Since its release, the Sea of Thieves has been continually upgraded, from spectral phantoms and coral beasts to Jack Sparrow's and Spanish fleets. But the most recent Captaincy update, which launched at the beginning of August along with season 7, may be one of the most powerful updates yet. Players may choose and decorate their own ship, sell to a special vendor, and otherwise flex their status on the high seas.
When Sea of Thieves was first released, threats were light on the ground. Developer Rare has since expanded the map into the fiery, frightful Devils Roar and added a slew of new quests and abilities to explore. All of these changes have been external, changing the world. Pirates have received new tattoos or dresses, but rarely have they been given meaningful avenues to advance their own story.
Looking down a spyglass at a Captained ship makes you recognize it quite jokingly. You can't help but greet others with a heartfelt Hewwo. You can't change it, often with cannons and fire. Peering at other ships, with names like the parrot-cosmetic-adorned Chicken Club or the black and gold Booty Hunter, makes them appear like established characters.
In a conversation with Polygon, creative director Mike Chapman says the team has discussed adding this feature on and off since it was launched. I think weve reached a point now that there's such a wide breadth of different experiences and play styles that it was time to allow players to become Captains.
Players can progress through the Tall Tales quest lines, gain reputation with factions, go on Adventures, and participate in world events. There are no boots of better sailing to acquire, nor Pirate Points to spend in talent trees. Your pirate might inject new items, like tattoos, or a cool sword, but each session remained unadorned.
Players may build their own fleets, purchasing new ships, and locking specific customization slots, such as a treasured capstan or cool cannon to load on a sloop, brigantine, or galleon. Or, you can straighten up paintings and restore your little statues to make your ship look more professional. If your ship is damaged or firebombed, that damage will show up.
Shelley Preston, the lead designer for Sea of Thieves, said when we considered the possibilities for great depth of customization. Milestones correlate with globe-y, volcanic rock-like decorations and you may progress that way and become that reflection of your play style.
Preston says that some of the items are trophies from dramatic adventures, while others are just nice little ferns or a modest hook on which to hang one's hat. It's about ensuring that we've got enough variety and role-playability to make the cabin and the quarters feel like theirs.
When you're under stress and your ship is sinking, Chapman says it's a process to ensure that Captains had fun options without cluttering up their ships too much. What you don't want to do is push it too much so that you can disrupt the core gameplay, that youre affecting the free flow of walking around the ship and accessing damage holes. So its trying to tread that line of not affecting the core gameplay, but rather giving you the freedom to express yourself and the things you've done.
Since its release four years ago, Rare has given Sea of Thieves a wide variety of enhancements, but the Captaincy update is one Ive enjoyed the most. It's always fun to investigate a new voyage or glowing landmark on the map, but the fun of fastidiously arranging little items on my sloop is wonderful.
It's also wonderful to sink another ship and review their logbook. We were worried for our precious cargo when we boarded a brig that was chased down by a Reaper ship called The Audacity, and then we took their logbook and marveled at their achievements. All of the other Captaincy features, like the ability to sell your treasure en masse to a convenient vendor at outposts, are just the icing on the cake.