Ah, to live a pirate’s life! Exploring the open seas with the wind to your back and the sea mist on your face, the salty air mingling with the scent of gunpowder and rum as you sail away from your latest raid, the galley’s hold heavy with reclaimed loot. It’s the siren call of this high risk, high reward lifestyle that keeps people coming back to relive the fantasy, whether it be in books like Treasure Island, movies like Pirates of the Caribbean, or games like Sea of Thieves.
Despite its floundering launch, Sea of Thieves has only gotten better since its maiden voyage in 2018. With its recent release on Steam and the introduction of crossplay, there’s no better time than now to get into one of the best social gaming experiments in recent years. If you’re wondering whether you’ve missed the boat on getting up to speed with all the game’s updates, worry not! I’m here to help you navigate the crowded waters of the game’s major patch notes so you don’t end up a castaway before you even begin.
Sea of Thieves’ Major Content Updates
The developers of Sea of Thieves envisioned it to be a GaaS title which would last at least 10 years from launch. To date, it has received 25 major content updates that either added new features and gameplay mechanics, or expanded the lore with new narratives, locations, and quests. Aside from these major updates, the game still receives regular bugfix and stability patches, as well as regularly scheduled events that offer players opportunities to unlock their respective timed-exclusive cosmetic rewards.
I won’t list every detail, but here are the important ones:
Landlubbers will be introduced with a tutorial now
Before December 2019, new players of Sea of Thieves were thrown into the drink without so much as a hope and a prayer. Now, there’s a tutorial quest called “Maiden Voyage” that not only gets players accustomed to the game in the safety of their instance but also rewards eagle-eyed adventurers with a bit of starting gold too—provided they’re cunning enough to solve the tutorial’s little mystery.
There are now AI-controlled skeleton and ghost ships in the game
This addition was met with much controversy. One of the initial selling points of Sea of Thieves was that PvP would be a core hallmark of the game and that PvE elements would be minimal if entirely non-existent. Make no mistake though, these skeleton sailors are no pushovers. In fact, I regularly have a harder time against AI ships than other players.
Five different types of Megalodon now lurk the open seas
Believe it or not, Megalodons—or Megs, as they’re affectionately referred to—were not included at launch (the only deep-sea horror around back then was the good ol’ Kraken). Now, players not only have to worry about the tentacled terror, sneaky skellies, and PvPers, but these mean minibosses too.
Players can now form alliances across multiple ship crews
The ocean in Sea of Thieves—though beautiful—is vast and dangerous, even for a fully-manned galleon. Now, you can form alliances with other crews and sail together as a veritable armada. You’ll even share the rewards from turning in treasures and contracts!
Rowboats are a thing now
Considering how risky it is attempting to drop anchor close to islands and outposts, rowboats are a useful tool to avoid damaging your ship’s hull when parking. They’re also great for transporting large amounts of treasures and collectibles, as not only there is a built-in storage in every rowboat, but items can be dropped directly in them as well. They can even be docked with your ship, and sometimes have harpoons for extra reach and silliness.
There’s a PvP-focused arena mode
Practice your piracy skills here, where up to 5 crews compete in a 24-minute bout to loot the same booty! Silver is awarded for landing cannon shots on enemy vessels as well as taking out opposing players, but the biggest payout goes to the team that takes home the treasure.
Hunting, fishing, and cooking are in the game
Tired out from the constant rigamarole of commandeering a ship and crew? Maybe relax for a bit and cast a line down the side of your sloop. Fishing, hunting, and cooking provide not only much-needed nutrition for the growing pirate, but they can be turned in to Hunter’s Call representatives for gold and prestige.
Big surprise: a microtransaction store (selling only cosmetic items)
Obviously, a huge reason to be a pirate is the aesthetic, so it can be a bummer missing out on timed-exclusive outfits and ship décor. Now, you never have to worry about this, as cosmetics can be bought with a premium currency that can either be purchased with real money or earned in-game.
Parrots, monkeys, and cats – oh my! Now pirates can bring their favorite furry or feathered friends along for the fun. They can perch on players’ shoulders or roam freely around the ship when the captain is onboard, and can even be dressed up in cute little costumes. Like everything in Sea of Thieves, though, they’re purely cosmetic; so don’t go thinking they’ll help out in combat. Squawk!
Combat has been expanded
Ships are made of many parts, so it makes sense that these individual parts should break. That’s exactly what happens now, and you’ll find yourself and your crew scrambling to fix masts, repair wheels, put out fires, and plug holes during ship combat. Sword combat was tweaked too, with several timings polished and stun locks relieved.
The in-game factions can now be represented by players
Who doesn’t want better rewards from Trading Companies for doing contracts? Now, you can sail as an emissary of one of these factions, sailing under their flag which will be proudly displayed under your own for all to see. Raise your rank within these factions and earn greater payouts for every completed quest!
Quests AKA something to actually do
Speaking of quests, they exist now. Early on in its life, Sea of Thieves was criticized for not having much to do. Now, there are discoverable quests from sources like messages in bottles, Voyages (thematic collections of quests), and Tall Tales (longer, more plot-heavy campaigns) to give you a sense of purpose in the game other than simply being a pirate.
Steam, Xbox, & Xbox Game Pass for PC crossplay
Piracy is all about freedom! And while the game isn’t free (yet), consumers are now free to purchase Sea of Thieves on Steam, where regional pricing might be better than from the Microsoft Store. Game Pass users also have it included in their subscription now, and players on any of these platforms can sail together in cross-platform glory.
There are many, many more additions to the game worth talking about, like Megalodons, harpoons, raids, etc. For a condensed look, check out this official blog post by Joe Neate, Executive Producer at Rare which boils most of the new stuff down to brass tacks.