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Sea of Thieves beginner’s guide

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Tips about quests, preparing, sailing and being a landlubber

Your first hours in Sea of Thieves will be confusing. It’s kind of designed that way, but rather than toss you overboard, we thought we’d walk you through some of the basics to get you sailing the high seas as quickly as possible.

In this guide, we’ll teach you about quests, things you should do before you set sail, tricks for navigating the high seas and some tips for landlubbers.

How to start a quest

Questing in Sea of Thieves is super important and surprisingly complicated to grok. The basics: You’ll need to pick up a quest — a voyage, in Sea of Thieves parlance — from one of the three trading company representatives on your starting island, bring it over to your ship, drop the quest on your captain’s table and vote on it (with your crew, if you have one) before you can get started.

For a more detailed explanation of how questing works and the differences between the trading companies — the Gold Hoarders, the Order of Souls and the Merchant’s Alliance — check out our full Sea of Thieves questing guide.

Prepare before you set sail

A loaded canon. (You can tell by the fuse.)
Rare

A prepared pirate is a happy pirate. And a slightly longer-lived pirate. Taking a couple seconds to prepare before doing anything in Sea of Thieves will save you a lot of frustration and help you deal with loot-threatening situations later.

At the very least, do these three things to prepare:

  • Stock up on supplies from shore. Every ship comes fully stocked with barrels full of supplies like planks, cannonballs and bananas, but you’ll eat (literally and awkwardly, in the case of bananas) through that supply quickly. There are barrels scattered around every outpost, abandoned barrels on islands and even some just floating in the sea. Raid them to keep your supplies up. Just make sure you’re restocking the barrels on your ship and not only taking from them.
  • Keep your cannons loaded. Even if you’re not planning on fighting, there’s always the risk of encountering another group of hostile players or blundering your way into a skeleton-staffed fort. When it comes down to a fight, loading the canons takes time — especially on the big galleons. Even before you leave an outpost, load and prime your cannons for action. (You can tell if a cannon is loaded when there’s a wick sticking out of the vent at the back.)
  • Make sure you have coops (or cages) before you leave an outpost. This only applies to Merchant’s Alliance quests, but there is nothing worse than finding that chicken you need and realizing you have no way to collect it. After you accept a Merchant’s Alliance quest, talk to the Merchant vendor again to get a coop or cage.

Learn to sail like a pro

You’re going to spend the majority of your time in Sea of Thieves sailing from one place to another. We’ve got a separate guide and a video to explain sailing, but there are still a few beginner’s tips that bear repeating.

  • Many hands make light work. Multiple pirates can work anchors and sails (on the galleons) at the same time, dramatically cutting the time required to do anything. When there are two people raising, lowering or trimming the sails, things move much faster.
  • Keep your compass handy, even when you’re not steering. If you’re up in the bow watching for rocks or just trying to keep the sails angled to the wind, it helps to know which way you’re heading and where your ultimate goal is. You can plan ahead to get the most out of the wind when you’re pointed the right way.
  • The quickest path isn’t always a straight line. You don’t have to understand the intricacies of tacking — sailing side-to-side to make upwind progress — to know that there’s a substantial difference in speed when you’re sailing at an angle to the wind versus sailing straight into it. If you’re trying to get to an island upwind of you, it might make sense to catch the wind — even if that’s not a straight path to your destination. You can turn to finish the trip.
  • Storms are bad. Storms at sea create a mighty wind that might cut your travel time down, but they also create some huge waves (and your compass and steering wheel go crazy). All that speed and the rough water can damage your ship. Take storms slowly instead of trying to blast through them. Don’t use full sails. Navigate using your map instead of the (currently) useless compass, bail out the lower decks and watch for damage.
  • Think about where you park. It’s tempting (and easier) to just drop anchor as soon as you’re close to an island, but sometimes it makes more sense to make sure you’re on the right side. Carrying a chicken coop back and forth across and island is a real pain — especially since you can’t run — and exposes you to attack by snakes and skeletons. The same goes for selling your loot at an outpost. Be mindful of where you park, and you’ll save yourself some frustration later.

Tips for landlubbers

Life on the open sea is great and all, but sometimes you just have to head to land. Here are some tips for making the most of that in Sea of Thieves.

  • Stick together and watch your compass. Losing sight of your crew when you land on an island is as frustrating as it is easy. Talk to your crew and check your compass often so you can tell them where you are.
  • Messages in bottles. Keep an eye out along the beaches of any island you visit or even just pass. You might see a sparkling item in the sand. These are messages in bottles. These maps and riddles will lead you to buried treasure. They’re usually worth the time you’ll have to put in because of the reward you’ll earn when you sell the loot.