Sea of Thieves needs no introduction. I must have plugged hundreds and hundreds of hours into the game so far, having played it (on and off – though, mostly on) since its launch in early 2018. I was one of the first to say that, at release, it lacked content. Hell, that’s somewhat of an understatement. Back when it first touched ground, there was little more than three vendors and a DIY-sense of finding the game’s fun. Now, however, the game is an entirely different beast thanks its constant flow of support and new and exciting updates.
I think we can safely say that Rare had quite a learning curve to overcome when it came to the game’s first few months of life. The developer had to contend with fan demand, at the same time as introducing new updates and consistently tweaking the core concept until the formula felt perfect. I wont go so far as to say that Sea of Thieves is perfect, because it’s not, but it’s steadily becoming the most engaging game that Microsoft has ever had under its umbrella. Sure, it’s been a rocky road, however, now is the time to get stuck in once again.
Gone are the days where players would need to find the game’s fun themselves. Now, that fun comes to you. Sea of Thieves has recently enjoyed its latest expansion, which by and large, is really a collection of refinements that truly tie up the game’s features in a fluid, neat way. Though, before we dive into Shrouded Spoils, let’s take a look back in time and briefly look upon the game’s overall journey. As alluded to above, the game didn’t have a great deal of depth when it first launched. Take voyage, complete voyage, rinse and repeat.
That, outside of the occasional Kraken encounter and a few Skull Forts, was the bulk of play. Players would take on voyages and level up the game’s three vendors to level fifty each, before becoming a fable Pirate Legend. Sounds paper-thin, right? Well, that’s because it was. Despite the vast and gorgeous ocean, there just wasn’t enough content included to justify this repetition for many players. That, and the game’s several islands lacked personality and character, not to mention its copy-and-paste enemy variation throughout.
Hell, it didn’t help matters that the Kraken was built to attack the larger of the two available ships, meaning that players in the smaller ship would be cut out of a genuinely tense encounter. Soon after launch, however, Rare began to show a hell of a lot of promise through their dedicated support of the game. Several updates and tweaks later, the game now has a total of three ships, an expanded map, more enemy AI variation, new tools, heaps of cosmetic additions, new ways to play and heaps of refined core mechanics.
What Rare’s achieved in less than a year, is simply outstanding. If anything, as suggested in the title, it’s exactly why you need to pick up this game now more than ever. Sea of Thieves has never felt so alive, so compelling, and so damn fun. What’s more is that Rare accomplished all of that amidst the aforementioned learning curve, and now that they – following this latest update – have seemingly finally found their footing, 2019 is set to be explosive. So, what exactly has changed since March 2018? I’ll tell you, everything has.
When I would log into the game at launch, I was expected to be content with the same old voyages for the same old vendors, over and over again. Now, on the other hand, I can barely get from one outpost to the next without something grand and exciting occurring. Whether that’s one of several new Megalodon’s gunning for my ship, a Skeleton Ship suspiciously tailing me, brand new Skull Forts activating, or a new and improved Kraken emerging from the water, it seems as though there’s always something exciting popping up at every turn.
That, ladies and gents, is only the dynamic side of the game’s improvements. Sea of Thieves is now more rewarding than it ever has been too. Treasures of all forms now spawn on islands by default, varying common goods to ultra rare goods – encouraging players into spending more time exploring the lands within. Enemy encounters now also drop loot, meaning that you’re finally rewarded for your efforts for bringing down the game’s towering foes. There’s also new variations of loot that’s been introduced for keen-eyed pirates.
Then, there’s the new ways to play and level-up via the Bilge Rat adventures and Cargo Runs – a new Merchant Alliance challenge that has you carefully transporting goods in an attempt to deliver them undamaged. The Bilge Rat adventures are assignments that are frequently introduced to the game, tasking players with new objectives that are typically unlike anything that they’ve done in the game before. Between all of that and the plethora of new goodies and additions, Sea of Thieves has come a long, long way since its arrival.
That leads us to the game’s latest update; Shrouded Spoils. Shrouded Spoils is an accumulation of most of the game’s improvements and content drops, delivered in one neat and refined update. The update reworked the Kraken to ensure that it would now attack all ship types, as well as setting loose a wide range of varying Megalodons; one of which is so elusive that very few players have actually encountered it. The game’s events (Skull Forts, Skeleton Fleets, and Krakens) now refresh every five minutes, rather than every three hours.
Mermaid Statues have made a return, only now they drop expensive jewels that can be traded in to any vendor of your choosing, and fog has been unleashed to cause a stir for ship captains during voyages. Furthermore, new cosmetic options allow you to alter the appearance of your wheel, capstan, and cannons, in addition to the sails, hull, and masthead. This may all sound like small steps that retread old content, but it’s so much more than that. It’s an overhaul that puts so much life into the game, once and for all.
Shrouded Spoils is a statement from Rare. It’s a statement that clearly suggests that Rare now have a strong and steady grasp on the game, and that future strides are going to be bigger, and more impacting than ever before. Because of this, Sea of Thieves in 2019 is going to be exceptional, and I’ll eat my boot if I’m wrong. I could go on and on and highlight each and every element that’s been implemented so far, but I would be here all day. Little is known about what the game will bring this year, but we do know a few tidbits of intel.
The Arena is a new PvP mode that sees crews going head to head on land and on sea in an attempt to please the Sea Dogs; a new vendor that specializes in this event. Whereas PvP is entirely optional in the core game, The Arena sees a collection of condensed maps in which combat with other players becomes the main objective. We’re not sure what sits on the horizon beyond that, but I’ll say it again, if Rare can achieve everything they have achieved so far, amidst a steep learning curve, 2019 is set to define both the game and its developer.
We can assume that content that was due to arrive in 2018 is most certainly going to arrive in 2019, such as pets. Rare have yet to address exactly how these will feed into the experience, but I suspect we’ll learn more about this in due course. Fishing, although not solidly confirmed, has long been teased following strong fan demand. I expect to see this alongside the addition of pets, giving players something to do as they set sail for lengthy voyages. Then, there’s the inclusion of potions, but again, we’re not sure how these work.
What we do know is that they’re actively being developed; in fact, the vendor in charge of potions is set to be sat above the vendor for the Order of Souls at each outpost. We also know that the vendor was indeed temporarily placed in the game – albeit invisibly, likely to test the performance ahead of implementation. Though, above all of that, and arguably the most exciting aspect of all, is the inclusion of story-based voyages. This is a must, given that Sea of Thieves lacks a solid story structure outside of its lore-heavy comic book material.
Perhaps the most appealing addition for Pirate Legends is captaincy. Rare has long hinted that they plan to build the game past legendary status, meaning that we can expect to see a new exclusive area thrown into the game that level ten Pirate Legends can access once requirements have been met – opening more goals and opportunities as a result. That’s just the stuff that we know about. No doubt that Rare is hard at work developing more enemy encounters for us to take on, new and exciting ways to play, and more general content.
The point in all of this, if it’s not already clear enough? Sea of Thieves is in a much better place than it’s ever been, and 2019 is set to further smash expectations – tying together all of the above with whatever Rare is cooking behind closed doors; both known and unknown additions. No doubt we’ll learn much more as time moves on, but for now, I have every faith that come six months time, no one will be able to scoff at the content that the game will be packing. If you dropped off the bandwagon for whatever reason, you need to get back in.
I should point out that although the game is as alive as its ever been due to the seemingly nonstop in-game events, these events will indeed become less frequent in the near future, but not as infrequent as they were beforehand. Still, even so, there’s no knocking the game for its growth and its newfound diversity. There’s still so many new things to see and so many new ways to enjoy the life of a pirate, and this will only continue to improve from here on out. What would you like to see added further down the lines? Hit the comments below.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.