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12 Tips for Setting Sail In Sea of Thieves

If you are one of the million-plus players that are currently enjoying Sea of Thieves, then you know how deep and engrossing Rare’s latest classic is. Join up with your pirate crew, load up the cannons, and set sail on the high seas. A lot of the charm in Sea of Thieves comes from learning what to do and what to avoid. However, there are a few tips that the team at Xbox Enthusiast wanted to pass along.


Not Everyone Wants to Kill you

Sea of Thieves is an online, open-world adventure in which you can run into other live players at any turn. While there is no friendly fire in Sea of Thieves, anyone else…at any time…can kill you on sight. There are few things more thrilling than sailing through a lightning storm, being tossed back and forth, with valuable treasure on board when you run up on another ship standing between you and the outpost.

There are plenty of people online that just want to murder everyone they see, that is par for the course with a game like Sea of Thieves. However, that is not always the case. There are a few things you can do to show yourself friendly and hopefully avoid conflict. An example of this would be to raise all of your cannons, so they are pointing straight up. This should convey to the other players that you aren’t looking to fire on them. You can also press up on the D-Pad and select a handful of preset chat options that a team can see.

Not only will some people avoid battle, but some will even seek help. A great example of this is the Skull Island challenges. Skull Islands have you fending off waves of skeletons until you get to the Skeleton Captains. Defeating them will unlock a treasure room with a ton of loot. Attempting those challenges with multiple crews will ensure a much more decisive victory.

Whatever the case, some people just want to enjoy their voyage so don’t only assume everyone is a threat.


Buy Promotions First

As you start completing quests and earning that precious gold, you will be tempted by everything from peg legs to shiny new sniper rifles. It is important to note that all purchasable items are cosmetic only and offer no advantage in the game. Sure, looking cool is important, but you will still die just as easy as the shirtless pirate next to you.

What can be easily overlooked are the Promotions which are offered by each of the three companies. When you talk to a trader, there is an option at the top left that allows you to buy a Promotion. You will need to earn XP in each of the trades to be able to purchase the promotions.

The purpose of promotion is that you are offered higher level quests from each trader. For example, when a player raises their Gold Hoarder level to 5 the promotion to Gold Picaroon becomes available. At level 10 it’s Gold Bucko and so on. The higher your promotion is, the high-level voyages will become available. Gold Swabbie (level 15) voyages, for example, will regularly include 3-4 maps in one quest. More maps lead to more gold. This is the same progression with the Order of Souls and Merchant Alliance.

You can buy a new eye patch if you want, but if you’re going to buy the higher priced items, you will want to buy your promotions as soon as they are available so that you will be earning more gold for your efforts.


Aim Below the Sealine

In a game about seafaring pirates, it will be inevitable to avoid a cannon fight…or two. Before we even discuss the battle, let’s talk about preparation. The player will not be holding cannonballs by default. These cannonballs can be found on the deck of your ship in a red barrel. You can find additional cannonballs on islands and ports. Once you have cannonballs on hand, it is a good idea to load each of your cannons before leaving port. This could be a lifesaver at the beginning of a confrontation.

Now, once the battle has been engaged, players can man any of the cannons on the ship. Lining up shots can be touch with the swelling waves and moving targets, but a perfectly aimed shot could be the difference between victory and defeat. A key here is to aim at the waterline, or depending on the distance, just above it. The key here is to try and hit the enemy ship under the water. This increases the amount of flooding in the ship, and with more of their crew bailing water, you can just continue to unleash everything you have on them.


Cannonballs Are Limited…Bananas and Planks Too

Since we are on the topics of cannonballs, it is important to note that they are in limited stock. I found this out the hard way. The Xbox Enthusiast crew was taking on a Skull Island challenge. I was busy firing away with the cannons, throwing caution to the wind. About halfway through the assault, I found out that I had used every cannonball on our ship, which might have cost us the treasure. Thankfully, the XBE team is incredible, so we pulled through.

Cannonballs are not the only thing. Planks and Bananas are also limited resources on your ship. Bananas are currently the only way to raise your health, so they become vital, especially during a skeleton battle. Planks are what you use to board up your ship. Run out of planks, and you can play a soft song as you sink to the bottom of the ocean.

Most islands you will visit will have barrels scattered around. It is a good idea to look through the barrels and take what you can find. In the heat of battle or face to face with a Kraken, you’ll be thankful to have a few extra cannonballs laying around.


Merchant Missions and Chicken Coops

The Merchant Alliance is all about providing quality products to their customers. The Merchant Alliance is Uber Eats for scallywags. Merchant missions will have you roaming around islands looking for chickens or pigs to fulfill an order. There are two great tips to keep in mind…both of which I learned the hard way.

First, you will need a single coop for each animal you are collecting. For example, if your Merchant mission requires two chickens, then you will need two coops. This is important because you get the coops from the Merchant vendor but can only carry one at the time. You will need to check your orders and see how many coops you are going to need. You then get a coop, take it to your ship, and then return to the vendor for the next coop. Repeat this until you have the number you need. You can only complete the mission if you deliver all of the animals at the same time…which, once again, I found out the hard way.

Second, Merchant Alliance missions have to be delivered to the proper outpost. If you check the papers, it will tell you what is needed to complete the order, and then at the bottom, it will show you the location where the goods should be delivered. Once again, this is something I skipped on my first attempt, which had me sailing the opposite direction to what I believed was the closest outpost. When the Merchant vendor wouldn’t accept my delivery, I realized that I had to backtrack quite a bit to arrive at the correct outpost. This is something to keep in mind during this missions.


Counting Your Paces

A lot of the voyages from The Gold Hoarders will have to you searching islands for buried treasure. The maps that you receive from The Gold Hoarders are primarily in two categories: Maps and Riddles. The maps show you an island, without a name, and then highlight an “X” where the treasure is buried. You have to use the map to locate the mysterious island and then find “X.”

The riddles are a little more involved. When you look at the scroll, only the first clue will be shown. That clue will lead you to the island you will need to search. Once you reach the island, the second clue will reveal itself. This will culminate in a location to dig for treasure. That location is counted off in paces. Since this is a first-person game, it’s hard to tell how many paces your character is going. Fortunately, the game solves this for you. Once you get to the area where you need to count off, you can use your compass. While holding your compass, you can pull the right trigger and begin walking. The controller will then give a small vibrate to count off paces. If your treasure is five paces away, just walk for five quick vibrates and start digging. This will save you a lot of time while searching for the hidden treasures.


Angle is Important

A considerable portion of Sea of Thieves is devoted to just piloting your pirate ship. From a small, two-person Sloop to an intimidating four-person Galleon, the pirate ship is your non-playable party member. If you have a good crew, each will find their strength in navigation. It would be manning the wheel, watching the map, looking out in the crows nest, or just waiting to patch holes. That is for you to figure it out.

The critical part of sailing, which should be obvious, are the sails. Once the anchor is hoisted up, lowering the sales puts your ship in motion. There is no direct way to control speed. However, you can drop or raise the raise in varying positions which will change the speed of your movement. Another big part of managing the sails, and the speed of the ship, are the angle. Raising and lowering sails are controlled at a cleat on the top deck. On the Sloop, there is just 1, but on the Galleon, there are 3. Just behind the cleat is a sail pulley, which is used to control the angle.

If you look up in the sky, you can notice graphics that show the direction the air is flowing in. There will be times that your ship is moving directly against the wind. To help pick up some speed, you can adjust the angle of your sails which will help catch the wind and push you further. This is also something that could be critical when carrying a ship full of loot with pirates on your tail.


You Can Charm Snakes

While on your journey in Sea of Thieves, you will find the island busy with both animals and skeletons alike. We have already mentioned the chickens and pigs, but there is an even more dangerous animal to be found. Colorful snakes are placed on most of the islands now. Similar to a cobra, they will raise up from behind bushes and strike without warning.

A bite from one of these snakes will not only take your character’s health, but it will also temporarily poison your character. The good news is you can charm these little buggers which will keep you safe. If you pull our either of your instruments (they default to your left bumper menu from the beginning), you can play and soothe the snakes, and they won’t attack. Our crew found ourselves regularly running around an island, one guy holding a compass and one guy playing the Hurdy-Gurdy.


Finding a Message in a Bottle

It is still the early days of Sea of Thieves, and there will, no doubt, be new content coming over the next months and probably years. Currently, the primary missions or “voyages” that you will take are purchased from one of the companies. Skull island challenges are the closest thing that Sea of Thieves has to a community event. A cloud appears in the shape of a skull, complete with blinking eyes.  Anyone sailing on the map can see it and engage at any time. The challenges will have players face wave after wave of skeletons until facing off against skeleton captains.

Outside of the voyages and skull islands, you can find treasure maps while exploring islands. These will be found in a message in a bottle, close to the shore, or a journal hidden away in a barrel. When you find these items, the game will indicate that you’ve discovered a new map which will lead to new treasure. This is a great way to pick up more adventures along the way.


Avoiding Snipers

Combat in Sea of Thieves is secondary to exploration, but it is still vital to your survival. When you enter your ship for the first time, you will find a weapon box and munition box. Sea of Thieves gives you unlimited ammo, though you can only carry five shots at a time. You can currently choose from four different weapons: Cutlass, Pistol, Blunderbuss, and Eye of Reach. You can bring any combination of two weapons with you at a time.

The Eye of Reach is quickly becoming a favorite of the weapons. It serves as the game’s sniper rifle. Putting a sharpshooter in the crow’s nest could be a huge advantage in battle. The very best snipers in the game can shoot you while sailing and sometimes before you even see their ship. Don’t fear though; there is a tell. When a player has their Eye of Reach engage to line up a shot, the sun will glare off the lens. This can give you the split second needed to get below deck or out of harm’s way. Just keep your eyes on the horizon, and if you see a glimmer, you need to proceed with caution.


Quick Swimming

Sea of Thieves is a pirate game about sailing your ship on the open water. The truth is though; you will spend a lot of time out of that ship and in the water, and…depending on your pilot…most of that swim time will be trying to get to an island. The swimming mechanics work similar to regular movement including holding down the sprint button to swim faster. Players can spend a reasonable amount of time underwater, and while there isn’t an air meter, your screen will start to darken when you are in need of air.

There is a neat trick that is a little hard to learn, but super useful once it’s mastered. You start by standing about waist deep, facing the open water. Then, with your sword equipped, hold the right trigger to execute a strong attack. While the animation is loading, push forward in the direction that you want to move. When done correctly, you will jet across the top of the water in a small burst. This can be a tremendous tool in your arsenal. For example, if you are heading back to your ship and it’s under attack, a quick burst can save precious moments allowing you to board and start returning fire. This can be practiced at the outpost when you first load into the game, so give it a shot.


Find the Right Party and Avoid the Brig

Sea of Thieves can be experienced from start to finish as a single player game. You can load onto a one-man Sloop, take voyages, and buy all the things. In contrast, you can also load up a 2, 3, or 4 player game. Multiplayer is really where the game shines. It’s only been a week, but I have had more fun in Sea of Thieves than any other game I’ve played in recent memory. We have taken down a skull island challenge with a four-person team, we have faced and survived the Kraken, and we have got drunk in the pub and spent 10 minutes trying to toss puke on each other. It’s these moments when the game shines.

Personally, I am usually a single player type of guy. Don’t get me wrong, I have spent a dozen hours so far playing Sea of Thieves alone, and it’s excellent. In reality, I count down the moments until I can jump on with my crew again and set sail. There is no friendly fire and everyone shares to loot equally, so there is no competition with your crew. It is just set up for fun, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

If you find yourself without a full crew to join you have a few options. Joining a club should be your first option. Xbox Enthusiast has an Xbox Club, and we are always looking for new players to join. On the Xbox Dashboard, you can search for Sea of Thieves focused Clubs. If you can’t find a Club or don’t want to participate, you can always just jump into a game with random players. It is essential to know, if you are playing with friends and a random joins your game and causes trouble, you can all go into the menu and vote to put that player in the brig. They will then be locked up until they log off, or you let them out. The contrast to this is if you join a game with another party playing together, if you aren’t playing nicely they can do the same to you.

The one thing that is clear, after a week with Sea of Thieves we are only just getting started. If you haven’t jumped in yet, then load up and join us on the high seas.


Did any of these tips help you? Are there any tips or tricks that you’ve discovered and want to share? Sound off in the comments below.

Chris White
Chris is a full time geek, father of 4, and self proclaimed Jedi Master. An IT Professional by day and Freelance Writer by night just doing his part in raising the next generation of Geeks.

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