Since it was launched in 2018, Sea of Thieves has seen regular content updates on a mostly monthly basis – all for free (though of course premium cosmetic items have been available for some time that go some way to helping fund the free content for everyone). It’s meant that the game has grown from a slightly rocky launch to the brilliantly satisfying game that it is today, at minimal cost for most players (many of whom, like myself, play via Game Pass).

Rare have recently announced a change to this structure that does have a significant section of the player base a little concerned at the direction the game may be heading, however. Titled ‘Season One’ (which seems a little odd given how long the game has been available), the newest update – which goes live on Thursday, the 28th of January – the first ‘season’ will last for three months and will, according to Rare, introduce new ways to play, more rewards, events and a refreshed Emporium. One of the most exciting new features is Pirate Renown, which will see players progress through 100 levels of Renown by playing in various piratey ways, without requiring voyages to be completed or Emissary flags to be flown (which, in my experience, seems to make you a target for the less friendly players out there).

The Merchant Alliance – long the most neglected of the three main quest-givers in the game (for good reason: they’re pretty dull and difficult to plan quests most of the time) – are getting a bit of a shake-up too, with quest types added that’ll see players hunting shipwrecks for supplies.

New enemies are also promised at some point, though there’s been no details of these just yet.

In line with other free-to-play multiplayer titles (which the title almost qualifies as, given its inclusion in Game Pass) Sea of Thieves will also be getting a season pass of sorts, in the form of the Plunder Pass. No details on price are yet available, but this will complement the free 100-level Pirate Renown progression by offering exclusive rewards to players who choose to pay to plunder.

It all sounds very promising, but there’s a concern that the Plunder Pass may alienate some players or split the base somewhat. Hopefully the last few years of the game’s improvements have given Rare a sense of what players want from the game and that the new content and structure only adds to the experience.

With less than a week to go until the update is live, we certainly don’t have long to wait until we find out.

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