Given that it’s been in development since 2013, having begun life as a multiplayer expansion for Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, you can imagine what’s been happening behind the scenes with Skull & Bones.
The lack of a strong creative vision, multiple delays, and studio-wide scandals have all factored into the story of Ubisoft Singapore’s seemingly cursed project so far and some fresh leaks showing off its gameplay aren’t doing much to allay any fears.
Showcased via a leaked four minute gameplay video of an apparent test build, the current iteration of Skull & Bones seems lacking in several areas.
Skull & Bones Leaks Reveal Combat and Mechanics
Beginning with some plot details, the video establishes the player as a pirate raiding in an environment inspired by the Indian ocean, before introducing the pirate den of Sainte-Anne, which looks to serve as one of the hub locations.
Here you can seemingly acquire upgrades, pick up missions via opportunities and contracts and socialise with other players, the first two of which will change based on your level of infamy, which serves as the game’s reputation system.
This all sounds well and good, but the main issues stem from what the video doesn’t feature, namely player-to-player combat, either on land or while boarding enemy ships, both of which were features of Black Flag.
In fact, opportunities to venture beyond the confines of your ship seem quite limited aside from visits to outposts and dens, as the video shows resources being gathered and raids being carried out without setting foot on land.
Beyond this, naval combat seems to be the game’s calling card, seemingly operating in a similar manner to Black Flag and providing plunder to fuel the game’s many crafting systems, which seem to be the main drivers of progression within the game.
Aside from its online multiplayer focus, a couple of features do appear in the Skull & Bones video which weren’t a part of Black Flag, such as a focus on crew morale management via the distribution of rations and the ability to have your crew mutiny if their morale drops too low.
That said, given the popularity of Sea of Thieves, Skull & Bones may struggle to carve out a niche for itself in this particular form, so hopefully it will evolve some more before its currently scheduled release in 2023.
Follow us for more updates on Skull & Bones in the run-up to its release.