Speaking with Sea of Thieves’ executive producer Joe Neate, he stated that Rare’s new multiplayer game was all about having fun. Sure enough, the best part of the playable demo for me was just hanging out with my five-person crew, chugging some rum, and singing pirate shanties. Standing in a booth and meeting four other strangers you have to play a cooperative game with can sound a little daunting, but any nervousness you might feel dissipates within seconds of the tomfoolery that goes down in the pirate shack where you gather before boarding your ship.
That’s not to say that the demo itself wasn’t enjoyable, however. Your five-man crew has to work together as someone takes the wheel, while the other four mateys raise the anchor. After that, someone has to keep a lookout at the front of the ship and call out any obstacles that might be lying in the ship’s path. The rest of the crew takes care of the sails, and they adjust the angles of the sails whenever the need arises. The real fun begins when you encounter another ship, and your crew unanimously decides to take it down. Y’know, just because you can.
The best way to damage enemy ships in Sea of Thieves is to line up your ship so that it’s parallel to theirs – this is the captain’s job. As for the rest of the crew, you’ll have to man the cannons and start blasting cannonballs as soon as the ship comes into range. In the demo, my crew faced off against another party of five, and it quickly became a competition to see who could damage the other faster. When your ship sustains enough damage and starts getting holes in the hull, water slowly fills it up and it can sink your ship if you leave it unattended. To fix this, some crew members will have to grab planks of wood, and head down below to patch those up. One complaint I had with this mechanic was that there was no in-game indicator to let you know that your ship needed fixing. Our crew had to remember to check the hull every now and then to make sure the ship was in good shape.
Aside from blasting cannonballs, you can also use your ship to ram into the enemies, and even have one of your teammates to board the enemy ship and anchor them. This will require quite a bit of maneuvering on the captain’s part, but getting a teammate to ground the enemy ship will open them up for a lot of easy shots.
Naturally, our ship eventually got worn out and we just weren’t quick enough to patch up the holes. The hull started filling up with water, the ship began to sink, and there was no way to salvage the beautiful vessel. Things weren’t all bad; our crew managed to swim to shore, laughing, joking about our pirate exploits, and we went back to simply singing and drinking rum again. Life was good.