Sea of Thieves: A Pirate’s Life is the game’s next major update that brings together the world that Rare has created with Sea of Thieves and Disney’s iconic pirate franchise, Pirates of the Caribbean. Ahead of the free update’s June 22nd release, we had the opportunity to sit in on a Q&A stream with a couple of familiar faces from Rare. Executive Producer Joe Neate and Creative Director Mike Chapman got to give us a deeper insight into what awaits players in A Pirate’s Life.
A Pirate’s Life is a brand new adventure for players to experience in Sea of Thieves. The narrative focuses on Captain Jack Sparrow, who has found his way through the Devil’s Shroud and into the Sea of Thieves, where he is currently imprisoned on the Ferry of the Damned. It will be up to players to rescue him and then fight back against a myriad of new threats, including Davey Jones and his crew, sirens and their underwater citadel, and new land-based crustacean foes.
Neate and Chapman were thrilled to share with us their journey of bringing this idea to Disney. The inception of the idea began back around E3 2019 and was swiftly followed by Disney representatives visiting the Rare studio. It was here that the team was able to share concept art and where the culture and creative alignment of the two studios was made apparent. Cut to January 2020, and Neate and Chapman went over to Disney with their creative pitch and the people at Disney were on board.
Entwining the worlds of Sea of Thieves and Pirates of the Caribbean seems like a herculean effort. The team wanted to ensure the lore of Sea of Thieves was respected but it was also important to nail the characters from Pirates of the Caribbean. “It was important to not make them feel like a pantomime of themselves but to feel authentic and genuine,” Chapman states.
The two also noted that they couldn’t just feel like cameos, that the characters had to have a purpose for visiting the Sea of Thieves, and that’s what the whole story will explore. They spent a lot of time considering how to bring these two worlds together. Telling an authentic story was their top priority. One of the inciting thoughts was what if Jack Sparrow discovered the Sea of Thieves and Davey Jones followed him? The team took this idea and created an original story that also draws inspiration from the movies.
Jack Sparrow isn’t just a talking head with which to deliver dialogue and quips (there’s already a character that does that – more on that in a moment), he will also be a presence on the player’s ship. He’ll man your cannons, read the map, stand about looking through his spyglass, and even tell you when supplies are running low.
If one Jack Sparrow isn’t enough, players will also be able to purchase, from the game’s premium store the Pirate Emporium, clothing that makes them look like Jack Sparrow, ship livery to make their vessels look like the Black Pearl, as well as emotes and other goodies to really bring the Pirates of the Caribbean themes to Sea of Thieves.
As for the talking head, there is a new character being introduced called the Cursed Captain. This God of War Mimir-like character is a skull that players can carry around. It will comment on the environment, player actions, and otherwise enhance the narrative experience.
A Pirate’s Life is looking to be one of the biggest updates to Sea of Thieves since the Anniversary Update. There will be five Tall Tales, new creatures and foes to battle, new areas in the form of the Sea of the Damned and Sunken Kingdom, a new bubble-shooting trident weapon, as well as new Pirates of the Caribbean themed goodies in the premium shop.
As for the five Tall Tales, Chapman notes that the original Tall Tales were more cerebral with their puzzles. It appears as if A Pirate’s Life is more focused on the narrative moments and action pieces. To further assist with this, as players begin this adventure, they’ll be transported to the new areas where only they exist – no other crews. This ensures your crew isn’t harassed by other players while trying to enjoy the narrative-driven experience.
The Tale Tall will be initiated from a mysterious person known as the Castaway. Players that frequent the game may have noticed the wreckage appearing around the Outposts, this is the leaping off point for this new experience to rescue Jack Sparrow from the Sea of the Damned, which is now a fully realized location. Chapman notes that this location is full of shipwrecks and pirates awaiting rescue from the Ferryman. There’s even a tavern and a gambling den – though this may just be for the ghostly NPCs, but one can dream.
While new elements are introduced in A Pirate’s Life, they’re not locked behind the Tall Tale. “The whole sandbox gets richer because of A Pirate’s Life,” says Chapman. That is to say, the new Ocean Crawler creatures will begin popping up around the normal islands and players will be able to find and use the Trident of Dark Tides against their foes.
Speaking of the Ocean Crawlers, these land-based foes come in three varieties. There’s the crab enemy which is tank-like with a massive claw, a humanoid eel that dashes around and whips players and deals a new type of electrical damage, and the clam-like hermit that coughs up poisonous spores and burrows beneath the ground.
But dangers also await below the water. As players venture into the Sunken Kingdom, they’ll come across powerful sirens. These swim through the water with grace, slashing at the player and healing if they take damage. At times, a leader might appear, wielding the aforementioned trident and creating all sorts of troubles for the player. While these foes are highlighted in the Tall Tale, they’ll also be a threat players will need to contend with during the regular Adventure mode.
Because there is this focus on the Sunken Kingdom, a new mechanic is being introduced in the form of oxygen-giving coral. Should a player be running out of breath, simply swimming near one will fully restore their air, allowing players to swim for significantly longer below the waves. This should come in handy as players explore the siren’s Citadel, which utilizes some Water Temple-like puzzles of raising and lowering the water level.
There’s so much more coming to Sea of Thieves with A Pirate’s Life. There are gigantic Siren Statues that have large area-of-effect which crumble to pieces when destroyed, phantom pirates that haunt locations, an opportunity to sail aboard the Ferry of the Damned, and the kraken now has a head!
A lot of attention to detail has been given to crafting A Pirate’s Life. Neate and Chapman noted that the team sourced the original audio from the Disney Pirates of the Caribbean rides and attractions. Not only that, but some of the voice talent has returned to record new and original lines.
On the music side, A Pirate’s Life will include Pirates of the Caribbean music, new compositions of Sea of Thieves music, original music that’s been composed, as well as tracks that fuse the two together. What’s more, players that complete the Tall Tale will be able to unlock the iconic song, Yo Ho, Yo Ho! A Pirate’s Life For Me. Chapman also promises “comprehensive side quests” and other Easter eggs, references, and awesome moments to find throughout this expansion.
It’s also worth noting that, while A Pirate’s Life maintains Sea of Thieves’ art style, there have been new additions introduced that further expand the sorts of elements players will see in the game. There are terracotta tiles, new styles of buildings and structures, even plaster. This has had an interesting effect whereby it pushed the art style outside of Rare’s own boundaries, whereby now there are things within the scope of Sea of Thieves that the team wouldn’t have envisioned or included before.
As for what lies ahead for Rare and Sea of Thieves, Neate was able to tell us a little bit of what’s on the horizon. Rare has shifted team structure and plans to ensure that there are multiple teams working on seasonal headline updates and a live service team that’s focused on things for players to do between seasons.
A Pirate’s Life will officially kick of Season 3 in Sea of Thieves, a “mega season” as Neate describes it with a chuckle. The update will be free for all players and will be available on June 22nd on Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox Game Pass, Windows 10, and Steam.
Sam Chandler posted a new article, Sea of Thieves: A Pirate's Life adds new areas, enemies, quests, and more
Started playing again this week and have been having a good time so far.
I played when it first came out and just got frustrated with the PVP. I want to sail around and find treasure - but without a bunch of dickheads in a bigger ship just killing me over and over and taking all of my loot.
It's much better now, I've encountered very few people just trying to kill me - and the addition of the battle pass / achievement stuff helps too, as even if someone steals your stuff, you probably still earned some reputation and rewards so it isn't a complete bust.
Was doing one of the Tall Tales yesterday and was in an underwater cave when we heard voices coming from the surface - some other players had come over. As soon as I surfaced on the water they were typing that they didn't want to fight, and were friendly. As I climbed onto the boat I ran into one of the guys on my boat, holding one of my loot chests! I chased him into the water and managed to kill him. My wife then rammed our ship directly into them, as I climbed aboard and killed the second guy who was desperately trying to patch up their boat. I stole one of their loot chests as my wife was reclaiming ours from the water.
We sailed away to try and sell our stuff - and on the way a skeleton ship surfaced and attacked us - we were struggling to kill it but finally managed after a massive shark started attacking them! We had to run from the shark as it was really fucking up our boat. We finally got away and then heard a growling as a REALLY MASSIVE SHARK attacked us. We struggled to survive patching up the boat as this thing kept chomping on our boat - and eventually outran it and managed to get to the island and sold all of our treasure.
So much fun, for anyone who hasn't played the game in a while - they really have added a lot of stuff that just makes it more enjoyable to play.