It's all change again this Wednesday for Sea of Thieves, with current limited-time event Dark Relics making way for the new Smuggler's Fortune.
As exciting as that may be, however, the most notable additions in this week's update are the game's long-promised pets and micro-transaction store - both of which got the full reveal treatment today as part of Rare's latest developer livestream.
Pets, you might recall, were announced to be Sea of Thieves' first micro-transaction-based additions well ahead of the game's launch in March last year. Both they and the real-world cash shop were put on the back burner, however, while Rare worked to expand its multiplayer pirate game following its divisive launch.
As is the case for all micro-transaction purchases within Sea of Thieves' new Pirate Emporium, pets will require players to spend a new premium currency known as Ancient Coins. These can be purchased in bundles of varying sizes with real-world cash; however, Rare is also introducing a way in which premium currency can be acquired for free in-game.
While out adventuring, crews have a slim chance of stumbling across new Ancient Skeletons, which emerge from the ground with a stash of coins slung over their backs.
If players can bring one down before it buries back beneath the earth, all crew members will be awarded a certain number of coins - although the exact amount, as with most rewards in Sea of Thieves, depends on the whims of the RNG gods.
However Ancient Coins are acquired, players will have a number of different spending options in Sea of Thieves' Pirate Emporium come Wednesday's launch. There are a range of emotes - including a new pirate jig, a coin toss, and a blown kiss - plus what Rare is calling "heritage" ship cosmetics. These are inspired by classic video game IP, with the first taking the form of the Bird and Bear ship set, unsurprisingly based on Banjo-Kazooie.
The full set consists of the Bird and Bear hull, sails, capstan, wheel, cannons, flag, and figurehead (different to the limited-time Bird and Bear figurehead released last year), and there are special Collector's variants of the figurehead and sails.
Rare says that store contents will likely be rotated out over time, but promises to give plenty of notice to players before something is removed from sale.
Pets, of course, are the most anticipated cash additions to Sea of Thieves, and two animal types will feature (along with matching purchasable pet outfits) when the Pirate Emporium arrives on Wednesday: parrots and monkeys. Two breeds of each will be available initially - macaw and parakeet for parrots, plus capuchin and Barbary monkeys - with each sporting its own looks, colour variants, and, in a few cases, behaviours.
Pets can be named (and renamed as often as you like), and are designed to offer companionship on the high seas. They'll react to the world around them - dancing along to music, falling asleep on a boat's bed, or cowering under a table when the kraken emerges, for instance - and can be taken out adventuring or left at certain "hang-out spots" on a ship.
They can perch by the wheel, wait patiently in a cage (existing galleon cages will also make their way to sloops and brigantines), or amuse themselves on a rowboat ride.
Additionally, other crew members can see and interact with pets, even if they haven't purchased one themselves (it's unclear how many pets can be active on a boat at one time, however), and it's even possible for a rival crew to pick up and scarper with a pet - although they'll return to their rightful owners after a short period of time.
Although Rare hasn't yet formally announced pricing for its cash shop offerings, footage shown during its livestream did give some early hints at possible costs. Assuming the video is accurate, Ancient Coins will be available in bundles of 100, 500, 1000, 2550, 4050, with the lowest of these costing $1.49 USD (around £1.20) and the highest priced at $34.99 USD (around £28).
Based on those figures, it looks like each pet (649 Ancient Coins, with an outfit included) could cost a very approximate $8 USD or around £6.50. That of course, will differ depending on the size of the coin bundle initially purchased, with their non-fixed pricing obfuscating items' actual real-world cost - as these systems are wont to do.
Elsewhere, emotes are shown at 149 Ancient Coins apiece, with eight emotes bundled at 999 Ancient Coins (just shy of $9.99 USD or around £8). A complete ship livery set, meanwhile, including Collector's variants is listed at 4,097 Ancient Coins, which would sit somewhere north of an eye-watering $34.99 USD or £28. We'll have a better idea of how accurate those numbers are - and how they'll formally translate into UK currency - on Wednesday.
Away from its pets and Pirate Emporium, Rare also shared a few additional details on Wednesday's update. As recently announced, it will introduce Duke's Black Market, featuring new limited-time cosmetics - including variants of previously event-only cosmetics - for purchase with in-game gold or in-game doubloons, so no real-word money required.
Additionally, aggressive skeleton ship spawns will return to the game, now tweaked to be less of an absolute terror for players on smaller vessels. As of Wednesday, Skeleton Galleons will intermittently rise from the depths to attack galleons, and less frequently, brigantines, while sloops can look forward to surprise ambushes from Skeleton Sloops.
Elsewhere, the long-awaited cross-play opt-in will be implemented for Sea of Thieves' multiplayer PvP Arena mode, and, in what might well be the most exciting news in the whole update for primarily solo players like me, a new session rejoin system will be introduced.
This allows a session to persist for around 10 real-world minutes if a player is unexpectedly booted from the game, meaning that solo players will no longer be forced to sacrifice progress or doubloons if their internet goes momentarily awry. Rare does note, however, that sessions aren't paused, so player will want to rejoin their game sharpish.
All that and there's still no indication of what Wednesday's Smuggler's Fortune limited-time event will bring. We'll know more come Sea of Thieves' monthly update on 11th September.
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