Sea of Thieves' latest update is now live and marks the start, at long last, of Rare's regularly scheduled live events and smaller-scale activities for the piratical multiplayer adventure.
With The Hungering Deep now over, and the ancient megalodon now returned to the depths of the ocean, the Bilge Rats, which were briefly introduced in the last update, have now become a fully fledged faction in Sea of Thieves - joining the likes of the Merchant Alliance, Gold Hoarders, and Order of Souls.
The Bilge Rats work slightly differently to the base game's Trading Companies, however; rather than offering a never-ending supply of quests for purchase, the Bilge Rats present one activity to complete for a fixed duration, with new activities being introduced every week or two. As you progress through the current activity, you'll earn commendations, titles, and a new currency: doubloons - which can be spent on items in the Bilge Rats' store.
Rare has shown off some of the new piratical delights coming to its multiplayer sandbox game Sea of Thieves in the coming months - all wrapped up in one rather eventful trailer.
Rare's first big content update for Sea of Thieves, The Hungering Deep, is here, and available to download on Xbox One and PC now.
The Hungering Deep is, by Rare's own admission, the smallest of the six Sea of Thieves content updates planned throughout 2018. It still offers a decent amount of stuff, however, including a major new AI threat, new tools to facilitate more varied interactions between crews, new cosmetics, a new instrument, and an intriguing, if brisk, new campaign quest binding the whole thing together.
The flagship new feature of The Hungering Deep is undoubtedly the new AI threat. At this point - given the plethora of pre-release teases and blatant iconography surrounding the update's launch - it's probably not a spoiler to suggest that it's very much on the enormous shark side of things, albeit with a somewhat fantastical Sea of Thieves twist.
UPDATE: While I was writing all that below, Rare sneakily released full details on next week's The Hungering Deep content expansion, due on May 29th - so much of the speculation down there is now confirmed.
According to Rare, its "medium-sized" Hungering Deep update (compared to those due later this year) consists of two distinct parts: there's the quest-like limited-time campaign event, and a bunch of new items and features which will remain in the game permanently.
The permanent stuff comes in the form of the new drum instrument, the new Speaking Trumpet (enabling crews to be heard at a distance and to "find other crews on the same voyage"), plus customisable flags for the top of your ship, so that you might signal your intentions from afar. Additionally, there are new personal customisation options in the form of tattoos and scars, plus, of course, the new (probably megalodon-like) AI threat.
Rare has unveiled a teaser trailer for The Hungering Deep, Sea of Thieves' first proper content update, which is due to launch on Xbox One and PC on May 29th.
The Hungering Deep has previously been described by Rare as a "medium-sized" update for its multiplayer piratical escapade, and is the first of six content expansions scheduled to arrive this year. It's set to bring a new enemy AI threat, plus new tools, mechanics, and rewards, but will be a little smaller in scale compared to 2018's other updates, which includes this summer's Cursed Sails and Foresaken Shores.
Rare's newest trailer is a little light on actual details, merely hinting at things to come, and takes the form of a tall tale told by "grizzled old soul Merrick" - the pirate whose portrait recently appeared in the ship wreck found on the uncharted island at map coordinates L14.
UPDATE 16/5/18 9.44pm: A fix to address the frequent disconnection errors plaguing Sea of Thieves since the deployment of its weekly update yesterday is rolling out now, Rare has announced.
UPDATE 8.30pm: Following on from today's sizeable Sea of Thieves cosmetics update, Rare has released a brand-new developer video, further detailing its content creation plans for the weeks and months ahead.
Becoming a Pirate Legend in Sea of Thieves is incredibly difficult to do. Well, it's actually not that difficult - it's just a very, very long process of maxing out your merchant reputation.
Rare has, after much reasonable clamouring from the community, offered first details on the new content coming to its marvellous piratical multiplayer playground Sea of Thieves over the next few months.
You should perhaps calm your immediate expectations; the studio's focus for the remainder of April, it says in a new post on the Sea of Thieves website, will continue to be on "addressing the top feedback points" from the community. However, that focus will shift toward releasing new content as it moves into May.
Explaining the rationale behind its new content plans, Rare says it wants to prioritise elements that bring players together and encourage different players encounters, that enrich the world of Sea of Thieves, and that offer new ways to play, alongside additional goals and rewards. It also plans to broaden the journey to Pirate Legend and beyond.
Sea of Thieves has some of the best-looking sunsets, ocean waves and tropical islands of any game I've played. But this wasn't always the case.
In an upcoming and hugely welcome change, Sea of Thieves will soon let you choose whether your crew is publicly joinable or private.
Update, 7.12pm: Prod1gyX has successfully managed to reach reputation rank 50 across all three merchant guilds (although his methods remain controversial), and is the first Sea of Thieves' player to attain legendary status.
Rare's jolly old pirate game Sea of Thieves has become Microsoft's fastest-selling new IP of the Xbox One generation, and is already the best-selling Microsoft Studios game on Windows 10. More than a million people played on launch day, and more than 2 million in launch week.
UPDATE 28/3/18: Rare and Microsoft have now fixed the issue which was blocking many Xbox Game Pass owners from playing Sea of Thieves last night.
Still, the issue took seven hours to resolve - too late for anyone to play in the UK - and followed several hours of downtime. If you got any time on the game at all yesterday, you were lucky.
There's no word of any compensation for lost Xbox Game Pass subscription time.
Rare has ditched plans to implement a penalty upon dying in Sea of Thieves.
Rare's done it - Sea of Thieves has topped the UK games chart in a busy week for new releases.
Pirate simulator Sea of Thieves will be offline for five hours tomorrow, Saturday 24th March.
Rare has posted a candid new developer video, addressing the various issues that Sea of Thieves players have faced since the game's launch yesterday.
The ten-minute update, presented by studio head Craig Duncan and Sea of Thieves executive producer Joe Neate, highlights the main problems that players have experienced since launch, and attempts to explain why they're occurring and what the studio is doing to tackle them.
Top of the list are the connection issues dogging Sea of Thieves, with many players still struggling to get into a game during peak times. These, says Rare, are predominantly a matter of scale; although Rare attempted to prepare for launch day through its various pre-release scale tests, it says that the "unprecedented" number of players has caught them by surprise.
UPDATE, 21/3/18: It looks like Sea of Thieves' servers are shipshape and open to all players once more.
Shiver me timbers! Sea of Thieves only set sail this morning but already the legendary Kraken has been found, and killed.
Jolly pirating game Sea of Thieves will get a Day One Patch - an, wait for it, eyepatch!
It was an opportunity for a joke British developer Rare could not miss, said a Reddit member named Jefabell in a post nearly three weeks ago - and it appears to have caught Rare's eye.
Spotted in the Sea of Thieves clothes shop ahead of tomorrow's launch was a Day One Patch with the number one emblazoned onto it. "A message in a bottle from Jolly Jefabell washed ashore," the item's description reads. "Eye patch makers read it and said 'aye'."
Microsoft has announced that all purchases of an Xbox One X next week will include a free copy of Rare's imminent multiplayer pirate extravaganza, Sea of Thieves.
Rare has unveiled Sea of Thieves' final launch trailer in anticipation of the game's release next week, and it offers a first glimpse of its long-teased kraken in action.
The kraken is one of several launch features that have yet to be shown in Sea of Thieves' numerous pre-launch stress tests and betas. And in its livestream last night, Rare took the opportunity to detail a few additional features coming to the swashbuckling multiplayer pirate adventure at launch and beyond.
Sea of Thieves' third quest-giving guild, The Order of Souls, is already known quantity. It's the PvE-focussed portion of the game, and revolves around collecting skull from unfortunate undead bounties. However, these missions will introduce a couple of previously unseen opponents at launch, adding a bit more strategic variety to proceedings.
In Sea of Thieves your pirate can climb into a cannon and be fired out of it, so what better way to promote the game in real life than to do the same? And why not attempt a world record in the process?
Update, 26/3/18: Rare has announced that its Sea of Thieves-inspired hunt for four golden bananas is now officially over, with the winning crew named as 'Herr Crew' from France. More than 10,000 players apparently signed up to take part, vying for the 18-carat, £80,000 prize.
Arrrr you ready for the final Sea of Thieves beta before launch? Well, good news, you scabrous sea-turnip! It's now live and open to everyone on Xbox One and Windows 10.
You can hoist anchor and set sail for a weekend of piratical japery as of right now, and the final beta will draw to a tearful close on Sunday, March 11th, at 10am GMT.
The first important thing to note is that this is an expanded version of the game, with a feature list closer to Sea of Thieves' final launch day build than that seen during alpha and the more recent Xbox One and PC stress tests.
As Sea of Thieves' draws ever closer to release on March 20th, Rare is steadily filling in the remaining blanks regarding the features that wannabe pirates can expect to see at launch. Latest on its list are further details of customisation, both of the personal and ship variety.
If you've been been missing the roar of the waves and the sway of the ocean this week, and generally suffering from severe Sea of Thieves withdrawal, there's some excellent news: Rare is holding yet another beta-style Scale Test on PC and Xbox One this weekend.
Those that yearn for a plundering will be able to raise anchor in the latest Scale Test form tomorrow, Friday March 2nd at 10am GMT (2am PST). It's as brisk as ever though, and you'll need to hang up your hook on Sunday March 4th at 10am GMT (2am PST).
If you'd like to get involved, you'll either need to have pre-ordered the game or to have signed up to the Sea of Thieves Insider programme. Unless things have changed over the last seven days, you should still be able to register for the latter.
There are still a few weeks to go before Rare's multiplayer pirate extravaganza Sea of Thieves officially launches on Xbox One and PC, but the developer is already reshaping the game's world to honour the achievements of its players.
Rare has announced that it's having another beta-style Scale Test this weekend for its delightful multiplayer pirate extravaganza Sea of Thieves.
This latest Scale Test is happening right now on both Xbox One and PC, and will run until 10am, Sunday 25th February in the UK.
If you want to get involved, the same rules apply as in previous beta tests: you'll either need to have pre-ordered the game or to have signed up to the Sea of Thieves Insider programme. I belatedly signed up last weekend and still got access - so there's a good chance that you'll be able to join in the latest shenanigans if you're swift.
With Sea of Thieves' launch drifting ever closer, Rare has offered a closer look at Skeleton Forts - one of the new "emergent" activities that wannabe pirates will be able to encounter come release day and beyond.
Sea of Thieves, the upcoming shared-world pirate game from Rare, has a mysterious kraken which roams the game world before popping up to attack ships. Rare has kept this mechanic close to its chest so far, showing off a kraken fight in video form to press but not releasing footage or screenshots.
Rare's swashbuckling pirate simulator Sea of Thieves will drop its gangplank again this weekend for another trial run.
Everyone who had access to Sea of Thieves' recent closed beta will once again be granted entry (that's 332,000 people) while Rare conducts some behind the scenes testing.
Will some of the fancy new features spotted in recently-updated game files be available? Alas, it sounds unlikely.
Earlier this month a Sea of Thieves datamine unearthed word of a premium shop. As you'd expect, the revelation sparked a number of questions.
In so many games, you create characters using a raft of customisation options, tweaking sliders to pick from a variety of faces, body types and skin colours, among many other things.
The currently inaccessible Sea of Thieves has been updated again and datamined again, and this time there's reference to an open beta - something which hasn't yet been officially announced.
The Order of Souls was mentioned in conjunction with the open beta, according to the Sea of Thieves subreddit, suggesting we will be able to run quests for this faction during it.
The Order of Souls, we know from a previous official video, will be one of three factions in Sea of Thieves. The other two factions are the Gold Hoarders, which were in the recent closed beta, and the Merchants' Alliance, which will send us off collecting snakes, chicken and pigs.
Sea of Thieves is a big game for Microsoft and Xbox but how popular will it really be? Last week's closed beta might be an early indicator and the signs are good, with more than 332,052 people logging in to play, Microsoft has said.
It's not a colossal figure, not 'over 9 million' like Star Wars Battlefront 1's beta in 2015, but whereas that was open, the Sea of Thieves beta was closed and most people had to pre-order for a code.
Perhaps more importantly, Sea of Thieves was a big hit on Twitch (and Mixer), apparently reaching the live-viewer top spot while the closed beta ran. I wonder if Rare had expect as much?
An update to the currently inaccessible Sea of Thieves closed beta has been datamined, revealing new content added to the pirate game.
The most eye-catching finds revolve around ye olde oversized octopus or squid, the Kraken, which has long been linked with the game. Let's face it, it wouldn't be a proper pirate game without it.
The files, rummaged by the Sea of Thieves subreddit, mention defeated animations for the Kraken as well as a roar and underwater powerslam, which sounds interesting and, clearly, as though we'll fight it. There is a sound effect for hitting the Kraken with a cannon, too, and individual tentacles can apparently die.
UPDATE 11:30 AM GMT: The issues are now resolved. Rare tweeted as much and the game works for me again.
ORIGINAL STORY 9:30 AM GMT: I have been happily bobbing along on the foaming waves of the Sea of Thieves closed beta, which is scheduled to end tomorrow, but was told this morning I couldn't log in.
"Sorry," the game said, "but you are not authorised to play Sea of Thieves right now."
UPDATE 26/1/18: Rare has extended Sea of Thieves' closed beta after its "Too Early" bug locked out some pre-order customers from playing.
The closed beta test will now last another two days, and conclude on Wednesday, 31st January at 8am UK.
"We know your gaming hours are precious and our number one goal is to get everyone with Closed Beta access into the game as soon as possible," Rare stated in a new blog post.
Rare wants to know - and I do too, because I'm struggling - if you can come up with an Achievement for Sea of Thieves. That's name, description and all.
All Microsoft Studios games will launch on Xbox Game Pass at the same time as in shops, Microsoft has announced.
Rare has announced that its piratical multiplayer adventure Sea of Thieves is getting a Closed Beta at the end of the month.
The Closed Beta will run from 12pm January 24th to 8am January 29th in the UK (that's 4am on January 24th to 12am on January 29th PST) and will offer "a full five days of sailing, shanties and shenanigans" according to Rare. Participants will only get to see a selection of the final game's offerings, however, with the studio keen to hold plenty back for release.
If you want to join the Closed Beta, you'll either need to have signed up to Rare's Sea of Thieves Insider Programme before December 1st last year, or you'll need to have pre-ordered the game. The only additional caveat is that an Xbox Live account is required to play on Windows 10, and an Xbox Live Gold membership is needed to play on Xbox One. If you meet those requirements, you can download the Closed Beta client in preparation.
UPDATE 8/1/18: Remember that lovely Sea of Thieves Xbox controller? (You're reading an article about it, so you should.) Well, a new product page has revealed it includes exclusive costume DLC.
Near the end of tonight's The Game Awards 2017, Sea of Thieves got another new trailer. But there was something unexpected at the end: a 20th March 2018 release date!
It was a sudden and surprisingly low-key reveal clustered in among other ads and trailers, for a game which has now been shown at three E3s. Still, it's nice to see it finally coming out.
Developed by UK stalwart Rare, the social pirate sandbox is now just over three months away - that's not avast wait.
Sea of Thieves, Rare's piratical multiplayer sailing adventure, has almost reached the end of its year-long Technical Alpha. However, one last testing phase is scheduled before the game launches early next year - and everyone's invited to come aboard.
Rare has confirmed Sea of Thieves will feature cross-platform play across PC and Xbox One.
During Microsoft's gamescom show yesterday, PC design lead Ted Timmins and executive producer Joe Neate announced Windows 10 PC players can play with Xbox One and Xbox One X players when the multiplayer-focused pirate adventure game launches early 2018.
In a post on the Sea of Thieves website, Timmins went into more detail on how the cross-play will work, stressing Rare is mindful of maintaining balance across both platforms.
Microsoft has announced plans for a live show at Gamescom in August during which it'll make Xbox One X-related announcements.
Microsoft has released some new Sea of Thieves gameplay that gives us an updated look at the game.
Sea of Thieves, from UK developer Rare, is described as a shared world adventure. You play a pirate alongside other pirates and seek treasure from all sorts of mysterious nooks and crannies.
The new video, below, shows off a number of players who work together to solve clues, dodge sharks and find some loot, before escaping a cave, fending off skeletons and then a rival pirate ship controlled by enemy players amid a storm.
Project Scorpio will cost $499 - according to Geoff Keighley.
UK developer Rare is auctioning a load of cool stuff for charity Special Effect, including an official Sea of Thieves-branded Xbox One S.
Sea of Thieves developer Rare has released a new development diary in which senior designers Shelley and Andrew Preston explain their decisions behind the game's unique co-op structure.
Last month Sea of Thieves developer Rare launched an Insider Programme allowing excited fans the chance to partake in early alpha and beta tests for the in-development pirate game. Now Rare has confirmed that the first "Technical Alpha" will go live from 16th-18th December.
Sea of Thieves developer Rare is looking for player feedback on its upcoming open-seas multiplayer pirate game. How will the studio get feedback for a game that isn't out yet, you ask? Simple: it will offer prospective players early access to the in-development title should they sign up for the just announced Sea of Thieves Insider Programme.
Our Tom Phillips managed to get a quarter hour hands-on with Rare's upcoming title Sea of Thieves, an open-world multiplayer game about pirates.
It starts off a bit like Monster Hunter wherein you can meet up with fellow players and grab some grub before setting off for adventure. Only instead of ingesting some fine cuisine, you guzzle grog which makes everything a wee bit wobbly.
There's a bit of faffing about in the beginning as Tom and his merry crew find their sea legs, but things eventually pick up with a couple of rousing naval battles set against a shimmering sunset and an enchanting moonlit sky.
The first flock of games to support Xbox Play Anywhere have been listed. These are the games that will be cross-buy on Windows 10 and Xbox One, which means if you buy one version, you get the other free, and your saved games and add-ons work with both.
Rare's mysterious shared world pirate game was first shown off at E3 last year via a brief snippet of in-engine footage. The teaser posed more questions than it answered - chief among them, for many, was how the game would be monetised.
Job listings with experience in free-to-play business models were spotted among fans, who also pointed to the game's online massively multiplayer nature as evidence Rare was planning to monetise Sea of Thieves with free-to-play mechanics or in-game transactions.
Now, at E3 2016, Rare has finally laid the matter to rest. Sea of Thieves is not free-to-play.
Rare's Xbox One and Windows 10 pirate game Sea of Thieves will be released in or around February 2017, Microsoft has said.
Sea of Thieves has had its highly-anticipated gameplay reveal, shown via a compilation video of four friends playing together as part of a single crew.
Together, the team works together to to set sail, steer a pirate ship and plot a course.
You can quaff grog and get drunk, take on enemy vessels and patch holes in your hull as your ship starts submerging.
Kinect Sports developer Rare - the British studio Microsoft did not decide to close this week - has an update for its fans.
Hot on the heels of announcing the delay of Scalebound to 2017, Microsoft has committed to a 2016 release for a raft of Xbox One and Windows 10 exclusive games.
In a post on Xbox Wire, Xbox marketing chief Mike Nichols announced a number of meaningless statistics about player engagement and time spent doing this and that on Xbox and Windows 10 devices. But the good stuff is in a list of already-announced games due out on Xbox this year, which comes complete with release dates and windows.
Here it is:
Banjo-Kazooie and Donkey Kong Country developer Rare is currently working on the Xbox One and PC pirate adventure Sea of Thieves, but it almost made a completely different pirate adventure nearly two decades ago with a game called Dream: Land of Giants.
Rare has announced Sea of Thieves, a new IP for the studio, at Microsoft's Xbox conference.
The pirate-themed multiplayer game, described as Rare's most ambitious title to date, allows players to group together to explore islands, seek out treasure and fight enemies. The reveal trailer showed a colourful and cartoonish tropical world, with dense jungle and a harbour area.
Player names appear over their avatars, suggesting an MMO-like experience.