Skull and Bones gameplay, launch date revealed

Ubisoft has finally pulled back the curtain on the oft-delayed Skull and Bones, revealing both its gameplay and a launch date.

Skull and Bones is an “open sea pirate experience” where you, as a new pirate captain, will complete contracts and gather resources to gain infamy and build new and better ships, weapons, and armor.

While you start as a shipwreck survivor who must become a pirate to survive, it doesn’t appear that there’s much of a story in Skull and Bones. Instead, the entire point of the game is to complete contracts to gain infamy, which will then give you more opportunities for better paying contracts that reward even more infamy, and so on. You will start with a small ship called a dhow and a spear, but you will eventually earn better ships with bigger crews and more explosive weapons. The more infamy you earn, the more blueprints you will unlock for weapons and ships, which you will then build to complete more challenging contracts.

Weapon types mentioned during the stream include standard cannons, mortars, bombards, ballistas, and Greek fire. Different ships will have different attributes, too. Cargo ships move slowly but can carry a ton of cargo, as you might expect, while navigation ships are faster but have less health.

You will use these ships and weapons to attack AI-controlled merchant ships and forts and fight off privateers protecting corporate interests. You can also join PvP servers to fight other players. While you can play the game solo, Ubisoft Singapore devs recommend teaming up with other players to watch your back while you take on contracts and hunt targets. Based on gameplay we saw, it appears that you can sail in first-person and third-person. There were on-foot segments, but it appears that you only walk around when you’re at a pirate den or outpost, where you will find contracts and purchase items.

Murdering and pillaging aren’t the only ways to earn infamy in Skull and Bones. You can decipher treasure maps and hunt for treasure and explore the world. You will also spend time gathering resources and materials like wood, ore, and animal skin and meat to both build new armor and weapons, and to feed your crew to keep their morale up so that they won’t mutiny. You’ll also have to maintain your ship when not in combat.

Ubisoft Singapore already has plans for post-launch content “for years to come,” including new forts to raid and new dynamic events. From everything we’ve seen, Skull and Bones looks like a Ubisoft live-service game through and through, with endless grinding and constant damage numbers, minus the usual narrative hook to keep you interested. We can’t say that we’re all that excited by what we’ve seen so far, but we’re reserving judgment until we can go hands-on with the game.

Skull and Bones launches on November 8th for Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 5, PC via Epic Games Store or Ubisoft Store, and Google Stadia.

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