Who needs a crew? How to sail solo in ‘Sea of Thieves’

Sea of Thieves is meant to be played as part of a crew. You and a few friends loot and plunder the seas (and other players) as a team. That’s not the only way to sail the seven seas, however. If you’d prefer to sail alone, you can also take to the ocean on a smaller, more nimble ship. Taking on the pirate life without any help can be especially tough — you don’t have any backup in emergencies, and if you run up against a crew of other players, you’ll have to take them on at a disadvantage.

It’s possible to succeed on the high seas all by your lonesome, though, if you play to the strengths of working alone. You are smaller, quicker, and stealthier than other crews and the galleons you might have to face. If you’re smart about it, you can win battles, escape emergencies, sneak past enemies, and plunder a whole bunch of loot. Use these tips to maximize your effectiveness as a solo buccaneer.

Make short voyages

sea of thieves single player guide short voyages

Every time you pick up gold, complete a voyage, or gather a bounty in Sea of Thieves, you run the risk of losing it. If someone attacks and kills you, they will take your stuff. If your ship sinks, you only have a limited window to grab whatever you had aboard before it joins your ship at the bottom of the sea. So every time you complete an objective, you become vulnerable.

When playing solo, try to complete each voyage as quickly as possible. Take the shortest route possible and spend as little time as possible on open water. Have a plan in place for what outpost you’ll head to after you completely your mission and how to get there quickly. If you wind up on the run, your best bet is to try to turn in whatever you’re carrying before you’re killed. Your ship and your life can be replaced, but your stuff will not be there when you return.

Run dark

sea of thieves single player run dark

When you’re all alone on a sloop, you need to avoid conflict. Other ships with larger crews might enjoy getting into battle on the high seas, but when you’re alone, stealth is the best option most of the time. The first step to going unnoticed is to douse all your lanterns so you’re less visible at night. (As we note in our ship combat guide, this is a good idea no matter what).

There are other steps you can take to make yourself as invisible as possible. You can hide from other ships you spot by putting islands between you and them, and you can raise your sails when you disembark so that your ship is less conspicuous. Take whatever steps you can to make yourself tougher to spot in all circumstances, and you’ll live longer.

Always be ready for a quick getaway

sea of thieves single player guide always be ready to go

Generally speaking, every crew is most exposed when its ship is stopped near an island. You’re visible to other crews while you’re busy on the island, making it a great time for them to set up an ambush. Most players know that when a crew is not aboard their ship, they’re probably off gathering valuable stuff worth stealing. That’s why it’s important to take precautions every time you leave your ship to keep it (and you) safe.

First, it’s good to practice approaching an island at low speed so you can park close to it. Instead of zooming in and relying on dropping your anchor, try cutting your sails as you approach to glide to a stop in a desired location. Unless you’re facing storm conditions, your stopped boat won’t drift much once you’ve lifted the sails, so you don’t usually need your anchor to keep your empty boat from moving. In fact, you want to leave your boat with the anchor raised, rather than lowered, in most cases. It’s much quicker to board your boat and drop your sail to make a getaway than it is to stop and raise your anchor. Leaving your ship with your sails raised also makes it a great deal less visible, and you can amplify that effect by using the island, rocks, and other natural cover to hide yourself from distant spyglasses.

While on an island, hide anything you want to bring with you on the beach but in bushes where it can’t easily be spotted by anyone passing by, and avoid loading up until you’re preparing to leave, so no one can jump on your ship and steal your stuff while you’re not around to stop them. Finally, be sure to check the horizon both before you leave your boat and when you return to it before setting off, so you don’t get caught by any surprises when you’re not ready for them.

Agility is the best defense

sea of thieves single player guide agility

A single-sail sloop moves slower than a galleon running at full speed, but a solo sailor has one major advantage against groups of players: You are much more maneuverable than they are. To avoid pursuing ships, quickly cut your boat between rocks or around islands to put things between you and would-be attackers, which can make you difficult or impossible to chase even though you’re in a slower ship. Your speedy turning is amplified even more at half sail or quarter sail, so practice getting good at adjusting your speed on the fly for peak maneuvering power.

Your tighter turning radius also means enemy ships have a tougher time going on the defensive against you. If the opportunity arises, try using a quick turn to ram an enemy ship to cause them a lot of damage (and less to you — but be ready to do quick repairs). You might be able to hurt the enemy enough to slow them down while you make your retreat. Don’t forget that dropping your anchor with your wheel turned can also help you perform a hard, emergency brake-style turn if you need to quickly change direction. It’s also great for quickly stopping behind a rock or other cover.

Aim low on offense

sea of theives single player guide battles

Just because you’re in a relatively fragile ship doesn’t mean you’re defenseless. The Sloop is generally at a disadvantage in ship-to-ship combat, but under the right circumstances, your sea David can conquer a sea Goliath. On the sloop, cannonballs are stationed on the deck, making it possible to reload quickly. If you get in a good firing position, you can tear into an enemy ship very quickly, maybe even sink it if its crew isn’t on the ball. Remember when firing on enemy ships that you want to try to strike them below the water line. Damage on the deck doesn’t do much to really impact a ship’s performance, although it’s possible to hit gunners with cannonballs and kill them outright. What you really want to do, though, is flood enemy ships. It’ll slow them down, take crew away from guns to force them to do repairs, and generally cause chaos.

If you’re on the offensive and not in a chase scenario, use your increased maneuverability to get behind the enemy ship, or try to circle it, depending on the situation. If you can get the positioning right, you can keep your broadside and guns pointed toward the enemy at all times, while taking away their ability to easily hit you. If you’re forced to face their broadside periodically, get off the deck and use that time to go below and repair incoming damage, then return to your guns when they can’t fire back.

Practice drive-by drop-offs

sea of thieves single player guide drive by drop off

Again, it’s important to remember that if your ship is empty, it’s expendable. You can easily spawn a new ship if it gets sunk, losing only the time it takes you to sail back to wherever it is you want to go. With that in mind, if you need to cash in some loot while you’re being attacked or chased, don’t be afraid to abandon ship with the goods in tow as you approach an outpost island. To do this, get in close to the island, keeping the ship straight and at full sail, then hop off as you near a beach or a dock. Try to leave from the front of the ship if you’re being pursued, as you will decrease the chance of someone noticing that you’ve abandoned ship, and stay underwater as long as you can manage. It’s also good to pick outposts where you know the locations of the vendor you need to visit so you can make a beeline for your destination with the loot. The hope is that your pursuers won’t see you escape and continue shooting at your now-worthless ship, but it’s always possible that you may need to sprint to the finish line.

Always be stocking

sea of theives single player guide always be stocking

You never know when an emergency is going to strike on the seas when you’re alone — or with a crew, for that matter — so it’s a good idea to continually check every island you visit for barrels full of supplies. Keep your pockets fully stocked while on the seas so you can quickly heal, make repairs, or reload your guns. When preparing to disembark, drop off everything you have in your stores and replenish your personal supplies on the island. This way, you’ll always have a ton of supplies aboard your ship if you get attacked. A few extra planks or cannonballs in a bad situation can be the difference between escape and a watery grave.

Use storms

sea of thieves single player guide storm

Storms make it tough for any ship to go about its usual business, and if you’re facing a battle scenario, heading toward rough seas might actually save your life. Storms affect steering, screw up compasses, damage hulls, and create huge waves that make firing cannons accurately a tough proposition. They also dump rain on ships that floods their holds with water, albeit slowly. You can often deal with these problems more quickly on a solo run than the big guys. As such, know that a storm can be a useful tool to help you get away in a time of need. Taking some damage from big waves is preferable to getting blasted with cannons.

Play dirty

sea of thieves single player guide play dirty

Lone pirates are natural assassins and/or burglars. As a single pirate with a small, maneuverable ship, you’re in an ideal position to sneak aboard other vessels and rob them blind if you’re quick and smart. Boarding an enemy ship can confuse an enemy crew that’s not expecting it, and once you’re in another ship’s hold, there are chances to do some damage. Many players will grab gunpowder barrels from islands, for instance, with the plan of using them as depth charges against anyone who chases them. If you find barrels in an enemy hold, they become bombs you can detonate to sink your adversaries and throw them into chaos. But even just getting aboard and stabbing a few people might be enough to mess up the enemy when you need (or want) to create some chaos.

You can also potentially mess with adversaries you don’t want to full-on tangle with. If you sneak up on an enemy ship in a location where you need to be, try setting their sails and letting their ship sail off without them. The distraction can be useful to help you get what you want, and against a single player, it might send them away from an outpost or an island you want to explore, lowering the chance that you’ll get killed along the way.

Be willing to lose

sea of thieves single player guide losing

Even when you do everything right and play smart, chances are, a team is going to catch up with you, blast your ship, and kill or sink you. You’re going to lose loot to bad circumstances and even accidents. Whether this is a crippling frustration or a minor inconvenience that adds to your stories of pirate glory comes down to your attitude. Sea of Thieves isn’t really designed to be tackled alone, and even with a full team, losing stuff comes with the territory. This isn’t really a game about completing missions, anyway — it’s a game about the crazy things that happen along the way. You’ll have a lot more fun if you’re willing to engage with the goofy stuff in Sea of Thieves than if you’re mad all your loot winds up at the bottom of the sea.

Gaming

Bayonetta 3 still in the works, set to launch on Nintendo Switch this year

Bayonetta 3 was notably absent from the latest Nintendo Direct presentation, raising concerns that the game will be delayed. A Nintendo executive clarified that the Nintendo Switch exclusive remains on track for a 2019 release.
Gaming

Learn to scavenge like a pro with our Far Cry New Dawn crafting guide

Far Cry New Dawn revolves around the hunt -- the hunt for materials to craft new weapons, vehicles, and other useful items. It's easy to miss out on great opportunities to find new materials if you don't go off the beaten path.
Gaming

A beginner’s guide to Far Cry New Dawn’s postapocalyptic Hope County

Far Cry New Dawn is yet another entry in Ubisoft's popular open world shooter franchise. But while it may feel quite similar in motion, the progression system is changed in a lot of ways. Our beginner's guide is here to help.
Gaming

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.
Gaming

Feeling bored in real life? Pursue a new persona in the best open-world games

Open-world games are among the most popular in the medium. These are the best open-world games of all-time, including titles in series like Assassin's Creed, The Elder Scrolls, and The Legend of Zelda.
Gaming

Over 16,000 Apex Legends cheaters have already been banned by Respawn

Respawn Entertainment revealed that it has already banned over 16,000 cheaters in Apex Legends in the less than two weeks since its release. The developer may be working on an in-game feature to report cheaters.
Gaming

Get the most life out of your Xbox One controller with these tips

The Xbox One controller has fantastic battery life, but eventually your batteries will still die. To make it even better and ensure you never have to stop gaming, follow these tips.
Gaming

How you can share your best gaming moments with friends on the PS4

Check out Digital Trends' quick guide to everything you need to know to save your outstanding PlayStation 4 gameplay moments, share them online, and transfer them to your computer.
Gaming

Here's our take on the best game-streaming services currently out there

You can still get your physical video game discs or cartridges at your local store or download games digitally, but another option is even more convenient: Game streaming. Here are the best game streaming services.
Gaming

PS4 vs. Switch: After weighing the pros and cons, which one comes out on top?

Nintendo Switch versus PlayStation 4: Which one has better overall value? We break down the pros and cons of each platform to tell you which of these consoles is truly worth the money.
Gaming

Xbox's app lets you access your console while away from home. Here's how

Microsoft's Xbox allows you to access your profile information and launch media content directly from your mobile device. Check out our quick guide on how to connect your smartphone to an Xbox One.
Gaming

Here’s how to set up a virtual private network (VPN) on your Xbox One

Online privacy is more important now than it's ever been, and gaming is happening online more than ever before. Here's a quick guide on how to set up a VPN for your Xbox One so you game in safe anonymity.
Gaming

You're never too broke to enjoy the best free-to-play games

Believe it or not, free-to-play games have evolved into engaging, enjoyable experiences. Here are a few of our favorites that you can play right now, including Warframe and the perennially popular League of Legends.
Gaming

Among hundreds of choices, these are the best 25 SNES games of all time

The Super Nintendo Entertainment System might be the greatest game console ever made, but what are the best titles for the system? Here are our picks for the best SNES games.