Sea of Thieves might have had a relatively low-key few months in recent times, but Rare is pulling out all the stops in the multiplayer pirate adventure's latest update. Known as The Seabound Soul, it introduces a brand-new story mission, a series of slightly bamboozling limited-time voyages, fire and flammable ships, plus a whole lot more.
Personally, I'm most excited about Sea of Thieves' brand-new Tall Tale - the first new story mission to be introduced to the game since the Anniversary Update's sweeping Shores of Gold campaign in April. Rare's inaugural attempt at incorporating story into Sea of Thieves was an absolute delight, slickly presented, mechanically diverse, and full of genuinely memorable, swashbuckling story beats, so I've been eager for more.
The Seabound Soul might only be one mission but if its tale of legendary pirate Sir Arthur Pendragon, captain of the infamous Blackwyche, comes even close to capturing the highs of its predecessors, it'll be a real treat. Oh, and it's probably worth mentioning that it's started by visiting the derelict galleon on Shipwreck Bay.
The addition with the potential to have the most impact on Rare's piratical sandbox game, though, is undoubtedly fire. As of today's update, players can acquire firebombs from barrels and other hide-y holes (in both Adventure and Arena mode), and these can be launched at foes, either via fist or cannon, to unleash some fiery carnage.
Fire spreads pretty much exactly how you might imagine on a boat, starting small - as a result of a deliberately propelled firebomb or, perhaps, a carelessly unattended stove below deck - and eventually engulfs everything with dancing flames and thick, billowing smoke. Luckily, there's a new water barrel onboard ships so that pirates have a fighting chance to douse the flames before crew mates and animals burn to a crisp - although not pets.
Visually, in typical Sea of Thieves fashion, it looks glorious, although I'm curious to see how it impacts play in a real battle scenario. Timing it earlier, it took over four minutes for two firebombs to fell a stationary sloop, which was enough time to do a couple of unhurried errands before I even needed to consider having a panicked splash around with a bucket.
Elsewhere in today's update, there's a selection of new, and rather convoluted, limited-time voyages. These, as far I can make out, involve fighting Ashen Guardians to acquire Ashen Chests. Chests contain Ashen Tomes, rewarding doubloons on hand-in, but players will first need to embark on separate voyages to acquire the Ashen Keys needed to open them.
All of this is accompanied by a quivering heap of quest rewards, commendations, and achievements, plus a variety of new limited-time cosmetics in Duke's Black Market - all purchasable with in-game currency. Personal highlights include some fetching items skins themed around the Wailing Barnacle Set, plus much-requested wheel, cannon, and capstan cosmetics to finish off last year's Forsaken Ashen Ship Set.
And, of course, there's some premium stuff in the Pirate Emporium, such as new Cockatoo and Marmoset pet variants, new emotes, and a new ship skin inspired by Perfect Dark.
Already, that's a load of words, and I haven't even touched on the update's smaller-scale additions, fixes, and quality of life improvements.
It's now possible, for instance, to build camp fires for use as a makeshift cooking spot, and there are portable ammo crates so pirates don't need to keep rushing back to their ships to reload, improved riddle voyage rewards, expanded pet animations, some gorgeous new title music, and more. It's all detailed in Rare's latest patch notes.