Sea of Thieves Windows Apps Front Cover

It started off as it always does; my pirate regaining consciousness, probably after too much grog, in the outpost’s tavern. From there, I met up with another crewmember – let’s call her A – and we set out to complete a voyage I collected from the gold hoarder.

As always, it should have been straightforward enough: the island we were heading for wasn’t too far away and the two red Xs on our map – showing where the treasure was buried on said island – should have been easy enough to retrieve. However, it transpired that A had only just completed her maiden voyage, so she wasn’t quite as au fait as me with the world and how dangerous it could be with other players present.

Arriving at the island, we located the first chest easily enough, though we both had to deal with skeleton pirates emerging from the sand as we retrieved the chest. Undead sea dogs dealt with, we took the chest back to the ship and swam back to the island to locate the second.

Which we just couldn’t find. We could tell it was on a high, grassy ridge, but no matter where we dug with our spade, all we could find were grubs and mealworms – which my companion kept on accidentally eating, causing sickness and, at one point, inadvertently vomiting in my face during a skeleton attack, leading to me firing wildly at the reanimated bones with my vision severely impaired. Looking over the ridge as we were digging, we noticed a ship below us…and realised it wasn’t ours.

I panicked. Knowing that another pirate was on the island – and having been heartlessly murdered one too many times before during other sessions – I panicked and told A we needed to get back to our small ship and head back to Plunder Outpost with the one treasure chest we’d managed to retrieve.

Making it back to Plunder Outpost in one piece, we decided to take the risk and head back to the island for the second chest. As we approached, we noticed not one, but two ships already there. It was too late to turn back – and with no loot on board, we decided to risk certain death and try to locate the final treasure chest needed to complete the voyage.

Sea of Thieves Screenshot

However, upon approaching the beach we were attacked by skeletons. They were easy enough to deal with, but suddenly there was a Skeleton Pirate Captain upon us – and our ammo was dwindling by that point. Another pirate suddenly entered the scene, assisting us with taking down the skeleton. As the enemy’s bones exploded into many pieces, I took the envelope that he dropped and the newcomer who’d so capably assisted us took the skeleton’s skull. Knowing that the skull could be turned in for a handsome reward, a tense moment followed as the other pirate and myself had a bit of a standoff, before I called to A – at this point, back on our ship with a sniper rifle aimed at the beach – and told her to stand down, allowing the other player to walk away with the skull. To my relief, he peacefully retreated to his own ship with the skull.

Informing A to keep a close watch on the other pirate, I ran as fast as I could to the area marked on the map with an X: the second chest proved elusive but I eventually found it after several tussles with skeletons. Making my way back to the ship, A was shouting at me to let me know that another pirate had come aboard our vessel. We both panicked (again!); was this the end of our voyage?

Thankfully, he simply wanted to play a sea shanty for A. Telling her to keep him occupied as I stashed the chest, raised the anchor and lowered the sails – she danced for him as I readied us for departure. To our relief, he jumped overboard and swam back to his own ship when we started moving, ignoring the treasure I’d stowed onboard.

Sea of Thieves Screenshot

In my desperation and haste, however, I crashed into their ship as we escaped. Turns out, the shanty pirate was the shipmate of the pirate from the beach – both of them hurried back to their ship to repair it as we sailed past them. They appeared to give chase; we loaded the cannonballs in preparation for a confrontation, but it never came. It seems that they were simply returning the skull they’d retrieved from the beach for their reward at the same outpost we were returning the chest to.

We ended up on the beach with them both, dancing and laughing as they played another shanty. Though they declined our requests for friendship, it was a huge relief to finally run into some salty sea dogs who had no interest in murdering us; this was the first friendly encounter I’d ever had with strangers in-game and it was incredibly refreshing. Though it remained tense – they still could have become aggressive and engaged in combat at any time – they bore no ill will for the ship damage and let us go on our merry way.

Encounters with a Megalodon, a Skeleton Fortress and a terrible storm were to follow, but those are stories for another time.

That’s the beauty of Sea of Thieves; it gives you the tools to set sail and have your own adventures, to make your own stories, with no hand holding and no advantages except experience and the gradual acquisition of gold. It’s a wonderful, visually appealing framework to create your own tales with, as long as you don’t run into murderous pirates too often or too quickly, which can be extremely off-putting when you’re just getting your sea legs – or indeed, even as a more experienced player who’s put a lot of work into gathering booty, only to see it stolen just before being able to turn it in. Though griefing is an issue, it does make it all the more refreshing when you run into like-minded crews who are just out on the waves to have fun.

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