I was thinking about how unfortunate it is that Skull Forts, despite originally being designed to be a group project where tensions are high and nobody can know for sure which crew will leave alive and with how much loot, has become a way to reliably make a quick buck, relatively stress-free.
What I came up with would add an optional layer of risk/reward to forts, and potentially an additional layer of content if your crew has a Pirate Legend.
Once a skull fort captain dies, his skull key could still be used on the vault door, or instead be inserted in another slot found on a pedestal (which appears when the captain dies) around the island. This would upgrade and/or add loot to the vault room, restart the skull fort, and update the skull cloud (different cloud shape and/or olor to the intermittent flash) to broadcast to all that this vault just got a lot more worth the trouble.
I think letting players upgrade the fort twice in such a way would be appropriate, BUT I would also let Pirate Legends find a secret spot and play the PL shanty to spawn a "Legendary" pedestal, for one last upgrade. At this point, you've been at this fort for a while (or stolen it from someone who has), so I think it would be fair to spawn two chests of legends inside the vault.
PROS : * Skull Forts now let player choose the intensity of their adventre on the fort, depending on their skills, supplies and confidence.
Stealing a fort from a crew and getting a fort stolen generates interesting gameplay, and this enables this interaction for a longer time with varying stakes.
Creates an alternate, productive activity for Pirate Legends who wish to take a break from Athena's voyages.
Tying the upgrade mechanic to a pedestal bursting out of the ground is a flexible way to implement this on every fort regardless of layout.
If Skull Forts voyages are to ever exist, this feature could be used in the generation of such voyages, to ask players to attain a certain level to achieve completion.
CONS * Currently, all non-voyage loot spawns on island approach, so this may or may not require some rewrite.
A fine balance between upgrade levels must be found for the higher reward to actually be worth the higher risk.
Despite the flexibility, it may be production expensive to develop, implement and test the pedestal and skull cloud changes.
For better or worse, this creates an asymmetry between forts and cursed crews. Since a defeated crew immediately yields its loot, upgrading the crew's rewards would need to be done in a completely different way.
© Post "Suggestion : Add risk/reward and PL content to Skull Forts" for game Sea of Thieves.
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