Everything you do in Sea of Thieves builds towards one ultimate goal: becoming a Pirate Legend. But what does that mean and what does that allow you to do? We got a glimpse during a trip to Rare’s studio, where we were shown a hands-off demonstration of a hidden endgame hub that only the most dedicated players will find.
This secret pirate hideout was hidden somewhere in the world at launch, but you're only able to access it once you become a Pirate Legend. This is also somehow related to a rumoured treasure horde called Athena’s Fortune.
As with the starting hub, the hideout features an array of NPCs and a tavern, but it is all built into some ancient shipwreck in a cave behind a large waterfall.
“When you become a Pirate Legend, you discover a secret that allows you to access this place,” design director Mike Chapman explains. “It’s not loaded in off a menu - you seamlessly access this place through the game. It’s a place reserved for Pirate Legends. When you become a Pirate Legend, you’ll be able to access the Tavern of Legends. It’s a tavern built into an ancient shipwreck.”
Go wandering off on your own in the best PC sandbox games.
At the tavern, you can talk to ghostly Pirate Legends who give you hints as to what is coming next. “Say there’s a new trading company, there are new visitors coming to the world - we’re talking about our post-launch plans in a very in-world, in-lore way,” Chapman explains.
“There’s also the Pirate Lord - this character gives you Legendary Voyages, which are the best, most rewarding, most challenging voyages in the game. Because of our voting table mechanic, you can choose to share those voyages with others, so everyone will want to be friends with a Pirate Legend. It means something profound in the world.”
As well as acting as the endgame at launch, this new hub will be the jumping-off point for future content, eventually becoming your default home base. From there, you will be able to progress beyond being a Pirate Legend.
“One of the first major updates we want to add is the idea of Pirate Legends becoming Legendary Captains,” Chapman says. “You become this fictional Jack Sparrow or Blackbeard of the pirate world in Sea of Thieves, and will build your own Black Pearl. You leave the area by sailing out through the waterfall, like Batman leaving the Batcave, and people will know you’re a Pirate Legend when they see your ship in the world.”
Other players might see you as a high-value target, or they might want to become your friend and share in the spoils of your adventures. You also have the option to hide the fact that you are a Pirate Legend, like a celebrity nipping out for groceries with a cap and sunglasses on.
“What we’re trying to do is make it that becoming a Pirate Legend means something in Sea of Thieves, it feels special,” Chapman continues. “The first person to find this hideout and get the Legendary Voyages is probably going to become a bit of a celebrity in the Sea of Thieves world. Not everyone is going to get there, it’s an ultimate end goal to aspire to.
We’ll have new ways to play for people who haven’t progressed to Pirate Legend post-launch, but also new ways to play for Legends.”
Rare also plans to expand the world beyond its current confines. At present, if you sail to the edge of the world you are met with foreboding music and the sea turns red. Eventually, you sink. There is a reason this world is not fully spherical yet, however - Rare already have extra islands built, ready to go. And with all the systems at play to keep things exciting many hours into the game, those extra islands represent more stages for your Gilbert and Sullivan capers. Our Sea of Thieves preview reveals a game about improv comedy that the player creates.
“The reason we haven’t expanded for launch is because over the last six to eight weeks we’ve got the number of encounters perfect,” Chapman explains. “We’ve expanded and contracted the world based on: what’s the right amount of time before you see another ship? We’ve been altering the view distance to make sure you can see the ship lights from the right distance away. Now we’ve just got that right we want to stabilise that. Beyond launch, there’s no reason why [the world] can’t expand again, then more ships come in. We don’t want it to feel like a boating lake.”