×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Skull & Bones’ Is All About Creating a Hearty Pirate Gang

When Ubisoft revealed their ship-focused pirate adventure “Skull & Bones” at E3 in 2017, the general consensus among players was how similar it looked to “Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag” minus the assassin segments. While that might not necessarily be a bad thing to fans of that game, no developer to live in the shadow of another series, especially one from colleagues at their own studio.

After sitting down with “Skull & Bones” for a lighthearted demo that hadn’t been shown publicly yet at E3, it became evident that Ubisoft Singapore and other partnered studios were doubling down on the pirate identity that they believed set them apart from “Assassin’s Creed.” “It’s a multiplayer experience with a shared world– something you don’t see in those games,” said Ubisoft producer Karl Luhe. “Player interactions will have a deeper meaning, choosing whether or not too team up will be vital. There will be frigates that you can’t take down on your own.”

Luhe and his team want “Skull & Bones” to be a multiplayer-centric experience, with players fighting alongside or against one another and a gameplay loop that focuses on customizing a ships load out, setting sail, and looking for trouble. His description didn’t sound too different than Rare’s own pirate swashbuckler “Sea of Thieves,” but the two titles have dissimilar gameplay styles.

The demo consisted of a few different fortunes,or short objectives aimed at increasing my crews war chest and notoriety. I, along with a couple other players playing in the same server, had to choose between three ships with varied firepower, mobility, and health stats. The Black Horn with it’s average rankings across the board, the speedy Jaeger, and a larger frigate with deadly broadside cannons.

Once I chose my vessel I was thrusted into Portuguese infested waters full of enemy frigates, dangerous obstacles, small white-sailed trade ships full of ivory– the target of our first plunder. Most of my time was spent navigating the small patch of water, fighting against the wind and using telescopes and a crows nest lookout to scout the strength enemy ships before deciding to engage.

“Skull & Bones” controls resemble the ship handling in ‘Black Flag’ where I controlled the ship with the thumbstick. Sails were adjusted with the right trigger and cannons were selected based off your cameras direction and both bumpers. There was a variety of guns, including a chain-shot thats extra effective against masts and sails, powerful broadside cannons, as well as era-appropriate rockets, all of which were aimed with the left trigger and fired with the right. Each ship also had an extra-powerful special ability, the Black Horn had a ram that could be used to tear through enemy ships while the Jaeger spouted a flurry of rockets from its bow.

It’s unclear whether or not “Skull & Bones” will have any on-foot segments outside a small hubspace where you can customize your ships weapons, abilities, and cosmetics. The lack of a substantial shipless element  has me worried about the amount of content featured in the adventure. “There will be overarching stories and meaningful characters,” Luhe said. “But the core of the gameplay loop is choosing your load out in the hub, scouting the waters with your crows nests and spotting your target, and then choosing whether or not to attack.”

Lohe was hesitant to confirm whether or not “Skull & Bones” would have a significant narrative that stretched over the course of the game or if it would focus on exploring the world more openly. As fantastic as the combat felt, it’s not enough to keep me engaged over a significant amount of time, I’d need something more definitive than the advertised goal of becoming the most dominant pirate on the high seas. Even if legendary pirates from history are included.

With Ubisoft delaying the title into 2019, a lot of details have been tossed even further into the air as more changes could come ahead of release. With all that said, the multiplayer core of ship navigation and combat is phenomenal. Cannons splinter wood as they plow through boat hulls and chain-shots rip sails to shreds as they fly through the air.

I can only hope that we don’t see a repeat of the “Sea of Thieves” lackluster launch where the amount of content didn’t match the ambition of the playerbase. That’s the biggest question mark above ‘Skull & Bones’ ahead of its launch. I’m hoping the team at Ubisoft figures out a way to include meaningful progression and story to back up their gripping buccaneer combat.

Although Luhe couldn’t dive into specifics, he emphasized that the team was looking into ways to mix the betrayal-crazed nature of pirates with the competitive and cooperative multiplayer elements. “We want to capture the feeling of hunting as a team, a ruthless pirate gang,” Luhe said. “But in the end it’s still about pirates, and we want to give players as many options as possible in order for them to become the pirate they want to be.”

More Gaming

  • harry potter wizards unite

    'Harry Potter: Wizards Unite' Off to Slower Start Than 'Pokemon Go'

    Niantic’s new location-based augmented reality game “Harry Potter: Wizards Unite” is off to a solid start — but it doesn’t seem to have quite the same momentum as “Pokemon Go” did when it launched 3 years ago. That’s according to initial estimates from app analytics specialist Sensor Tower. “Harry Potter: Wizards Unite” first became available [...]

  • survios at the linq

    Not Just Gambling: Las Vegas Is Becoming a Virtual Reality Hub

    Walk into the Linq on the Las Vegas strip these days, and you might not immediately realize you just stepped into a casino. Instead, you’ll stumble across a series of living-room-like lounge setups, complete with leather couches, big-screen TVs, Xbox Ones and Oculus Go VR headsets. There’s also a bar with a massive wrap-around touch [...]

  • Netflix HQ LA

    Netflix Engineers Developed a Rumble Pack Feature During Latest Hack Day

    A duo of Netflix employees had a unique idea for making the service’s shows even more stirring: They added a rumble pack option to the Netflix app as part of the company’s latest hack day. When watching shows like “Voltron,” the feature makes phones vibrate in sync with the action on the screen, similar to [...]

  • Niantic's Harry Potter: Wizards Unite Game

    ‘Harry Potter: Wizards Unite’ to Launch This Week

    “Pokemon Go” maker Niantic is getting ready to launch its next big game: “Harry Potter: Wizards Unite” is set to launch in June 21, the company revealed in a tweet this week. The worldwide launch of Harry Potter: Wizards Unite begins this Friday, June 21! Keep your eyes peeled and wand ready for more information [...]

  • Sarah Iooss - Twitch

    Twitch Hires Sarah Iooss, Former Mic and Viacom Exec, as Head of North America Sales

    Twitch has tapped Sarah Iooss, most recently EVP of revenue at millennial-news startup Mic, to lead the advertising sales team in North America for the Amazon-owned live-streaming video platform focused on video gaming. Iooss will be based in New York, reporting to chief revenue officer Walker Jacobs, who joined Twitch last fall after serving as [...]

  • littlstar ps4 app

    Littlstar Expands Beyond VR With New PS4 App, Signs Up 30,000 Paying Subscribers (EXCLUSIVE)

    A&E-backed immersive content aggregator Littlstar is expanding beyond virtual reality (VR): The New York-based startup launched a dedicated PlayStation4 app this week, giving users of Sony’s game console access to their personal media libraries, as well as both traditional and 360-degree video content from a variety of publishers. Littlstar also announced that it signed up [...]

  • Game of Thrones Season 8 Production

    'Game of Thrones,' Netflix VFX Among Those to Be Featured in SIGGRAPH Production Talks

    VFX pros behind the final season of “Game of Thrones,” the blockbuster film “Avengers: Endgame,” Pixar’s upcoming “Toy Story 4,” last year’s Oscar-winning “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Netflix series, including “Stranger Things,” and more will give SIGGRAPH 2019 attendees a behind-the-scenes look at their work during the conference’s Production Sessions. There will even be a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content