Sea of Thieves is an entirely multiplayer experience and it looks like, to have the most fun, you need to sail with a full crew (presently capped at four). Straight away, that raises an important question:
What if your ship leaves you behind?
"A very friendly mermaid appears and takes you back,” to your ship, said Joe Neate, the game's executive producer.
My guess is that mermaid is going to be plenty busy in the early goings of Sea of Thieves. The game is promising a romp through every facet of a pirate's life, and it would figure that some new players are going to skip straight to the mutiny and marooning to see how that works.
It sounds like Rare still has some thinking to do about such interactions; Sea of Thieves could be a fertile playground for griefing, and Rare wants to balance wide-open buccaneering with some protections so everyone has fun. Currently a technical alpha is underway, open by invitation only to about 30,000 users in an insider program.
Neate said the alpha is getting important feedback from players, who already want to be able to expand the party size to five or six. Neate made no commitments there, but said, "We're always willing to experiment."
On another note, Xbox Live's Larry Hryb asked Neate what players will do with all of their loot. Neate replied that they may spend it on in-game cosmetic items, of course, but with a twist: According to players' actions they will be offered cosmetic items that speak to their playing style and legacy.
"If you've been bloodthirsty, you'll get stuff to kit yourself out with to make you look more fearsome," Neate said. "It's all about building that pirate legend."
It won't be all about looting, pillaging or killing; Sea of Thieves will offer treasure quests of two types, a riddle-and-rhyme treasure hunt with clues (like the one seen in its demonstration at Microsoft's E3 keynote) and an X-marks-the-spot navigation challenge. But a third, Neate said, may task the users with acquiring cargo and ferrying it safely to another port. And what happens along the way is also an adventure.
Sea of Thieves is currently due to launch in early 2018 for Windows PC and Xbox One.