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Naval battle royale Maelstrom launches a PvE 'Gauntlet' mode

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The high-seas battle royale Maelstrom (opens in new tab) isn't the most detailed naval combat simulator you'll ever run across, but it's "fun and fast-paced," Chris said in his 2018 preview of the Early Access release on Steam (opens in new tab). His primary complaint was that it hadn't attracted much of an audience at that point, which meant sometimes lengthy waits for matches to fill up.

That should be a little less of an issue now: It went free-to-play (opens in new tab) last fall, and now it's got a new PvE mode that pits players, solo or in groups, against a series of randomized challenges ranging from sinking a number of AI-controlled ships to running a gauntlet (the mode is actually called Gauntlet (opens in new tab)) through a series of canyons and islands. Each challenge has a primary and secondary goals, and they are tough: With a base ship, it took me a few voyages to complete a single primary challenge, and trying to do more inevitably ended badly.

A new update (opens in new tab) that rolled out today on Steam (opens in new tab) should help ease that difficulty somewhat by increasing gold drops and rewards chests at higher difficulties, which will make it easier to outfit and upgrade your ship, and by making a Merchant Escort mission a little less punishing. Parties can also now be made public, which will increase the odds of finding someone to team up with, and naturally there are a few tweaks and bug fixes as well:

  • The number of items that can be gifted to Captains at once is now capped—this is to avoid an edge case bug where the functionality can fail if too many items are gifted at once
  • Chatting during the Adventure Store in Gauntlet mode no longer causes the store to be stuck
  • Ghostly no longer re-triggers due to repair ticks after it has triggered at least once
  • During Boarding, if your target is sunk, you will no longer be stuck in boarding mode for the duration of the boarding action (old bug that resurfaced)
  • Corrected some tooltips
  • Increased gold drops and reward chest rate at higher difficulties
    Merchant Escort's Supply Ship now has damage and crit chance resistance to reduce the potential for it to take massive damage from broadsides, particularly from the Human bosses during the port battle

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.