It is no secret that Sea of Thieves is a little bare bones right now. The sailing, exploring, and fighting are all great, but after a while you have kind of seen it all. Here are a few quick things they could add to liven things up a bit.
1: An Arena Mode
A lot of pirates out there just want to fight, so why not let them. Have a vender set up where you can pay a little for an entry to battle other crews for the enjoyment of others. Then take the entrants to a smaller map with just a couple of islands to have ships dart around, and loaded with bananas and cannon balls, so they can send pirates out to scavenge while that battle rages. When it is all over the winner takes home a hefty prize and bragging rights. Then allow people to spectate from the islands and place wagers
2: More Complex Sea Warfare
Right now you can only fire two things from cannons. Yourself and standard cannon balls. Just by adding a couple more shot types this could get so much more fun. Grape shot to take out other crews while leaving the other boat intact to try and steal their loot, chain shot to take down enemy masts and slow them down, or harpoons to pull in other boats or take down sharks. More variety would make ship to ship combat way more fun, and give people more stuff to scavenge off islands.
3: Parley/Safe Harbor
Always looking over your shoulder for other pirates is half the fun of Sea of Thieves right now, but there is no good way of just meeting up with other crews and hanging out. If there was an island you could go to chill and talk to other crews that would be pretty cool. Even cooler if this was something players could set up. Maybe they could buy ravens and send them out asking for parley and setting a location, then other crews could accept or deny the request.
4: More Life Like NPCs
The only NPCs in the game are shop keeps, which I understand, but it makes the world of Sea of Thieves seem lifeless. There needs to be more people to make this feel like a real place. Maybe just a couple of pirates drinking and singing songs in the bar, or a couple guys wandering about. Maybe they could even give you special quests for rare items if you listen to their tales.
I want to like Sea of Thieves. It has the bones of a game I want to get lost in, but right now it just needs more. More of everything. The quick fixes above would go a long way to making things feel more fleshed out.