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My suggestion is to implement the old Sea Trials as its own game mode at the login screen. I hear a lot of chatter from folks who dislike the current small / large battles for various reasons (It takes people out of OW PvP, it breaks immersion, people only use cutters, not enough people queue for it). Implementing Sea Trials as its own game mode would address many of these issues. Set up Sea Trials as its own server at login. Doing so would consolidate the people engaging in small / large battles into one location; making finding a match easier. You could then remove small / large battles from the main game, which would address the OW PvP / immersion issues. Lastly, because the Sea Trials rules had no durability loss and free ships with progression, people would more willingly engage in ships other than the Basic Cutter. You could make XP from Sea Trials translate to players' Steam accounts as the small / large battles do now, or leave it wholly separate. Additionally, you could set up account based rewards for playing or for the winning teams in Trafalgar battles such as redeemable BP or ships. Finally, I envision this Sea Trials mode as a method for the developers to test new ships and balance changes before making them live in the main OW game. Give people who want a quick and balanced PvP match someplace to go that is separate from the OW game. Bring back Sea Trials and make it a fun and rewarding extra game mode!
Couple of times last night in sea trials I started a PVE game. Loaded normally except there was no computer controlled ships. Kinda lonely, sailing the seas by myself :-) A couple of other players told me they had it affecting them as well in chat.