Rare this week released the first update since March’s Anniversary Update, with the promise of this being the first in a return to regular content updates.
With the Black Powder Stashes update, Sea of Thieves will now experience similar content updates – bringing new activities, new ways to play, new rewards, and quality of life changes – every month.
Why Monthly Updates?
When Sea of Thieves initially launched, players were treated to regular major updates – The Hungering Deep, Cursed Sails, Forsaken Shores, etc. – with the promise of smaller updates sprinkled in between.
These were originally scheduled to be fortnightly, though it quickly became apparent that this tight schedule wasn’t sustainable – faster releases meant more bugs made it into the release build, and when more time was spent fixing bugs it delayed the schedule for the next updates.
“Once [major updates] had launched there was no real sense of ‘when is something new going to be coming to the game’, ‘when’s the next thing to look forward to‘,” said Executive Producer Joe Neate on the process of rolling out previous updates. “It was a bit sporadic. There wasn’t any real sense of what was coming next.”
While major releases such as The Hungering Deep or the Anniversary Update will still have a place in the future of Sea of Thieves, these smaller monthly updates provide almost ‘filler’ type content, offering players new ways to play with existing mechanics.
As with last year’s Bilge Rat Adventures, these are essentially the team at Rare asking “if we forced players to do ‘x’ with ‘y’ mechanic in ‘z’ location, what would happen?”. As this month’s Black Powder Stashes update is proving so far, the results are fun, sometimes challenging, and always interesting.
What Will These Updates Include?
While each update will have a primary focus – see Black Powder Stashes and how its Voyages throw together Gunpowder Barrels and wary players – they’ll also contain a slew of updates to other areas of the game, big and small. Black Powder Stashes, for example, mixed its new Voyages with additions like adding Mermaid Gems to islands and shipwrecks, upping the payout for Hunter’s Call meat, making the effects of Cursed Cannonballs more forgiving, and much more.
“For each monthly update, you’re going to see new Voyages, you’re going to see new rewards, you’re going to see new quality of life updates,” explained Neate.
As with everything else Rare is working on with Sea of Thieves, the monthly updates also have the benefit of providing a more holistic approach to introducing new content, mechanics, and lore to the game.
“As we move forward, this is going to be our vehicle for delivering new things such as new Tall Tales, or new features and mechanics, or new updates to Arena… Adventure too.”
The nature of ‘games as a service’ means that updates have to be consistent, well-communicated, and provide value to the player – while Rare’s efforts with Sea of Thieves post-launch have been excellent so far, stepping into regular updates in between major content releases is a great move that looks as though it will pay off