Halloween has come to Sea of Thieves in a major October update that sees Old Boot Fort overrun by sinister Shadow of Fate Skeletons. To fight back against the forces of darkness, players must undertake new voyages to find Ritual Skulls and claim the Flames of Fate, and then team up to take on haunted sloops, brigs, galleons, and the Fort itself.
Unlike conventional skeleton fort battles that take place when a giant skull cloud appears over one of several possible fort locations, the new Fort of the Damned can be activated at any time as long as the requirements are met. And while Halloween is a fleeting thing, the new fort fight is a permanent addition to the game. (One advantage of having skeletons and haunted forts as a regular feature is that you can add more skeletons and different forts, and it doesn't seem weird.)
The new contracts are available from Duke, who can be found in his usual tavern hangout and has a few slices of advice to dispense—including that Stitcher Jim, a sketchy fellow added in the previous update, is somehow involved. Along with a bunch of new stock, he also has new contracts available, including Skull Seeker voyages, which are free, and Skull Stash voyages, which are definitely not: One of those will cost you 30 doubloons or 35,000 gold.
I took one of the Skull Seeker voyages for a quick spin, and they seem a lot more involved than last month's Reaper's Grave voyages. My quest began with a hit on a skeleton captain, which was simple enough; he dropped a cursed skull, as usual, but also a Skeleton's Orders map. Sailing to another island and digging into the marked spot gave me a Ritual Skull, but it also unleashed what I assume was a Shadow of Fate Skeleton: Purple, spectral, and utterly immune to conventional weapons. I even brought my ship around and went to work on it with the cannon, to no avail.
Another, tougher Skeleton Captain was also wandering the island—he dropped another Skeleton's Orders map when I took him out, but I didn't have a chance to chase that one down. But despite not having time to really dig into the new quests, I like what I've seen so far. If nothing else, it promises to be a lot less tedious than the dig-and-deliver jobs we were all doing last month.
Other changes include the addition of a new sloops mode in the PvP Arena, which will hopefully speed up the process of putting games together, and six new locations, each with two variations, have also been added. A new instrument, the banjo, is now available for plucking, meaning that galleon crews can finally put together a proper four-piece band of howling drunkards at the end of a successful mission. New cosmetics are up for grabs, some as rewards and others purchasable with gold or doubloons in Duke's Black Market, there will be more "emergent loot" on islands, and doubloon rewards for Reaper chests are being increased from 15 to 25, presumably to encourage people to be a little more aggressive about fighting over them.
The in-game store is also getting some new Halloween-style pets in the form of the Skeleton Cockatoo and Skeleton Marmoset, which will only be available for the duration of the October event, and a new Killer Instinct-inspired Cutthroat Ship Collection and new emotes are also available for purchase.
The monthly update brings with it a number of smaller changes as well: Your pet will be dirty when it catches up with you after roaming around (or when you fire it out of a cannon, you monster), the reach of swords has been reduced, and skeleton ship battles in the Shores of Plenty, Ancient Isles, and the Wild have been replaced with two "more central" battles, so they'll be easier to get to.
I tested the dirty monkey feature by firing Captain Bananas out of a cannon, and sure enough, he came back filthy. It was a terrible thing to do, but I think he liked it. Full details on the Halloween update are up at seaofthieves.com.