-based quests, Neate said; stable ground sounds like a better match for those who have fun with the alcohol button. We don’t know too much about those quests yet, though — the game is still very early in development — so Rare hopes to launch a beta to not just test Sea of Thieves’ online servers, but also to gauge what exactly its players want.
Considering how exhausted we felt with the constant back-and-forth of firing off a cannonball and trudging to the lower deck to ensure our team’s pirate ship wouldn’t go the way of the Titanic, we doubt we'd request more opportunities to imbibe. We can’t help but think more grog might make Sea of Thieves a bit more exciting, though; in its current form, it seems to be a game best experienced surround by friends with whom you can have a good time with, on- and offline.