15 things I wish I knew before playing Sea of Thieves

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Yo ho, yo ho, it’s a pirate’s life for me (and all my Xbox One/PC owning friends) because the Sea of Thieves closed beta is running right now. Until January 31, if you’ve pre-ordered Sea of Thieves or joined Rare’s Insider program, you can access the closed beta and get yourself familiarised with the pirate way of life before the game launches in full on March 20. But before you go sailing off into the sunset with your peglegged pals, here are 13 tips you should bare in mind if you want to be a successful pirate.

1. Know what all your items are for...

If you hit LB, you’ll be able to check out all your various equipment, but before you go to town on your tankard of grog, you’ll want to familiarise yourself with the other items in your pirate kit. Planks are used for repairing holes in your ship, which have either been blasted there by other pirates and their cannons, or are the result of your poor steering skills and unexpected rocks. 

Bananas, on the other hand, are for repairing you. Not only can other pirates on the open water attack you, but you’ll find yourself coming up against angry, armed skeletons and even sharks on your quest to have all the treasure. 

You’ve also got a bucket for bailing water, a compass for guidance, a lantern for light, a shovel for digging up treasure, a telescope for checking out faraway things and cannonballs for your ship cannons. Don’t worry, hit X to skip to page 2 of your inventory and there’s your grog, along with a couple of musical instruments to lighten the mood. 

2. ...and where all your supplies live

If you happen to run out of any of the above, you’ll be pleased to hear there are plenty of supplies located under the deck of your ship. Just check the barrels and you’ll find bananas, planks and cannonballs aplenty. There’s even more ammo for your pistol and sniper rifle in a box marked with a gun near your map table. Don’t forget all your weapons sit on the Y button too, so just hammer that button to cycle through them a pistol, sword and sniper… musket. 

If you run out of any of your supplies, you’ll find planks, bananas and cannonballs in similar barrels on any of the islands you come across. It’s actually very hard to completely run out of anything. 

3. Visit the Gold Hoarder’s Shopkeeper before every journey

Although it’s okay to just sail the seas and explore, if you want to be a proper pirate you’re going to need to have some kind of plan. Well, a map to be specific; a treasure map. No good pirate has just sailed off into the big blue without some scrap of paper that directs them to an X marking some spot, and the same thing can be said for Sea of Thieves. Thankfully, the Gold Hoarder’s Shopkeeper - easily spotted by the big key on his tent located on any outpost - is there for all your pirating needs. 

What’s more, your first treasure map, known as a voyage in Sea of Thieves, is totally free. The treasure you discover there can be the fuel to buy more voyages later on.

4. You have to vote for a voyage before you set sail

But unfortunately, you can’t just pick a voyage and set off, as there’s a weird second stage to choosing which treasure you’re pilfering next. Go onto your ship and below deck you’ll find a map table. Near there is another table with a small sheet of paper on it. Here you can suggest a voyage for your crew to undertake, and all of them then have to vote on it. 

Yes, that’s even true if you play Sea of Thieves solo. You’ll have to suggest the voyage and then put your one vote to it before you get the maps or riddles guiding you to the buried treasure - all of which are found in the RB menu.

5. There’s an easy way to count your steps

No, we aren’t suggesting that there’s a pirate fitness tracker. We’re talking about the riddles that ask you to take a certain amount of steps in a particular direction from a certain spot on an island to find the buried treasure. Although you can roughly count your steps and guesstimate the location of your shiny gold, there’s a much easier and more precise way to do it. 

Bring out your compass and then hold RT to bring it up to your face. Now move while keeping RT held down and you’ll feel every step you make with the rumbles in your controller, making it much easier to track where you are when you’ve completed your required paces. 

6. Protect your treasure at all costs

Sea of Thieves Tips

Once you’ve got a chest, it’s more than tempting to just keep sailing the high seas until your ship’s belly is totally full of treasure, but beware. If your ship sinks for any reason, you can say goodbye to your treasure. Plus, the longer you leave it on your ship, the more you risk other players coming after you and stealing it all. 

It’s worth heading back to any of the outposts on the map and selling your discoveries to the Gold Hoarder’s Shopkeeper between voyages, or at least being a little creative with where you hide your more valuable treasure chests if you decide to spend a little longer roaming the waves. Try putting your chests in the Crow’s Nest, on the Captain’s Balcony (on the larger ships), under the steering wheel, behind the barrels in the lower decks, or even on the sail cross beams by hopping down onto them from the Crow’s Nest. 

7. You can board other players’ ships

Of course, all that goes the same for other players. Spot another ship on the map and you can go after them, attacking them with your cannons, or send one of your crew off to surreptitiously board their ship, take all the rival pirates out and then steal any treasure chests they’ve got squirreled away for yourself. It’s a pirate’s life after all.

Just remember that even if you kill all the opposing crew members, they’re only sent to the Ferry of the Damned for a short space of time before they respawn… on their ship. It’s very possible (and we’re speaking from experience) that you can suddenly find yourself surrounded by the enemy when your arms are full of treasure if you’re still on their turf when they return.

8. Sell your treasure to the Gold Hoarder’s Shopkeeper to make yourself a better pirate

Sea of Thieves Tips

The more treasure chests you sell to the Gold Hoarder’s Shopkeeper, the higher your Gold Hoarder’s Reputation level gets, and moving up the levels allows you access to better - and more profitable - voyages.

You’ll have to spend 200 gold to upgrade to the tier that unlocks at level 5, and then once you’ve reached level 10, there’s another tier of voyages to unlock. Ka-ching!

9. The edge of the map is a death trap

Sea of Thieves Tips

In this limited slice of the full Sea of Thieves map, it’s easy to reach the edges of the territory if you’re not paying full attention to the map. But as soon as you do start to venture into literally uncharted territories, trust me, you’ll know. The waters and the skies around you will start turning red, and then before you know it, your ship will start creaking as it begins to take damage. Lots of damage. 

Before you know it, you’ll watch your ship (and hopefully not all your precious treasure) disappearing into the depths, leaving you with no other choice but to seek salvage from the sirens. 

10. Don't worry if you fall off the ship

Speaking of sirens, you shouldn't worry if you happen to fall off your ship - whether you're playing alone or with other people. You can either get your crew to stop and wait for you to swim back, or just look for the blue smoke rising from the waves, which indicates the siren is waiting there for you. But don't worry, they're not the kind of siren that promises you your wildest dreams and then kills you, they actually just teleport you back to your ship. 

11. Check below deck for water if you get caught in a storm

Sea of Thieves Tips

Although it’s easy to discover you’re taking on water when you hit a big rock or get hit by an army of cannonballs, but you might not think to check your ship’s belly during a storm. Like it would in real life, getting caught in a huge thunderstorm means there’s tonnes of rain pelting down on your deck and washing down below. If you’re not careful, you can have a ship full of rainwater without even realising, which if you don’t address means your ship could well be in danger of sinking. 

12. You can use your vomit as a weapon

Sea of Thieves Tips

Getting totally drunk in Sea of Thieves isn’t cause for your crew mates to ask you to walk the plank, in fact it’s almost a major part of pirate life. But be careful, when you start knocking back that grog, you’ll start staggering wildly and your vision will be warped. Chuck three tankards of grog down your neck and prepare to see it all come back up again in no time at all. 

But before you start cursing your bad luck and weak stomach, grab a bucket and chunder in that instead. You can save all that sacred regurgitation for a little later, when you can aim it right in your crew mate’s face. Or you can just ditch the bucket entirely and vomit straight in their avatar’s mug, causing their entire screen to go green. Nice.

13. There’s no way to find your crew mates unless you communicate

Sea of Thieves Tips

One of the most annoying things about navigating on-foot in Sea of Thieves is that there’s no way to see where your crew mates are unless they’re literally in your eyeline. There’s no mini-map, no radar, no beacon pulse you can send out to reveal their location. All you’ve got is good, old-fashioned communication. 

Queue a heck of a lot of chatter about the rock you’re near, compass directions and tiny points of interest if you’ve got any luck of finding each other mid-treasure hunt.

14. There’s a secret dash swim trick

When the sea between you and your ship is full of sharks or you need to get back in a jiffy, you might need to use the secret dash swim trick to glide yourself at a super speedy pace across the water. To pull it off, all you need to do is charge your sword attack while you’re standing at the edge of the water and then move forward. You can pull it off from the top of a cliff, from your ship or just from the beach. You just need to be on land to kickstart it, and then you’ll be zooming about in no time.

Cheers to Hidden Beach for the tip!

15. If you attack enemy ships, aim your cannon below the waterline 

Sea of Thieves Tips

When attacking an enemy ship using the cannons, make sure to aim below the waterline when you can. That way, you're not only damaging their ship, but making sure the water rushes in there as fast as possible, meaning they've got more problems than just a hole in the hull to deal with. 

Alternatively, you can always just shove one of your crew members in the cannon instead and watch them fly.