When the open-world pirate adventure launched in March, every voyage seemed to end in a fight to the death. So the developers ripped up their plans – and summoned an old legless monster-hunter and a fleet of skeleton ships

Soon after the online pirate adventure Sea of Thieves was released in March, it had become a war zone. The game sees small groups of players board ships and setsail on the open ocean in search of treasure, but every time you spotted another boat, the result would be a fight to the death, cannons blazing and swords swirling. Games developer Rare had hoped that some encounters would be peaceful and cooperative, but the innate competitiveness of the online multiplayer arena seemed to have won out.

Then the studio released the game’s first major update, The Hungering Deep, and for a few days everything changed. Player ships made their way to Shark Bait Cove to receive a time-limited challenge from a hoary old monster-hunter who had lost both legs to a gigantic sea creature, and now wanted players to work together to find and destroy it. So they did. Ships anchored, crews alighted, and – united by an interesting common goal – they didn’t brawl: they communicated, messed around, played their musical instruments and formulated plans. Then they went off together to track down and slaughter the terrifying Megalodon. It was the scenario Rare had dreamed of.

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Read More Sea of Thieves: how Rare silenced the cannons and brought peace to the seas

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