When Xbox revealed Sea of Thieves at E3 2015, I was immediately captivated by the possibilities of this pirate sandbox. The stunning art direction and construed scope of the project promised an online sandbox unlike anything players had experienced before. As someone fond of social-driven multiplayer games, I couldn’t wait to dip my toes in the virtual sand and embark on my own grand buccaneering adventure.
While my anticipation and expectations for Rare’s nautical outing were quite lofty, nothing could have prepared me for how much time I would sink into Sea of Thieves. Following its release in March 2018, I poured hundreds of hours into this open-world action game. The core progression loop and gameplay systems were refreshingly unique, and in many respects, Rare managed to deliver the ultimate pirate fantasy. My dedicated crew of scoundrels and I plundered, looted, and battled our way to "Year-One" Pirate Legend status.
Sea of Thieves remains one of my favorite games of all time, and I’ve publicly declared its position as Xbox’s most important IP of the last decade. Still, my hourly investments in recent years are shallow compared to the game’s first 18 months. However, Season Seven has brought a host of meaningful additions that have awakened initial addictions. From ship captaincy to pirate milestones, the latest update to Sea of Thieves fundamentally reinvigorates the progression loop for longtime players. In other words, I’m back on my blunderbuss bullship.
Captaincy is finally here
From day one, Sea of Thieves has featured decorative naming placards above the captain's quarters aboard all ship types. Early speculation suggested the incorporation of these nameplates implied captaincy was coming relatively close to launch. As we now know, a little over four years later, that wasn't the case. Thankfully, captaincy has finally made its way to Sea of Thieves, allowing players to purchase and name their very own vessels.
After an extended period of expectancy, Sea of Thieves has provided dedicated pirates a greater sense of ownership. Instead of simply spawning into a server with a blank keel of your choosing, captaincy delivers a means of permanently applying ship customizations. Captains who've shelled out the 175,000–500,000 gold to secure their first sloop, brigantine, or galleon can then spend additional chunks of hard-earned coin to affix their favorite vanity items to the ship. This means every time you set out to sail on a captained vessel, your signature loadout will be locked in and ready to go.
Establishing your notoriety as a famed captain on the Sea of Thieves entails settling on proper names for your ships. You'll be tasked with titling the buoyant beauty upon purchasing a choice craft. As any other players on the seas can see your ship's name on the horizon, selecting a moniker that captures the essence of your pirate escapades is crucial. There are definitely filters that prevent most offensive terms, but generally speaking, you are free to get plenty weird with it. I named my first sloop "Scoop There It Is" in honor of the banger from '90s hip-hop group Tag Team.
Another monumental perk introduced with captaincy is the elegantly dressed Sovereign. This Bougie collective of middlemen offers extremely streamlined cargo transactions. Traditionally, players had to manually bring designated pieces of loot to the respective trading companies at the various outposts scattered across the Sea of Thieves. The Sovereign are your one-stop shop for trading in loot. Any captain can take advantage of their convenient tents. For longtime players with hundreds of hours of shlepping bounty skulls, it's a godsend in the quality-of-life department.
Milestones give me purpose again
Since launch, the Sea of Thieves team has worked diligently to produce seasonal progression, limited-time events, story-driven adventures like A Pirate's Life, and numerous other incentives designed to keep players engaged with the pirate sandbox. I've actively participated and thoroughly enjoyed a vast majority of these supplemental pieces of game content. Unfortunately, after achieving Pirate Legend status and amassing several million gold, I've struggled to find motivations to grind Sea of Thieves like I once did. However, the newly adopted Milestone system yields a consequential array of rewards and challenges.
When Sea of Thieves transitioned to its seasonal content model, it acquainted players with the game's Renown mechanic. This transformative limited-timed progression rewarded every deed a pirate achieved during the season. In the vein of conventional Battle Passes, players earned gold, doubloons, and cosmetics for ascending the 100 levels of Renown in roughly three months. Two recently presented distinctions of Milestones amplify this fundamental concept by delivering permanent progression for your pirate and your owned ships.
From gorging on provisions to crushing tankards of grog, Milestones perpetually track all your pirate stats. The novelty of knowing how many minutes your ship has been engulfed in flames is undoubtedly entertaining. Still, the most exciting aspect of Milestones are how they honor your accomplishments. Many players have desperately demanded RPG-like progression in Sea of Thieves. While not directly tied to stats or power level, Season Seven gets us closer to satiating that everlasting sense of player advancement.
Trinkets are confidently my favorite compliment to Milestones. These decorative knick-knacks are procured by dedicating oneself to a bevy of hyper-specific feats. If you want your prized olive plentifin adorned on the interior of your captained vessel, be prepared to spend some serious time casting your line. Admittedly, many of these challenges appear unnecessarily daunting, but your resolution will be immortalized for any pirate to see. I'm already eyeing the assortment of trinkets I aim to unlock for my ships, and reestablishing long-term goals within Sea of Thieves feels incredible.
Why lapsed pirates should try Season 7
Gold in Sea of Thieves didn't provide exceptional worth for some time. I cherished the thrill of fending off rival crews to climb the ranks in the motley trading companies, but the coins associated with my efforts weren't nearly as gratifying. That's not to say I didn't have anything to purchase, far from it. I simply locked into my pirate aesthetic early on and found myself unmotivated to strive toward the multi-million gold cosmetic items available to Pirate Legends.
Season 7 of Sea Thieves has wholly renewed my enthusiasm for high seas hijinks and ushered in revelatory adjustments to player progression. When I first jumped into the latest update, I was sitting on nearly 2 million gold; in the blink of an eye, I was down to 100,000. For the first time in a very long time, there are items I'm avid to spend my gold on. Milestones, trinkets, and ship captaincy are monumental additions for longtime players, and Season 7 manages to recapture some of that day-one magic. If you haven't, there's never been a better time to try this swashbuckling adventure on Xbox Game Pass.
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Miles Dompier is a Freelance Video Producer for Windows Central, focusing on video content for Windows Central Gaming. In addition to writing or producing news, reviews, and gaming guides, Miles delivers fun, community-focused videos for the Windows Central Gaming YouTube channel. Miles also hosts Xbox Chaturdays every Saturday, which serves as the Windows Central Gaming weekly podcast.