Update: Shrouded Streams
The Shrouded Spoils continues through its second week. In this Golden Sands Update, I cover Rare’s video content from the week including Developer Updates, Streams, and Podcasts. As always, these videos are immensely enjoyable to watch, but if you don’t have the time I have parsed out any potential News/Teases from within them and summarized it all below.
Dec 5th- Executive Producer Joe Neate gives us his Weekly Address, and discusses the reception and feedback to Shrouded Spoils. The team is monitoring the balance of features such as spawn rate of Skull Forts and Kraken attacks, and the difficulty of the Devil’s Roar volcanoes (which were nerfed in Shrouded Spoils but admittedly perhaps too much).
Also based on feedback, the Bone Crusher cannon model will be adjusted for better sight visibility, among a few other things. Notably, Rare made many of the Xbox achievements for the game easier/more attainable, but promised to give a special set of Over Achiever sails to any player that accomplished the original extreme-difficulty achievements. Today, Joe promised to extend that window for player’s that were on the cusp- if you can achieve any one of the rebalanced Achievements by December 14th, you will earn the Over Achiever’s sails.
Finally, Joe confirms that the Wailing Barnacle ship cosmetics will be available to purchase from Duke’s shop throughout December.
Nov 29th- As always, the crew took occasional questions from the chat and provided some interesting teases on future content. When discussing content update names (starting at 21:14 in the video), Joe begins to say that they had liked the title Hungering Deep for something else before cutting himself off, with both Joe and Mike recognizing what he was close to spoiling. This may imply that another update in the works has content that the title Hungering Deep would describe, though it’s pure speculation as to what that could be- perhaps whaling with harpoons, the long requested addition of Fishing mechanics, or something related to Mermaid Lore?
Later on, Joe reaffirms that the “Fall Snails” update is still happening. Back in the summer, Joe mentioned that the update to follow Forsaken Shores would be titled something that rhymes with “Fall Snails”, and has since teased that its focus is on enriching the game’s quests to bring them more narrative and lore, leading to some speculation that the real title is “Tall Tales”. Of course, Tall Tales did NOT follow Forsaken Shores, as Shrouded Spoils instead launched last week, and “The Arena” update is coming next after it. Joe confirmed that Tall Tails/“Fall Snails” was delayed because it showed promise and the scope of it increased, and once again confirmed that it will be adding to the quests more “lore, story, and craft”.
Later on, it was confirmed that Keyboard and Mouse support is being worked on for the Xbox (as opposed to being “a matter of when rather than if” as had been stated previously, it’s now “being worked on”), and Mike let us know that the remaining ship sets which don’t yet have custom Cannons, Capstans, and Wheels are nearly finished and almost ready for a future release.
Dec 4th- Joe once again reaffirms that they are going all in on “enriching the quest system” in a future update, and he also says that we can eventually expect more instruments and shanties. They were quite coy around the suggestion of “boarding ropes”, and while Joe states that boarding ropes specifically aren’t being worked on, they are adding new and interesting ways for ship to ship interactions for both Adventure mode and The Arena. He also confirms that their goal with the launch of The Arena mode is to focus on a singular objective mode and make it as good as can be, though other types of competitive modes could come in future updates.
Tales from the Tavern Podcast
Dec 6th- The Tales from the Tavern Podcast, Rare’s official Sea of Thieves podcast, returns after a six month hiatus for their 18th episode. It’s an entertaining retrospective on how far the game has come throughout 2018, beginning with the closed Beta, seeing the game’s official launch, and of course culminating with the fourth free major content update last week- Shrouded Spoils. They discuss how far they’ve grown, from their level of community engagement, to their design, testing, and release process, and even behind the scenes growth at Microsoft Studios.
When describing his favorite update, Joe Neate reminisces about The Hungering Deep and most interestingly to me, fixates on the fact that it contained a storied quest and acted as a proof of concept that story focused quests (as opposed to the entirely mechanical quests currently in the game) can work in a shared world game. This is interesting because recent updates have shied away from such content, with Shrouded Spoils containing nothing like it. But Joe again points towards future updates, which is likely an allusion to the aforementioned “Fall Snails” update that will bring lore and story to the quest system. He also teases that nods to Merrick (the NPC that came and went with the Hungering Deep update) might be in a future update.
Later, Joe again digs into their goal to enrich the quest system, and drops a line about seeing “this amazing location that’s being built as part of that”. This is the first mention that alongside changing up quests mechanically, this would come alongside at least one new location tied into that update.