Although Sea of Thieves can be played solo, cooperative multiplayer is a major component. Oftentimes, friends can have trouble playing co-op games together if they haven't invested the same amount of time in them, but with Sea of Thieves, developer Rare has its sights set on a progression system that works differently.
Each player's goal in Sea of Thieves is to become a "Pirate Legend," which is done by increasing your reputation with each of the game's factions, known as trading companies. These offer quests--or voyages, as they're called--for you to complete in return for a variety of rewards, including reputation gains and gold, and new titles, cosmetics, and ranks.
You won't, however, receive experience or weapons that put you on an uneven playing field, or make it challenging to take part in a voyage with a friend who has played less than you. All voyages can be shared with other players so you can complete them together, even if they haven't reached the same rank or reputation as you. Teams of players can also vote on the things they want to do next, which may be particularly handy when playing with random players through matchmaking. Rare also points out that you can do things on your own, without pairing up with other players, though you will still exist in a shared world with others.
The video above runs through the basics of how all of this works and provides an overview of the various trading companies you can work for. In addition to those seeking gold and treasure, there are those who will enlist you to secure supplies and make deliveries or hunt down skeleton pirates.
Sea of Thieves' release date was recently announced for both Xbox One and PC: After a number of delays, it's due out on March 20, 2018. The game features cross-play, allowing players on both platforms to take to the high seas together.