The Sea of Thieves closed beta (opens in new tab) isn't the full game—Microsoft says that "most" of it is being held for release—but it's seized our imaginations anyhow. The cooperative sailing and swashbuckling is like a perfectly-baked pizza crust that now needs to be covered with toppings, and everyone has different ideas about what those toppings should be, and whether or not pineapple is even on the table.
Rare is holding back a lot of its own ideas for release, and we can't wait to see what those are. For now, though, these are some of the features we're hoping for when Sea of Thieves releases in full this March. (As always when we start wishing and speculating, we're doing so without the burden of actually executing our wildest ideas and making sure they work—but it's still fun to have them.) If you've been playing or watching the closed beta, let us know in the comments what your dream pirate game would look like.
Actual loot, not just chests you can sell
Pretty wild that the beta for a pirate game has no loot. Rather than opening the chests you find, you just sell them. I get the intention—chests are big, heavy, easy-to-spot things you have to carry safely to a trader, making you a target for other pirates to rob—but chests are meant to be opened, not sold off! Just thinking of all those sealed chests we never got to peek into fills me with ennui.
A simple compromise would be to stick some randomized loot in the chests—new clothes, items—and a heavy gold something that still has to be carried to a trader. That way you're rewarded a little even if you're ganked by a bigger team, and crucially, you get to open the dang chest. —Tyler Wilde
Tyler and I formed a two-man crew and completed a few treasure quests, but typically upon returning to an outpost to sell our booty we would find 4-player teams docked and camping the trader's tent, just waiting for someone to lug a chest over. It's a bit like The Division's Dark Zone in that respect—rather than find your own loot you can just wait for someone to come along, kill them, and take theirs. That's not all bad—it was still fun to scour the map for unoccupied outposts to dock safely at, getting in a few scrapes and scraps along the way—but it would be cool if there was at least one PvE zone surrounded by safe seas where you can't be attacked, especially for solo players or small crews to have a better chance to level up their rep and make a little gold. All's fair when it comes to a pirate's life, but I worry about excessive outpost camping becoming a problem. —Chris Livingston
More pastimes and activities while on board
Picking a distant island and setting sail is pleasantly relaxing. If you're avoiding other ships and islands along the way, it just takes some gentle tapping at the wheel to stay safe and on course. But after not long, Chris and I got a little tired of playing accordion songs at each other. I'm loathe to suggest it, but honestly, I'd take a fishing minigame for the long hauls. Maybe even make healing bananas less abundant and require players to catch and grill up swordfish to keep their health topped up. Sea of Thieves is all about building camaraderie—working together to protect your sea home—and what better way to do that than with home cooked meals? More maintenance tasks would be welcome, too, especially if they require cooperation and have a chance of failure. Anything to inject some of the teamwork and physical comedy you get during fights into the downtime. —Tyler Wilde
I'd like a little table on one of the decks to play a bit of pirate poker with crewmates, maybe a few rounds of Mumblety-peg, do a little arm-wrestling, and maybe a crafting bench to fabricate extra ammo or sharpen sabers for a little damage buff. There's not always going to be time on voyages to twiddle your thumbs, but when there is, having the ship feel more like a mobile base or a home away from home would add a lot of fun. —Chris Livingston
More songs, possibly tied to quests
Music is already a great way to signal friendly intentions to strangers. While playing solo I ran into a four-player crew, whipped out my accordion, and began playing, which led to an impromptu concert and dance party, which you can watch above.
Recalling the delight of sea shanties in Assassin's Creed: Black Flag, I'm thinking it would be great to have a massive library of songs to play in Sea of Thieves. It would be doubly great to not simply buy them from a shop but actually seek them out in the world. It could be as simple as finding some sheet music in a treasure chest or locating a music box on a sunken ship. Maybe sailing into a haunted lagoon and hearing a long-lost spirit tune on the wind, or sneaking close enough to some NPC to catch a few notes of what they're whistling. Having collected a song, it would be neat to be able to teach it to friends and strangers alike. —Chris Livingston
Lots of ships to choose from
There's a big ship for four players, and a smaller ship for one to two players. For starters, it's missing the porridge that's just right: Chris and I could've managed a bigger ship with the two of us, and there's no three-person ship either. Beyond that, I'd love to unlock a variety of different ship styles, not just sizes. —Tyler Wilde
A dinghy, too, or lifeboat, or whatever it's called that allows people to load into a little boat and paddle to shore from the big ship. Ships spring leaks pretty easily, so pulling too close to an island in shallow water is a dicey proposition, and there's something a little uncouth about having to swim to and from your ship. It would allow for something resembling stealth, if you want to land on an occupied island or fort: you could anchor far offshore and paddle in under cover of night. Plus, having several people rowing a boat together without going in circles would be another enjoyable task (or ridiculous disaster). —Chris Livingston
A bunch of server-wide events
In the beta, there's not much of a reason for different crews to work together. It's shoot-on-sight in my experience. But if a giant NPC galleon swept through the map to scatter and sink all of the server's pirates, we might be encouraged to gang up on it. It'd be an nice change from running away from each other all the time. —Tyler Wilde
Ghost ship sightings, bounty hunts, special treasure events, whale hunts, and races would bring players together from time to time to compete or cooperate. To have every ship on a server all bearing down on the same location would be exciting. It could also provide a chance to do some solo sneaky treasure hunting while everyone else on the server is occupied. —Chris Livingston
Custom persistent servers and mods
The way Sea of Thieves works in the beta, your personal accomplishments—like the gold in your satchel and your reputation level—are persistent between sessions. Otherwise, you're thrown into an instanced world, as fresh as the one you left, with a random assortment of other player ships to battle. I know it's massively unlikely that Microsoft would let us do something as radical as run our own, persistent servers, as in games like Rust or Ark, and I have no idea if Sea of Thieves could even be modified to allow for that. But we can still dream of all the roleplaying servers that will probably never happen, can't we? —Tyler Wilde
Parrots and monkeys
I want a pet monkey, and a parrot that sits on my shoulder. Or maybe the monkey could sit on my shoulder and the parrot could sit on his shoulder. Whatever. I just want a parrot and a monkey. —Chris Livingston