As someone who normally tolerates the PvP portion of Sea of Thieves rather than actively participating in it (although, I say this clearly, I will send you to Davy Jones Chest if you are looking for a fight with my ship), I felt a little uncomfortable when Rare announced that its multiplayer pirate game was to receive a standalone competition-oriented mode.
Starting April 30, when the anniversary update for Sea of Thieves arrives, the current arena mode will be added to the current game (now called Adventure Mode, widely expanded with animated, story-driven campaign missions). The latter, I previously imagined, would surely be a territory for bloodthirsty renegades and toxic trolls, a place without a place for friendly and carefree sailors like me. Well it turns out I was wrong too.
Based on a handful of games I played at a recent Sea of Thieves press event, Arena mode is unbelievably amusing. It offers exactly twenty-four minutes of showdown per game with skirmishes between five teams of four people each. They all coincide in a scaled-down version of the Adventure Mode map, trying to beat the rest of the galleons to get the most coins.
At least on the surface, Arena mode is designed as a great treasure hunt. At the start of the game (after walking away from the beautifully designed social center, where all players meet before the game to joke and innocently socialize in a hot tub), all teams are given a handful of identical cards. Sometimes just one.
The race begins immediately; the crews raise the anchors, lower the sails and bravely move in the same direction, aiming to find the chests and score points. Or, more likely, they clash in an authentic PvP pandemonium.
If Arena mode only included that, I’m sure it would be a blast, a job well done. However, its best feature up its sleeve is that there are monetary rewards for almost any act of aggression, which means there are many different strategies and play styles that can be used.
Of course, you can earn points for collecting treasures and taking them to the nearest floating station, identifiable by the smoke you will see on the horizon, but you can also earn points on the fast lane, by simply hitting a chest with your shovel and go for it. following. They give points for stealing opponents’ chests and redeeming them ourselves or for embarking on a violent escalation of assassinations circling the world with the sword, and you can also get a lot if we manage to sink an enemy ship (or lose a lot if they sink) ours). You can even increase your numbers by smashing another ship with cannonballs, so long-range aggression becomes a possible alternative.
In fact, there are more tactical options than ever before thanks to a few new systems affecting ship-to-ship combat; all are available in adventure mode. Not only does the damage to the hull vary (larger spaces require more planks than smaller holes), but by carefully targeting the cannons we can bring down the masts, destroy the rudder, and send the winch to bag, which affects possibilities of the crew to navigate, maneuver and move. This adds even more frustration to your opponents and gives you more time to wander around your ship and do melee combat as they work to repair the ship.
In addition, the new double harpoons that ships carry in the bow add more possibilities. Not only can they be used to take valuables out of the water (saving time), but they can also be hung from other ships to get closer. And if you’re feeling particularly adept, it’s possible to hit a boulder for a dramatic 180-degree turn, a chance to regain some ground when you’re dodged.
You can even get a bit wet with the new fishing system, which allows players to catch and cook fish for good health, meaning you can enjoy breaks from the chaos of battle. I suspect, however, that most will save this feature for Adventure Mode – rest and disconnect with the boat swaying accompanied by the music of a banjo, change the bait, go side to side and even change the time to get the rarest fish and bring them to the new Hunter’s Call company.
Everything is not shared between the modes. Kraken and megalodon do not appear in the arena (although storms remain) as unprovoked attacks would simply appear unfair in the middle of combat, according to Rare. It’s also no surprise that cursed cannonballs were also left out.
All of these changes and tweaks to the well-known Sea of Thieves formula run deep. And Arena Mode unfolds in 24-minute bursts cleverly designed to generate harsh and generally hilarious mayhem, with teams changing and refining their outdoor strategies, desperately trying to gain control in the midst of the utter chaos: shooting bullets at cannons, spinning like a vulture around the stalls, setting traps, all with the pressure of a clock that continues to run against us. He’s extremely entertaining, fiercely competitive, and has a lot of possibilities to play smart and skillfully. Even I, an ocean pacifist, wanted to come back again and again to enjoy a sweet and bloodthirsty victory.
In fact, the ease with which you can enter and exit an Arena session is a big help. As fun as Sea of Thieves is, it takes a long time due to the relatively languid pace of its adventures. Arena mode, however, with its duration of only half an hour, manages to generate a lot of excitement over the time it would normally take to collect supplies, raise anchor, and lower sails. Even more important: it is liberating. While in an Adventure Mode PvP encounter you can lose several hours of play, there is little impact to losing in Arena Mode (beyond the awful feeling of shame).
Victory lets you move up the leaderboard of the new Sea Dogs company, so you have up to five possible paths (including the new Hunter’s Call adventure mode) to be a Pirate Legend. However, in general, the new Arena mode has little impact and has a breakneck pace. Freed from these ties, even the hacker who likes PVP the least will be amazed at how much of a bloodthirsty villain he can become.
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