New free up­date adds more player-on-player piracy

Sea Of Thieves: The Arena

XBox: The Official Magazine (US) - - PREVIEW - Robin Valen­tine

Pub­lisheR Mi­crosoft stu­dios De­vel­oper rare ETA early 2019

Whether on land or at sea, there’s no hon­our among thieves. Put two pi­rate crews on the same is­land, and they’ll find some­thing to scrap over – that’s just ba­sic buc­ca­neer psy­chol­ogy. Rare’s naval sand­box proves this rule ev­ery day, packed with player-on­player con­flict over trea­sure, cargo and, oc­ca­sion­ally, chick­ens. But ap­par­ently it’s not enough for the de­vel­oper’s taste, and the game’s next up­date is set to en­cour­age more PvP than ever.

The (free) Arena ex­pan­sion, due early next year, will get blood­thirsty play­ers right into the ac­tion, rather than leav­ing them to hope for ran­dom en­coun­ters. While in Ad­ven­ture mode – the name the de­vel­op­ers are now us­ing to re­fer to the ex­ist­ing game – you’ll be able to travel to a new tavern to queue for Arena mode. Each match will see your team and the en­emy be­ing given maps lead­ing to the same trea­sure. From there, it’s a race to see who can claim the spoils first. The re­sult is a kind of con­densed

Sea Of Thieves ex­pe­ri­ence – more ac­tion in a shorter space of time. From the start of the match, you’ll be able to see where the en­emy is, so there’s no room for hid­ing or dawdling. If you don’t make a bee­line for them, they’ll make a bee­line for you.

Dog days

As you bat­tle, you’ll earn clout with a whole new trad­ing com­pany, the Sea Dogs, led by DeMarco Singh, son of the Pi­rate Lord. As you ad­vance, you’ll gain cool new items, in­clud­ing a flash cut­lass, and you’re free to bring these back into Ad­ven­ture mode. While pro­gres­sion is stay­ing largely the same, the ad­di­tion of a fourth fac­tion does shake things up slightly – in or­der to be­come a Pi­rate Leg­end, you’ll still need to reach level 50 with three com­pa­nies, but it can be any three out of the four.

You may need a full crew in or­der to take part in Arena though – while solo play is be­ing tested, Rare hasn’t de­cided yet whether it’ll be in­cluded. Com­ments from the devs so far sug­gest matches will be four crews max; whether it’ll be a free-for-all or two-on-two re­mains to be seen.

For those keen to get in­volved early, Rare will be run­ning tests of the new mode as part of its Pi­o­neers pro­gramme, al­low­ing play­ers to try it out and of­fer feed­back – so make sure to join up now if you’re chomp­ing at the bit to buckle some swashes. But if all this scrap­ping isn’t your cup of tea, never fear – sup­port’s not dry­ing up for Ad­ven­ture mode any time soon. Via Twit­ter, the game’s de­sign di­rec­tor Mike Chap­man ex­plains: “So ex­cit­ing to an­nounce The Arena and all the fun it will bring, but there are also new fea­tures, tools and op­por­tu­ni­ties for Ad­ven­ture com­ing.”

“The re­sult is a kind of con­densed Sea Of Thieves ex­pe­ri­ence”

Be­low Arena is a re­sponse to some play­ers ask­ing for more ac­tion and shorter ses­sions.

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