Sea of Thieves’ bumper 2024 bringing windy horns, grapple guns, a roaming warship, and loads more

Sea of Thieves’ bumper 2024 bringing windy horns, grapple guns, a roaming warship, and loads more

A Sea of Thieves screenshot showing three pirates running up a harpoon line, all silhouetted against a setting sun.

Image credit: Rare/Eurogamer

Sea of Thieves is celebrating its sixth anniversary today, 20th March, and to celebrate, Rare has given an unprecedented look at the year ahead for its multiplayer pirate game, with 2024 bringing the likes of windy horns, roaming warships, and portable grappling guns that let you whizz around the place with giddy abandon.

ALl this new stuff starts spewing forth with the arrival of Season 12 on 30th April, which marks the first time Sea of Thieves has received new weapons since the game’s launch back in 2018. First up, there’s the new double-barrelled flintlock, designed for shorter-range combat, which is capable of rapidly firing two shots individually before a reload is required. Alternatively, both shots can be fired simultaenously for a more powerful attack.

That’s joined by the new throwing knife, which has a couple of different uses. It can give an opponent a quick (if not particularly powerful) stab, or it can be charged up to release a high damage attack that’s particularly deadly if you can sneak up behind an enemy. And it won’t surprise you to hear throwing knives can also be thrown to damage opponents at long distances. They’ll also become embedded in environmental geometry, and you’ll need to retrieve them to reload – unless your opponent gets there first and uses your blade against you.

Sea of Thieves 2024 Preview Event

Sea of Thieves’ 2024 preview event.

As for new tools, Season 12 brings the Scattershot, Bone Caller, and Wind Caller. The Scattershot, is a new type of cannon ammunition consisting of four smaller cannonballs with a wide spread but shorter fall-off compared to other types. When it successfully strikes an opponent’s ship, the Scattershot creates four holes at once – albeit only small holes that can be easily patched – meaning it can be used to quickly overwhelm enemies in the right hands.

As for the Bone Caller, it’s a new throwable that causes skeletons to spawn out of the ground when tossed, whether on land or sea. Notably, these skeletons ally with whoever throws the Bone Caller, providing additional support in combat. However, opponents can retaliate by throwing their own Bone Caller, leaving the skeletons to duke it out among themselves.

And finally for Season 12’s new tools, there’s the Wind Caller, a remarkably versatile addition resembling a shell-horn. Blowing into it creates a powerful gust of wind that can be directed at sails to move faster then full billow, or at flames to quickly put out fires. Alternatively, it can blasted at players to knock them backward – perhaps off their ship or a cliff – even used to propel yourself quickly through water, turn your rowboat into a speedboat, or prevent fall damage. The only downside is it has a finite charge, meaning you’ll want to toot it sparingly.

We’re still not quite done with Season 12, however. Rare is also introducing zip lines (first seen in last year’s Monkey Island Tall Tales) to some islands, providing a faster, more convenient means of traversal. You can use them to reach your ship more quickly at Outposts, for instance, to escape the hordes during Skeleton Fort world events, or simply just to whizz around.

Additionally, harpoon lines are getting a bit of an overhaul; as of Season 12, players can tightrope their way across a taut harpoon line, perhaps to reach an enemy ship or to easily access higher ground. Rare notes players won’t be able to walk up a harpoon line if the incline is too steep, but they’ll still be able to slide down from the other side.

Which brings us to Season 13, coming later in the year. This heralds the return of Sea of Thieves’ villainous Captain Flameheart, who’ll be unleashing a more monstrous version of his Burning Blade warship on the waves. This massive vessel will serve as Sea of Thieves’ first roaming world event, and players will need to contend with its ten cannons if they want to take it on. The rewards for doing so are significant, however; if players manage to board the Burning Blade – which is equipped with a front-facing flamethrower – they can commander it, raining terror on other players.

When not lounging around its lavish interior, crews sailing the Burning Blade will be expected to do Flameheart’s bidding. This is where Season 13’s other new feature, Skeleton Camps, comes into play. These appear above recently unearthed temples of the Ancients, which players must explore and puzzle through in order to uncover the treasures within. In particular, Flameheart is seeking Orbs of Secrets as tribute, and the more tribute players collect, the more value there is on the Burning Blade. You’re free to cash-out at any time, but doing so forfeits your use of the vessel; the trouble is, if another crew sinks you before you claim your reward, you’ll lose the tribute and the Burning Blade.

The Burning Blade, incidentally, is manned by a literal skeleton crew, so even small crews can take ownership of the vessel. Additionally, players that don’t want to do Flameheart’s bidding can still visit Skeleton Camps, but they’ll have to deal with hostile forces when they get there.

And finally for today’s preview event, Rare offered a sneak peak at Season 14, which closes out 2024. This one’s all about bringing stealthier, more mischievous gameplay to Sea of Thieves. Players will, for instance – assuming all Rare’s work-in-progress plans come to fruition – be able to crouch in order to move around silently, hang off the sides of ships, even stuff themselves into a chest and scuttle around in the hope that oblivious crews might carry them aboard their boats.

Rare is also teasing a new blow dart, capable of firing custom darts with different effects: ones that track whatever they hit, for instance, or darts that lure skeletons to specific positions, even ones that trigger sound effects to bamboozle opponents. Additionally, it’ll be possible to place spring traps in the world, perhaps on islands to thwart skeleton foes, or at the top of ship ladders to catch opponents while they attempt to board.

And finally, Season 14 is set to bring the very exciting Grapple Gun, a dual-purpose rifle that can either be used to grapple up to ledges or to reel items – even other players – in. This one also looks to be a flexible addition to the piratical toolkit, with Rare noting testers are already using it to fire themselves out of a cannon then quickly reel themselves onto an opposing ship’s deck.

Rare’s big preview bonanza weighed in at almost 30 minutes, and the full video is well worth a watch if you’re eager to learn some of the finer details about Sea of Thieves’ year ahead. The studio also reiterated its plans to establish a team exclusively focused on maintaining game health – something Rare’s Joe Neate and Mike Chapman previously touched upon when I spoke to them about Sea of Thieves’ impending PS5 launch on 20th April, alongside a variety of other topics. So there’s an exciting year ahead for pirates then – oh, and yes, owls are still on the way.

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