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.

Sail on Safer Seas

A ship sailing peacefully in Sea of Thieves.

One long overdue addition to Sea of Thieves was the Safer Seas mode. This mode lets you play either alone or with only a crew of teammates with no fear of other players interrupting your pirate escapades. This mode doesn’t include all the content in the normal mode, and you will earn less rewards for what you do accomplish, but it is by far the best way to get your sea legs and learn how to live the pirate live alone or as a team.

Make short voyages

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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 complete 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
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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.) This doesn’t make you entirely invisible, but a larger Ship looking for other players to loot might miss spotting you from a distance.

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 — you’ll live longer.

Always be ready for a quick getaway

sea of thieves single player guide always be ready to go
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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 a 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 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.


Sea Of Thieves Hands-on Preview | First person helm of ship
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While steering the ship might seem like an important task without a crewmate to take the wheel, you don’t always have to be at the helm of your ship. If you’ve set out for an island and it’s far off, set your sails and wheel to steer the boat straight and take care of business elsewhere.

Take advantage of the crow’s nest to get a better view of the seas. From there, you can be on the lookout for enemy ships, shipwrecks to loot, abandoned supplies, and treasure chests on shorelines. It’s a beautiful view as well. Just be sure to keep an eye on where your ship is headed and watch out for uncharted rocks.

Aim low on offense

sea of theives single player guide battles
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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 waterline. 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.

Use storms

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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 flood 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
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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. 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.

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