Ahoy Sea Dogs!
This week sees the release of Duo Sloops into The Arena, meaning you can now crew up with one other pirate to take to seas and compete for glory! Duo Sloops are a super competitive and exciting way to take part in The Arena and we hope that you have as much fun out there as we have had during our internal testing.
This change also comes along side another change to The Arena; Crew Size Limits. If you want to play on a larger Ship and Crew, you can select Galleon where you will need at least three players on the Crew to play. If you want to play as a pirate-duo, select Duo Sloops where you will need two players on the Crew to play.
We have been testing these changes in Insiders, and we have heard your concerns about this change. I wanted to post to further explain the thinking behind these Crew Limits, and why we have introduced them.
Back in April, a year (and a bit) after Sea of Thieves’ first launched, we launched The Arena. The vision behind it was to create a 24 minute exciting, competitive and crew based experience in the spirit of everything we love about Sea of Thieves. We love that this is a competitive mode that focuses on Sea of Thieves’ unique teamwork as a crew, and that it showcases the crew relationship and the best teamwork, emergent strategies and communication. This is why we launched with the Galleon as the showcase for this vision.
Part of Sea of Thieves’ identity is its “tools not rules” approach, and we love giving players the freedom to play how they want. So, when we heard the feedback that you wanted more ships and crew size options, and our first approach was a mixed Ship mode where we allowed Galleons, Brigantines and Sloops all in the same contest together. We tried this with our Insiders, and heard overwhelmingly that although this mode had its merits, it was not the right option for The Arena because of one core reason: the competition was not fair. We found that as much as players did not want to be in a competition where they were outmatched, they also did not want to be in a competition where it was too easy – such as when they were competing versus a much smaller crew.
As a team, we were determined to find the right balance between Arena as a competitive mode and Sea of Thieves “tools-not-rules” spirit and design approach, and although the mixed ships experiment was not a success, we were step further along our journey. This cemented the approach for us as a team that fair competition for everyone in the contest is a top priority when we are making design decisions in The Arena.
As a result of this, we made some decisions. Firstly, we’re working on an experience based matchmaking system for the Arena, and this will be coming in a later release. This won’t ever impact the freedom you have to choose your own Crew, an experienced player could still invite someone new to their Crew, but when you are randomly matching into a Crew or matching against other Crews we will look to aggregate the experience levels of everyone and match you with the most appropriate players.
Secondly, we decided to enforce Crew Sizes in The Arena to ensure that the number of players is evenly matched. The vision here is that the competition here will be fairer for everyone. This is why we are ensuring that you need a minimum of three players on a Galleon and two on a Sloop. The gulf between a crew size of one and two is potentially huge. We don’t believe this gulf is as pronounced on a Galleon of three versus a Galleon of four, and we still want to allow as much choice as possible.
We know that some players want to play alone because they don’t enjoy the experience of playing with players that they don’t know and we are actively looking to improve this. We believe ease of communication is a key part of this. As such, we are planning an evolution to our Non-Verbal system to improve communication.
Another key focus for us right now is looking at ways to ways to evolve the core mode of Arena to be more accessible and intuitive, and one of the expected outcomes of this is a simpler level of communication required between players on a crew.
We believe that the option to play in a Duo Sloop Arena, alongside our plans for improved communication will help to lower the barrier to entry for The Arena.
To every single Sea Dog that has played The Arena, we thank you! We’re still learning, we’re still growing, and we’re always listening.
See you in The Arena!
Shelley “Pressgang” Preston