Time: Too Early
I wake up in the tavern again but this time I find I’m with two other people. No, not like that. Yes, this time I have my small but capable crew. We’ll call them Jon and James. Because those are their names.
Being with other people certainly does make my deep drink of morning grog feel far more acceptable.
Merry with pre-adventure adrenaline, we haul out our hurdy gurdys and accordions and start up a tune together. It takes a moment, but we fall naturally into tune together to play a pleasant shanty. We’d sound better if we weren’t slightly drunk, but you could say that about most bands really.
Though she doesn’t say anything, Tess behind the bar looks like she would like nothing more than to drown us in the nearest grog barrel so we venture out onto the island to find a quest.
Having had my fill of chickens I’m glad when we settle on working for the Gold Hoarders. Treasure hunting - it doesn’t get much more pirate-y than that. And treasure chests don’t run from you when you go near them. As far as I know.
We’re tasked with finding two buried chests, each on a different island, and once we find them we must return them for payment. Easy, right?
We head towards the dock to find our ship and I’m surprised to see that this is not the dumpy SS Pugwash I’ve grudgingly come to love. This time there is a large galleon which I think looks quite like a Timothy. SS Timothy it is.
Upon boarding the ship, we all enter the captain’s cabin to agree on our quest before going below deck to set a course. Being more efficient with maps than James or I, Jon gets to work finding our first island while we bumble and emote around him. Surely this is the meaning of teamwork.
Settling on a quest is different when you're with a crew. Everyone can propose a voyage on the Captain's table but it's the one with the most votes from your team that you'll embark on.
While you're with your crew you can communicate using either an in-game voice chat system or you can get rid of your microphone completely and use the in-game emotes and messages which will appear in the top left hand corner of your screen. You can also play instruments together. We noticed some annoying issues with our in-game voice chat in terms of being able to hear one another and having it come through speakers and headphones at once. It wasn't particularly intuitive.
With a heading set, we prepare to make sail. We all find stations we’re comfortable with quite easily. I take up the wheel, while Jon directs me and controls the sails and James keeps an eye on the horizon.
It’s interesting going from sailing your own sloop where everything is close together and within your control, to a galleon which you’re not entirely sure you could run the length of without gasping for breath.
From my place behind the wheel I realise that I can’t actually see where we’re going thanks to the sails so I really need to rely on the eyes of Jon and James. It’s very uncomfortable knowing you probably won’t see a rock until it’s come through the bow of your ship to sit directly between your eyes.
We find our first island easily enough and the three of us dive from the ship eagerly to get to a small patch of land so unassuming you would never guess it hid a chest filled with riches. Well, you wouldn't guess until you try to actually get onto the island and find a family of murderous skeletons waiting to slit your throat.
Cursed murderous skeletons are usually a sign that there’s something interesting around.
Night is falling and we quickly take our swords to the skeletons before counting our paces to find the treasure. Three shovels make quick work and it’s with satisfying speed that we see the heavy golden chest emerge. It’s at this point that I realise it could be very easy to grab the chest for myself and make a run for it.
Then I also realise that sailing a galleon alone for the sake of one measly treasure chest really isn’t worth the exercise that would be involved.
Heading reset for island number two, we’re back on the waves when we spot a small sloop anchored by an island. It’s with the casual ease of a holidaying family agreeing to stop for ice cream that we decide, yes, we probably do have time to steal this ship.
We agree that I’ll keep control of the galleon while James and Jon swim over to the other vessel and sneak aboard. F
inding this new ship absent of any crew but stocked with a treasure chest of its own, James and Jon lower the sails and move off, the three of us laughing when the owner of the ship runs to the edge of the island to jump up and down angrily on the shore.
When leaving your ship alone, remember that other players in the world can be right around the corner preparing to steal or sink it. It's hard when playing solo but if you're in a larger crew, try to leave someone behind as guard. Even in storms, an abandoned ship can take on water and sink.
Our laughter falters when he starts swimming towards his ship and attempts to come aboard. It’s clear, though, that he hasn’t really prepared himself for a fight and Jon is able to dispose of him quite quickly. Save your shock - piracy isn’t all hurdy gurdys and chickens. There will be murder. We may even murder chickens with hurdy gurdys to ruin the purest of moments.
Any guilt we feel is short lived when we realise we’ve created something of a logistical problem. Three people across two ships, one of which is a galleon, probably isn’t going to work in the long run. Agreeing to abandon the sloop, James and Jon take the treasure from its hold and swim it over to our own ship.
Back on course, it’s not long before we come across another distraction and I start to recognise why it takes me so long to complete basic tasks in my everyday life. This time it’s not an anchored ship.
It’s a shipwreck. How could we resist?
Dropping anchor, Jon remains aboard our ship while James and I kick out towards what looks to be a fairly recent wreckage. The hull that’s sticking out of the water looks utterly undamaged by water and time.
Remembering my last shipwreck encounter, I dive below the waves, keeping a wary eye out for sharks. I’m quite fond of my extremities and I’d rather not need a peg leg this early in my career.
Deciding the captain’s cabin seems like a likely (and close) place to find treasure I make my way towards it. As luck would have it, lying right in the middle of the floor as though waiting for me is a glowing skull. It’s funny how certain situations utterly turn off your internal ‘not a good idea’ alarms. On land I’d hesitate around a threateningly green skull. Holding my breath while exploring a shipwreck, however, I’m just desperate to grab it and go.
When your ship sinks or you stray to far from it, mermaids will appear to return you to it safely. It's kind of a form of fast travel. Just make sure you're not holding anything valuable when you take them up on their offer.
When I break the surface of the waves I find myself face to face with a mermaid and I wonder just how much salt water I’ve ingested. Spluttering in its stoic face I realise it’s telling me it can return me to my ship and, eager not to risk meeting any sharks while carrying my valuable skull, I agree.
Sadly, mermaids seem to offer an UberX rather than an Uber Pool kind of deal. So while I land safely back on the deck of Timothy, the skull remains back at the wreck. Fortunately, so does James and he picks up the skull where I dropped it and waits on atop the hull of the wrecked ship for us to sail closer and pick him up.
Aware that we’re now carrying a large number of valuable items, we make our way to our final island agreed on no more distractions until we’ve cashed everything in.
Finding our final treasure chest goes as smoothly as we could hope and we even find an additional rare relic hiding in some bushes after James sees it glinting in the bushes from the ship using his spyglass. We definitely picked the right person as lookout.
Even when you've collected treasure chests on your quests, you don't actually get any money for them until you've returned them to the Gold Hoarders at an outpost. This makes sailing through the final leg of a long quest extremely tense - you don't want to be attacked or sunk.
Turning our sails to catch the wind, we make haste for the nearest outpost to cash in all the booty we’ve gathered. I feel like I can feel karma breathing down my neck and I’m wondering when I’ll feel the retribution for the pirate we stole from (yes, I know, and murdered) earlier.
Incredibly, though, we arrive safe at the outpost and sell off our treasures for gold and a boost to our reputations. Coin purses satisfyingly heavy and egos sufficiently boosted, we decide to finish off our day with one final Merchants Alliance quest. Chickens will cower before me with my increased reputation.
Back on the ocean, we’re laughing and dancing around the deck, enjoying the fact that we’ve eased the pressure and burden that having a full hold brings.
We feel unbeatable until something in the atmosphere shifts. It’s almost imperceptible but somehow the sea feels different and I can feel the wheel struggling beneath my hands. James wonders aloud if we can also hear strange music and I realise I can. I’ve always wanted my life to have its own soundtrack but not one quite so eerie as this.
Coming together to stand on the center of the deck, we all look to the side of the ship and cry out in horror as a single giant tentacle emerges from the water. Then another. Then another.
Each tentacle that rises from the water gives us reason to gulp and we think it can’t really get any worse until one of the tentacles opens its mouth. Yes, that’s right - the tentacles have mouths.
Like those Skeleton Fort events we mentioned, The Kraken is an in-game event that you just can't predict. It can appear at any time for any crew and you won't see it coming until it's too late.
Wasting no time, we all run for the canons and start firing at the Kraken’s many limbs. It doesn’t seem to have much of an effect at all. Picking up one of the cannonballs I inspect it, suspicious that we’re just firing well-painted footballs. But, no, it’s definitely a cannonball. And we are definitely screwed.
Before long, we’ve run out of ammo and the tentacles are simply hovering around the ship. It almost feels like they’re bored, just waiting for us to give up. Naturally, we pull out our pistols and cutlasses and slash at the tentacles as though it’ll be enough after artillery wasn't.
I take a moment to compose myself but suddenly feel the solidity of the deck disappear from under my feet. One of the tentacles has lifted me into the air, holding me aloft. I can’t help but think this is the kind of scene where a camera would pan in on me with a voice-over saying "You’re probably wondering how I got here.”
Then I see Jon fire himself from a cannon directly into the Kraken and realise it could be worse.
After an age-long struggle that sees me slashing at the insides of the Kraken, its tentacle drops me back to the deck where I find my crewmates slain and the Kraken wrapping itself around the ship. It reminds me of those moments where a toddler wraps its surprisingly strong sticky grip around something you’re using and says ‘mine.’
When you die in Sea of Thieves, you'll find yourself on the Ferry of the Damned with other players who have died. This is a great place to meet other players before you're respawned in the land of the living.
Realising it’s all over, I let the Kraken drag Timothy and I under the water and give up.
When I wake up I find myself on the Ferry of the Damned and I sigh in relief. It’s delightfully tentacle-free and I feel the hope that comes with a fresh start. Preparing to re-enter the world of the living, I pray that tomorrow brings less death. And fewer Krakens.
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Emma Boyle is TechRadar’s ex-Gaming Editor, and is now a content developer and freelance journalist. She has written for magazines and websites including T3, Stuff and The Independent. Emma currently works as a Content Developer in Edinburgh.