A little over a year has passed since then Rarely started formalizing new content drops Sea of Thieves as “seasons”. Each of these periods lasts about three months and typically introduces a new type of journey or activity and includes a Battle Pass-style progression system where you can earn additional rewards by completing certain bonus objectives and earning “renown” – what to Any runs a decent session that will take you up a level or two when you’re done playing.
On the whole it was a welcome change; The game had already come a long way since its inception in 2018, but players appreciated the regularity and transparency of the new structure, while the Renown system felt like a slower (but more reliable) method of earning rewards than we did had seen before. Yes, another crew might overwhelm you before you can actually offload one of your hard-earned treasures, but by then you’ll probably have gained a few levels anyway and gotten a cool new cannon for your boat, so… good?
But with season six, Rare changes things up again. Before that, a new season would start and all new content would come out on the same day. But now the developers are gradually introducing it. And I think it could be brilliant.
This is how it has evolved so far. The main thrust of Season 6’s events actually began towards the end of Season 5, when some of the game’s islands were suddenly invaded by a strange green mist. One of them was Golden Sands, usually one of the most scenic outposts in the game. Aside from everything being dark and spooky, it was very clear that some sort of battle had taken place and the NPCs that normally inhabit the island were all gone.
It’s hard to overstate how brilliantly unnerving that was. To see a typically bustling island, a place of safety that you have visited dozens or even hundreds of times and that is suddenly abandoned with no idea of the well-being or whereabouts of its inhabitants. To be honest, I’ve never been particularly interested in the story or characters of Sea of Thieves, but Fair Play to Rare – that’s what caught my attention.
Then we got a new mini-journey to get the ball rolling to find out what actually happened. To be honest that was a bit disappointing. It basically consisted of sailing to another island, beating some ghosts and lighting some lanterns. Sure, it was clearly too early to fully reveal what happened at Golden Sands, but players might have been expecting a bit more.
Then season six kicked off with the addition of Sea Forts. Touted as a quick but lucrative activity for time-poor players, they absolutely delivered on that front, but also hinted at a wealth of untapped potential. Essentially, you would be sailing to a fortress, fighting a mob of ghosts either from the safety of your ship or by entering the fortress itself (while absolutely sensational flamenco music kicks in) and then sucking a cargo of treasure out of the vault. But what about the locked prison cell with creepy, arcane sigils on the floor? The central chamber, complete with tables, liquor barrels, and a giant world map? The dozens of openable boxes and cupboards that contain absolutely everything?
Rare suggested players could capture and hold a fortress “for roleplaying purposes,” which is secret code for “there’s no tangible reward for doing so.” That said, it’s a well-known fact that Sea of Thieves players go to extraordinary lengths to take on one another, so it’s entirely plausible that one day I’ll attempt to take a stronghold, only to find it fuller other players hiding in barrels. Yet it was clear that this was a basis for things to come.
Then, recently, we got a new adventure to take part in – after receiving the news that the residents of Golden Sands were being held captive in the Sea Forts, players embarked on the utterly fun thing of closing them free, and ended with a tease The next chapter is about hunting down a bloody megalodon.
And now, despite some slightly disappointing stretches, everything about the new season structure is suddenly starting to work. This isn’t just a series of content drops – it’s a story unfolding in real-time.
The world of Sea of Thieves was never entirely static, of course; There was always an ongoing story to reflect changes and additions made by different factions or locations. But the more active pace of these events is allowing the world to breathe in a way it never has before.
It’s entirely possible that the idea of drip-feeding the content arose purely to prevent the most active players from running out of new quests in the first week of each season, but even if that’s the case, this has us brought something more wonderful. Something that feels a lot like… oh god, it’s Destiny 2, isn’t it?
If you aren’t aware, a few years ago Destiny 2 also shifted to a seasonal structure that also features a Battle Pass progression system with loads of mini-objectives to tick off. Destiny 2’s seasons then also underwent a transformation, with story events unfolding week by week, giving the game a much greater weight…although players still engaged in pretty much the same seasonal activities.
A special shout out to Season of the Splicer, which dealt with a refugee crisis among one of Destiny’s “enemy” races and the personal and political upheaval it caused among the game’s supposed heroes; really interesting and moving stuff from the game Shooting Aliens Forever With Your Mates.
To be clear, no one accuses Rare of poaching ideas. While it’s not hard to imagine that Destiny 2’s continued success had an impact, it takes the ideas and makes them absolutely its own.
For starters, the pace is different. While Sea of Thieves has an incredibly dedicated community, it’s also always had a certain appeal for people who don’t necessarily have the time to keep up with a behemoth like Destiny 2. Bungie allows players to catch up on past events in the current season, so it’s not the end of the world if you miss a week or two. But then when you spend an evening slogging through several weeks of history, it slows things down a bit. Rare, on the other hand, gives everyone a few weeks to embark on each new adventure – and if you miss one, it’s gone forever.
The other key difference is that Destiny 2’s regularly unfolding storyline primarily provides context for players endlessly repeating the same seasonal activity, while each new nugget of storyline in Sea of Thieves accompanies a genuinely new activity of some sort, too when it occurs much less frequently.
Of course there is room for both approaches – it’s not about one being better than the other. It’s also entirely possible that the connection between the two games doesn’t exist outside of my own imagination. But either way, it’s interesting to see two games attempting similar things but in ways that make sense for the worlds they created and the communities that have grown around them. And since Sea of Thieves has been struggling with something of an identity crisis for some time, it gives me hope that the game can look forward to being in its best form – ever – when Rare makes the landing with this seasonal approach endures.
If you don’t mind, I’m going to see a man about a megalodon.
https://www.vg247.com/sea-of-thieves-season-6-bungie-destiny Rare copied Bungie’s homework for Sea of Thieves Season 6 – and it’s working