Soon after the online pirate adventure Sea of Thieves was released in March, it had become a war zone. The game sees small groups of players board ships and setsail on the open ocean in search of treasure, but every time you spotted another boat, the result would be a fight to the death, cannons blazing and swords swirling. Games developer Rare had hoped that some encounters would be peaceful and cooperative, but the innate competitiveness of the online multiplayer arena seemed to have won out. Then the studio released the game's first major update, The Hungering Deep, and for a few days everything changed. Player ships made their way to Shark Bait Cove to receive a time-limited challenge from a hoary old monster-hunter who had lost both legs to a gigantic sea creature, and now wanted players to work together to find and destroy it.
Microsoft wasn't going to let E3 go by without mentioning new content for Sea of Thieves. At its Xbox press conference today, we got a glimpse at the forthcoming "Cursed Sails" and "Forsaken Shores." New lands look super dark, with plenty of fire, ash and a host of cursed adventurers. We found out in April that updates would prioritize new maps over perks, and that certainly seems to be the case here. While "Forsaken Shores" won't be available until September, "Cursed Sails" is set to arrive next month.
Ask a Sea of Thieves player for complaints and they'll likely have one common theme: there's not enough to do. You can only dig up so many treasures on the same islands. The developer has detailed content plans for the first several months after launch, including a shift in priorities. While Rare had talked about adding pets and ship captaincy early on, those features are "on the back burner" as the company focuses on adding more raw gameplay, including maps, enemies and events. The first wave of new material arrives in May, including The Hungering Deep (which focuses on a "new AI threat" and a special event) as well as weekly events that bring "new mechanics" and rewards.
The second Sea of Thieves campaign-slash-major update hit Xboxes and PCs last week, and it is, in a word, dull. Cursed Sails isn't too dissimilar from the first campaign, The Hungering Deep, in that the main quest is basically just a case of sailing from island to island to find the next clue. The new equivalent of the boss battle is identical in many ways, too. It's not so much a challenge as it is simply showing up with enough resources to keep your shift afloat, crew alive and cannons firing until you inevitably win. Alongside the humdrum quest, though, are several meaningful updates to the core game.
It won't be too much longer before the first of Sea of Thieves' two free summer add-ons makes an appearance. Rare and Microsoft have revealed that Cursed Sails will be available to Windows and Xbox One players on July 31st. The DLC introduces "terrifying" ships with skeletal crews, a three-person Brigantine ship and Alliances that help you take on larger challenges in return for similarly huge rewards. You'll want to act quickly if you want to make the most of Cursed Sails, though -- the campaign associated with the DLC lasts just three weeks. You'll still have to wait until sometime in September for the Forsaken Shores DLC, which promises a hellish new region.