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Sea of Thieves Arena matches will get nastier and shorter in April

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Sea of Thieves is all about high-seas swashbuckling: Sailing the ocean blue, digging up treasure, battling supernatural evils, and occasionally mixing it up with your fellow pirates. That's what I like about it, anyway, but players with a more competitive bent can also jump into the Arena, a separate PvP mode that focuses solely on grabbing treasure and sinking ships.

The April content update will make some fairly big changes to that Arena experience, first by removing treasure maps from the mode. Instead, there will be just one chest, marked with a Glorious Sea Dogs beacon—basically a neon purple flare shooting straight up into the sky—and one place to drop it off, also well-marked. As lead designer Shelley Preston explains in the update video, that means you'll know exactly where you need to go from the moment the match begins—and so will everyone else. That should go a long way toward funneling players together, and into conflict.

To help ensure that players tangle like real pirates instead of spending all day dancing around one another, Arena match lengths are also being shortened from 24 minutes to 15, the Arenas themselves are being condensed, and silver rewards for ship-to-ship battles are being increased. The changes are currently being testing via the Sea of Thieves Insider Program, and barring unforeseen disaster will be rolled out in the April update.

This weekend will also mark the second anniversary of Sea of Thieves, which Rare will celebrate with a special livestream beginning at 10 am PT/1 pm ET on March 20, featuring former Rooster Teeth CEO Burnie Burns. The Spinal Figurehead will be up for grabs during the stream, and anyone who plays at any time during the anniversary weekend will also be given an anniversary edition Eye of Reach—that's the Sea of Thieves sniper rifle. 

Sea of Thieves will also be free to play from March 18 to 23, a fine way to jump into the action if you haven't played it previously, and a three-week anniversary event will begin on March 20 with events and rewards drawn from some of the game's earliest updates, including the Hungering Deep, Cursed Sails, and Forsaken Shores.

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.