Rare is preparing a massive update to its ongoing pirate adventure game Sea of Thieves next year that sees a new progression system entering the fray. As detailed in its latest news session, a battle pass system is being introduced in January, the major content update schedule is being changed, and the developer will now solely focus on the Adventure side of the game.

The battle pass is split into free and premium tiers much like in other live service titles. There will be 100 levels to earn while playing in Adventure mode, though Rare didn't really go into detail on what sort of activities players will have to accomplish to gain these levels, only saying that adventuring, exploration, and combat will be involved.

Earning levels will grant players cosmetic rewards for their pirate and ship, while there will be exclusive rewards for Pirate Legends. Meanwhile, on the premium side, the Plunder Pass arrives as an optional paid tier, which comes with unique rewards and exclusive items from the Pirate Emporium. Pricing or details about these rewards were not discussed today.

Moreover, after over a year of delivering monthly content updates, Rare is now moving on to having seasonal updates. Each season will last around three months, bringing new content at the start of each session. Various live events with rewards, Emporium updates, and quality of life patches will still arrive within each season. The first season will kick off in January, bringing with it a new type of Merchant Alliance voyage.

Another piece of information revealed today was that the PVP-focused Arena mode is being put into maintenance mode, with no more development time being poured into it. Rare revealed that over 97% of playtime is now being spent in Adventure mode, which led to this decision. Interestingly, following the massively successful Steam launch, the Sea of Thieves playerbase – which saw 11 million players just in 2020 – is currently split between the Xbox One and PC versions.

Lastly, the final Sea of Thieves update of 2020 will launch on December 9, bringing back the Festival of Giving. Gilded Voyages, login bonuses, Twitch Drops, and more will be a part of this update as usual.