Sea of Thieves has been in the process of raising its sails, so to speak, since its launch back near the end of March. It was an incredibly tough time for the developers over at Rare, but also a very valuable one filled with useful lessons for the game-as-a-service. As Sea of Thieves' Executive Producer, Joe Neate, puts it: "I don't think anything prepares you for the launch of games as a service. When we launched, it was suddenly like, whoa. They're not stopping playing. They're keeping playing! The numbers keep going up! They have feedback, and there's no break!" Sea of Thieves was plagued with a number of issues at the start, primarily due to servers and little things here and there that players would find. Thankfully, it's been updated since, and even got a recent pre-patch to help smooth things over before the arrival of The Hungering Deep, the game's first big expansion. Today, as of this writing, The Hungering Deep is now live!
The campaign centers around the pirate "Merry" Merrick and features its own mysteries and puzzles to solve. Rare put out a good sized list of what to expect in this new expansion, which adds more mechanics to the world of Sea of Thieves and lets players do even more with it than they could before. One of the most notable additions is the Speaking Trumpet, which lets other ships know if you are friend or foe. This mechanic actually projects the player's voice so that faraway ships can hear them and get an idea of what's what. Naturally, players are already finding clever other ways to use this feature on the very first day alone, with some using it as a distraction tactic and those who use it to interact with friends. In a similar avenue, drums are now available which can be heard by other players as well. The first one will be obtainable in Hungering Deep, but buyable ones will arrive in the near future.
Appearances also get a big focus in Hungering Deep, with the addition of new flags that can be put up and displayed on your ship. These flags come in five flavors: Jolly Roger, white, shark bite, black & red arrow, and a purple flag with a green skull. The first two are pretty blatant, while the other three can be used in more varied ways. The idea behind this system is to let other players know what your ship is doing at any given time, as these flags can be swapped on the fly depending on the situation. The campaign will give players a lot of new cosmetic items for their own characters too, though some of these will be limited time, just as the campaign is. Once the campaign is over though, the new mechanics mentioned above will stick around, forever onward into the future expansions.
Rare has made it clear that they intend to diligently focus on Sea of Thieves and work out the issues to make it the best-shared experience it could possibly be. After Hungering Deep, the game's next expansion will be known as Cursed Sails, and there'll be another called Forbidden Shores. According to the developers, each expansion will be bigger than the one that came before it, with Forbidden Shores set to expand the current map of the game even further. All in all, Sea of Thieves just keeps getting better with time. If you want to join in on the high seas adventures and pirate life, the game is available for both Xbox One and Windows PC. Make sure to check out its official website for the full details behind The Hungering Deep!