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Here’s how Sea of Thieves’ new battle pass will work

Three-month Seasons will offer a better variety of content, and more predictable updates, developers say

Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Sea of Thieves embarks on its new season-based schedule of content updates beginning Thursday, Jan. 28. Developer Rare, Ltd. says players can plunder 100 levels of cosmetics, swag, and other in-game rewards for free, thanks to a new progression system, or buy additional rewards with a premium battle pass.

The loot each Season offers will be earned as players win Renown, “a new progression metric that isn’t wholly dependent on handing in loot,” Rare says. There is no buy-in to participate in each Season’s loot unlocks. Players who are Pirate Legends (level 50 in each of the game’s three original seafaring companies) will get exclusive rewards.

The “Plunder Pass,” available for 999 Ancient Coins (a premium currency, bought for $9.99) gives players access to 11 more items, which Rare values at about $40 collectively, if they were sold in the game’s Pirate Emporium. Ancient Coins can also be earned for free as a Season progression reward, and can be obtained by defeating rare Ancient Skeletons that spawn at random during island explorations.

It’s possible that some players may already own items available through the Plunder Pass, the studio says, but “it’s very likely that there’ll still be enough new items in there to justify the purchase price.” All players will still unlock the standard content as they progress through that Season’s tiers of Renown; there is no time-saver buyout of the unlockable stuff with the Plunder Pass or other real-money means. The standard content includes “more rewards than we’ve ever made available at a single time,” Rare said.

Renown is constantly earned through gameplay, “whether you drop in for a short session or get scuppered halfway through an epic sail,” Rare said. “You’ll never finish a Sea of Thieves session empty handed.” Players can also pursue a Season’s series of Trials, which are themed categories of objectives (Deeds, as they’re called in-game) suited for game sessions of varying lengths. Trials also reward players with unique in-world items.

Sea of Thieves began a monthly update schedule in the summer of 2019, and delivered 10 content updates in 2020, the latest of which was the Festival of Giving, whose events ended a week ago. Although Sea of Thieves is now scaling back to one major update every three months, the new model “allows us to craft more meaningful experiences for you all and return to a more predictable rhythm of release,” developers wrote.

They also acknowledged player feedback that “the release of cosmetics across the game and Pirate Emporium has felt a little unbalanced in recent updates.” A seasonal schedule is likewise intended to address this.