Let's have a conversation here Grapeshot.
When ATLAS was first announced, the trailer featured a pirate port with pistol duels and gallows. It featured a host of mythical beasts, all deeply unfriendly. It featured epic naval battles on ships that looked like ships.
Later, we are told, (in a very obscure way) about the lore and how the Damned and Kraken tie into it all. Most people are either ignorant to the lore, or think "hey that's neat."
Some time down the line, we get the Trench. Visually, it's beautiful. Unfortunately, despite being at the sea floor, it's shallow as a puddle.
It was also at this point the animals started to become more of a focus. The crabs were a weird choice. They serve no real purpose to players. They're just an ARK boner.
Some time later, I don't really remember when, we get the Snow Cave. Fantastic looking dungeon. Terrible choice of occupants. Why the hell is it full of animals, when it could be full of NPC pirates, with a final boss called Frostbeard or something?
So let's fast forward to now.
It's quite a thing to allow people to tame dolphins and seahorses. I get it, someone on the team REALLY likes Aquaman. So, why then, have you not provided more Atlantis-themed content than the one Trench? Why are none of the buildings in that trench open to exploration? The possibility for story-telling in a sunken lost city is immense. Capitalise on it. Here's some ideas;
Open the buildings up to exploration, rewarding Atlantean themed loot. Remove the skins from the vendor. Let people find Atlantean armour down in the trenches. Tridents. Diaries. Food and drink recipes. Skins for cannons. Statues that can be reforged into figureheads.
Rare spawn Lost Atlanteans who can be subdued by reducing their health and recruited to crew your ship, stronger than regular crewmen.
Doors that lead to mini-dungeons that can only be completed on foot.
Quest givers. Maybe a sad, lonely, Atlantean warrior who remembers the war that destroyed the city and asks you to find relics of the past.
Or hell, why not have the hecking City of Atlantis be a random encounter at sea. Imagine the spectacle of an entire city of ghosts rising out of the water for your crew to explore.
All of those things sound a lot more interesting than using a dolphin or seahorse as an outboard motor. P.S. A cryopod equivalent would be immensely useful, especially with sea tames. And we all know it does wonders for server lag. So hey, there's another; The Atlanteans had Soul Spheres that they used to safely store and transport their aquatic buddies.
The Snow Cave. A beautiful dungeon full of opportunity for story telling. Instead, yetis. Why is there an abandoned city under the ice? Who lived here? What did they leave behind? Was it pillaged? By pirates? Where are they? Why is there only one dungeon???
This is ever the problem with the game. NONE of the ideas you have get fleshed out, there is just the bones of an idea.
So recently, we've finally got a new ship. It's a mixed bag.
On the one hand, the new damage system is great. More patching holes, less vanishing planks. On the other hand, a massive shield box on the front of it, holding 2 large cannons?
On one hand, oars! Yay! Alternative locomotion! (P.S. Where are our paddle wheels and steam engines?) On the other hand, incredibly limited ability to design the ship yourself.
If personalised designs are the issue, implement fixes to them rather than trying to circumvent it by killing the system a lot of people enjoy. No walls outside of ship rail bounds. Cannons can't be placed above other cannons on the same deck. Or, let's go full Conan Exiles and require structural stability.
The Kraken Ship. So much potential. Could have been a nice ship for those that don't want to spend time building one, fitting in size between sloops and schooners. Torpedoes though? I'm not convinced pirates used many torpedoes, especially ones that have missile guidance. Why not just allow people to put cannons on it?
Regarding Torpedoes, if they're needed in the game (spoiler; they're not) why aren't there options for a more basic torp launcher that just fire in a straight line once launched? Torp and launcher itself just made of good ol' brass or something. Similar deal with the submarine. The original single man sub would fit great in the game for salvaging and trench exploration, and was basically a bicycle inside an iron ball with a breathing line.
I could go on, but to summarise; stop half-assing things. Whole-ass one thing at a time. Expand on your ideas, rather than constantly adding new flavours to an already very jumbled soup. There are so many good ideas, but none of them are explored even close to their full potential and that is a huge shame. Remember the original direction of the game that got people excited. Expand on that.