Sea of Thieves is getting a pair of massive new features that'll change the way we play the game in 2022: Adventures and Mysteries.
Rare provided a ton of details on Sea of Thieves' plans for 2022 as well as a a sneak preview of season 6 in an extensive video preview (opens in new tab).
Adventures are cinematic, story-driven live-events that'll take place monthly and last for about two weeks each. Each adventure can be thought of as a chapter in an overarching story, with each season hosting a "Special Adventure" to bring the various threads to a conclusion before changing gears in the next season. Director Mike Chapman says that the way the community reacts to the Adventures and the choices they make will alter the outcome of the story and change the game world forever.
These story events are apparently designed to create more of an emotional connection between players and the NPCs sailing around the world. "We want to appeal to players' hearts, get them to care about these places, get them to care about these characters," said senior designer Chris Davies.
Mysteries, on the other hand, are stories players will have to work together to uncover, with clues presenting themselves both "in-game and out of game," according to executive producer Joe Neate. Mysteries will unfold throughout longer intervals than Adventures as Rare reacts to how efficiently players are solving them. So basically, it sounds like if we fumble around like drunken pirates, it'll take longer for Mysteries to unravel, but if we're smart about it they might play out a little quicker.
Davies says Rare was inspired by murder mysteries, ghost stories, and whodunnits across movies, TV, and books as it was designing Sea of Thieves' Mysteries. In fact, the first one will task players with solving the murder of a well-known Sea of Thieves character.
Adventures and Mysteries will collectively form the ongoing story told throughout Sea of Thieves seasons going forward, fundamentally altering the way new content is released and played. The first Adventure, Shrouded Islands, is scheduled to go live on February 17.
We also got a sneak preview of Sea of Thieves season 6 and its headlining new feature: Sea Forts. When the feature goes live, you'll be able to pillage and plunder six Sea Forts across the seas, but you'd best come prepared, as each one is guarded by phantoms and crawling with ghosts. These aren't just random dungeons either; they're tied in with the first set of Adventures and the narrative at large, so they'll be worth doing for more than just the loot.
Finally, Rare announced today that it's finally doing away with the beleaguered Arena mode, which it says is just more trouble than it's worth. For some possible context, Rare pulled voice chat between enemy crews in Arena last year due to toxicity.
"With the scope of Sea of Thieves growing larger and larger, the huge task of maintaining QA and bug fixes for both Adventure and Arena modes has become something we can no longer justify," reads a written update (opens in new tab) accompanying today's preview event. "We’re proud of what we achieved with Arena, but ultimately it wasn’t as successful as we had hoped, and a bespoke competitive mode with few dedicated players is hard to align with our future vision for Sea of Thieves."
For everything just over the horizon, check out our guide to upcoming Xbox Series X games.