Ubisoft’s Skull & Bones has been an anticipated title for some time now, originally having been announced at E3 2017 but having since been delayed to the 2019-2020 fiscal year.
The pirate combat title is all about naval battles, both in a single-player mode and in five-on-five player-vs-player action. Sailors choose from a variety of ships, select the right cannons, and then set about the grisly work of subduing and sinking other vessels. Encounters start from afar and end with hand-to-hand combat aboard the decks.
Ubisoft E3 2018 press conference showed a trailer that highlighted the single-player campaign, showing a host of extremely pirate characters going about their pirate lives... until the empire emerges, sinking the pirate life in the Caribbean and chasing the crews to the Indian Ocean to steal every last coin and reclaim their treasure.
Players must not only deal with the empire (and each other), but fortunes that change the seas and add new variables to the hunt. Weather, cataclysm and conflict can all change a voyage from a breeze to a significantly more deadly challenge.
Not only can crews customize their ship, but they can change their sails to deceive enemies by hiding as a different faction. Once the time for hiding is over, it’s all about navigating rough waters and running (and gunning) down your foes with a barrage of deadly fire.
We also got a glimpse at boarding mechanics, which unlock after combat and grant players access to loot. Ships can also collide, and brace themselves against such an assault. Of course, you’re never quite out of danger. The Hunting Grounds gameplay trailer shows a Portugese warship gunning down upon the players after their successful heist. Luckily, calling in captains and building a fleet is the perfect way to defend yourself from such an attack.
Of course, combat can break out again at any time — there’s nothing stopping an allied ship from turning upon a former friend to claim the loot.
Skull & Bones is the natural successor to Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag, the first Ubisoft title to really focus on nautical combat. Ubisoft Singapore is the developer on both titles, and they’ve polished the systems they first started on in 2013 to create a game all about the glory and triumph of boarding and successively sinking your foes. Players can sign up for a chance to play early on the game’s official site.