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's first limited-time activity is called Skeleton Thrones, and sees ten wooden chairs craftily added to the map, most often in obscure or hard-to-reach places. The basic idea is for crews to scour the ocean hunting out these thrones then, once located, find a way to get close enough to plonk their bottoms down upon them. Mostly this requires some creative uses of cannons.
The twist is that while five of the thrones can be claimed by solo players, five larger thrones must be sat on by two players from different crews simultaneously - another welcome example of Rare attempting to encourage greater camaraderie and co-operation in the game, following its largely excellent Hungering Deep update. All in all, it's a straightforward, but engaging enough first live event, adding some needed variety to the core game.
While Skeleton Thrones lasts, doubloons earned by sitting on chairs (100 doubloons are available in total) can be spent on three suitably skeletal cosmetic items: the Bone Crusher Hat, Jacket, and Dress. Alternatively, they can be traded for more gold, or a bump in reputation level for any of the three Trading Companies - useful in the grind to reach Pirate Legend status.
Elsewhere, certain elements from The Hungering Deep are now permanently placed within the world. The new drum instrument and speaking trumpet are available to all players, and Merrick's mythical megalodon-summoning shanty is now part of the playable song roster. And speaking of the mighty beast, the megalodon is now scheduled to a become permanent roving threat in the next update. Rounding things off are new cosmetic options for the drum and speaking trumpet, and a new rainbow flag, to celebrate Pride month.
The Skeleton Thrones event will continue on until June 25th, and a full round-up of today's tweaks and additions can be found in the official patch notes.
At this year's E3, Rare also revealed that Sea of Thieves' next two major content updates - Cursed Sails and Forsaken Shores - will launch in July and September respectively.
The first introduces new AI-controlled skeletal ghost ships to the ocean, alongside the new three-man Brigantine ship. The latter expands the map with a perilous new volcanic biome, and a new row boat to assist in navigating its ruthless waters. Both will bring more besides, and you can get a tease of what's in store via the Sea of Thieves E3 trailer above.