Skull and Bones: The Bloodthirsty Pirate's Treasure Trove

We're excited for Skull and Bones, and we want to share some insights into how this game plays as well as how it compares to Sea of Thieves

Skull and Bones was first announced during Ubisoft's 2017 E3 conference, and ever since then its been looking like it's going to shape up to become the pirate game many people have always wanted to play. It takes a lot of cues from how Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag played, and though it leans on this familiarity, there's plenty of new to make it feel like a different experience.

Some may think upon this game's release it will directly challenge Sea of Thieves. Though the two sit in the same genre, they offer two completely different playing experiences. Here's some insight into what Skull of Bones will become upon release, and how these two games stand out from one another.

Here's the latest gameplay footage Ubisoft released at E3, for those who haven't seen it:

Gameplay Expectations Set For Skull and Bones

Ubisoft wanted to highlight the multiplayer playground in Skull and Bones called Hunting Grounds. This mode features an open world where players can run into one another while attempting to take down AI ships sailing across the world. There's a lot going on in this world and having other players nearby doesn't make it easier. Because players can team up with one another to tackle larger ships, it also means they can turn on each other at the last moment to try and make off with the largest portion of the loot.

There's a delicate balance the developers will need to find, such as ensuring players who are just starting out don't continually get taken down those who have much more experience. How this happens was not disclosed at the event, and likely won't get answered until we closer to the release date of Skull and Bones.

Regardless, the development team behind Skull and Bones took the best aspects of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, and went a step beyond what was already there. They expanded it greatly with the amount of customization a player can go into on their ship. Not only can they change the type of cannons they have, but they can also modify the sails, helm, and the crew aboard the vessel.

As of right now, Ubisoft have not gone into detail about what variety of single player gameplay this game will have. If they do allow players to play offline, there may be clear differences to how this game plays as a lot of the more challenging mechanics seem to take place with the looming threat of other players sailing nearby. 

Familiar and Unfamiliar Gameplay

The ship to ship battles looked intense and intricate. Though, they were something we've seen before.

The cannon firing system looks like it was pulled directly from Black Flag, but with several new mechanics in place. In the gameplay trailer, posted above, you can see that at 2:20 the player starts firing on the ships in front of them they have a set amount of shots available before the cannon hits a cooldown.

There's plenty going on that makes it feel different from Black Flag, from the focus to naval combat, to the levels of customization. And this will surely make it far more appealing to many who always wanted to command a ship and loot every last piece of treasure they can. Though, players will have to think about how they approach other ships in the Indian Ocean. You won't want to shoot at every enemy you sail across, or you may find yourself getting overwhelmed far more than you initially expect.

Despite this difficulties, there's plenty going in your favor, and all of the pirates have a hub area they can visit. In this hub city, you're given the opportunity to customize your ship, speak to a fortune teller to learn about the current weather conditions, and learn where the various AI factions are sailing right now to find the best locations for you to loot.

And there's going to be plenty of loot for you to plunder. During the gameplay trailer, we saw a brief glimpse of the person running the demo receiving a "Legendary Chest" from taking down the ship. 

This tells us two things. The first being you may not always know what you're going to get when you go after a ship. You'll probably know the quality of the cargo a ship is carrying, but you won't know the exact details until you take it down and loot its murky corpse.

The second is that there are specific tiers of chests available for you to find. Each tier of chest may carry a variety of different options for you, such as an "Epic Chest" carrying special cannons or sails, whereas a "Legendary Chest" gives you double the loot with some really key items you need to survive the worst of encounters. Unfortunately, the trailer doesn't go into deep details about what a chest can hold, but given the diversity of customization in this game, you won't run out of things to look for to improve your ship.

This feels like a game you sit down and play for a few hours, focusing on sailing the Indian Ocean and facing off against multiple ships at a time. What makes this different from Sea of Thieves?

Key Differences Of Sea of Thieves and Skull And Bones 

When you place the two titles side by side, one immediately thinks these two will compete against one another in the market. Both of them are pirate games. Both of them want players to set sail and command a pirate ship. Both of them have plenty of inspirations from the same culture. Yet, when you sit down, you're in a different mindset when you play either game.

For Sea of Thieves, you've probably had a long day. You don't want to think too hard about what you're going to play, and you were probably invited by a bunch of friends to get online and join them! In Sea of Thieves, you're exploring and commanding a ship with a bunch of people. Sure, you can jump in and command your own ship; but you're missing out on a key mechanic when you don't have others manning the stations helping you plunder the other ships in the sea. There's a cooperative mechanic you can't get in Sea of Thieves, and things are a lot more light heartened. 

With Skull and Bones, you're thinking about every voyage you're going out on. Instead of multiple people on your ship, you can handle everything on your own. Your only concern is where other people are in the world around you; do they want what you're after? Do they want to agree to a brief alliance in order to take down a much larger foe, splitting the loot half and half? They may betray you at the last moment in the hopes they can make off with everything you both worked hard to achieve. There's a lot more risk involved with Skull and Bones and you're going to be doing a considerable amount of ship to ship combat.

Additionally, there’s a lot more player versus player combat in Skull and Bones. You’re expected to find other ships, take them out for their loot, and then move on to your next victim. You want to fight every ship you’re capable of.

In contrast, Sea of Thieves drives players to work together on their ship. They’re working different stations to keep their ship afloat and when something goes wrong, it’s all hands on deck to make sure you can make it through it. You’re exploring as a group, you’re traveling together to find something unique and experience it, together.

These two titles offer completely different experiences. Both will appeal to audiences for different reasons, and those reasons will make them stand out. Just because two titles have a similar setting doesn't mean they're going to compete against each other. 

However, Skull and Bones’ appeal to hardcore players who love to grind out loot may bring in a wider audience. This will certainly set the two apart and make them stand out for anyone forced to choose between them. They offer unique experiences and many will have to keep that in mind when Skull and Bones releases sometime in 2019 or 2020.

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We have plenty of time to wait for Skull and Bones, and if you're feeling really eager, make sure you sign up for the game's beta. You can do so from this website and you have to use your Ubisoft account, or make one if you're new.

For more information about Skull and Bones, keep it here at GameSkinny.

Published Jun. 14th 2018

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