The recent announcement of the upcoming “The Arena” update to Sea of Thieves, which introduces a new competitive game mode, has been and enthusiastic but mixed reception from Sea of Thieves players.
Fans on both the official forum and Reddit have been voicing their concerns that the introduction of this new game mode is a Very Bad Thing™ and signals a failing of the core game, leading to the apparent inevitability that Rare will end up placing all of their focus on the battle mode if it becomes popular, leaving Adventure to languish.
Worse still, they’re worried that Rare’s development teams have been split, meaning less people working on each game mode, which might result in less overall quality, or commitment.
To give context to these concerns, we need to listen to the how people at Rare have been talking about this announcement. Taken as a whole, their comments represent a public commitment to making both modes great, while clarifying that Adventure is still considered the “core” game.
Here’s everything the team from Rare has said (so far) about Adventure vs Arena.
Mike Chapman (Design Director):
So exciting to announce The Arena and all the fun it will bring, BUT there are also new features, tools and opportunities for adventure coming. I'm sat at home this evening eager to get back into the office to continue working on some unannounced updates. More surprises to come! pic.twitter.com/Oy9RwnJXuA
— Mike Chapman 🏴☠️ (@ChappersChapman) November 10, 2018
I understand the concerns. All of us on the team are privy to how the whole experience will evolve over the next year. However, we can't announce everything at once! 😉
— Mike Chapman 🏴☠️ (@ChappersChapman) November 11, 2018
We don’t see it that way. The Arena will serve up the ‘greatest hits’ of Adventure. The latter remains the heart of the game.
— Mike Chapman 🏴☠️ (@ChappersChapman) November 11, 2018
Craig Duncan (Rare Studio Head), from the X018 Panel:
We announced The Arena yesterday… both Joe and I were looking over social media, and our forums, and Reddit… All I’d say is, we are totally committed to Sea of Thieves. We’re committed to expanding both the Arena and Adventure modes of the game. Trust that we’re going to do that with our players, we’re going to do that with the right intent to do the right things for the game. And people that worry about things – whether that’s splitting the player-base or balance – we’re focussed on that… Our intentions are always to make the Sea of Thieves experience – whether that’s Adventure or Arena – the best that it can be. We’ve spent multiple years making Sea of Thieves amazing; we’ll continue to invest in both Area and Adventure.
Mike Chapman on the Sea of Thieves forum:
What this isn’t though, is a straight split between ‘PvE’ and ‘PvP’. Yes, The Arena will focus on competition between players, but it is categorically not about taking the ‘thieves’ out of Sea of Thieves. We focused on the Treasure Hunting gameplay for The Arena first because it had more scope to create memorable moments and stories over just straight battling, but its just one part of the overall game.
The core vision of Sea of Thieves is the player created stories that can occur and an experience that gives you a wide range of emotions within a shared world. The Arena just serves elements of this on demand with more of a defined focus. It’s not a replacement, and certainly not a distraction from the core improvements and new content we want to add to the game you’re currently playing.
As many of you have probably heard me talk about before, Sea of Thieves aims to capture the thrill of the pirate life and the game as it stands today, with its moments of exploration, escapism and excitement, aims to capture this in a unique way and give you moments that you won’t forget. The primary focus remains the adventure experience, with The Arena having its own progression and rewards. Nothing changes elsewhere. If you’re the kind of player that likes to attack other ships to steal their treasure, nothing will stop you doing that. If players want to come in and only play The Arena, they can, but they will be playing a small part of the Sea of Thieves experience.
Drew Stevens (Senior Producer) on Reddit addressing concerns that Rare has split the development teams:
I’ve read this concern quite a bit over the last few days since the announcements and wanted to drop a note here.
We’ve actually grown the Sea of Thieves team since launch to accommodate this new part of the game that we want to explore. This team have been ring fenced with a focus on the Arena for a number of months now to ensure we keep delivering great content for both our new mode and that our core Sea of Thieves Adventure grows alongside it. I understand the concern about splitting focus – but trust that we have and will continue to ensure we deliver great experiences for both audiences.
I’d also note that features we develop for one game mode will often strengthen the other. I wont drop any specific spoilers but when spinning up the Arena team we identified some extensions to our existing systems that would be needed to add tactical depth to the Arena – these will be added to adventure mode at the same time they launch to add all of that tactical play to both modes! This new part of Sea of Thieves is not as isolated as you might have thought 🤝
So there you have it. Should you be worried? I’d recommend keeping an even keel: be patient and let’s wait until the release is ready to play. This very passionate Sea of Thieves community of ours has a tendency to react quickly, while expounding on myriad hypotheticals, predicting doom and gloom based, often, on not very much at all.
The development of Sea of Thieves certainly hasn’t been perfect, but – for the most part – the development team have been very clear about their dedication to the game, and shown real responsiveness to player feedback.