Since Sea of Thieves’ release back in March, developer Rare’s pirate adventure has been taking shots left and right, with players most notably citing a lack of activities. The game essentially contains three factions and players can do missions for those factions…and that’s about it. A fair criticism, especially for a game that cost full price at launch – albeit more reasonable for those subscribed to Xbox Game Pass.
Rare apparently heard those complaints and took them to heart, because in the past 4 months the game has had content added seemingly every few weeks. On top of that, they made a strong showing at Microsoft’s E3 press conference, announcing two new large additions, ‘Cursed Sails’ and ‘Forsaken Shores’.
Before we get to the future, we have to focus on the past and present – earlier today, Rare wrapped things up on the game’s first timed content release, ‘The Hungering Deep’. The verdict?
It was a lot of fun – players met a member of the Bilge Rats, a new group, in one of the game’s many taverns, marked on the map by a glowing rat. The encounter kicks off a quest line that can culminate in a fight against the ferocious Megalodon shark, a creature that can sink even an experienced galleon crew very quickly, if you’re not careful.
It can admittedly be a little tedious at times; the quest to kill the shark requires players to do a lot of back-and-forth sailing, and then even once all the requisite parts have been completed, the game also requires five players to summon the creature in the first place – and even if you have a full four-person crew, it’s not easy to find that elusive fifth.
This is perhaps the only major remaining flaw with these content releases: while my crew found success by camping out on the Ferry of the Damned and asking fellow lost souls for help, that certainly isn’t a guaranteed method of success – the game could do without the forced teamwork factor. If they insist on it, then there needs to be a more efficient way of finding a group beyond hoping there are players on the same server as you.
However, once the crew has been gathered, and the shark summoned and subsequently vanquished, players were rewarded with an exclusive commendation, ship figurehead, and tattoo/scar set. With the content (and rewards) gone for now, Rare’s latest patch notes had this to say on the status of the Megalodon:
“Battered and broken by the cannon fire of an entire sea of adversaries, the Hungering One has returned to the depths and can no longer be summoned. Does this mean the waters are safe to sail again? Not for long. She may be the mightiest of her kind, but she is not the only one of her kind. From the next patch, the surface will be breached by others following in her wake. A new age of predators has dawned and things will never be the same again…”
In its place, Patch 1.1.2 brings another content release: ‘The Skeleton Thrones’, which is available now:
“The Skeleton Thrones are the latest addition to the world of Sea of Thieves. These thrones require a good sense of discovery to find, and for some an even steadier aim to reach. There are 5 small Thrones and 5 large Thrones, the small requiring just one pirate to sit on, but the larger requiring pirates to be sat on it from more than one crew. Look high, look low, and look within…”
Sounds like there will be a lot of loading one’s self into a cannon and firing – better load up on bananas. Further, the Bilge Rats have become a full-fledged faction themselves, complete with their own currency of doubloons, which can be used to buy exclusive outfit pieces.
As for the E3 content, players have gotten another tantalizing bit of what’s to come: it seems as though NPC skeleton-crewed ships will be coming to the waters near you in ‘Cursed Sails’, a clear response to the complaints that the oceans were oddly empty most of the time – indeed, even though I bought the game on Day One, I didn’t see another player that wasn’t in my crew for several play sessions. The promise of skeleton crews – a staple of most pirate adventures at some point or another – is a great way to not only combat the lonesome sailing, but also keep with the feeling of whimsical adventure that Rare has so painstakingly built.
Another addition: a new type of sailable ship for the players, one that seems to require a crew of three. This is a welcome change, as currently the only ships available are for two or four-person crews.
Finally, in ‘Forsaken Shores’, a new area entirely seems to be unlocked, a volcanic island of sorts, which also seems to come with rowboats – hopefully, that means the days of beaching one’s ship on an outpost’s shores will be gone.
While it’s true that Sea of Thieves launched with a surprisingly small amount of content, Rare has made a very concerted effort to listen to the community, and incorporate feedback into what future updates contain. If this level of commitment and care is what players can expect from Sea of Thieves, then it’s undoubtedly going to be a pirate’s life for me going forward.
Sea of Thieves is currently available on Windows PC and Xbox One. ‘Cursed Sails’ and ‘Forsaken Shores’ add-ons will arrive in July and September respectively.
You can find Shoaib Alli cruising the tides of social media on Twitter at @SNSAlli. We don’t know if he talks about poop decks or other nautically-tied items, but it’s 2018 and the man can talk about whatever he wants.