Rare has announced that its multiplayer pirate extravaganza, Sea of Thieves, will be getting a "fast-paced" standalone PvP mode called The Arena, and it's due to arrive early next year on PC and Xbox One.
The Arena, according to Sea of Thieves' executive producer Joe Neate, is essentially the game's main mode condensed right down in order to dramatically increase the frequency of competitive encounters. Pirates will be able test their combat mettle in quick-fire matches against rival crews, in what Rare calls "a fun, frenetic and action-packed race to find treasure".
Supposedly, treasure hunting will be the main goal in The Arena's first iteration, but the mode is designed to evolve over time. It will also apparently feature a new tavern area, as well as the new Sea Dogs Trading Company. The latter, says Rare, will offer new goals, rewards, and opportunities to progress to Pirate Legend.
If nothing else, it's certainly a bold move. On the one hand, The Arena should satisfy those that delight in Sea of Thieves' PvP elements but aren't quite so keen on the laidback oceanic meandering of the core game. The danger, of course, is that PvP players will decamp to the new mode in their droves, leaving the main Adventure mode (as it will be known) a barren wasteland of skittish PvE players, destroying the delicate balance between those two crucially dovetailing halves. Hopefully then, The Arena's arrival won't completely kill the main game stone dead.
Rare says that it's currently playing a version of The Arena in the studio, and that it plans to get a build out to its Pioneer testers as soon as possible. There's no release date for The Arena just yet, but it's hoped that the free update will launch early next year.
Prior to The Arena's arrival, Rare will be introducing Sea of Thieves' fourth free major update, Shrouded Spoils. Among other things, this brings roving fog to world, and is due to launch on Xbox One and PC later this month. More details are promised soon.