A lot has changed in Sea of Thieves since Rare's shared world pirate fantasy first set sail in March 2018. Thanks to a series of major content updates in the first year - including the game-changing Anniversary Update - and a recent commitment to regular monthly updates, the game has grown and evolved at a scale that few other service-based games can match. Even better, all content has been added for free!
To celebrate the game's second anniversary, here are 38 of the biggest things that have been added over the past two years. If you're yet to try the game or haven't played for a while, be sure to jump in by trying it out with Xbox Game Pass or buying the game on the Microsoft Store or your local retailer. Sea of Thieves' uniquely horizontal progression system means that you can set sail again at any time and not be at a disadvantage against other players.
1) Tall Tales
Tall Tales are Sea of Thieves' unique take on a story-driven campaign, offering cinematic quests within the game's emergent shared world. The first collection of stories, Shores of Gold, take players on an epic adventure in search of a lost island and magical treasure, while recent additions 'The Seabound Soul ' and 'Heart of Fire' tell a whole new story. Available to solo players or crews of any size, there are eleven Tall Tales in total which should keep you occupied for up to 30 hours.
2) The Arena
Added as part of 2019's mega Anniversary Update, The Arena is a standalone competitive game mode that lets crews battle it out in fixed-length contests described by Eurogamer as 'glorious, consequence-free PvP carnage'. The Arena also features its own Trading Company - the Sea Dogs - with which you can earn reputation and rise in rank, together with its own social space and cosmetic rewards.
3) The Megalodon
The game's first Megalodon - think Jaws on steroids - was added to the game in its first major content update, The Hungering Deep. This fearsome giant shark was an emergent threat that could attack ships at any time, with rewards for crews who could defeat it. It was later followed to the Sea of Thieves by many dangerous Megalodon variants, including rare species like the legendary Shrouded Ghost.
4) The Devil's Roar
The Devil's Roar is a wild and dangerous world region that was added to the game with the Forsaken Shores content update (wonderfully brought to life by actor and comedian Matt Berry). This world region is full of natural perils including volcanoes, lava, geysers and superheated water. So dangerous is The Devil's Roar that its Ashen treasures deliver sizeable gold and reputation gains when cashed in.
5) Skeleton Ships
The introduction of Skeleton Ships in July 2018 changed the game by allowing players to engage in ship-to-ship combat outside of PvP. These fearsome sea-based threats can be found sailing beneath the ship-shaped cloud, and can burst from beneath the waves without warning to ambush unsuspecting pirates. Sink them and take their treasure!
6) Fog Providing the 'Shrouded' bit of November 2018's Shrouded Spoils content update, fog brought both atmosphere and gameplay depth. Exploring islands in thick fog adds an additional layer of threat and complexity, while clever captains can use the swirling mists to hide their ships from other crews…
7) Maiden Voyage
The Maiden Voyage is a tutorial that goes the extra mile. Set just outside Sea of Thieves' shared world, the Maiden Voyage is the perfect opportunity for new pirates to find their sea legs in a safe space. And while it's perfect for new players wanting to learn how to play, it also offers plenty for more experienced players including a chance to meet the Pirate Lord himself and earn some exclusive cosmetics.
The addition of fire turned up the heat on players when it was added to the game last November. Fires can be started by firebombs, angry Chests of Rage or through less aggressive means, such as leaving food on the ship's stove unattended. One thing's for sure, fire had a huge impact on the game and proved that Alfred Pennyworth was right when he observed: 'Some men just want to watch the world burn.'
9) Lots of lovely emergent loot
Back at launch, finding treasure could be a difficult business. But these days the Sea of Thieves is positively awash with loot, with Barrels of Plenty (floating barrels of bonus treasure), emergent Skeleton Captains, increased shipwreck loot, Mermaid Statues and their valuable gems, treasure maps in barrels, more washed-up treasure and rewards for defeating the Megalodon, Kraken and Skeleton Ships.
People asked. And asked. And asked some more. So as part of the Anniversary Update, Rare added a huge fishing mechanic to the game that offers hours of distraction from epic adventuring. There are 10 main types of fish, each with their own variants, some of which can only be caught in specific world regions with the right bait and conditions. You can cook and eat fish to restore health, or cash them in with The Hunter's Call Trading Company found at any Seapost. Sea of Thieves' fishing was the highest-rated experience in PC Gamer's article 'Which PC game has the best fishing?'.11) The Hunter's Call Trading Company
Headed by the lovable Merrick (of The Hungering Deep fame), The Hunter's Call is a Trading Company that rewards players for catching and cooking fish or meat. Unique among Trading Companies in that its representatives are located at Seaposts rather than Outposts, The Hunter's Call offers a more leisurely path to Pirate Legend status.
12) Cargo Runs
Introduced to the game back in the Forsaken Shores update, Cargo Runs are a twist on the standard Merchant Alliance quest. Collect and deliver valuable cargo to various locations across the Sea of Thieves, both on time and in good condition, for a handsome payday.
13) Legends of the Sea
Sea of Thieves' world has always contained Easter eggs that celebrate the stories of our most legendary players. Umbra's sidequests, introduced in January 2020's Legends of the Sea update, offer players the chance to earn Commendations and Doubloons for tracking down the stories behind these inspiring and entertaining player immortalisations.
14) Fort of the Damned
Raiding Skeleton Forts has always been an essential part of the Sea of Thieves experience, but the Fort of the Damned is a standout encounter. Released in time for Halloween 2019, this spooky Fort represents a major upgrade on the raid experience, both in terms of challenge and reward. Unlike other Forts, the Fort of the Damned can be activated on demand by crews who want to unlock its treasures again and again.
15) Gunpowder Skeletons
First came skeletons. Then skeletons with weapons (including snipers and cannoneers). But things got serious once the skeletons of the Sea of Thieves discovered that Gunpowder Barrels also make very effective weapons. Boom!
16) Stronghold Kegs
Available through raiding Forts, Stronghold Kegs are Gunpowder Barrels that make a really big bang (colloquially known as 'mega-kegs'). These rare items command a high price from the Merchant Alliance, or they can be used as devastating weapons against all manner of enemies…
17) Reaper's Chests
Reaper's Chests are high-value chests found emergently in shipwrecks across the Sea of Thieves, and reveal their location through a mysterious beacon that rises up to the sky. But beware - once a Reaper's Chest is recovered, other crews will be able to see on the map that you have this valuable reward and can hunt you down.
Every pirate needs an animal companion. The Pirate Emporium, added to the game in September 2019, brought with it a range of lovable pet parrots and monkeys, with more types still to come. Available in various breeds and colours, pets can also be dressed up in costumes for added hilarity. These furry and feathered sidekicks are an essential addition to any crew.
19) More than 100 new emotes
Emotes have always been a popular way for players to express themselves, but the addition of the Pirate Emporium has seen more than 100 new emotes added to the game. From the classic 'we're flying' emote inspired by a certain sea-based movie to the infamous 'Crab Dab ', there's something for every pirate and every situation.
20) Cursed Cannonballs
Introduced to the game as part of July 2018's Cursed Sails update, Cursed Cannonballs are powerful weapons that can be found emergently in the world. Each of the eleven types of Cursed Cannonballs imparts a powerful, time-limited effect on an enemy, from making them dance to rendering their cannons impotent.
Not only did the Anniversary Update bring fishing and hunting to the game, it brought cooking to legions of hungry pirates. Food can be cooked using the stove aboard every ship or at campfires. Once perfectly prepared, cooked food can be eaten to restore health or sold to The Hunter's Call for a premium.
22) The Bilge Rats
The Bilge Rats are an unofficial Trading Company who arrived in Sea of Thieves in summer 2018. Dedicated to celebrating a pirate's life of adventure outside the traditional Trading Companies, Duke and his motley crew give players a range of regular sidequests which can unlock additional rewards and cosmetics.
Sometimes it can be Sea of Friends, thanks to the Alliance feature that lets two or more crews team up to improve the odds and share the rewards. Perfect for pirates looking to earn loot in a hurry, and a great way to meet other players and make friends.
24) Creator Crew
With its emphasis on player freedom and creativity, Sea of Thieves is a hugely watchable game. The Creator Crew is a programme which helps budding streamers and YouTubers get noticed, offering asset packs, opportunities to have work shared across official channels and 'How To' tutorials for improving content. What's more, there's also the chance to unlock exclusive cosmetic items by completing creator challenges. Go create and share your pirate stories!
Another feature that was introduced in the Cursed Sails update, the Brigantine is a ship type made for three players. More agile than a Galleon but boasting significantly more firepower than a Sloop, Brigantines soon became a player favourite.
Originally introduced in the Forsaken Shores update as a tool to deal with the superheated waters of the volcanic Devil's Roar region, Rowboats are perfect for pirates looking to move around more loot than they can carry or sneak up on larger ships undetected. Racing them can also be fun!
27) The Harpoon
Every ship - and even some Rowboats - now come equipped with harpoon guns. These handy tools can be used in lots of ways, from plucking resources out of the water to making a sharp turn around an island. They can also be used to steal treasure from unsuspecting pirates in what has become known within the community as a 'zoin k'.
28) Doubloons and the Black Market
The arrival of the Bilge Rats on the Sea of Thieves also introduced a brand new currency which could be earned for completing time-limited events, a range of sidequests or by unlocking certain Commendations. Once earned, valuable Doubloons can be exchanged for rare cosmetics through the Black Market, or used to buy favour with the main Trading Companies and level up faster.
Dotted around the Sea of Thieves, Seaposts are mini-Outposts. They offer crews a great opportunity to stock up on resources, plus you'll find traders who'll sell a variety of cosmetics at a discount. Seaposts are also home to The Hunter's Call, so they're where you need to go to sell fish and meat.
30) Chest of Rage
Added recently in February 2020, the Chest of Rage is the latest Cursed Chest to be found within the game. These rare and valuable chests are filled with fury which vents itself regularly if not kept cool, making this a high-risk (but high-return) item which can also double up as a powerful weapon…
31) Collector's Chests
Originally introduced as part of Tall Tales: Shores of Gold, Collector's Chests - chests that can be opened and will hold whatever treasure you put in - have recently been added as rewards for solving riddle quests. What does that mean? More loot!
Tucking, you say? What on earth is that? Let us explain. Pioneered by several high-profile streamers, 'tucking' in Sea of Thieves involves using emotes such as sleeping and sitting to hide aboard other players' ships (the emote hides the gamertag above a player). Opening up a stealthy - not to mention hilarious - new way to play the game, tucking was officially recognised by the addition of a number of hide emotes to the Pirate Emporium (one of which is available to players for free).
33) Expanded ship customization
Having a cool-looking ship is one of the best parts of Sea of Thieves. Every pirate takes pride in how their vessel looks, plus a ship's visibility from distance means that it's your calling card in the world. Since the Shrouded Spoils expansion, players can now determine all elements of how their ship looks including the sails, figurehead, hull, capstan, cannons, wheel and flag. Get customising!
34) Skeleton variety
While the principal threat on land for pirates remains skeletal in nature, the threat has expanded through the addition of a number of skeleton variants - such as Gold, Plant, Shadow and Ashen - that each pose a different challenge. What's more, you'll also run into Skeleton Captains (and their crews) around the world, and may even encounter a fearsome Skeleton Lord…
35) Speaking Trumpet
The Speaking Trumpet is a handy tool for anyone looking to communicate with another crew. Kind of like a pirate-themed megaphone, the Speaking Trumpet amplifies the distance over which voice and text chat can be heard by other crews. Perfect for communicating with other ships without getting too close (just in case).
36) Throwable weapons
Throwable weapons offer more combat variety and come in two main flavours. Firebombs, as the name suggests, explode on impact and set fire to anything and anyone in the vicinity. Blunderbombs are closer in style to a grenade, dealing damage to (and knocking back) anyone in their blast radius.
Another new game feature added just this March, chainshot is a new ammo type that can be loaded into cannons and used to take down another ship's mast. Bringing more tactical depth to ship-to-ship combat, there's nothing more satisfying than felling another ship's mast in a single shot.
38) Another 1200 gamerscore
Last but not least, the ever-expanding quantity of content in Sea of Thieves has also meant the addition of hundreds of new achievements and another 1200 gamerscore to play for (making a total of 2200 in all).
And there's more! We haven't even mentioned combat improvements, new musical instruments and more shanties to enjoy, hundreds of extra cosmetic items, a wealth of new Commendations or the countless ongoing quality of life improvements across all areas of the game. Visit the official Sea of Thieves website to see more about the latest updates, and for the latest on all things Xbox stay tuned to Xbox Wire.
See you on the seas!