Sea of Thieves Beginner's Guide

Our beginner’s guide to Rare’s Sea of Thieves will help you master the finer points of sailing, swashbuckling, and plundering in this online action-adventure.

Looking to start your voyage in Rare’s Sea of Thieves? We’ve gathered the best tips and tricks to help feeble pirates get their sea legs as they embark on an unforgettable journey beyond the horizon. Whether you sail in the company of nefarious scallywags or brave the tide by your lonesome, our beginner’s guide will help you navigate the starting outpost, launch your vessel, and complete quests to earn some much-needed coin.

A pirate ship docked by a shore

Character Creation

Rare’s approach to character creation is atypical from traditional online games. The importance of player identity hearkens back to the notoriety of pirate legends who once plagued the sea, such as Blackbeard or Davy Jones, so modification tools to adjust hair, facial structure, weight, height, and other body appearance options are nonexistent to prevent two similar models from engaging in the same lore-based adventure. Recognition is king.

Players are introduced to eight unique, albeit randomly generated, character models via the character creation panel. Here, the “bare bones” of a character are chosen, as numerous customization features can be purchased using in-game currency from Outpost vendors or accessed using the vanity chest later.

Players can favorite particular styles and regenerate models to narrow their search and compare; however, it is worth noting that once a character has been made, it is bound to the Microsoft account’s gamertag and cannot be changed unless deleted.

Tip: Need to delete your pirate? Open the settings from the main menu and select “pirate settings.” A single option will be available, so you can restart with a clean slate. No more grogginess! 

Models hold shovels, cutlasses, grenades, hurdy-gurdies, pints of grog, and other pirate paraphernalia, though this is not indicative of the model’s role. Additionally, hitboxes are normalized, so larger and smaller pirates will have equal performance during combat.

ship selection screen in sea of thieves

Selecting Your Crew

In the absence of a central storyline, Sea of Thieves strictly relies on player engagement and cooperation for its open-world setting. From the starting screen, pirates can choose their ship class -- galleon or sloop -- and preset their group configurations:

  • Full galleon crew (four players)
  • Small galleon crew (three players)
  • Small sloop crew (two players)
  • Solo sloop crew (one player)

If you choose a full galleon crew as a solo player, you may be paired with other pirates from cross-platform play. Be ready to use the in-game chat and/or voice functions to coordinate voyages. 

Choosing Your Ship

There are two vessel types pirates can utilize to navigate: galleons and sloops. Sloops have a competitive advantage with respect to speed and tacking and are perfect for smaller crews, as the proximity of the ship’s wheel, anchor, sails, and cannons are within jumping distance. Though it provides less protection and cargo space than the galleon, the sloop is a viable option to make quick escapes or for sailing solo.

Conversely, the galleon is more open and requires more hands to prepare and defend the ship. Galleon crews can enjoy faster speeds when sailing with the wind but will be outmatched against sloops moving against the wind.

quests-efd32.JPG

Navigating the Starting Outpost

When a player enters Sea of Thieves, they will emerge from a drunken stupor in the Outpost’s Tavern. The first objective is to become familiar with the basic hotkeys, prompted by the in-game tutorial demonstrating inventories, quest logs, and weapon cycling that can be adjusted in the keyboard and mouse or controller settings. When you have found a comfortable setup, explore the town to gather your bearings. Try sprinting, aiming, or charging up your cutlass' plunge attack before venturing into uncharted waters.

There’s a myriad of supplies stored in barrels throughout the Outpost. Stock up on bananas to replenish your health, planks of wood to repair your ship, and cannonballs to defend yourself in case of attack. You can also visit the armory box to swap your pistol and cutlass for a blunderbuss or rifle.

As a pirate newcomer, you'll be pretty strapped for coin, but you can visit the Outpost’s shops to browse a vendor’s wares or engage in conversation for some plundering incentives. Each shop -- weaponsmith, clothing, equipment, and shipwright -- sells alternate cosmetic items players can purchase to enhance the appearance of their character, equipment, or vessel.

Voyages available for purchase

Purchasing a “Voyage”

In Sea of Thieves, quests, or "voyages," can be purchased for gold from one of the three reputation factions located in the Outposts. Players can retain a combination of up to three quests at a time for the Gold Hoarders, Order of Souls, and Merchant Alliance -- the first quests, or starter voyages, are free. Completing voyages earns a player gold and reputation points for that association, which are marked by milestones that will unlock hidden areas and more significant equipment; however, the higher the reputation, the more complex and difficult the voyages become.

Players, in their quest to become "pirate legends," can plunder armaments to tackle more significant challenges, such as Skull Forts -- Sea of Thieves’ raid equivalent. You can also find hidden treasure maps along island coastlines, stashed away in green bottles. 

Steering a pirate ship in nighttime waters

Launching Your Vessel

Head to the Outpost dock when you're ready to launch, and interact with the ladder to climb aboard. From here, you’ll want to plot your course. Select the voyage you and your crew want to undertake (indicated by the voyage table below deck), and determine your heading by consulting the map table. Raise the anchor, drop the sails, and man the wheel as your ship carries you to your destination. Move the sail angle to catch the wind for increased speed.

Be extremely careful to avoid crashing into other objects, as your ship can sink -- along with any valuable treasures on board -- if repairs are not made immediately. If your vessel takes on water, grab your bucket and dump it overboard.

Tip: Consider reducing your speed and be ready to drop the anchor as your vessel approaches land. Also, be aware of approaching storms -- your ship and your character can be struck by lightning.

light blue smoke emerging from a flare at sea

In the event your pirate ship sinks, a mermaid will be positioned nearby holding a flare with a great plume of smoke that you can interact with to return to an Outpost (or your ship if you’ve become separated).

Completing Voyages

Voyages can be exceedingly vague or blatantly obvious, though the trick to completing them is using the resources provided, and perhaps a little bit of luck. Quests for the Gold Hoarders association involve hunting down and recovering treasure, whereas quests for the Order of Souls requires, well, skulls of the undead. The Merchant Alliance is a bit more elaborate, as pirates may not only be responsible for delivering cargo but may also have to catch wild animals, which requires securing a cage from the representative prior to launch (and after the voyage has been selected).

Use your equipment wisely. Activate your lantern during the evening, maintain strong supplies of wooden planks and bananas, and ensure your pistol has sufficient ammo. You can even load your ship’s cannons prior to setting sail. There is no doubt you will encounter ill-intentioned characters along your travels, whether they be other players or enemy NPCs. Sea of Thieves excels at removing a player’s sense of security, so be prepared for intensive combat and note your quickest escape route.

During combat, especially as a solo player, felling enemies is much easier when a considerable distance is kept, as aimed shots can result in a kill. If you run out of ammo, take advantage of the cutlass’ charged ability.

Tip: Pirates who encounter snakes can sustain damage over time if hit by their venom. Additionally, skeletons wielding blunderbusses can deplete a player's health significantly at close range. Take advantage of your ship's stockpile of bananas. 

a treasure chest in Sea of Thieves

Once you’ve completed a voyage, bring the contents to your ship and secure them below deck. Crews only get paid by selling the quest item to the association representative, who will divide the shares.

Larger crews should consider leaving a member behind to guard the ship, as vessels can be hijacked by other pirates. You can also douse the lamps for heightened secrecy. 

fog enshrouding the deck of a ship

Defeated

The pirate life is not for everyone, and unfortunately, you may enter an encounter that takes a turn for the worse. Don't worry. If you're defeated, you travel to the Ferry of the Damned: an eerie ship captained by a pirate ghost (plus, you don't have to pay to get off!). Merely enter the portal located beneath the helm to return to your ship.

kraken-aaf19.JPG

Defeating the Kraken

If your vessel comes under attack by the dreaded Kraken, specified by a dark mass underneath the ship, it is important for crews to remain calm and focused -- don’t dive in the water! Load the cannons and fire at the base of the Kraken’s tentacles. If an arm manages to capture a crew member and lift them from the deck, players should equip their cutlass and swipe at the tentacle as it closes.

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Following these tips will help secure your advantage on the open sea and make you a seasoned, swashbuckling pirate. Be sure to check back with GameSkinny for more on Sea of Thieves, and if you haven't already, be sure to check out our other Sea of Thieves guides.

Published Mar. 21st 2018

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