Gameplay from Ubisoft’s pirate game Skull & Bones has leaked online, giving us a look at several mechanics, including naval combat and on-foot exploration.
It’s unclear which version of the game this “technical test build” is from, as Skull & Bones received a major reboot before entering an alpha stage in July 2021. Ubisoft invited some players to test an early version last month, however, meaning this leaked gameplay, shared by Wesam_L on reddit, could well be from this Insider Programme.
In this version of the game, Skull & Bones gameplay revolves around a hub area – similar to The Tower from Destiny 2 – that players will frequent in order to craft items, visit shops, take on missions, and so on. The hub, called Sainte-Anne, is “the centre of pirate activity” and thus where players are encouraged to socialise (through emotes) and organise their teams of up to three players.
Players will then head out into the world to complete quests through gameplay similar to what’s been shown before: naval battles that appear slightly more complex than those from Assassin’s Creed.
Most of Skull & Bones appears to revolve around this gameplay loop, though it’s mixed up by different types of battles, including attacks on forts and settlements, NPC ships and player ships, and bigger “world events” such as taking on a merchant and its fleet of escorts.
Players will need to prepare beforehand so they have enough resources to keep their ship in good health, and food and drink to keep their crew’s morale up. Not doing so will result in the boat being sunk (players then respawn and can return to collect their cargo) or a mutiny (where the crew takes over the ship and likely just returns the player to an outpost).
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Island exploration appears a little less freeform than what players might expect. Instead of being able to stop the ship anywhere, the gameplay showed only specific outposts that the player can dock at and then explore on-foot.
While a narrator in the video states everything in Skull & Bones can be played solo, co-op is also available and missions come with a “recommended number of players”.
The Infamy system is at the centre of progression, with the player starting as an Outcast before rising to Swashbuckler, Cutthroat, and so on. While the gameplay didn’t show all levels of Infamy, there appeared to be around 15 different levels.
Each one unlocks more ship upgrades, recipes to craft, tools, and so on, including “vanity” cosmetics for both the player character and ship. There appear to be dozens, if not hundreds, of different cosmetics available as “it’s also important for you to look the part”.
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Players will also gain access to bigger and better ships as they level up their Infamy, which will also gradually rise through exploration, battling, treasuring hunting, and more.
Skull & Bones was first revealed five years ago in 2017 but suffered delay after delay and as of July last year had reportedly been in development for eight years.
It does appear to be inching closer to release, though, as Ubisoft is now showing it to at least some members of the public.
Ryan Dinsdale is an IGN freelancer who occasionally remembers to tweet @thelastdinsdale. He’ll talk about The Witcher all day.