The best moments from the Sea of Thieves beta

The Sea of Thieves beta ends today, and in large part we've enjoyed our time with Rare's open world multiplayer pirate game. While the activities in the beta were a bit limited, Sea of Thieves' water-filled sandbox proved a great place to make our own fun. Whether playing solo, duos, or with a full complement of four pirates, we enjoyed ship-to-ship combat (and nearly getting brained with a cannonball, as seen above), treasure hunting, making friends and enemies, and coming up with our own rules for what it means to live the life of a pirate. Here are our favorite moments from the Sea of Thieves closed beta.

Firing each other out of cannons

There's a bright and cartoony vibe to Sea of Thieves, and no better way to experience it to its fullest than by climbing into a cannon and being fired through the air by your mate. We were surprised and amused at just how far it will send you: while attempting to fire me onto an island I wound up shooting well past it, splashing into the water on the far side, and getting nibbled on by sharks as I swam back in. I also attempted twice to fire Tyler onto a ship we were fighting. I missed both times. Be more aerodynamic, Tyler!

Creating the pirate code

Amusingly, you can not only look down at the treasure map in your hands, but also hold it up for your fellow pirates to look at. This quickly led to the beginning of the PC Gamer pirate code: on a treasure voyage, no pirate shall examine his own map. A map can only be viewed if someone else is holding it up for you, which can get a little tricky if you lose track of your fellow pirates and forget where you're supposed to be digging.

We extended the rule to include the compass, which can also be held out for another person to view it. Basically, you need extreme pirate teamwork to get anything done while looking for treasure. If you could only re-load other people's guns in Sea of Thieves, we'd be completely co-dependent. Our other rules: all treasure chests must be stored in the crow's nest (first done out of paranoia, then becoming tradition), and if the ship is sinking everyone (everyone still alive that is) has to stand on the deck and play their instruments as it goes under.

Pirate dance party

It's kill or be killed in Sea of Thieves, and everyone has an itchy trigger finger, especially when it comes to delivering treasure chests to outposts. Solo players can be easy pickings for larger crews, but I found that approaching a four-player team with my accordion playing calmed everyone down and resulted in a friendly little pirate dance party on the dock. Music is a good way to signal you're not hostile and you have no designs on anyone else's treasure.

Locking players in the brig

It's a bit annoying that you're required to have four players to crew a large ship, meaning the game will automatically join you with a stranger if you've only got three players. Phil, Sam, and Tom played with a random pirates, and they wound up locking the interlopers in the ship's brig, which provided both fun and some mixed feelings. You can read about their experience as pirate jailers here.

Attempting to get the entire server on one small boat (we failed)

Tyler and I docked near another small ship and played music until the other two pirates decided we were friendly, at which point they climbed aboard. We eventually sailed away with them on our ship (without even asking if they wanted to come along). They were cool with it, though—they even sank their own ship with our cannons for the hell of it—and it was kind of nice having a crew of four on the tiny vessel. We thought perhaps with only 16 or twenty players on the server, we could recruit them all, and have our little ship absolutely crammed with boisterous, drunken pirate pals. 

We failed, naturally, due to finding only hostile players or those who didn't trust enough to let us get close. It's a fun idea though, and I hope someday to sail with a huge crowd of players all on the same single-mast ship. 

Sailing off the map and straight into hell

What happens when you reach the edge of the map? Tyler and I, chased to the edge of the playable area by a bigger ship (with better aim) decided to find out. While a lot of games are content to simply put up a barrier or notify you with on-screen text that you can't go any further, Sea of Thieves takes a wildly different approach, as you can see in the video above (or here on YouTube). It was harrowing, surprising, and we feel lucky to have survived it.

Braving a midnight storm, solo

Playing solo is nowhere as fun as playing with friends, but it can still feel plenty rewarding. It can be peaceful at times when sailing the beautiful seas, but also hectic when you need to steer, navigate, angle the sails, patch holes, load and fire cannons all by yourself. One night I went straight into a massive storm that lasted until sunrise, and it was both tense and a huge amount of fun. Battling the elements, trying to keep my bearings (the compass goes nuts), patching the hull and bailing out sea water—I even saw a lightning bolt strike just a few feet away. It was a long night, but an exciting one.

Andy, too, wandered into a storm on his own—you can see his video below.

Stealing a ship

There's really never a clean getaway when stealing a ship—the crew can use a mermaid to teleport back on board—but that doesn't mean it's not fun. Tyler and I sailed up in our little boat, dropped anchor, leapt aboard a large ship, found it completely deserted, and just split. The crew began popping back on board, and respawning there once we started killing them, and we were eventually overwhelmed by sheer numbers. It was still exciting to steal a huge ship after sailing our tiny one all night—even if we didn't get away.

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.