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Jeff Probst Says “Survivor” Fans Claim He’s Lost His 'Edge,' but He Teases Season 46 May Be 'Best' of New Era (Exclusive)

Jeff Probst Says “Survivor” Fans Claim He’s Lost His 'Edge,' but He Teases Season 46 May Be 'Best' of New Era (Exclusive)

In PEOPLE's exclusive look at the new season, the five-time Emmy winner praises the fresh batch of castaways’ gameplay and big personalities: "I had a smile on my face every single day"

Come on in, critics! Jeff Probst hears you loud and clear.

In PEOPLE’s exclusive look at Survivor season 46, the show’s longtime host addresses some viewers’ complaints about his ever-evolving hosting style.

“I’ve heard the criticism that I’ve become a little too soft — I hear you,” Probst, 62, says in PEOPLE's exclusive video, overlaid with new footage and an old clip of him stabbing Survivor 45 castaways’ bag of rice with a knife to force them to make a decision quickly. “Maybe I need to bring a little of the edge back, and I think you will start to see that.”

Season 46 returns with a two-hour premiere on Wednesday, followed by a two-hour second episode on March 6. After that, the remaining episodes will be 90 minutes because that length “worked so well” last season instead of the traditional 60-minute episodes.

“We get to spend more time with the players,” Probst adds. “This group is funny. I had a smile on my face every single day, because even though they are still playing this game and trying to figure out how to maneuver, they’re doing it with a personality that’s fun to be a part of.”

<p>Robert Voets/CBS</p> Season 46 players compete in a challenge.

Robert Voets/CBS

Season 46 players compete in a challenge.

Related: 25 of the Wildest Rules You Didn't Know Contestants Have to Follow on 'Survivor'

The 18 castaways also took “the game to a new level” this season, which continues the 26-day format that started with season 41 instead of the typical 39-day seasons.

“I think one of the biggest differences about playing Survivor in the new era is it is a sprint,” the five-time Emmy winner explains. “The second your feet hit the sand, the game is on, which [for contestants] means follow your instinct and just go play.”

The new era has incorporated new, polarizing twists and brought back the fan-favorite auction over the past few seasons, and incoming players have become accustomed to expect the unexpected in addition to preparing physically and mentally to outwit, outplay and outlast each other.

“No matter what twists come my way, keep your torch alive,” law student Charlie Davis, 26, says in the teaser video, followed by artist Tiffany Nicole Ervin, 33, seemingly commenting about recent quitters on show with, “If you want to play safe, sit on your couch.”

<p>Robert Voets/CBS </p> “I think one of the biggest differences about playing ‘Survivor’ in the new era is it is a sprint,” Jeff Probst says.

Robert Voets/CBS

“I think one of the biggest differences about playing ‘Survivor’ in the new era is it is a sprint,” Jeff Probst says.

Related: Survivor Returns: Look Back on Some of the Series' Most Memorable Moments

Survivor premiered nearly 24 years ago in May 2000. Since then, over the course of 661 episodes before season 46’s premiere, 43 players have claimed the title of “Sole Survivor,” with only Sandra Diaz-Twine and Tony Vlachos each having won twice.

Survivor 46 may go down as the best season of the new era,” Probst says. “All these levels and layers just add up to this great gameplay and that’s what you're going to see this season — gameplay like no other.”

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Survivor season 46 premieres on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.

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Read the original article on People.