The new event/content updates continue to be antithetical to previously stated design concepts. Yesterday's update brought us static statues that do not move (and furthermore do not even function as intended). At the most core level I do not understand how farming randomly spawning statues adds to a multiplayer experience that was largely built around designing a game that was fun to stream and play with friends. Nobody wants to watch groups of 1-4 players whack randomly spawning small objects. Even if farming non-moving randomly spawned objects is your thing, they don't even function as intended. It's entirely possible to kill all three statue types as a single or duo player. This is largely due to the fact that the statue's damage radius doesn't work properly. You can be out of range of that radius and still make constant contact with your sword. In general, they feel really cheaply made from a design standpoint. The way that the statues interact with player weapons feel like interacting with a glitch. There is no sense of blunt force impact or anything outside of the "expansion/explosion" animation that the statues progress through as they lose health.
It still blows my mind that a game development studio would think this is a fun thing to add to the game. It feels like Rare is simply adding "things to do" arbitrarily, or rather they are simply rolling out the easiest possible types of weekly events (the type that require minimal development time).
Because Rare continues to ignore larger deficiencies in the SoT sandbox, the late-game meta has essentially devolved into commendation farming. Which is even more frustrating because commendations themselves have a host of glitches and UI/UX issues. We are coming off of a two-week event where the most significant (albeit also arbitrary) commendation didn't function properly throughout the event's 2-week duration. Now for some reason, the legendary gunpowder exploder title, from last week shows up as locked (incomplete) even if you completed it last week and purchased the 0 doubloon title.
This commendation-based meta game is truly antithetical to the core experience of SoT. It's fine if these things hidden bonuses scattered throughout the world in addition to more significant updates, but these cannot and should not be the focus of post-launch development going forward. They're dictating player behavior in a completely uninteresting way, and a good chunk of players are now simply doing things to make horizontal progression or check-off that they've completed a given commendation. This is encouraging late-game players to grind for the sake of it, and very likely making this game far less accessible and friendly to new players. Very frequently I see LFG crews who are essentially mining horizontal progression, and have essentially de-emphasized the social elements of this game entirely. This game needs the sandbox itself to be more fleshed out, not one-off events to be farmed.
To make matters even worse, the commendation-based gameplay is encouraging players to exploit the game's mechanics. Last week's primary strategy involved exploiting skeleton AI to aggro a single player (because they are glorified homing missiles) and drawing them all into the shoreline to group them together. I still do not understand why Rare would create a weekly event that essentially placed further emphasis on the AI deficiencies that exist in this game.
Meanwhile the game is still filled with significant bugs and performance issues. Last week's build had significant issues with crashing (especially during galleon vs galleon scenarios). Each new update seems to introduce new bugs, and largely ignore a significant chunk of bugs that have been in the game since alpha. Draw distance and performance continues to be (optimized/downgraded) with no mention in patch notes.
A lot of the folks I played with extensively in the alpha are minimally interested in this game now. I believe this is largely due to the fact that Rare has lost sight of the direction that made this game so promising in the first place, and are now simply trying to fill the game with "content" instead of giving players meaningful and fun things to do in the sandbox.
We can hold out hope that Cursed Sails will change course and begin to add more layers to the sandbox, but it seems entirely likely that beyond new canon ball types the update will simply introduce more things to farm in a largely empty world. Even though I'm not a streamer myself, I continue to maintain that the original concept to design a game that was fun to stream and share with friends was a great idea and spawned some wonderful mechanics. Rare has lost sight of that with these recent updates.