Rare's new pirate game, Sea of Thieves, hits the open ocean later this year

Drink grog! Fire a cannon! Fail horribly and sink into the heartless waves!

Possibly the most genuinely fun-looking gameplay reveal during microsoft's press conference was for Sea of Thieves, the Rare-developed pirate MMO announced during last year's Microsoft E3 press conference. We know now that it's cute as hell, and that it's headed for Xbox and Windows 10.

Seriously -- while most game reveals during this year's Microsoft conference were extremely serious or nearly overwrought in their yelling-cool-kid-protagonist intensity (see: Scalebound), the Sea of Thieves gameplay teaser was just a bunch of ordinary people laughing and freaking out about their poor pirate-ship pilot-skills. Microsoft apparently took three teams of testers, divided them up into different pirate ships, and set them loose in a session of the game without much by the way of tutorials. The result was chaos.

Chuggin' grog with SPRINTY JOHN Chuggin' grog with SPRINTY JOHN

And I think this chaos did a better job convincing me that Sea of Thieves will be fun than anything else at any E3 press conference so far. Part of the reason we like Youtubers and Twitch players is that they can give us a genuine a human reaction to the games that they play. It was fun to see a mainstream publisher take that kind of genuine, human approach to selling me something at E3.

Sea of Thieves looks like a co-op/pvp game where players manage a ship by rushing around between different stations. In the gameplay trailer we see different people raising and lowering sails, manning the wheel, and firing individual cannons. It seems like communication between players will be a big part of successfully running a ship-- with all the sails fully deployed, the pilot was unable to see where the ship was pointing, for example, and required a spotter to help him navigate.

We also saw players drinking grog out of a cask in a galley, and running around on the shore of an island. We don't really know what their goals in the match were besides "wreck the other pirate ships big time," but it seems like there will be other kinds of gameplay available-- a reason to explore on land and get yourself drunk, perhaps. Or at least enough downtime to enjoy the sights, it seems.

There's no specific release date for Sea of Thieves, though "2016" has been mentioned in some Xbox publicity materials. Here's hoping that we get one soon! (I can't wait to find out if the water is exactly as great as the trailer claims.)