Sea of Thieves open beta is live on Xbox One and PC: Try new voyages, skeleton forts, and 4K

An excited pirate from Sea of Thieves.

The Sea of Thieves open beta has arrived, and it's your final chance to try the ambitious online pirate game before launch day on March 20. It was easy enough to get into the Sea of Thieves scale tests, but you don't even need to futz with the Xbox Insider program to play this one: just go to Xbox or Windows 10 store, search for "Sea of Thieves Final Beta" (if that doesn't work, try the old "Sea of Thieves Closed Beta" entry), install, and start playing!

Get your voyage underway soon, because Rare will drop anchor and end the beta on Sunday, March 11 at 3am PDT / 10am GMT for some last-minute repairs. Here are four things you ought to try before then.

Journey for the Merchant Alliance

Finally the Gold Hoarders have some competition for our cheap pirate labor. Now you can cast your lot with the Merchant Alliance, and though their voyages start the same as the Hoarders (walk up to a representative in town, buy a voyage chart, then plop it on your ship's table for voting), the differences are apparent as soon as you hit the open ocean. The Merchants don't have time for riddles or obtuse maps; their voyages come with clear instructions and strict time limits. The first Merchant journey I undertook ordered me to capture two different kinds of chickens then deliver them back within a few days. Make sure you talk to an Alliance rep to get the cargo crates you'll need before you depart!

Siege a Skeleton Fort

You've probably sailed past some of those big, mostly empty fortress islands if you've ever played before. Now they do stuff! If you see a giant, ominous, skull cloud hanging over one of those islands, it means that Skeleton Fort is active. Great treasures await inside, but only if you can fight your way through a bunch of skeleton guards and liberate a key from the mighty skeleton captain itself. Open the vault and you'll find more chests than one crew can carry. Watch your back; it's very unlikely that your pirate crew was the only one to notice that glowing skull cloud on the horizon.

Sail the 4K seas on Xbox One X

Yeah, you could play the Sea of Thieves betas on Xbox One X before, but you wouldn't notice that much of a difference from the regular version. Now Rare's  rolled out full support for 4K resolution and textures in the final beta. This is legit 4K - Rare previously confirmed that the game won't do any upscaling or dynamic resolution business when playing on Xbox One X. That water should be pretttttty nice to look at.

Put on a pirate fashion show

Rare has filled out the Sea of Thieves sartorial selection with a bunch of new clothing and item customization options. Play around with the intricate clothing system, offering individual options for gloves, hats, belts, hook hands, and more, and see what kind of bucco look you come up with! Check in the shops to find new looks for your cutlass, hurdy-gurdy, and other essential pirate items as well.