It’s been +/-13 months since Sea of Thieves officially launched on March 20th, 2018. The game admittedly received a lot of flack for “lack of progression” from many players, and I have written multiple piecesabout the latest additions to the game in the past year. On Sea of Thieves’ first birthday, Rare announced their Anniversary Update that will be launching April 30th, and boy am I excited about it.
A Quick Recap
There have been many content updates and improvements of life over the past year and a bit, and if you don’t feel like reading about them, Rare have put a gameplay recap together for your viewing pleasure:
Making Pirate Legend
I’ve written in the past about my personal grind towards Pirate Legend status and how encountering other PLs in the world continued to stoke that fire. I was fortunate enough to reach PL status on January 30th 2019. Apart from grinding out the remaining commendations and ranking up in the Athena’s Fortune, there isn’t really much else for me to do at this point, which means this update is coming at the perfect time!
The Anniversary Update
This update is bursting at the seams with new content coming into the game, so I’ve sorted them into a few categories:
New Ways To Play
New Ways To Damage Ships
Different Ways To Reach Pirate Legend
This is the new competitive PVP mode that will be entirely separate from the “Adventure Mode”.
What’s good to note is that console players will have the choice to switch off cross play since console players are at a huge disadvantage against their PC counterparts. The team from Rare have stressed that this will be an “out of the way” setting that you will consciously need to enable/disable, but will even out the playing field for console players. I’ve had the opportunity to play on both platforms, and it doesn’t matter how good you are on console, PC players absolutely have the upper hand.
Personally, I love this new challenge that is given to players who are predominantly interested in PVPing (and hopefully this will stop some of the PVP trolling going on in the game currently).
This piece of the Anniversary Update puzzle brings story and narrative to the SoT world (something I’m sure the players complaining about lack of progress will be excited to try out). The following trailer does contain spoilers to the campaign.
For those of you not wanting to spoil anything by watching the trailer, I can say the following: Tall Tales will slot into the shared world so there will be other crews around while you attempt to finish the story you have embarked on either solo or with your crew.
Fishing, Ship “Upgrades” and Pets?
These are smaller niche changes that I feel will have a big impact on how the regular Sea of Thieves session plays out. Fishing has caught my eye the most. This might be my Minecraft fishing days talking though (I am a part of the Insider Community and am under strict NDA. BUT, I can say that fishing is looking really good and is the part I’m most looking forward to with this release). The Devs have also gone on to explain how there are different types of fish located throughout the world, who all fancy different kinds of bait.
As for ship upgrades, we can clearly see the front of the three ship types have been upgraded to support harpoons. There has also been a stove added below deck which I can only imagine is for cooking (stoked to give my pirate something more than bananas to eat). The Devs have also explained how different food will change your health bar, giving you the ability to “recharge” your health while in battle if you’ve consumed food to fill up your health “overflow”. In the many Dev Update videos, there was a discussion about pets being added into the game. Initially, they said they were coming along with the Anniversary Update. However, Joe Neat (Sea of Thieves’ Executive Producer) explainedthat pets aren’t where they want them to be yet and will be pushing them out later down the line. This is something I love from game developers. They’re open and honest about something not being the way they envisioned and rather than releasing something that is broken or unfinished, they decided to hold back on the release until they get it to a place where they’re happy with it. I really wish more games had this.
Ship Damage and Repairs
In the trailer, we see the mast breaking, which excites me a lot: a new way to immobilise enemies, but also a very real threat to be aware of when being attacked. In another Dev Update, the specific damage was explained a little more in-depth. Masts, wheels, and capstans (the anchor thingy) can all be damaged now. Masts will break in half, wheels will lose pegs (making you lose turning speed and therefore ship agility) and captains will lose handles, making fewer of the crew able to help raise the anchor (a nightmare on galleons). But as with all things in Sea of Thieves, planks can literally fix EVERYTHING. You’ll have battle scars on your mast from where the planks are now used as support structures, and literal pieces of plank filling in the wheel and capstan missing pieces, but that just adds to the character of your ship after a long session of pirating.
My personal favourite, however, has to be the chance to lower your opponents’ anchor when hitting it with a cannonball – more ways to apply strategy when attacking other ships. LOVE it! They have also changed the way holes in the ship will work – previously there has been one level of damage with a set amount of water being let into the ship. With the Anniversary Update, there will be various levels of damage – smaller holes for scrapes along the shore or bad parking jobs at outposts, and larger holes if you get hit more than once. Again, this will add more strategy into the game, seeing as players will now have to prioritise which holes they need to repair first while in a battle.
New Clubs, Factions and Friends To Please
Apart from fishing, this is going to be my highlight from this update. If you’ve already reached Pirate Legend, you’ve maxed out the levels for the 3 initial trading companies (Gold Hoarders, Order of Souls and Merchant Alliance). You then unlock the Athena’s Fortune faction which admittedly, can become boring to grind after a long period of time. The only other thing to really work towards in the pre-anniversary game is your commendations such as completing a certain amount of tasks or delivering a set amount of items. These are great, but you’re only really grinding for in-game titles and the odd doubloons (Bilge Rat Currency). The Arena adds the Sea Dogs Trading Company, while The Hunters Call focuses on fishing and cooking. Long time players will remember Merrick from the Hungering Deep DLC. Every single one of the Hunters Call members are somehow related to him, and I love that they’re continually adding more lore to the Sea of Thieves.
Reaching Pirate Legend After This Update
Initially, you’d need to 50-50-50 the original trading companies, but now there are five trading companies in total. For those still looking to hit that legendary milestone, you can choose which three trading companies you want to level up. Reaching level 50 across any three of the five will award you your legendary status. Pirates who have already become a legend, however, still keep their title.
Personally, I’m a huge fan of giving players more choice in how they play. I hated grinding Merchant levels and would have switched that out for fishing ANY DAY.
Sea of Thieves and Me
If you follow the hashtag on Twitter, #SoTandMe has players sharing all their own stories, encounters and what the game means to them. It has been incredible to see how many players have been affected by this game, and I know I am certainly one of them.
Sea of Thieves has only been out for a year and it has already sailed right up into my top 5 all-time favourite games.
I’m writing this preview before the update releases, and will only sink my teeth into Anniversary once I have returned from my London trip but hope to meet many of you out on the seas or in the Arena.
I'd love to chat to you some more.
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