Last week Rare hosted press for a preview look at the Anniversary Update – the highly anticipated free update for Sea of Thieves coming April 30, 2019.
The embargo lifted earlier today, so following is a round-up of all the press so far. There’s a huge amount of info nestled in these pieces, so we’ll have an ultra-detailed summary of everything covered in these press pieces a little later in the week.
🚨 Be aware that there are spoilers in these previews. If you want to go into the update fresh-faced and wide-eyed, you may want to turn back now. 🚨
In the long term, perhaps what’s most exciting here is the language Rare uses to talk about Tall Tales and Arena. They aren’t referred to as new modes, or options – they’re “platforms”, ideas to be built on. Tall Tales could extend to whole new campaigns, or one-off event episodes. Arena could become more than a single mode, or throw in daily challenges for those with less time to jump in and out of at their leisure, without the commitment required from a full quest line.
“These are our two platforms for growth,” says Neate. “We believe strongly and passionately in both of them.” Both Arena and Adventure will be supported in the future with ongoing updates and expansions, Rare says.
Fishing, cooking, new trade companies, the Arena, and the promise of dynamic in-game storytelling makes the Anniversary Update Sea of Thieves’ most exciting addition to date. It also represents the game’s biggest shot at claiming new audiences, especially among those who felt the game was a little lacking in content when it launched last year.
One relatively straightforward mission in, I’m hesitant to make any great proclamations about the impact that Tall Tales will have on the future of Sea of Thieves, but it undoubtedly has enormous potential – and could go a long way toward winning over those who’ve been hoping for this kind of more-traditional, crafted experience since day one. And if Shores of Gold’s remaining eight missions can hit the same highs as the first, while offering further variety and a genuinely engaging yarn along the way, that’ll be very good news indeed.
The game we played at Rare last week was almost unrecognisable to the title that came out just over a year ago. But it’s been a challenge getting this far, and as Neate said at the start, what comes next will need to be more sustainable.
Sea of Thieves’ first-anniversary update is going to add so much more to the game, it’s almost embarrassing to other service-based models that share the same space.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. No, much better that our crew of four pirates should be in this together, twisting assigned pillars to solve the puzzle. But we made a mistake somewhere, the rock door slamming shut and carving our gang into two.
Shacknews recently visited Rare to try out parts of Sea of Thieves’ Anniversary Update and to speak with Senior Designer Shelley Preston and Executive Producer Joe Neate.
Rare, once a place of secrecy and seclusion in which your keycard would gain you access to your barn and not the other, has been transformed into a sun-soaked creative hub filled with animators, artists, programmers, musicians, writers, directors and online support staff that all seem to share an infectious excitement about their game.
“If you’re playing Sea of Thieves, you might need a morning or afternoon,” Neate said. “There’s nothing short for a half an hour before dinner or you’re heading out.” Arena, he said, will provide that missing quick-hit experience, with “relentless pacing and action and intensity.”