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Sea Of Thieves lets friends sail for free this week

Come on in, the water's only slightly haunted!

After a rough first year, Sea Of Thieves - the piratical MMO-lite - is on the up and up. Interest in the game (and all things piratical) is high, and its latest big update brought a swathe of new PvE activities to its previously competitive-focused seas. Rare reckon that now would be a good time to show the game to your friends, so if you own the game (or play it via an Xbox Game Pass subscription) you can invite up to three pals to join in free for the next week. If you play the game, you can find your invite codes here. The free rum runs dry on February 14th, 9am GMT.

Despite finding its own audience, it seems that a lot of people found themselves dashed cruelly on piratical MMO Atlas's buggy and brutally cutthroat shores. Those fancying themselves more of a Captain Pugwash than Blackbeard turned back to Sea Of Thieves. Formerly very competitive, it has gradually evolved into a more balanced and accessible beast. Yes, you'll bump into other player ships and have a chance to raid them for booty, but you can keep your crew afloat just as well by hunting sea-monsters or battling the undead on ghost ships. Fighting in general should be a bit smoother today, too - an update (patch notes here) has rebalanced pistol and sword combat, and halved the download size.

Unlike Atlas, where everything must be built from scratch, Sea Of Thieves is a game of instant gratification - you get your crew together, hop on a free ship and go have fun at sea. It cuts out most of the dry bits, and sells the pirate fantasy rather than having you worry about whether you've packed enough citrus to avoid getting scurvy. There's a few big things on the horizon still, including the upcoming Arena expand-o-update. While it'll be focused on structured competitive team-games, there'll be some new story-driven quests for solo and co-op players to embark on as well. I'm just glad to see another game bounce back after a year of multiplayer stuff shutting down due to a lack of players.

Sea Of Thieves players can grab their codes to invite friends (or just share around) here. The buccaneering party ends on February 14th, 9am GMT, give or take, at which point players can either buy the game or (as I do) subscribe to the Xbox Game Pass, which will coincidentally include Crackdown 3 on PC  as of the 15th. It remains - and likely will forever be - Windows 10 exclusive.

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Sea of Thieves

Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC

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Dominic Tarason