This weekend, I sat down to play Sea of Thieves. As I sailed on my lonesome, passing time until my friends could log on, I returned to port and ran into another group of players. This type of encounter usually leads to disaster, but I was instead treated to a surprise: I had come face to face with a Pirate Legend.
When the other ship first came into port, I was surprised by how decorated it was. The hull was painted a deep shade of purple and trimmed with hints of gold, while the main sail bore a large skull.
It was clear I was dealing with an experienced crew and, as I leapt from my tiny ship to theirs, I hopped up and down to communicate peaceful intent. They seemed to consider me, as you consider a dog pawing at your shins, before deciding that I wasn't a threat.
That's when I realised that one of the players was a Pirate Legend. His name was Ghaanja and he was the most impressive pirate I'd ever seen.
Becoming a Pirate Legend in Sea of Thieves is a lengthy process that requires achieving max reputation with all three of the game's main factions. The first player to become a Pirate Legend was a streamer named Prod1gyX, whose viewers helped him out by gathering treasure for him. It sparked a controversy within the community about if his title was legitimate or not.
Here before me was another Pirate Legend, a player so tenacious - or perhaps simply so bored - that they grinded hundreds of voyages to achieve the title. They wore a gold-trimmed outfit, colourful as their ship, and suddenly I felt very shabby. My Sovereign clothing set is among the most ostentatious in the game, but I was nothing compared to the Pirate Legend. It felt like I was standing next to a kind of celebrity.
Pirate Legends are able to access a special underground location called the Tavern of Legends by playing a special sea shanty in any of the game's various taverns. Curious, I asked this Pirate Legend if I could see that hidden location. To my surprise, they agreed.
We rushed off to the tavern and they played the song. A magical glow covered the floor, revealing a hidden stairwell. I followed it down into an underwater tunnel leading to the Tavern of Legends, but could not enter. A strange portal blocked my way. When I tried to return to the surface, I was dropped into a random island far from port. The Pirate Legend was nowhere to be found.
Getting the Pirate Legend to play the special sea shanty and open up a portal to the Tavern of Legends feels a bit like getting a digital autograph. I'd mention this to my game-playing friends the same way I might bring up the fact I have Magic Johnson's autograph or a tube of ping pong balls signed by the cast of Beerfest. You can't really do much with an autograph besides trot it around from time to time.