Sea of Thieves is setting sail for Season 5 this week, and Rare’s pirate sandbox is getting a bundle of new toys. The game’s “tools, not rules” North Star remains strong as Sea of Thieves approaches the end of its fourth year in the open waters of Game Pass and the Xbox ecosystem, as well as Steam. In Sea of Thieves Season 5, major quality-of-life updates and some much-requested features are making their way to the game, alongside a new Plunder Pass, a new type of mission, and a focus on deepening the pirate role-playing experience. Here’s everything to know about Sea of Thieves Season 5.
When does Sea of Thieves Season 5 start?
Sea of Thieves Season 5 kicks off on December 2, with the update being available to download that morning. As this is a live update, there’s no preloading of Season 5, though you could ensure your system is set to automatically update the game when the patch becomes available on that Thursday morning. As always, the update will be free for all players, and the game’s more-generous-than-most free path of its Season 5 Plunder Pass will offer 100 rewards split across currencies and cosmetics. The paid path, which you can access for $10, will allow you to unlock an additional 14 cosmetic rewards, including the new and exclusive Creeping Cold skin.
There’s no end date mentioned for Sea of Thieves Season 5, but if it follows the trajectory of past seasons, you can expect to chase Season 5’s exclusive rewards for roughly the next three to four months or so, which would lead us right up to the game’s fourth anniversary in March of 2022.
What’s new in Sea of Thieves Season 5?
The marquee addition to Sea of Thieves in Season 5 is really a matter of opinion. Because the game is played in so many different ways, you could poll a fleet of pirates and get many different answers. Arguably, the biggest new addition is the ability to bury treasure. With Sea of Thieves Season 5, you’ll be able to put treasure you’ve uncovered or otherwise obtained back into the ground. This is something players have wanted for a long time, as it’s a more reliable way of stashing treasure for safekeeping when you’re threatened by mischievous buccaneers.
When you bury treasure yourself, you’ll automatically be equipped with a new treasure map that will show you the locations of your tucked-away goods. That way, it’s safely in only your hands, though there’s a catch.
If you’d rather invite other players to find your buried loot, you can leave your custom treasure maps at any of the new Quest Boards, located at all Seaposts and Outposts. Nail your map to the bulletin board there and you’ll share in the rewards that are granted to any pirates who dig up and turn in your loot.
You can also find and use fireworks by loading them into your cannons and firing them off. These are purely a cosmetic addition, so they don’t pack any offensive firepower, but they sure are pretty–and arrive just in time for the new year, which I assume is still at the end of December even in the Sea of Thieves universe.
Flares, meanwhile, have a bit more utility, as they can be shot over a dark island to shine a much-needed light on the terrain, or signal to allies where you may be. As always, Rare is content to let players make up their own rules with these new tools, rather than expressly tell them how they “should” be used.
For the pirates who like their role-play, Rare is adding new emotes and abilities that serve those players most of all. This includes allowing for players to sit and sleep, which seem simple but have been something players have wanted for a while. Be it in a seat at the tavern or with your feet hanging off your ship or even on a dock, you’ll be able to interact with the world in this new way beginning with Season 5.
Sleeping in your bed, meanwhile, will make it so your screen goes black, which makes me think that a new era of pirate hide-and-seek is on the horizon. New emotes such as dice-rolling further enhance the role-playing element of the pirate sandbox, be it for players who need a randomized dice roll or just want to role-play as a TTRPG fan.
When players speak into their mics, their pirate avatars will now move their mouths, too, making the game more immersive for everyone. Speaking of, well, speaking, the Speaking Trumpet can now be turned around and used backward, which will allow you to chat with crew members while players outside of your crew are nearby. Think of it as a separate voice channel designed to encourage dastardly plots and memorable betrayals, no doubt.
Defeated PvE enemies such as Phantoms and Skellies will now drop ammo pouches, which once again improves on the game’s ammo reserves mechanic following the previous enhancements with transportable ammo crates.
One of the most exciting features is the incoming Cannon Rowboat, which provides these historically vulnerable vehicles with a bit of firepower for the first time. Smart players will pack their rowboat’s stash with cannonballs, and maybe bring an extra crate of them, too. You’ll not have much in the way of defense, but you can get the drop on enemy ships with this crafty new addition.
In the Pirate Emporium, Sea of Thieves’ real-money item shop, you’ll find new additions to the Pirates of the Caribbean crossover set, like the Captain Barbossa costume, the Royal Revenge ship set, and a pet bundle featuring the Mutinous Mutt dog. There’s also a new bundle of Frozen Horizon equipment, as Rare continues to tease a wintry biome coming to the game someday. There’s also a free Festive Tree emote, which sees your pirate pose with fishing buoys in hand to resemble a Christmas tree. The resemblance is… less than uncanny, but pirates are resourceful.
Three new Shanties, or songs you can play solo or with others, are coming to the game’s radial menu of songs, including those inspired by the recent storyline with the game’s ancient Merfolk. All of this, plus probably a barrel of secrets to uncover, await Sea of Thieves players when Season 5 goes live on December 2 on Xbox and PC.
GameSpot may get a commission from retail offers.