Sea of Thieves' Voyage to E3 2019
Looking back at the battles and bounties of our latest LA expedition!
Sea3. E3 of Thieves. Sea of E3ves. AnniversarE3 Edition. The ArE3na. The Hungering DE3p?
Sorry. Just making sure that all those possible jokes are flushed down to the Ferryman and out of the way, so we can get on with this article without any further silliness. Yes, Rare was smashing it at E3 this year, hot off the heels of launching our biggest update yet – the Anniversary Update! With more than eight million players having played Sea of Thieves and two million since the Anniversary Update release (not so long ago on April 30th), we had plenty of momentum and excitement to bring to LA.
Events kicked off with an episode of Inside Xbox, where we ran the uplifting Anniversary Edition trailer and celebrated some of the things we've done with the game and continue to do – like the awesome Halo-inspired Spartan ship livery! The debut of this totally free giveaway was an instant hit, with every person who played Sea of Thieves during the week of E3 receiving the set automatically. Who doesn't want a ship sporting a figurehead and sails modelled after the iconic Halo universe? For many fans, the music for the Spartan reveal trailer – a Sea of Thieves take on the Halo theme – was even more exciting. Naturally, we have our Ivor Novello-toting composer Robin Beanland to thank for that.
Fans were also invited to attend panels and signing sessions, a chance for them to meet (and grill) the devs in person. For example, on Tuesday we hosted a Sea of Thieves panel with Senior Brand and Licensing Producer Adam Park, Executive Producer Joe Neate, Design Director Mike Chapman and our community guest NerdyNetty, entitled 'Sea of Thieves – A Year On The Seas'. For once, the panel wasn’t recorded and remains an exclusive treat for fans who attended on the day!
Our main E3 event, however, was the Battle for LA. This was our first ever Mixer Invitational, bringing popular Sea of Thieves streamers together to compete in The Arena. Four crews were assembled, captained by Mudcat, Vyr1s, oRyme, Prod1gyX and the last by Joe Neate representing Rare. Joe's crew, The Shrouded Ghosts, included Pace22, Lena Axios and Lady Feyat. The fight was epic, with gold-plated Xbox One X consoles at stake – yes, truly some precious prizes! Even better, people watching at home could grab some goodies too as the Onyx Four Pack cosmetic set was given away in a MixPot. If you missed the show, watch the highlights below and check out the enthusiastic shoutcasting by Rare's own Adam Park and Peter Hentze, plus sterling presenting by our Community Video Manager Jon McFarlane!
Here are some musings from Mr. McFarlane on the Battle for LA, Xbox FanFest and E3 2019 in general:
“We had such a good time taking our competitive Arena mode to LA for its first E3 outing. The Arena is a blast to play in an environment like this, where the same sort of fast-paced, frantic fun that we saw when we brought ship combat to E3 2017 is recreated in a more structured way. Watching people at FanFest come through and play for the chance to win a limited Edition Sea of Thieves Xbox controller was so much fun, and all the screaming and shouting coming from the booth created a real buzz on the show floor.
“The Battle for LA was an amazing first foray into competitive gaming for us. Partnering with Mixer for an Invitational in the Mixer Dome allowed us to shine the spotlight on not only the game but some of the charismatic creators we're lucky to have in the Sea of Thieves community. It was a genuinely tense contest and hopefully just as much fun to watch as it was to host!
“E3 overall gave me a real sense of excitement for the future, the direction Xbox is taking and what that means for Sea of Thieves. Playing on xCloud and looking at the opportunities for more and more people to jump in and join the gaming community through things like Game Pass made me feel like there's a bright future for not just our own game, but games in general – so even without all those other Sea of Thieves activities we managed to cram into the show, it would have felt worth going for that sensation alone.”
Sea of Thieves wasn't the only Rare title showcased at E3. We spilled the beans on Xbox One X-enhanced versions of some classic backward-compatible Rare titles, we announced Banjo and Kazooie in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (still getting shivers) and biggest and baddest of all: Battletoads! Read more about Rare's E3 adventure as a whole right here.
Meanwhile, the Battle for LA was taking place against a backdrop of other Sea of Thieves shenanigans, such as The Arena being playable at the Microsoft Theater Showcase, where we saw crews battle throughout the day to earn the respect of the glorious Sea Dogs. We had the Skullduggers pirate band entertaining fans with live shanties, plus the unveiling of our Lesedi statue! Co-founder of the Sea Dogs and their competitive Arena, Lesedi is also a firm favourite among fans of the Sea of Thieves comic books. Speaking of fans, there was exclusive Xbox FanFest swag for Sea of Thieves at the event, including a backpack, new tattoo sleeves, pin badges and Halo Spartan livery scratchcards. We even had some exclusive merch on sale at the Xbox Gear pop-up shop!
Yes, this was a packed E3, with the team (looking resplendent in Pride and silver Reaper's Mark tees) full of beans from the epic Anniversary Update launch. As the game moves into its second year, the team continues to explore new ideas and make improvements. All the fan enthusiasm we see at these events contributes to that process and turns a job into a passion, so we'd like to thank everyone who attended, played, cheered and shared their memories of grog-fuelled fun on the Sea of Thieves this year. The adventure has only just begun – see you in 2020!