SKULL & BONES

De­vel­oper Ubisoft Sin­ga­pore Pub­lisher Ubisoft For­mat PC, PS4, Xbox One Re­lease 2018

EDGE - - MULTIFORMAT+PC@E3 -

At an E3 where Sea Of Thieves de­lighted, it was a bit of a sur­prise to see an­other mul­ti­player pi­rate ti­tle ap­pear. In fair­ness, Ubisoft did it first: As­sas­sin’s Creed IV: Black Flag’s naval com­bat was rous­ing stuff. That com­po­nent was built by the pub­lisher’s Sin­ga­pore stu­dio; now, it is build­ing an en­tire game around it.

In­deed, our 5v5 bat­tle feels al­most ex­actly like Black Flag at first. We play from the third­per­son per­spec­tive of our cho­sen ship’s cap­tain, tap­ping but­tons to or­der our crew to speed up, turn or slow down our ves­sel. But as we learn the rules – take down enemy player and AI ships for trea­sure, then es­cape safely to bank the most loot and win – tac­tics come to the fore.

In our Loot Hunt match, we choose to sail a Bruiser – a nippy, highly ma­noeu­ver­able ship. Joined by two tankier En­forcers, and cov­ered by a sniper-like Marks­man, we’re swash­buck­ling with the best of them: flank­ing enemy ships us­ing is­lands as cover, be­ing an an­noy­ance while wait­ing for backup, then swoop­ing in quickly to se­cure points. But in­stead of head­ing for the exit to bank our ship’s sig­nif­i­cant plun­der for the team, we try to pre­vent re­main­ing enemy play­ers from sim­i­larly es­cap­ing. We’re swiftly shot down and robbed. Oops.

The pace isn’t ex­actly rol­lick­ing, but Skull & Bones still man­ages to feel ex­cit­ing, the air thick with war cries, sea spray and ten­sion. Whether there’s enough go­ing on here to carry a whole game is an­other mat­ter; if the cam­paign, amount of ship classes and load­out cus­tomi­sa­tion op­tions are boun­ti­ful, how­ever, Ubisoft’s ship may be about to come in.

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