Earlier this month, our own PvP columnist Sam Kash delivered a Fight or Kite column on Shadow Arena, the battle royale standalone title spun off from Black Desert last year. His take? There’s a good game under there with a ton of unique modes – there’s just nobody playing them. Indeed, Steamcharts seems to back up that assertion, showing just 170 peak players in the last month, down from around 5000 peak last spring.
Maybe the latest major update will help. Pearl Abyss has now introduced what it’s calling “dramatic” changes, most notably in the form of a new “trio mode” – a 3v3 match type that will replace the 40-man battle royale mode. In other words, the game isn’t really a battle royale title anymore; instead, it’s the arena game it says on the tin. The studio has also nudged the existing hero classes into three categories (brawler, dealer, and support), added a new in-game shop that sounds more like something you’d expect from a MOBA, and balance changes including the blanket removal of some absurdly overpowered weapons.
“Pearl Abyss announced today that Shadow Arena has shifted its primary game mode from 1v40 battle royale to a team-based “Trio Mode.” The change comes after an extensive review of player feedback during early access, which has given the developers the opportunity to give its players exactly what they’re asking for: more strategic and cooperative gameplay. The biggest change is a dramatic shift in scope, with the new “Trio Mode” narrowing combat into 3v3 battles, where each teammate has a clearly defined role. Additionally, Pearl Abyss has outlined distinct Hero roles on the team: each hero in Shadow Arena now falls into three distinct categories, with more specific team roles that facilitate teamwork, strategy and a co-operative focus. […] In addition to the new game mode and team roles, the Shadow Arena development team also added several new features to re-balance and streamline gameplay to go along with its more strategic and cooperative gameplay.”