We were new to SOT on the last beta, and I'll share our observations:
In about 12 hours of playing we only encountered one ship that didn't fire on us, and that was a single guy in a sloop. Every single other ship came after us if they saw us, and that ended in one of the other ships being sunk.
Needless to say, seeing other players was more a threat/concern than interacting in any other way with them at all.
We tried the raid thing a few times. In all cases when we got anywhere near the raid, we were fired upon and either sunk, or escaped and no longer pursued the raid.
For us, we can't see any reason to even attempt a raid again, because not only is it surrounded by pvp players making even trying the raid a waste of time, but then if you even manage to complete one, it will end up being whoever gets killed last benefit.
We aren't against pvp at all and really enjoyed it, but when it cripples the raid every single time, then something needs to be done to fix it.
As far as ship attacks, maybe half the amount of gold gotten from a chest taken from another ship to reduce that incentive, and only allow quest completion for items not stolen from others? There has to be a incentive to encourage people to actually play pve instead of just logging on to pvp.
Another concern is that we can't team up with other crews. We have a few friends interested in playing the game together, and it would be nice to be able to have an alliance so loot is shared between crews.
It could be limited to maybe 2 or 3 crews in accord, and that would encourage small fleets making pvp players either have to also band together, or giving single pvp attackers less incentive to just pvp troll all the time.There could even be tougher/specific quests only for fleets. It might also be beneficial for crews in accord to have a chosen flag they could run, so from a distance you could see multiple ships were running together. (Maybe also a new player name color, like blue, yellow, or purple instead of green or white?)
In essence, I think there should be less incentive to just pvp other players, whether its slower progress, bounties or whatever.
Using Black Flag as a reference, if you were excessively aggressive, there was a bounty put on you, and npc ships sent after you. The same thing could be done with SOT... a bounty could be posted on outpost boards on overly aggressive pvp players, and other pvp players could go after them to get their pvp fix, reducing the chance of all pvp players coming after pve players. Bounty collectors could get special gear purchases, ship adornments, achievements, or something like that.
Maybe the spy glass could be tweaked so you could see names of players on ships from a distance, and the compass could have additional functionality giving a 5 minute delayed last know position of bounty targets? (Or maybe a bounty compass could be purchased as an additional tool?) It shouldn't be real time, but should have some sort of delayed indication system to give you a clue of a target's whereabouts, but not their current exact position.