A new golden age of piracy is almost upon us in the form of the Anniversary Update for Sea of Thieves. Shacknews was recently invited out to the Rare studio in the United Kingdom to play and experience some of the features, activities, and mechanics coming to Sea of Thieves on April 30. There’s a lot on offer, and to celebrate its imminent arrival, we’ve collected everything new coming to Sea of Thieves in the Anniversary Update!
Tall Tales is arguably one of the most game-changing additions coming to Sea of Thieves. This campaign-like experience takes players on an adventure to discover an uncharted island lurking beyond the Devil’s Shroud. Along the way they’ll encounter puzzles, traps, skeleton lords, boss battles, and all manner of new mechanics.
For a long time, stories in Sea of Thieves have been limited to voyages, small bits of lore in time-limited campaigns, and the stories created through emergent gameplay. While all these have offered countless hours of fun, there are those who want a more crafted narrative experience, and Tall Tales is the answer to that.
The first campaign, Shores of Gold, consists of nine unique quests that should take players anywhere between 10 and 20 hours to complete. These aren’t just your standard Sea of Thieves voyages either. I got to play through the Shroudbreaker quest, which saw my trusty crew spinning blocks to input a code where the incorrect sequence resulted in water filling up the sealed cave we were trapped in. It felt like I was in Indiana Jones or The Goonies.
Though it’s a part of the Tall Tales, it’s worthy of its own slot. The new island in Shores of Gold is the largest island Rare has made, with rivers snaking across the top and tunnels twisting below the surface. It’s bigger than Plunder Valley and Old Faithful, so expect to spend a lot of time trekking across it. However, you will need to go on an epic journey to reach it as it’s beyond the shadowy veil of the Devil’s Shroud. We can't wait to see what mysteries await on this distant shore.
If you’re the kind of player that is spoiling for a fight and wants nothing more than to sink another ship, but struggles to find any action when playing Sea of Thieves, then the Arena is perfect for you. This new competitive mode is like a more condensed and intense version of Sea of Thieves. Players are dropped into a small section of the map, walled off by the Devil’s Shroud, and are tasked with one goal: win.
Winning in the Arena means amassing the most silver, which is the mode’s point system. Silver is earned by digging up chests, delivering chests to cash-in points, and most importantly, attacking other ships, sinking other ships, and slaying other players. Because all the ships receive the exact same maps, with the exact same treasure, you are guaranteed a fight, and an intense one at that.
With unique cosmetics to earn, and bragging rights to defend, anyone who’s playing the Arena is going to give you a good fight. So rally your crew, practice your cannon shots, and get ready to play the most intense version of Sea of Thieves yet! Check out the Shacknews Arena hands-on impressions for a more thorough look at how it works.
Players noticed that the front of their ship was missing some railings, and now there’s an answer for what’s going to fill that spot: harpoons. Attached to the bow of the ship are two harpoons, one facing to port and the other to starboard.
These harpoons work exactly as you would imagine. Approach and use one as you would a cannon, but instead of firing out a cannonball, you’ll be shooting a harpoon with a tether attached. If a harpoon hits its target, it will either automatically reel in or you can do it manually. Harpooning and reeling another ship means you will drift closer together. Harpoon a megalodon and you’ll be off on a ride. Harpoon a rock and use it to drift around in a sharper turn. Alternatively, you can also harpoon other players onto your ship or even snatch treasure out of their hands! The possibilites of this new tool are endless!
Expanded ship damage
You thought cursed cannonballs were deadly, well get ready to repair more than just holes in your hull. Expanded ship damage in coming to Sea of Thieves in the form of holes growing larger in size, masts falling down slowing your movement, the anchor getting destroyed, and the wheel being blown to pieces.
If you want to keep your ship moving with any efficiency, you will need to use the lines to raise the mast back up and then get some wood to repair it. Similarly, you will need to repair the anchor before you can raise it and even repair the wheel to ensure it turns faster.
Any player that is an accurate shot on the cannon has just become your greatest asset when it comes to ship combat.
New Chest Type
Previously, the only chest types in Sea of Thieves were those you handed over to the Gold Hoarders for gold and reputation, but that’s all changing. With the Anniversary Update, players will be able to find a new type of chest during their adventures. These chests can actually be opened and often contain gold and other goodies.
In fact, players can even keep them on their ship and store valuable goods inside of them. Don’t want to do multiple trips delivering skulls? Put them in the chest and cut your runtime in half!
New Skeleton Type
Skeletons are the bread and butter of PVE combat in Sea of Thieves. These fallen pirates defend chests, their captains, and the riches hidden under each skeleton fort, and now a new type is joining their ranks. During my playtime with Tall Tales, I encountered coral skeletons. While their powers, abilities, and weaknesses weren’t immediately obvious, these bony monsters sure put up a good fight.
Skeleton Lord bosses
The skeletons in Sea of Thieves haven’t been the most clever of enemies. While they have some incredibly impressive sniping skills, they are fairly easy to handle. That’s all about to change. Skeleton lords are coming to the world and they bring with them abilities and moves. Don’t expect a skeleton lord to just swing a sword, expect them to put up a real fight. You’ll need to actually learn their moves and abilities and then figure out how to best combat them.
Cooking and food types
While a diet of bananas (skin and all) seems to keep our pirates happy, Rare will be expanding your food options in the Anniversary Update. Some of the new foodstuffs include: pig, chicken, snake, shark, megalodon, and kraken meat as well as coconuts, pineapples and even mangos! There are also earthworms, but it’s probably best not to eat those.
These food items will also offer different levels of health. Bananas appear to no longer offer roughly a third of your health, instead they’re good for about a fifth. You’ll want to ensure you have a good variety of food on-hand so you’re not spending too much time in combat scoffing bananas.
But more importantly, you can cook some of these items too. Cooking meat takes it from raw to cooked (or burnt if you leave them sizzling for too long), improving its value when handed over to the Hunter’s Call trading company.
One important factor of cooking food that requires a section all of its own is health regeneration. Any meat that is cooked well and then eaten applies a new type of health effect. You’ll notice a little circle around the skull in your health bar – this means you have a “pool” of health that will slowly heal you over time.
If you take some damage, after a short delay your health will begin to fill up, drawing from the pool of reserve health. This adds another element to combat in Sea of Thieves. Before any battle, you’ll want to get your health regeneration ready so that you can heal while fighting. No more putting away your sword to inhale a few bananas. However, if you don't have any health regen left, you'll need to start munching on some food!
New trading companies
As mentioned above, there are now two more trading companies in Sea of Thieves, the Sea Dogs and the Hunter’s Call. Sea Dogs are all about the Arena. Winning games, killing enemies with different weapons, turning in chests and stealing chests. Meanwhile, Hunter's Call is all about food, cooking, and fishing (more on this next). Plus, both of these trading companies include a whole lot of cosmetics to earn as you level up.
For players that are yet to reach Pirate Legend, these new trading companies mean you now have more avenues to reach the coveted status. You need to have three trading companies at level 50 to become a Pirate Legend. Want to focus on Sea Dogs, Hunter’s Call, and Merchant Alliance? Perfect. Feel like Order of Souls, Sea Dogs, and Gold Hoarders is more your speed? You can do that too.
It’s finally here. Fishing is finally coming to Sea of Thieves. The implementation of fishing in Sea of Thieves is exactly as you would expect – perfect. The handling of the rod, the battling with the fish, even being able to show off your fish while it’s still on the line are all quintessentially Sea of Thieves in their delivery.
With your fishing rod in hand, you can put some bait on the end (earthworm, grub or leech) and then cast off. Depending on where you are, the time of day, and the bait you use will result in a different type of fish. There are dozens of varieties to catch, and catching them all is going to be a goal for any seasoned anglers out there.
Any fish you manage to catch can be cooked up and either eaten for the health benefits or delivered to one of the many seaports to earn reputation and gold with the Hunter's Call.
There is so much coming to Sea of Thieves in the Anniversary Update. The game hasn’t undergone this level of change since Forsaken Shores, and even then this new wave of content looks to be even bigger than what’s come before it. We here at Shacknews are pretty passionate about Sea of Thieves, and if you are too, be sure to check out our Sea of Thieves page for all of our coverage. You can also check out an interview with Joe Neate and Shelley Preston where we talk about pets, private servers, and the future of Sea of Thieves.