Preview – Skull and Bones – We (re) saw the new pirate game from Ubisoft | Xbox One

We can say that Ubisoft Singapore will have taken the time to develop Skull and Bones. Announced in 2017 and sent through our hands for two E3s, the game will finally be released on November 8, 2022 with increased ambitions. It was during a new private presentation of the game that we were able to discover all the new features of Skull and Bones and we have a lot to tell you.

A game of pirates at sea, but also on land!

When Skull and Bones was announced five years ago, it was about major naval battles and looting of enemy ships. At the time, we enjoyed the gameplay of the game, certainly inspired by the maritime gloom of Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag, but it’s true that there was probably a bit missing in the game to really stand out from the crowd … This time it’s official , Skull and Bones will also allow us to land on the islands of the Indian Ocean.

The rumors from the last few months were true. Skull and Bones has strengthened its game and now has much more varied gameplay than expected. We are immersed in the golden age of piracy, where society imposes rules on us, but where the survivor we are chooses our own destiny. Between living as a farmer or dying as a pirate, this is obviously the second choice we embrace from the start of the game, where it all starts with a small boat and its only mischief to get through this world of deer .

Skull and Bones is an open world game (620 km²) that can be played alone or with others, and it has been decided with friends that it should be the most interesting thing to cross swords and go on a treasure hunt. Its release is scheduled for November 8, 2022 on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, PS5 and PC. The game is not advertised for other platforms or consoles.

Little pirate grows up

The adventure of Skull and Bones begins in Sainte-Anne, an island in the Seychelles that was not so paradisiacal at the time and which will be our base after a few adventures that allow us to set the stage. Determined to take our lives in hand, it will then be a matter of building a solid reputation in the hopes of climbing the ranks among the most recognized pirates in the region.

For yes, the whole game revolves around this reputation that should be increased to move forward. The system is called Infamy and the more experience you gain through various activities, the more your level of infamy increases. Note that there is no story or masterpiece in Skull and Bones, Ubisoft has rather described a world where legendary pirates, faction leaders and other non-player figures (NPCs) rub themselves than we will encounter during our adventures. Our only goal in the game: to create a place among the most fashionable pirates to unlock new activities, weapons, armor and other cosmetic items for ourselves or our ship.

Although it can be played alone, Skull and Bones is intended as a social adventure where cooperation is still necessary to overcome the most dangerous opponents and therefore reap maximum prey. The phases on land allow you to get contracts and talk to the various characters, but it is the sea battle that remains at the center of the experience. Raising your reputation, building your fleet and assembling a quality crew will be essential activities to advance in Skull and Bones and gradually take advantage of an ever stronger ship. During the presentation, we could see many options for customizing this, whether it is weapons we can put on board, armor to reinforce it, large bags to carry more food or purely cosmetic items that should be a choice, so our ship is unlike any other.

We start with a small sailboat of the dhow type, but the development allows us in the future to acquire other more powerful and / or more maneuverable ships, each of which has its advantages and disadvantages. Then everything is played between successful or unsuccessful maneuvers and the damage to opponents to plunder their precious prey. The big guns will of course be very useful, but we also saw other offensive units during the presentation. Thus, we can cite a rocket launcher system or even Greek fire, a particularly effective flammable mixture and already seen in the Assassin’s Creed series.

When a naval battle is won, some of the prey goes to us, but something falls to the depths of the sea. To collect the maximum prey, it is rather advisable to approach the enemy ship, an operation which is unfortunately performed via a simple script and not in real time as in Sea of ​​Thieves. If our own boat is sunk, we lose what we had, but it is always possible to return to the battlefield to try to regain some of it before the other players.

If you are not interested in PvP (player versus player), you should know that Ubisoft has only planned PvE (player versus environment) servers for those who want to enjoy Skull and Bones at their own pace and without necessarily being constant threatened. people in the game. Each server can have up to 20 real players, but the game world will also be filled with other AI players

A more realistic and lively Sea of ​​Thieves?

Sailing in a big open world with pirates, customizing your own ship, looting other ships, collecting contracts to earn prey … The comparisons between Skull and Bones and Rare’s Sea of ​​Thieves, released in 2018, will definitely come back frequent. However, if the two games apparently share major commonalities in the background, there are some elements that separate them.

From what we’ve seen of Skull and Bones, this one seems to us at the moment to be a more realistic Sea of ​​Thieves and more detailed in what it offers on screen, a bit like what it represents Assassin’s Creed in adventure game genre. Apart from the presence of a crew here (mainly there to enhance the immersion, as the members have no “life” outside the boat), the main difference is that it is impossible to swim in Skull and Bones, and that so there is no underwater world to explore in the game, at least at launch.

By the way, Ubisoft’s pirate games also offer outposts for swapping and collecting cards, or even dynamic events that allow you to recover as much swap as possible, such as catching up with a merchant sailing at full speed and under good escort. Speaking of events, we were also able to witness the looting of a fort at a distance, where this defended itself with towers and human reinforcements, while our cannons fired at regular intervals at the most critical points. Ubisoft commits, a red meter was displayed at the top of the screen and served as a status bar so we know when the looting would be complete.

The different phases of gameplay that we have seen suggest that Skull and Bones is more about action, where Sea of ​​Thieves is more about inconsistent situations and a certain dexterity to have in the ship’s behavior. So even at very low speeds, the ships in Skull and Bones seemed very manoeuvrable, and it was easy to turn off at 45 degrees when the ship was almost stationary.

Finally, this first glimpse of Skull and Bones reassured us about Ubisoft’s ability to transcribe the atmosphere we imagine from a slightly more serious pirate game. The wind blows on the sails, the floor creaks and the crew bustles as the waves crash, seeking to become the most respected pirate from the East African coasts to India. With this new franchise, Ubisoft promises us an unpredictable experience, where storms rage, where companies struggle to conquer new territories, and where our own crew can sometimes lead us to our doom if we do not fit enough. An adventure that already provides regular content after launch with dedicated raids and events. We can say that we can not wait to get our fingers in it to discover it more in depth.

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