Sea of Thieves Arena needs to embrace Battle Royale

After a rocky start, and a period of rough seas, Sea of Thieves found it’s sea legs and it’s voyage from go live to now has been a bountiful one. It’s no secret that I’ve adored my time on deck with Sea of Thieves, and in spite of all of it’s failings in remains one of my favourite games from this generation.

Earlier this year, as part of the celebration of the Sea of Thieves 1st Birthday, Rare released the Anniversary update – as well as a wealth of new things to do in what Rare now dubs “Adventure Mode” (including a fully developed story driven campaign!), a new way to play came along for the ride, in the form of “Arena”.

In Arena, 5 crews of 4 players battle it out to retrieve loot, sink other ships, and generally accrue as many pirate points as possible in a round in order to be declared the victor.

Initially, when Arena was announced and I got to finally play, I was really impressed. Sea of Thieves is not a game that respects your time, and Arena was perfect for short, action packed slices of Sea of Thieves shenanigans at it’s very best.

As time wore on, I started to feel a little frustrated – I’d noticed a lack of good battles in Adventure mode, where the more PVP focused crews out there were obviously utilising their skills in a mode dedicated towards them. However, I also found myself wishing that Arena was a little bigger – and I really feel Rare should fully lean in to a dedicated Battle Royale Mode.

In case anyone has been hiding under a rock for the last 2 years, the premise of Battle Royale is simple – a large server is filled with a high number of players, and the victors are the last team or man standing.

Imagine for a moment, what this could look like for Sea of Thieves and what fresh twists it could bring to the genre.

Sea of Thieves already has a beautiful open world – a gorgeous fully expansive open world to sail across, particularly designed first and foremost as a sandbox for multiplayer interaction.

The game is already utilising a system to damage a Player-manned vessel should they sail into uncharted waters, typically referred to as ‘the red sea’ – that red sea boundary could shrink, pushing players and crews together.

Randomised weather could play another part – the game already utilises a storm system which could be used in conjuction with the red sea boundary or as a random event. And that’s not to mention keeping things like the Kraken or Megaladon in the mix.

And then there’s loot – there are already a stock set of player weapons in the game, but also cursed cannon balls to allow players to combat enemy vessels in unique ways.

Is it just me, or does this game seem ripe for that kind of break-out, unique Battle Royale experience? At present, servers are limited to around 20 unique players, or 5 fully crewed Galleons (or any other combination of ships, including Sloops and Brigantines). As someone who has sunk literally DAYS into Adventure, seeing other ships on the waves has become more and more of a rarity.

Now Imagine 20 Galleons out there, all vying for victory and glory. Imagine the carnage of ship-to-ship battle out there on the waves with that many vessels in the open water. I concede that performance in the game could be a concern, so naturally the skeleton AI would be disabled, as well as all the interactive loot items, like chests and crates, so servers no longer had to track these elements.

Barrels could spawn among the waves at random as they do now, allowing crews to snag supplies to assist them to victory, as well as on the islands themselves.

New battle royale specific loot items could be added, like hull armour or faster loading cannons. This could be retrieved on islands and outposts throughout the world, again, at random. A unique twist being that a crew is only defeated when their ship rolls beneath the waves, again allowing for dramatic comebacks and second chances.

Perhaps, in keeping with the game, another method of victory could be added – a special legendary chest hidden at a central point on the map which could be retrieved and returned, allowing for crews to fight for something more than just glory.

I dream of this mode, and I think it would be a perfect addition to a regularly updated game. The Arena team recently tried varying ship classes in Arena, and after testing decided this was not a good idea. Perhaps a fully-fledged Pirate-Royale should be the next grand experiment.

What do you think? Have I been stranded on an island alone for too long, or have I struck gold beneath the sand?

Jon "Sikamikanico" Clarke

Stuck on this god-forsaken island. Father of two, wishes he could play more games but real life always gets in the way. Prefers shorter and often smarter experiences, but Halo is King.

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