Sea of Thieves is a game about plundering the high seas in search of grog and booty. You’ll be commandeering the seas on your Sloop or Galleon, dodging all manner of angry skeletons, ferocious sharks, perilous rocky coves, the legendary Kraken, and – most terrifying of all – the other players in your match who might be just rowdy enough to try and cast you down to Davy Jones’ locker. Sound fun? Grab it here:
Jumping into a living, breathing world like Rare created with this title can be unnerving, especially with the game’s lack of tutorial. We’re sharing five tips that will play the part of the parrot on your shoulder, giving you advice and encouraging you to let your conscience be your guide.
Maybe we’re mixing metaphors. Let’s get started.
1. Don’t go it alone
Kind of a given, but if you can play this game with friends, do so. Trust us, it’s the way the game is meant to be played. Besides just raising the camaraderie up to 11, pretty much all the game’s mechanics assume you’re with a hearty crew.
The element where this especially comes to mind is navigation. Sailing a ship is NOT like driving a car, and having another pair of eyes can be the difference between a shiny new galleon and a waterlogged shipwreck.
As if to reinforce this point, the map on the Galleon is in the hold, below the deck. The wheel for steering is two floors above that. The game doesn’t want you to do both. The most efficient way to plot your course is to have one player down below deck yelling directions to whoever is steering.
Trying to check the map and steer is deliberately clunky and inconvenient. Additionally, having another pair of eyes can be incredibly helpful when you’re scouting for clues during one of the game’s many treasure hunts.
2. Familiarize yourself with your vessel
Navigating and sailing in Sea of Thieves is a huge portion of the game. The more practice you get on the high seas, the more adept a sailor you become. The more adept a sailor, the better your survivability in ship-to-ship combat. Not to mention you’ll be able to pull some crazy maneuvers in and out of battle. There are two ships in Sea of Thieves: The Sloop and the Galleon.
The Sloop is faster and smaller, but isn’t decked out for a fight like its big brother. They are easier to repair, however, and their size makes them immune to Kraken attacks. We’d recommend starting off with a Sloop in Sea of Thieves, and upgrading to a Galleon when you get the hang of the game’s steering mechanics.
The Galleon is the king of the seas, boasting twice the firepower and durability of the Sloop. Since it lacks the Sloop’s maneuverability, we’d recommend around four players work together to make for the most efficient navigating. Of course, a ship is only as good as its crew, so be sure that your teammates know their roles before the lot of you go head to head with other players.
For both ships, don’t forget to use your sails properly! Look up and try to gauge the direction of the wind. If you angle your sails to catch the wind just right, you’ll see them puff out. That means you’ll be moving as fast as possible.
3. Learn your tools
There are eight different tools in your inventory radial. You should become familiar with their purpose so you always have the right one for the right job:
Compass: The most important tool at your disposal, the compass is how you discern the right direction when away from your ship. Keep track of where you go after you drop anchor and go on land; your compass will help you get back.
The compass is also hugely valuable when you’re on land trying to hunt for treasure. Keep it handy. You can also look to the North Star if you’re wandering around at night.
Lantern: Handy when spelunking, the lantern is your default item for brightening caves or dark islands when exploring at nighttime. You can also right-click (left trigger on XB1) to lift the lantern higher, lighting up those dark corners.
Pocket Watch: Not terribly useful outside of Merchant Alliance voyages, this tool tells you the time and date. It can also help with determining how long you have before dark, but you’re a pirate – just look up at the sky!
Spyglass: An unexpectedly valuable piece of equipment, this can help you spot islands, enemies, and passing ships. Passing ships should definitely be taken into account and shared with your crew. Know when to fight and when to flee, especially during timed quests or when low on supplies. Another tip is to put out your ship’s lanterns at night; other players will have a harder time spotting you in the dark if you’re not lit up like a Christmas tree.
Shovel: This digs up treasure. Listen for the clank sound; that means you’ve hit the chest.
Bucket: All players begin with the bucket, and all unfortunate players will likely end up using it. A lot. The bucket is for when your ship is taking on water and threatens to sink. Use the bucket to pour out the water, ideally when another player is patching up the hole.
Tankard: Not useful unless you want to roleplay. The tankard will hold grog for player consumption; you can find one in your equipment chest. Fun if you want to pretend you’re Captain Jack Sparrow.
4. Choose your weapons wisely
You can only carry two weapons on your person in Sea of Thieves, but can choose from four: The cutlass; blunderbuss; pistol, and Eye of Reach. When you’re picking your weapons, be mindful of two factors: What your other teammates are carrying; and whether you’re well-rounded if any of you wind up alone.
The cutlass requires the most finesse and practice. Able to swipe, parry, and lunge, it’s your most versatile (and classy) choice. The cutlass can also block, making it a viable defensive option, and is the only weapon in the game that does not require ammunition. We think it’s the best backup weapon you can pick.
The flintlock pistol is a good close-mid range gun, and accurate players will find it’s a good counter against careless sword wielders who can’t reliably close the distance. It also fires faster than the blunderbuss or Eye of Reach, so you’ve got more margin for error.
The Eye of Reach is Sea of Thieves’ sniper rifle, using a fixed scope to engage enemies from great distances while maintaining higher accuracy. It can be incredibly useful from a hilltop or the crow’s nest of a Galleon, but don’t get caught using it alone against a pack of skeletons.
The blunderbuss is the champion of close quarters fighting, and we recommend beginner players rely heavily on this. Our blatant tip is to “practice with the sword, but proceed with the shotgun.” It’s also the only weapon capable of dispatching multiple assailants at once, making it your best choice against the game’s many skeletons hordes.
5. Keep well stocked
Our last tip for beginner players is to loot, loot, loot. This goes for completing quests and pillaging enemy vessels, but also extends to exploring small islands for wood, chests, or life-giving bananas. All supplies you find that belongs on your ship should be put there quickly, as you’ll never know when an enemy ship might decide to challenge you.
As for the bananas, we recommend you keep as many on your person as you can. Each will restore 25% of your health, and can be consumed one at a time to give you a fighting chance should you get ambushed.
Sea of Thieves is a ruthless, cutthroat world, but if you keep these five tips in mind and stick close to your friends you might just stay alive long enough to face down that Kraken. Or to launch yourself from a cannon only to plummet down to your death, questioning your life decisions all the way.