Ubisoft’s long-awaited and oft-delayed multiplayer pirate game Skull & Bones has just been leaked. Sequence of a six-minute introductory video appeared on Reddit (although it was taken down just as I was writing this) and this is the type of narrated primer shown to testers or preview players before they can try out the game, rather than raw footage of someone who plays.
Since in fact I have played a bit of Skull & Bones in 2018 at a preview event (and I probably watched the same type of video first), I was curious to see how familiar it looked and what had changed. My session was after Skull & Bones was delayed to 2019, but before it was delayed to 2020, then delayed again to 2022-2023.
The footage looks pretty close to what I remember playing. Unlike Sea of Thieves, where combat can take a while because ships only have a few cannons that players need to reload, and you have to spend a lot of time managing sails to get in the game. good position, combat in Skull & Bones is much faster and skirmishes between ships are almost uninterrupted. Most ships are positively bristling with cannons, with a crew of NPCs handling reloading and repairs, and sails up and down in seconds for quick maneuvering. As captain, you direct, fire and give orders to your crew.
While it’s nice to have NPC crews doing all the grunt work, you can’t take them for granted. According to the video, you’ll need to keep your ship stocked with food and supplies or your AI-controlled minions will lose morale and eventually mutiny, hitting you over the head and removing you from power. It’s not stated what the repercussions of a mutiny are, but I guess it’s similar to what happens when your ship sinks: you respawn at a nearby outpost with a progression penalty.
In the preview I played, the ships had something like the ultimate abilities you see in hero shooters, and the ship I was commanding had a ramming ability that I could trigger between cooldowns. There’s no mention of ultimates in this new footage, though that doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t there yet. A disappointing part of my preview was the act of boarding enemy ships after weakening them with cannon fire. Boarding was just a quick combat cutscene, rather than an actual chance to use a musket or sword. It’s hard to say for sure, but that seems to be the case in the new footage as well.
The reputation system in Skull & Bones is based on infamy, which can be increased by completing contracts, and the higher your infamy, the more contracts become available. According to the video, Contracts can be split between groups of up to three players, and Infamy can also be increased through exploration, treasure hunts, and other activities.
Player customization is also displayed, with a variety of outfits and accessories to set you apart from other players. The world is filled with NPC ships to attack, NPC-controlled pirate hunters patrol the seas, and players can naturally engage in combat or invite each other to team up for group missions.
While the high-speed action is more comparable to Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag than Sea of Thieves, and while the art styles are different (SoT has a cartoony, cuddly look and S&B is more realistic), the game loop resembles the opening of Rare world pirate game: get jobs in outposts, go to sea to fight, return with treasure, try on clothes. However, Skull & Bones also offers crafting, where resources such as lumber and ore can be collected from islands and crafted into upgrades to make your ships faster or more durable.
Keep in mind that we don’t even know how recent this leaked video is, so features may have changed since it was created. It looks like we’ll be getting an official preview of Skull & Bones soon, as the official Skull & Bones account just suggested this morning that you should keep your eyes peeled. June would be our guess for a real preview of the next pirate game: while there’s no E3 this year, there will be plenty of E3-like reveals this summer.
Keep your eyes on the horizon… 🏝️ pic.twitter.com/BWaH9QfYUbApril 29, 2022