Sea Of Thieves Season 8 Adds On-Demand PvP Full Of New Rewards

The goal of the next major update is to let the seas' PvP-focused players get right into the content they want without taking them out of the sandbox.


Sea of Thieves Season 8 comes ashore next week on November 22, and with it comes the de facto replacement for the game's Arena mode, which was taken offline earlier this year. Since then, the game's fierce PvP contingent has been eager for something like it--a way to jump into action against other crews, rather than having to search for targets across the open world or rely on AI threats such as the Kraken or Skeleton Forts. With the new Hourglass of Fortune onboard every pirate ship in the game, PvP is much easier to initiate without taking players out of the game's marquee sandbox mode, Adventure.
Historically, some players, creative director Mike Chapman told GameSpot, would "server-hop" if they arrived in the open world and didn't see any targets on the game's Emissary tables. These serve as an in-game system that lets players sail on behalf of different trading companies while also marking themselves as high-value targets of The Reaper's Bones, the PvP-centric company. But to give such players what they were seeking, Rare saw a need to simplify things.

"Those players, they're playing Sea of Thieves and they're playing it for hours," Chapman continued. "They just want to get to that bit, not at the expense of everything else, but that's just what they fancy doing tonight. [L]et's give them what they want without affecting adversely the people that don't want that right now, which is the people doing Tall Tales, or the people doing Skeleton Forts, or Sea Forts, all of that stuff."
With these new features, PvP is opt-in and much faster to kick off. You can join a faction, siding with either the Pirate Lord and the Guardians, or the wicked Captain Flameheart and his Servants. Once you've pledged your allegiance, you can carry on a session as normal, completing Voyages, taking on the Megalodon, or doing whatever else your heart desires--or you can elect to dive right into combat. Doing the former acts similar to the Reaper's Mark flag. It basically tells other players that you're ready to rumble, and it tells the game you invite that trial by combat whenever it may begin.
If you choose the latter and dive into PvP right away, you go on the offensive. An incredible cinematic plays out while the game pairs you with an opponent, where you submerge below the waves and triumphantly emerge a short while later, breaching the tide like a humpback whale armed with cannonballs and firebombs. As the music swells and a banner marks the beginning of the battle, the rules of engagement are clear: It's last ship standing--or floating, to be more precise.
Sinking ships and taking rivals' loot will earn you rewards such as exclusive curses that dress you up like a skeleton or phantom and brand-new Captaincy cosmetics. After you've sunk four ships without fail, you'll become a Champion, which paints an even bigger target on your back while also maxing out your rewards within the faction system. You can keep sinking for as long as you dare, risking it all for the glory of setting a streak record or unlocking further rewards, or you can cash in and call an end to your allegiance, taking the target off your back before it's too late. This risk-reward system is meant to entice players to consider giving each session "one more try," said lead designer Andrew Preston.
"That streak is boundless. That streak can go up as far as players are willing to push them[...]But crucially, becoming a Champion allows players who are on that streak to continue fighting ships of their own size if they choose to. But it also opens up the opportunity for them to dive and get into battles with bigger ships than their own. So you've got that watchable, shareable kind of showcase where, you know, you could be on a stream or playing by yourself, or in any kind of scenario where you're taking on more and more risk. And then it's like, 'Right, I'm going to try and take on a galleon' or 'I'm going to try and take on a brigantine and see if I can better that ship [for] ultimate bragging rights.'"
Committing to a faction will pit you against players from the other faction, and with enough success, you can take on bigger ships than your own.
Cleverly, siding with a faction in this way does not block any other content. In the spirit of the game's North Star, "tools, not rules," you can even stack in-game systems like Emissaries and Captaincy, creating a maximally profitable system where you're earning Emissary Value, furthering your Allegiance Streak, and achieving new Captaincy Milestones all at once like a buffet of rewards. "All those systems have to complement each other. And that's the ultimate high-stakes Sea of Thieves experience." Chapman said.
This also means that players who mark themselves as ready for battle can be run up on when they least expect it, perhaps in the middle of a Tall Tale or while they're already fighting the Kraken. If you opt into this system, you do it knowing that a battle can erupt at any moment, and while that could mean some decisions are better than others--maybe don't get caught running drunken foot races up Thieves' Haven if you're sailing for a faction--it could also mean that some of your silly mistakes end up as your next great tale to tell back at the tavern.
By bringing Arena-like combat into the game's central mode, Rare allows another sect of players to share in the experience of the game's sandbox without partitioning them in their own space. That should not only mean the less PvP-centric players might catch a break more often--give the warmongerers their fill and maybe they'll leave passive players alone more often--it also means the likelihood for emergent moments, already the game's secret sauce, grows stronger. As PvP ships are given a small chunk of the sandbox in which to compete, there's nothing stopping other players from joining a faction and fighting alongside newfound allies, or perhaps even just anchoring on the outskirts of a battle's boundary and spectating like it's the Roman Coliseum.
For big fans, the chance to look like a true Servant of the Flame or a ghostly guardian will have them charging into battle.
Similar to how this year's addition of Sea Forts allows players to jump into lucrative PvE events with a much shorter time commitment than Skeleton Forts, the new PvP on-demand system gives the game's feisty, battle-hungriest players a direct line to ship battles with other players--and importantly doing so without moving them to their own game mode like the ultimately underplayed Arena mode once did. Sea of Thieves has always been a game able to sustain player sessions that unfold over several hours, but 2022 has seen Rare pay more attention to the players who want to create new memories in sometimes shorter bursts.
Ultimately, serving both audiences can only be a good thing if Rare can strike the balance, and so far, the studio absolutely has. "It'd be so easy to add content to the game and stories to the game that feel like tonally the game is really shifting from where it started. But that kind of goofy charm and that playfulness and just that sense of adventure, we just want to build on that--we never want to lose that," Chapman added. "That's the thing we're always trying to protect. So it just feels like that 2018 game or even that game from the beta, it's the same game, we're not messing with the foundation. We're just giving you more stories because that's what the game is about."
Sea of Thieves Season 8 launches on November 22 on Xbox and PC. A Pirate Emporium refresh and a new Plunder Pass will arrive alongside the free game update.
This story originally appeared on: Gamespot - Author:Mark Delaney

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