Announced several years ago, Skull & Bones has long been in hiding, as the ship of a notorious pirate relentlessly sought across all seven seas. Well, the era of rumors and sparse official information has come to an end, because we have witnessed a private Ubisoft event in which, thanks to the words of the development team and the gameplay sequences, we were able to discover all the fundamental characteristics of this experience set in theGolden Age of Piracy, Skull & Bones will finally see the light on November 8th. Without further ado, we board our vessel: waiting for us are hidden islands, settlements to plunder and merchant ships full of treasures.
The hard life on the open sea
To escape the dictates of a company that wanted them poor and insignificant, men and women of all ethnicities have turned their gaze towards the sea and embarked on ships of all sizes in search of luck, glory and – above all – a new life, more risky and adventurous than the previous one, of course , but also worthy of being called such. It is with this concept in mind that the guys from Ubisoft Singapore have worked to create a product with tones darker than traditional pirate imageryaccording to Vanessa Seow, World Producer of Skull & Bones.
This open world trip – or rather “open sea“- it can be experienced either alone, completing missions and raids without external help from your crew, or with the support of the vessels of players from all over the world, with whom it will be possible to share Contracts, destroy forts and take revenge on pirate hunters. , by joining a PvP server you will be able to dive into epic battles against other users, perhaps to deprive them of newly won loot. At the same time, of course, we must expect assaults and ambushes, from those who could see us with their spyglasses while – battered – we will be on our way to the nearest port after having raided a settlement.
Seeing your ship sink will mean losing part of the resources it contains, which, however, can be recovered by returning to the wreck. However, things will not always go smoothly, as the enemy captains may decide to launch into the ruined boat to plunder it, so as to make the earlier defeat more scorching. In any case, these challenges will arise only in a second moment of the experience, which instead will begin with a traumatic event.
Our alter-ego, completely customizable both in physical appearance and on the clothing front – among hats and garments worthy of a captain – he will in fact survive a shipwreck and then wake up on a remote island, in the middle of the Indian Ocean. On board the Dhow (or Dau), the smallest boat available in Skull & Bones, will begin a perilous criminal ascent that will see him assemble a large crew and take command of a real vessel. With the help of simple spears – in sections that should be done in person – he will be able to hunt crocodiles, hippos and, according to the images shown during the event, to lethal white sharks. The predators eliminated, as well as the various types of missions and activities to be completed, will guarantee essential resources to follow up on the adventure and also food: making sure that the crew is always well fed and healthy will be essential, because – as revealed by the developers – otherwise it could also decide to mutiny, turning away in time of need.
At present it is impossible to express ourselves on the possible consequences linked to the betrayal of our men, but we must admit that this found is potentially interesting. By completing the treasure hunts, looting, investigations, dynamic events and Contracts assigned to us by the pirates we meet, we will see them grow Infamy, the level of prestige that will allow us to unlock new designs and projects with which to create various types of ships, weapons and armor, thanks to a crafting system that promises to be full of possibilities. In this way, more and more pirates will know our name and as a result we will receive more and more high-risk but high-reward assignments.
Apparently, however, if we fail to respect the agreement with another rogue, we will find ourselves having to pay a very high price and we do not know if only in economic terms. At the beginning of the game we will explore the streets of Sainte-Anne, one of the many pirate haunts scattered around the map. It is in similar places that we will be able to buy supplies, socialize with players and improve or build boats of various kinds.
Cargo ships, for example, will be slower and at the same time useful for transporting large quantities of loot, while those used for fast navigation will be less capacious and resistant. We come then to the vessels capable of accommodating a greater number of cannons and instruments of death, whose firepower is paid for with a reduced maneuverability.
Between the Greek Fire, mortars, bombards and ballistae, we will have many ways to send the vessels of the opponents to the bottom of the sea, which is why the developers have thought of a large amount of protection and armor with various strengths and weaknesses. It will be up to us to build and modify the ship to suit our style of play, obviously hoping not to run into a mix of offensive and defensive elements that are clearly more effective than average. In short, the variety of approach to the exploration of the seas and clashes seems to be not lacking and the same goes for the customization of the boat which, among figureheads capable of instilling terror and sails with stylish motifs, seems to have the numbers to make you happy. the addicted to the aesthetic factor.
The heart of the gameplay: naval battles
From the coasts of Africa to the East Indies, Ubisoft Singapore has built a vast theater to stage his pirate epicwhich will see us sail the seas in starry nights, lightning storms and perturbations so intense as to raise dangerous anomalous waves.
Excluding the excellent effects of the explosions and a global lighting that wants to do justice to every detail of finely detailed vessels, it is equally true that Skull & Bones appears anchored to the graphic standards of the last generation, think of the polygonal models for savings or a somewhat conservative LOD management.
In any case, mainly thanks to a successful artistic direction and what appears to be a good variety of settings, take part in dynamic events – especially the large-scale battles against warships placed to protect the wealthy managers of maritime trades – or wandering around the settlements, should be pleasant and we hope to be able to say the same also of the playful solutions developed by the team.
The post-launch plansQuest Director Terry Han has revealed some details on Ubisoft’s plans for post-launch support for Skull & Bones. The new contents, which according to him will arrive not only in the months but in the years to come, will be free for everyone, starting from fearsome challenges to be faced in groups, up to the smallest themed events. There will obviously be new ships, weapons and aesthetic elements, which will extend the offensive possibilities and customization options. Furthermore, the pirate captains around the world will not only have to contend with the local factions but also with the potentates not to be underestimated, think of the Compagnie Royale and its terrible bombards. From new activities related to smuggling and theft of valuable cargoes, to assaults on freighters and obtaining important trade routes, the title of the Singapore team seems to want to keep players in the waves of its seas for a long time.
In this regard, the words of the Game Director Ryan Barnard they accompanied us in watching a movie dedicated to the Skull & Bones gameplay loop, as well as to the main cornerstone of the experience: naval battles. After accepting a Contract from the carpenter in Telok Penjarah, one of the pirate haunts, Barnard’s captain extended it to an ally of the development team with a couple of clicks, and then headed to the port to fine-tune his ship. , an agile Brig capable of accommodating many loads in the face of limited firepower. Equipped with weapons and cargo bags, and leather and stone armor, Barnard made sure he had cannon shots, ammo, repair kits, and good food with him to keep his men ‘morale high. When the navigation started, one of the peculiar characteristics of the product was revealed: net of the third-person view linked to the lookout on the crow’s nest, the ship will govern itself exclusively in subjectiveeven in battle.
This prospect could exacerbate the immersion of some situations but when the boat reached the settlement full of oil barrels to steal, some doubts arose. From the moment the crew descends to the ground to begin the looting, which ends at the moment in which a special indicator fills up completelywe must expect both cannon and mortar shots coming from the camp, and a possible assault by ships coming to the rescue of honest citizens.
From what we have seen, the boundaries of the area in which you have to stay in order to follow up the raid are a bit narrow and delimited by a conspicuous yellow band yes but perhaps not enough in the middle of a clash between ships experienced in the first place. person. Between the need to hit the weak points of vessels and towers – so as to destroy them in less time – and having to dodge or collect the broadsides as best we can, we hope that the legibility of the action is not compromised from this type of view.
Being able to watch closely your allies loading their guns and then firing is thrilling enough and if we add to this the ships of the companions that in the meantime annihilate the reinforcement boats, the feeling of being taking part in a large-scale battle is there. all. The boarding unfortunately they seemed much less interesting to us, because they cannot be experienced firsthand. Basically, they are short films in which the crew jumps aboard a freighter to get the totality of the loot and of the resources it contains, clearly after eliminating the last men who defend it.
Just like the brief celebrations following the completion of the looting, be it for the animations or for the polygonal models, these are not particularly brilliant moments on the stage front.
Ultimately, Skull & Bones seems to offer an experience capable of entertaining for a time linked to the effectiveness of personalization and content offering but above all to the success of naval battles. In other words we will have to try the Ubisoft Singapore game firsthand to dispel some doubts related to a gameplay that in any case should guarantee a consistent freedom of approach both on the offensive and defensive fronts, to the delight of piracy fans.
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