Sea of Thieves is effectively an adventure factory. Sure, there are quests, levels, cosmetics, and endgame goals like any other multiplayer game you care to name in 2018, but for the most part these systems exist to make you and your friends adventure together. For that reason, Sea of Thieves is exceedingly light on tutorials and in-game explanations, which makes starting out a daunting prospect - we're spoiled by an opening four hours or so of hand-holding these days, so it's a bit of a wrench when a game doesn't offer it. Even if you can figure out the basics of sailing and fighting there is a lot of trial and error involved in figuring out the rest of this surprisingly rich seafaring game.
You could just learn on the job, and there's nothing wrong with that. Just ask trainee plumbers. But maybe you're in a rush or something - we're not here to judge. What we're here to do is bestow some useful doubloons of information on you, that you may better swash the buckles and shiver various timbers.
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Your character model is permanent
While Sea of Thieves boasts a bounty of cosmetic options for you to decorate your pirate, gear, and ship with, the character model you select upon starting up the game will stay with you for the rest of your sailing career. Pick wisely if you value your in-game looks.
Listen out for the whoosh
It will not take you long to get the hang of sailing, but one aspect that can be tricky to master is angling your sails. If you want your boat to move as quickly as possible then you will need to open your sails all the way up and then angle them so as to fill them with wind.
To do so, simply look at the sky for wisps of wind and see what direction they are heading in. You then want to angle the sails accordingly - you will hear a satisfying whoosh sound when the angling is perfect. Bear in mind that if the wind direction or your boat changes course then you will need to adjust your sails.
Sailing against the wind
Nothing is more tedious than having to sail a long distance against the wind in Sea of Thieves. Your ship will move at an agonisingly slow pace, which is dreary when travelling to a distant objective and dangerous when fleeing from an enemy vessel.
Fortunately, you can beat nature by, well, beating. This is a sailing manoeuvre that involves zig-zagging against the wind and constantly shifting your sails so that they are full of wind. Mastering this is especially difficult while crewing a galleon where coordination is key in order to get the most of the the ship’s three sails, so get practicing.
Sea of Thieves: Tokyo Drift
Perhaps you have found yourself in a tense naval battle, or you need to weave between some jagged rocks, either way, knowing how to quickly and efficiently turn in Sea of Thieves can be a lifesaver as well as a time saver.
There are a few tools at your disposal if you want to turn quickly. For starters, you can raise your sails while performing sharp turns, which will help you turn quicker and without losing much momentum. Alternatively, and more dangerously, you can drop anchor and then immediately raise it for what can only be described as a nautical handbrake turn. This may damage to your boat, but it is a great option if you are staring down a volley of cannon fire or about to collide with an island.
Store your puke
We all know the science behind this one: drink too much and you will vomit. Do that in Sea of Thieves while holding and empty bucket and you can store the vomit for later. Why? Spew is an extremely effective tool for blinding enemy pirates during combat.
Sea of Thieves is not an easy game to play alone, but it can be done, which is handy for grinding reputation levels in order to access new quests. While the sloop makes hopping between steering and rigging a breeze, having to run down two flights of stairs to check on the map is suboptimal. Fortunately, there is a sweet spot near the rear-left sail angle control where you can actually see the map without having to run below deck. By the by, are you having trouble getting to grips with quests? Here is our Sea of Thieves guide to guilds, Skeleton Forts, and the Kraken.
Sword swim trick
If you are standing on a precipice over water then you can use the power attack of your cutlass to launch yourself into the water at high speeds - this is a great way to board enemy ships.
Hide your treasure
While we are still waiting on a treasure burying mechanic, there are still plenty of ways to hide your plunder in Sea of Thieves, which is important given how easy it is to board a ship and make off with their loot.
The crow’s nest is a solid place to stow any chests you have, but you can also jump down onto one of the topsails and drop your chest there - it might be tricky to recover under fire, though. Alternatively, you can hide items like skeleton fort keys and treasure if you come under attack while completing a raid or quest, then return to it once the threat is gone, even after dying. The best hiding spots are in foliage or shallow water. Just don’t forget where you left it.
If there is one constant in gaming it is that red barrels explode when you shoot them. This can be used to your advantage in Sea of Thieves when it comes to taking out bosses or enemy ships, so be sure to pick up any and all Gunpowder Barrels you find and take them with you on your travels (stored somewhere safe and out of sight, obviously).
Manage to smuggle one of these barrels below the deck of an enemy ship and you can shoot it to deal massive damage to their hull without ever having to be in range of its cannons. If you don't fancy going overboard, you can drop these barrels in your wake and shoot it when a pursuer gets too close.
Couple of things to watch out for: lightning can detonate Gunpowder Barrels, as can heavy impacts such as you might get from being rammed or running aground. Use at your own risk.
Fire below the waterline
What good is it blowing a hole in an enemy ship if no water can get in? Aim your cannons below the waterline when engaging an enemy for maximum damage - this also means that if you have got your trajectory wrong then you are probably going to hit something higher up rather than waste your shot.
Watch out for flocks of birds
A flock of birds means a shipwreck and a shipwreck means loot. While you might have to dodge the odd shark, shipwrecks are a quick and easy way to get some treasure between missions.
Gold skeletons are weak to water
If you are attacking a skeleton fort then make sure you have a bucket of water at the ready for gold skeletons. Water temporarily stuns gold skeletons, petrifying them for long enough to get in a couple of attacks. If you are up against a lot of gold skeletons then try fighting them on a beach, the water should slow them down and you can quickly refill your bucket, too.
Shadow skeletons are invulnerable at night
There is a workaround for these ghostly enemies: get one of your fellow pirates to hold a lantern while you attack with a cutlass. Alternatively, you can come back in the daytime.
Oh, and mossy skeletons are weak to melee
Make sure at least one of your crew members is carrying a cutlass before leaving the ship.
Beware of watchtowers
Skeleton forts boast impressive defences that can make approaching them by ship perilous. If possible, park up somewhere out of sight from these towers. If that’s not possible, send a couple of friends out ahead of you to clear out the most prominent towers - it’s no good having treasure if you cannot get it back to a port to sell it.
Feed your pigs
Apparently, you can keep a chicken or snake alive without feeding them indefinitely. Pigs on the other hand, get pretty hangry if you don’t ensure they are well fed with bananas. So if you have been tasked with catching some porkers then make sure to listen out for squeals: this is pig talk for hungry. It's all very Minecraft.
Resupplying will save your ship
Planks, bananas, and cannonballs are all you need to keep your ship afloat forever… in theory, at least. So make sure to plunder them at every available opportunity as having a good stock of any of these can sustain you in tricky situations. If you are particularly devious you can even send a couple of teammates over to an enemy ship to ransack their supplies - they will be able to tank far fewer hits than you.