There's a warm breeze heating up Sea of Thieves (opens in new tab) today, as the Ashen Winds update is live. Ashen Lords can now appear on islands, throwing flaming rocks and surrounding pirates in darkness. There are a few reasons why you might want to put them back in the ground, but the most important one is that you can turn their skulls into flamethrowers.
Ashen Lords are emergent enemies that will randomly appear on islands, denoted by a massive firenado. These undead captains have a few tricks up their rotten sleeves, sporting a variety of special abilities, as well as an ultimate ability that summons a meteor storm.
When you take out an Ashen Lord, everyone involved will be able to get their fill of treasure, as well as an Ashen Winds skull. Like regular skulls, you can hand these over to the Order of Souls, but they're much more handy as a tools of destruction. These skulls spit out fire, you see, and both ships and players are extremely flammable. Unfortunately, their infernal power is limited, but you can still give them to the Order of Souls—for a reduced reward—once they're spent.
New commendations will let you earn Ashen Winds titles, sails and tattoos—maybe it's time for another makeover?—and there will be Ashen Winds events to keep you even more occupied.
The Black Market has also been updated, so you can spend your gold and doubloons on the new Fearless Bone Crusher and Nightshine Parrot equipment. If you're willing to part with real cash, you can buy pets tainted by the Ashen Curse, and knowing my lack of willpower I'll certainly be adding at least one of them to my menagerie.
I've been on a wee break from piracy, but I really can't turn down the opportunity to make a nuisance of myself with a cursed skull, or annoy my crewmates with another mewling cat.
The update is out now, and while you wait for it to download you can read the full patch notes (opens in new tab).