We’re just four days away from the release of The Hungering Deep, Sea of Thieves’ first true content drop since launch two months ago. Rare has recently lifted the lid on exactly what we can expect to see come May 29th. Currently, Rare has three internal teams working on new content; The Hungering Deep, Cursed Sails and Forgotten Shores. The way development is working at the moment is on an “in-turn” basis, with each team releasing new subsequent content for the game, one after the other, presumably two months apart.
This means that The Hungering Deep will be the smallest content compared to what follows, seeing as though the internal team has had only two months to work on it. Cursed Sails on the other hand will have had much longer than that, as well as Forgotten Shores. The same can indeed be said about what comes next, seeing as though the team handling The Hungering Deep will start work on new content, scheduled to touch down after Forgotten Shores. This on-going cycle will ensure that Sea of Thieve’s thrives over time.
One of the biggest criticisms for Sea of Thieves is that, despite playing well and looking great, there just isn’t a lot to do. Currently the game has a total of three vendors, each of which requires you to complete tasks for them, be it chest finding, killing skeletons for their skulls, or seeking out wares of some sort. The journey to reach “Pirate Legend” requires reaching level fifty with all vendors before enjoying that elusive end-game content. It’s fun, tense and interesting, for sure, but oh my days, it’s one hell of a grind to get there.
I’ve been playing since launch and have sunk maybe 30 hours into the game. I’m only level thirty five with one vendor and twenty five with the other two. It doesn’t help that the game demands such a large amount of XP between higher levels. Captain’s Chests – one of the best chests in the game – would dramatically fill the level-up meter starting out, but now, it barely makes a dent. Furthermore, Cursed Chests don’t seem to dish out quite enough XP either, so I’m very much far from done with the game, despite it asking for a lot of time.
Thankfully the chances of seeing a Captain’s Chest is a lot more likely due to Rare’s recent tweaks regarding higher-tiered voyages, but before than, it was even more of a drag than it is now. I would constantly get the low-end chests after hours of voyaging, allowing me roughly two level-ups per session. The point in all of this? I need more to keep me engaged. The Hungering Deep, however small of a content drop it may be, is exactly what the doctor ordered. Now that it’s been (nearly) detailed in full, it’s a small step in the right direction.
Rare has quite an interesting plan for how content in served in Sea of Thieves. The Hungering Deep will come with permanent content and features, as well as a limited time campaign. This limited time adventure leads from the outpost taverns to lonely, forgotten isles, allowing players to piece together the tale of Merrick the bard and his brush with hungering horror. Those who can find him and untangle his groggy recollection of events can join the hunt for his nemesis – and reap the rewards, which are exclusive to this story.
I made a point in my review of the game that it has a beautiful world, yet lacks depth. Implementations like this are an absolute must if you ask me. We’re not sure how “limited” the event will be, but I would probably put my money on guessing that it will stick around for a month in total, giving players more than enough time to get in on the action. What will this adventure consist of? That’s yet to be cleared up, but I suspect it will amount to accomplishing a set of tasks that are not too dissimilar to the tasks already in-game.
This means we can probably expect to sail to a range of locations, uncovering new story-markings on land, possibly with the inclusion of some narration from Merrick at each discovery to tie the story up. No doubt we’ll be using the new items at some point or another, before eventually going head to head with the new terrifying AI threat. It’s all guesswork right now, but I will eat my hat if it’s anything more intricate than what I’ve described above. Still, it’s a welcoming sight indeed to have something new to do.
New items include; a drum, a speaking trumpet, flags, tattoos and scars. The most interesting new addition here is the speaking trumpet, a tool that can be used to communicate with ships at great distance. Tattoos and scars expand the vanity chest, allowing for more customization than ever. Flags (for ships) and drums on the other hand, well, these are the less mandatory – if you like – features coming in The Hungering Deep, but still add to the interesting pool of items that are already available.
It’s unclear if we’ll be seeing any new chest/skull variations, or whether we’ll be seeing any new wildlife included. The short teaser trailer did showcase crabs on the shores of Shark Bait Cove, but Rare has yet to clear up whether or not this was just to spice up the cinematic. Those that complete the limited time campaign will be rewarded with exclusive items, such as a special figurehead, unique drum variant and speaking trumpet, plus the Hungering Tattoo Set and some scars perfect for born survivors.
Permanent additions will include the new Shark Hunter ship livery set with hull, sails, figurehead and a flag. Though, amidst all of that content, the biggest and most anticipated addition is that of the aforementioned AI threat. We’ve yet to see this in full and we suspect we wont be seeing it until we’re out and about on the seas, but going from the glimpse we’ve caught so far, it looks freakin’ mahoosive. It’s said that this giant beast can only be taken down by multiple crews, unlike the game’s Kraken encounter.
Whatever the hell this creature is, we know that it’s got at least four eyes and (from my count) at least five fins. Speaking of its size, it appears to be as large as a galleon, maybe even bigger than that. This encounter will also be permanent to the game once the limited campaign has ended. To say that one single division within Rare has crafted all of this within just eight to ten weeks, is quite remarkable. It not only speaks volumes for the game and its future, but makes one very excited to see what the subsequent larger DLCs will include.
I’ll reiterate, Sea of Thieves is a good game held back by lack of content. With drops like this arriving thick and fast, I’ve no doubt whatsoever that the game will be an entirely different beast come the end of the year. We’ve got new ship types to look forward to, new locations and much more. Hopefully we can see a expansion to the current chest/skull/wildlife pool, but given Rare’s commitment to address feedback, we’ve no doubt this will be built upon in due course. Call the game what you like, Rare seems to know exactly what they’re doing.
I’ll take this opportunity to also point out that Sea of Thieves’ vast community are constantly asking for a few interesting features to be thrown into the mix. New vendors (pretty much a given), rowboats, fishing, photography, new weapons and underwater exploration. I have to second each and every one of these ideas. No fishing in a game that largely takes place on the ocean? What a wasted opportunity. Fingers crossed we see these things realized in due course. Until then, ready up for release of The Hungering Deep on May 29th.