Sea of Thieves fans have had one continuous demand throughout the game’s lifespan: more content. The first three expansion packs, which were all free and added mechanics still accessible today, were all about addressing that need. The map is significantly more full — and much larger, with the new Devil’s Roar region — and there’s a lot more to do. Shrouded Spoils is less about adding new content and more about breathing new life into the game’s best features.
Whereas the draw of the previous expansions was around some kind of giant mystery and a monster guarding it, Shrouded Spoils’ core mechanic is much less tangible. A new emergent weather type, fog, rolls out and blankets the sea, hiding threats from players. Not only do you need a friend on look-out, but the megalodon and kraken have been revisited; now they drop loot.
The kraken has been improved to spawn more frequently and provide more of an epic boss battle. There’s a new attack type, the kraken slap, and the kraken will be more efficient at dealing ship damage. Every tentacle a crew downs will reward loot. The megalodon is getting some new models for a visual shake-up, and now drops loot as well upon being defeated.
Skeleton ships are getting some love as well. Skeleton galleons, and the new skeleton sloop, can emerge around the world as an encounter. Sometimes they’re passive, and other times they’ll hunt players down. The classic skeleton fort can now spawn on six additional islands, making nine total locales for pirates to wage war against the spooky threat. This is interesting because of the drastically different layout between islands; some require a lot of navigating rocks and chokepoints, while others are more wide-open and chaotic.
The ominous mermaid statues also return to Sea of Thieves, and they now drop gems upon being destroyed that can be sold for Merchant Alliance reputation and gold. The Merchant Alliance also has a new "crate of ancient bone dust" and, most importantly, a "Mega-Keg" that blows up with a much bigger radius, which is perfect for sinking a tricky galleon or clearing a ton of skeletons very quickly.
Add in new ship customization options, including the cannons and wheel, and a bunch of quality-of-life changes (including new end-game content for Pirate Legends), and this is a very intriguing expansion. It’s not as sexy as a big new boss fight or region of the map, but this is one of the expansions that seems most focused on keeping the Sea of Thieves experience alive. Shrouded Spoils is like a greatest hits track spinning the best moments of Sea of Thieves’ lifespan so far.
This will be the last expansion pack of 2018. In 2019, we’re getting a new game mode in The Arena. The fifth expansion will split the game world into two queues: Adventure and Arena. Arena will be focused on fast-paced PvP matches between crews in confined spaces as pirates rush to gather as much treasure as possible on both sea and land. Shrouded Spoils is an expansion focused on what will now be known as Adventure mode, which is the standard Sea of Thieves experience. Rare has stated that it intends to actively maintain and develop for both queues after it releases Arena in 2019.