Skull & Bones E3 Impression
Yarrr, RPGamers who follow me show, RPG Cast, know I always be on tha’ lookout for the mythical pirate game what will satisfy me urges to drink rum and sail the Caribbean. Ubisoft claims to have the fix for me ails with Skull & Bones, a pirate game that started from all the scurvy dogs begging for the pirate combat from Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag to be promoted to its own game. Well I’ve tested the waters of Ubisoft’s new title, and so far, she seems to be seaworthy!
OK, that pirate stuff needs to walk the plank. So Skull & Bones isn’t an RPG, but it is a really fun pirate game. In my demo, I got to choose from three different ships, each with its own special ability and focus. I seemed to be one of the few to pick the giant tanking ship, whose special was to drop anchor and launch a barrage of cannon fire at anyone silly enough to sail next to me.
My journey across the glassy waters began with sailing towards the first ship I saw and unleashing my chain shot at them. This is how I began most fights in order to tear up the opponent’s sails, which have their own visible health meter, and strand them in the water with no ability to move. After that, I leveraged that aforementioned special ability, parked in front of them, and unleashed an infinite barrage until the ship sank to the depths below.
Following my first victory, I was able to sail over wreckage that appeared and get materials. Loot drops appeared to be random, with supplying common chests awarding materials that I had no idea of the value of. I was not deterred however, as there were more ships to sink, and sink them I did! After my second victory, my ship’s HP was pretty low so I had to use a repair kit to boost it back up. The kits were limited and following my third victory, I realized I needed to find more or I was going to have an early retirement from my pirating days.
Looking for a repair kit familiarized me with what Ubisoft provided to aid navigation in this game. First, I brought up the telescope. Using that I could pan around and see the level of ships and see if they were pirates or merchants, the latter being more likely to have valuable cargo. I next hit a button and was brought up to the perspective of the crow’s nest on the ship, where I could see a ring indicating the range of weapons on the ship as well as nearby floating loot from ships I had killed. I didn’t notice any ports or anything that looked repair-kit like, so I moved on to the world map. This gave me a lead on some islands I could dock with south of me as well as some nearby pirates north of me, so I skedaddled south and kept checking the crow’s nest for an indication of a place I could weigh anchor.
When I finally reached an island where I could head ashore, I was given a choice: search it for loot or scavenge it for parts to make a repair kit. Well, the latter is what I needed to be able to get back out into the fray, so that’s what I chose. Newly restocked, I set back out to sea and was told there was a high value target nearby. These seem to be guaranteed to have more rare chests available. I also got a tip from a nearby Ubisoft rep that I could board ships to get more loot and a chance at picking up more repair kits. So my mission became clear and towards the high value target I went.
On the way, I scouted out nearby ships with my telescope and realized there was another player nearby who could cause me a lot of grief if they decided to attack me. One of the options you have when you spot a player in your telescope, however, is to invite them to your party. That’s what I did and so with the only nearby player in my party I was able to proceed onto assaulting the poor victim the game had pointed out to me earlier. It was not a fair fight, but this time I stopped and sailed alongside when its health was around 15% and was able to simply hold a button to do a boarding. Boarding automatically finished the fight, gave me loot and a repair kit, and removed the boat from the map.
At this point, I felt like I was the king of the ocean, but as my party member and I parted ways, one of the other players decided it was time to challenge my throne. Within seconds I was being assaulted by a more attack-focused ship who was on a ramming course. I was quickly low on health and options, so I popped those repair kits I had so smartly stocked up on, dropped anchor, and started barraging the poor sod. They had unwisely barreled their ship right into the side of mine but didn’t make sure to finish me off. Once my barrage started, their ship health began to evaporate like rum in the hot island sun, and I realized it was the player to my right who had foolishly taken on the true monarch of the sea.
Aye, that sea dog thought he had tha’ best of me, but I sent him to Davy Jones’ locker. Other aspirin’ pirates can set sail in Ubisoft’s Skull & Bones on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One next year.