Updated March 20th 2019:
We now know that the upcoming “mega update” will officially be called the Anniversary Update, to be released on April 30th 2019.
Watch the official Anniversary Update trailer and check out our trailer breakdown.
Read up on the full Anniversary Update announcement.
Original post, Feb 20th 2019:
At Inside Xbox in February, Sea of Thieves executive producer, Joe Neate, confirmed that on March 20th, 2019 – the one year anniversary of the launch of the game – Rare will announce everything that’s coming in their next major update, referred to as the Mega Update!
It’s been several months since the last major content update, and we know the team has been working on a wide range of new features for the game. Let’s take a look at everything we know is coming to the Mega Update, and take a few guesses while we’re at it.
The Arena 🏴☠️
Announced during XO18 in November 2018, The Arena is a new game mode coming to Sea of Thieves. This new mode (separate from the current game, which will be renamed to “Adventure Mode”) has a competitive focus, with crews battling for treasure in an area from the existing map, within a set time frame.
The mode will feature a new tavern where players will load in before each match. A new trading company called The Sea Dogs will bestow rep on pirates who battle in The Arena. With the total number of trading companies increasing to four, players will only need to reach level 50 in three of the four factions in order to reach Pirate legend.
Check out our full coverage of the Arena reveal:
- Everything we know about The Arena
- XO18 Panel with Joe Neate and Craig Duncan
- Should we be worried that Rare is splitting the playerbase
Pets were originally slated to come to the game much sooner, but due to the rocky reception Sea of Thieves experienced at launch it was pushed back indefinitely. Now, as part of their original post launch monetisation plans, pets will be coming to the game as paid content.
The idea here is that pets are cosmetic and social; they won’t give pirates any kind of in-game advantage (that we know of). Pets will wander around on your ship and ashore, and other crew mates will be able to interact with your pet – like picking it up and firing it out of a cannon.
Joe has mentioned Pets several times on streams recently.
…They are looking cool from the work we’ve done on them already, in terms of having them around on the ship and being your companion and stuff… they’re super cool. [They’re] a great way to add fun and charm and silliness to the experience for everyone, right? So if the lovely keeya here [Andy] had a pet, then we’d all be able to see it, we’d all be able to interact with it and stuff… it adds to the social, fun nature of the game…
On another stream senior engineer James Thomas let slip:
One thing I’ve seen the pets team working on this week: stopping pets walking in the water and just standing there. It’s incredibly distressing when you have your favourite [pet] just sat there, bubbling away underwater, just looking at you. They seem quite content… somehow the parrots have learned to be aquatic.
We’re not sure exactly what other animals will be included when they’re available to purchase (apart from parrots, of course), although cats seem likely.
Tall Tales – Expanding the lore and introducing new quests 📜
We’ve heard much less about the details of this part of the update. Way back in June 2018, Joe “Sea of Tease” Neate and some of the team talked about this update during E3. This is the origin of the “Fall Snails” tease, that has since been confirmed as Tall Tales.
Originally slated as the “fourth” update, the team have since confirmed that this was pushed back into 2019 as they began to realise the potential in it, and wanted to give it the development time they feel it deserves.
While attending the Fun and Serious Games Festival in December 2018, Joe also caught up with Game Reactor and spoke briefly about the work being done on this expansion of the game’s lore in the form of quests:
“I think it’s fair to say Sea of Thieves at launch appealed to a certain range of players that love that free-form, creativity, having their own adventures in this shared world, and almost our quest system gives you a little nudge but that’s not the only thing that you chase,” he said. “But for some people that want guided goals, they want lore, they want story, we know that we’re underserving players, but we’ve proven that we can do it and that it works in the shared world with campaigns we’ve done around the Hungering Deep or Cursed Sails where you put lore, put story in.”
“So we’ve had a team working on basically a new and improved quest system around story and lore in this shared world for quite a while now actually, and it was originally planned to be our fourth update, but we actually moved it back to next year because we wanted to add and grow. We saw the potential in it and we wanted to really, fully do it justice. So yeah, there’s a team working on that, has been for quite a while, will be for a little while more, but I think when we bring that into the game it’s gonna appeal to those people that want that crafted lore, want that adventure, want that story, and also maybe appealing to single players as well.”
While we don’t know the specifics of how these quests will work, we can make some guesses. Both The Hungering Deep and Cursed Sails stories featured the use of journals, so we can imagine some reprisal of this mechanic along with some puzzling or figuring out of clues. We can only imagine what other new game mechanics or items might also be introduced as the lore is expanded.
Even more stuff! 🙌
There have been a handful of very obvious – and some more subtle – changes to the world of the game in the last few releases. As well as the lowered bell on the ships mast, we’ve also seen two very interesting cutouts at the bow of the ships, along with the addition of stoves and roasting pans to each ship. Elsewhere in the world, in addition to the increased instances of skulls around the place, we can also see some construction underway in a cavern under an uncharted island.
Cooking has been teased for a while now. At EGX in September 2018, Shelley mentioned that the team were “cooking up some new stuff for the future”, and we’ve heard passing mentions of this since. The inclusion of stoves in all ships is essentially confirmation that cooking is on the way, but we’re still not sure how the mechanic will effect gameplay.
Related to cooking is crafting. While no Rare devs have ever mentioned crafting specifically (that I’m aware of), a recent tweet from Gregg Mayles about the early development of the game gives some hints around what crafting (and, by extension, cooking) might entail. Tellingly, some post-it notes have been redacted, indicating they are most likely planned for inclusion in Sea of Thieves this year – perhaps in the mega update.
Ship to ship interactions
During a live-stream in early December, Joe and James were asked about the possibility of “boarding ropes” making it into the game.
Joe: New and interesting ways for interactions between ships and stuff in the future, [is] definitely [something] we’ve got our eye on. Not directly boarding ropes, but new and interesting ways for ship-to-ship interaction that will be interesting in both the Adventure world and Arena…
James: A lot of the stuff we try and look at, it’s not always just a single use. It’s got to have different way you can use it; different ways it can fit into the story of Sea of Thieves as well.
How do the cutouts fit into this idea, with the understanding that whatever is there will be able to be used in both Arena and Adventure mode? Perhaps the ability to slide a cannon to the front of the ship for a better angle of attack when chasing? Maybe harpoons, or mortars? (Update: Harpoons.)
Seas of Tease
Beyond more explicit descriptions and musings, we also have a back log of much more ambiguous mentions of… well, stuff.
(A good previous example of this was a relatively throw away line Joe made during a past appearance where he talked about new “animal variants” – this, we now know, was specifically describing the new types of Megs.)
A new feature that interacted with a meg
Joe on a dev stream: “[I saw] the best screenshot of one of our new features interacting with the meg, that I didn’t know I needed to see. But seriously, it might be my favourite new feature that’s coming to the game, that one.”
A few observers have misinterpreted this as meg-specific feature. It’s not… but what is it? (Update: perhaps?)
A new thing you can do anywhere
During a recent stream Joe mentioned, unprompted, a completely new feature that’s nearly out of prototyping:
Joe: We play-tested a new unannounced thing. Something that can be done or used anywhere… it’s an exciting thing. It was the first time I play tested it, and you were all gathered round watching coz it’s getting to the end of the prototype stage. Like anything in Sea Of Thieves, trying to remove the HUD, remove the on-screen prompts and tips, and have it as tactile as possible in terms of feedback to [players] – so you can naturally figure out what to do, figure out how to use this certain mechanic – and I thought it worked really well.
This certainly might be related to cooking or crafting, but fishing(!) or mini-games fit the bill too. Fishing was originally (very loosely) pencilled in to be included with Forsaken Shores, and given the amount of time since then along with the popularity of fishing as a feature, it does seem like a likely inclusion in a mega update.
Then there’s this nonsense from Mike, which is just plain mean. 😭
Just setting a new desktop wallpaper based on an upcoming #SeaOfThieves feature. It's even making me excited and I've been immersed in it for months! 👀
— Mike Chapman 🏴☠️ (@ChappersChapman) February 4, 2019
Well, that’s all I have. If I’ve missed anything please let me know!
A very tame prediction to finish on: with the major releases bringing us up to version 1.4.x of the game, I think it’s very likely the mega update will be a 2.0 release.
We shall see! 🕵️♂️