E3 2017: Skull and Bones will have you ruling the high seas

Skull and Bones
Avast, ye gamers! Get ready to set sail on the salty seas to destroy and plunder your enemies. Skull and Bones is Ubisoft’s upcoming pirate naval warfare game. And players will be put behind the wooden wheel once again, especially for those who couldn’t get enough of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. When the latter launched back in 2013, no one expected it to be one of the best and most memorable experiences of the franchise. With that said, there is one key difference between Assassin’s Creed IV and Skull and Bones, and it’ll be a big let down for many fans of the former.

The biggest difference is the inability to board enemy ships and engage in some good ol’ swashbuckling action. Players will still be able to pick their captain, recruit their crew and upgrade their ships. And this is still all done in an open world that will be affected by the trade routes they plunder. Players will also be able to play the entire game in solo or co-op. (Although there no specifics about how co-op will actually work.)

Controls for Skull and Bones were very simple and picking up the game after a quick tutorial was a breeze. If a player has played Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, then the basics should be easy for them. There are also new mechanics to make sailing even more efficient.

PvP Mode

During my time with Skull and Bones, I got to check out PvP mode. It likely will be my favorite way to play. My experience occurred in the loot hunt mode. Two teams of 5 set off to destroy NPCs and the enemy team’s ships in order to grab the most loot within a specific time. The catch is that there are no respawns. So players must move and attack strategically because a sunken ship scores no loot.

During our demo time, we saw the frigate, a slow but heavily armored ship meant to protect allies and attack up close; the brigade, a medium-sized ship with great medium range cannons and a ram that deals devastating damage; and the Sloop-of-War, a small and fragile ship meant to assist from afar (very akin to a sniper in other PvP games).

I picked the sloop and set sail for the back line of my team’s fleet. From there I used my mortar-type strikes to engage my opponents from afar without any concern of being counterattacked. Now playing the sloop did come with some challenges. Reload time on all my weapons appeared much higher than other ships in my fleet. And it was a bit more difficult to gauge the enemy’s speed for leading my shots.

The Sloop’s Target HitBox

When playing a typical PvP game’s sniper class, the target hitbox tends to be much smaller. However, in Skull and Bones, boxes are pretty wide to give you more of a chance to land your shots. Obviously, the goal is to sink the enemy ships, and this is done by completely destroying one side of a ship’s hull. So skilled players should keep moving and rotating their ships whenever possible.

My team managed to pull out a narrow victory thanks to one of the opposing ships failing to escape the territory before time expired. This prevented them from receiving a safe escape bonus which made my job as the sloop even easier. I was able to deter or slow my opponents from the safety of the outer rim and then make a quick escape with little effort.

Check out the gameplay trailer below. And if you’re excited to start plundering and looting, you can sign up for the beta here.

Skull and Bones is currently scheduled to release in the fall of 2018 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

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