Update: Since we published this article Rare has gone into a lot more detail about their plans for the game moving forward. To find out more about those plans simply follow this link.
Sea of Thieves is a great game, but since it set sail a couple of weeks ago Rare's nautically-inclined online adventure has drawn fair criticism over the lack of content available to players at launch. While there's plenty to do, not all of the activities are particularly unique or memorable (we're looking at you, Merchant Alliance). There's also a distinct lack of story to go with all the plundering and naval engagements, which also proved a stumbling block for certain sections of the game's fledgling community. That said, the foundations that Rare has built for this ongoing concern are rock solid, and given the right support in the coming weeks and months (maybe even years), we envisage Sea of Thieves enjoying a long and fruitful voyage aboard the good ship Xbox. But what form might this support take? We've been contemplating that very matter during the last few evenings of swashbuckling adventure, and here in no particular order are the fruits of our mental labours.
A story in a bottle: We were actually a little surprised that Sea of Thieves didn't launch with a short introductory solo campaign. It would have made for a great way to introduce players to the mechanics and features they'll be using throughout their various adventures. A short single-player story encompassing the three mission types and lasting just a handful of hours would have also given a bit of context to the game in general, further grounding you in the world. The NPC characters you meet in the outposts are rather underused too, so this would have been a nice way of giving them a bit more screen time. Still, there's still plenty of time for Rare to come up with something that would do this job for newcomers, and seasoned seafarers would no doubt like a new activity to keep them busy for an evening or two.
Wildlife: We know that Rare is planning on adding pets to the game in the near-ish future, and we heartily approve of that (after all the office cat here is called Nelson, after the admiral). Cats, parrots, and monkeys all make perfect sense given the setting, but we've captured so many pigs by now that we can't help but wish that we had the option to keep one around and save it from whatever fate has in store for it once we've dropped it off with the Merchant Alliance. There's room for even more animals - both above and below the water line - and we'd love to see rats leave our sinking ships, dolphins cresting the waves as we move between islands, and whales appearing alongside the ship during quieter moments. Hell, maybe even shoals of jellyfish could show up every now and then to make swimming to shore a bit of a challenge. The world of Sea of Thieves already feels alive, but that doesn't mean that Rare can't take it further.
New things to stab: Fighting other players and skeletons (and slashing away at the odd giant tentacle) is all well and good, but we're also looking forward to battling new enemies out in the wider world. We've seen hints that there might be more to the merpeople than simple fast travel for stranded players. Could we start fighting with them in order to access underwater areas containing new loot? That'd certainly make sense and offer a new challenge, expanding on the danger offered by the sharks currently patrolling the waters around islands. We've also heard mention of giant crabs, but there are plenty of other enemy types Rare could look to as time goes on and they want to freshen things up. We could even see larger creatures make an appearance in the future, giving the Kraken a break and helping preserve its mystery. Give us the odd killer whale to contend with and we'll gladly rise to the challenge, ain't that right Ahab?!
Competitive treasure hunting: We love the blend of PvP and PvE that you find in the fort raids, where crews have to work together to take down high-level enemies before fighting it out between themselves for the grandest of prizes, and this is something we'd love to see explored in other ways. Imagine a mode where a specific branch of the Merchant Alliance was calling for a certain type of chicken to be delivered within a relatively small window of time, bringing players together to battle over speckled hens or pink piglets, with boats all arriving carrying their precious clucking cargoes while sneaks and thieves too lazy to source their own livestock lay in wait on the outpost in question. Or what about treasure hunts that involve crews searching for different clues on the same islands, crisscrossing each other while trying to problem solve their way through a race to the finish and some exclusive or rare loot. Some of Sea of Thieves' best moments are when players come together, either in bouts of friendly rivalry or audacious acts of skulduggery, and we'd love a few new activities that engineered these encounters with a touch more frequency.
Solo piracy: Sea of Thieves is built to accommodate between one and four players (more if you band together for a raid), but the emphasis is very much on teams of three or four venturing off together in search of booty. Two players can grab a smaller sloop, and that's still a great way to play the game, but all of our solo experiences have paled in comparison to our team-based efforts. You're simply too vulnerable against the bigger ships, and one small mistake during an encounter with a fully-manned galleon will almost certainly spell disaster for the solo player. That said, we'd still like to play more solo Sea of Thieves, particularly if it was a little less punishing, and we can think of a couple of ways Rare could achieve this, either via sloop-only servers or even some kind of last pirate standing mode. The latter could see players start at the periphery of the map and sail to a designated island to fight over the treasure waiting there. With a slowly shrinking play area and a few environmental dangers thrown in for good measure, we can see a mode like this working brilliantly. Everybody's taking a bite out of the Battle Royale apple, but we think Sea of Thieves is perfectly positioned to deliver an incredible variant of this super popular game mode. To be fair, Rare wouldn't have to restrict a game type like this to solo players, and alternative options for two and four-player teams would also be warmly received, but for lone sea dogs, it would certainly be a great way to play that leveled the proverbial playing field.