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Skull and Bones E3 Gameplay Impressions

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Ubisoft have announced Skull & Bones in their E3 2017 conference. Taking cues from Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag and being developed by Ubisoft Singapore, Skull & Bones will be an open world multiplayer game featuring pirates, brutal maritime combat and even a Kraken.

Players will be able to create their own custom pirate, build their own ships and engage in a variety of activities in the vast map set this time in the Indian Ocean and the islands, including Madagascar. The game will also allow players to collaborate with each other and form large gangs. Though the game is still in early development, a gameplay demo was released following the announcement trailer.

The gameplay trailer focused on a PVP loot hunt in the open world. The objective was to plunder as much loot as possible, the team with the most loot winning in the end. Each faction consists of five ships of different classes. Each class of ships will feature their own strengths and weaknesses with some being heavily armored and slow while others are fast and carry more munitions. So each raid or match you get into will have to be planned with your friends for the perfect fleet composition, an element im glad they’ve introduced otherwise the game might get stale really fast.

As the loot hunt gets underway, the fleets split up to cover more ground. Finding and plundering other NPC ships will fill the loot cache while destroying the enemy team’s ships will initiate a boarding sequence, which if successful will heal damages to your ship. The boarding sequences don’t seem to have any direct control requirements from the players at this point and is mostly a scripted stock sequence. Kind of like just a simulation based on HP and stats of both ships involved, Its’ unlikely that there will be more because it adds a whole new melee/gun combat mechanic to the game which would split focus from the core experience of naval combat.

The loot hunt, however, comes to premature end when a fleet of pirate hunting Man-o-Wars interrupt the contest and target the ship with the most loot. The pirates scramble for a quick retreat, sacrificing a few of their ships to enable the one with the most loot to escape. This is like a check for players, don’t farm an area too much. Explore, form fleets with friends or risk it alone.

The gameplay looks sound so far but we are yet to see how the game will play out on land if at all. The game uses many of the concepts introduced in Black Flag and improves upon them. The players will have to use the water currents and wind direction to gain tactical superiority and positioning over their opponents and that is a big new element I haven’t seen before so that’s really exciting. Learning the wind and leveraging them for a tactical advantage will really set apart the best from the rest. Hopefully, the presence of dynamic events will be confirmed if the sudden intrusion of the hunters was any indication and of course the teaser of the Kraken from the trailer.

Skull & Bones has been confirmed for the PC, Xbox One and PS4 for release in Fall 2018. Beta signups are also currently ongoing. I just hope the game has servers otherwise it will die just as quickly as For Honor and Ghost Recon Wildlands


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