Sea of Thieves' Black Powder Stashes update is live

Sea of Thieves' latest update has arrived: Black Powder Stashes, a new series of missions that will send pirates out to collect gunpowder barrels from forts and cash them in with the various factions. The update also brings a bunch of other tweaks, changes, and new commendations to Sea of Thieves, and it's live right now. On PC, the update is about 6 GB. You can watch the trailer above.

You can purchase the new missions from Duke in the pub, though these black powder missions will cost you doubloons, not gold—which sort of sucks if, like me, you've recently cashed in all your doubloons for gold and don't have any handy. On the other hand, earning the new commendations (there are a couple dozen of them) for the black powder missions and other related activities will net you extra doubloons, so you'll come out ahead provided you don't get blown up while collecting and transporting those volatile barrels.

A Black Powder Smuggler's Run costs 5 doubloons, and will have you collecting gunpowder barrels from forts in specific regions—The Wilds, Shores of Plenty, etc—whereas a Black Powder Reaper's Run costs 10 doubloons and will have you complete barrel missions while flying the PvP flag over your ship, letting everyone else on the server know exactly where you are. Things are going to get explodey.

Even inactive skeleton forts may now be guarded by waves of skeleton mobs, just in case you thought this would be a simple dig-em-up cargo mission. Once you've collected the barrels without getting blown up, you can head to an outpost and choose which faction to sell them to. Gold Hoarders, Order of Souls, and the Merchant Alliance are all interested in buying them, so it really depends on who you'd like to increase your rep with. There are rewards you can earn from Duke as well for completing Reaper's Runs: new sails, a new flag, and a cool-looking scorpion figurehead.

(Image credit: Rare)

This also marks the beginning of monthly updates for Sea of Thieves, and there are a bunch of tweaks and fixes alongside the new barrel runs. For instance, Hunter's Call rewards for fish and other meats has been increased, and sunken shipwrecks will now contain more loot including gunpowder barrels, mermaid gems, and resource crates.  Sloop masts, when knocked over, can be raised and repaired much more quickly, and you can now dig up fishing bait on islands with your shovel. Volcanoes in Devil's Roar are less likely to strike your ship, and skeletons manning cannons on islands will be less accurate and take longer to respawn. Aye, those are some welcome changes.

There's plenty more: check out the full patch notes here.

Christopher Livingston
Senior Editor

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.