Skull and Bones is Ubisoft’s open-seas pirate ’em up

The splendid ship combat of Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag is returning, in a way, reworked and expanded to become a standalone game. Ubisoft today announced Skull and Bones [official site], an online pirate ’em up with players pootling around the ocean scrapping and looting. A crude analogy: like like Black Flag meets World of Warships and maybe The Division. Here, see some salty action in this multiplayer gameplay trailer fresh out of E3:

Ubisoft say this about Yves Guillemot’s Pirates!:

“It is the Golden Age of Piracy. Renegade captains command the most powerful weapons on Earth: warships. In Skull & Bones, you are an insatiable, upstart pirate captain who has refused the king’s pardon. Having nothing to lose, you sailed from the Caribbean to the Indian Ocean, an exotic and untamed frontier full of lavish riches.

“However, these rich and idyllic waters are also a battleground where far-reaching colonial empires, powerful trading corporations, and ruthless pirate gangs are fiercely competing for their share of these valuable treasures.

“During your journey to become the ultimate pirate kingpin, you will build a fleet of ships you can customize, prey upon lucrative trade routes, and take down rival pirate captains, memorable characters, or other players. In order to survive in this ruthless ocean, you will have to ally with other pirate captains to form the most influential pirate gang, becoming too big to fail and joining the endless struggle for supremacy of the Indian Ocean.”

Interesting! Skull and Bones is due in autumn 2018. It’s being made by Ubisoft Singapore together with help from their Chengdu and Blue Byte studios.

Here’s some cinematic announcement doodad:


  1. Wormerine says:

    I want a pirate game but I might pass this one. Multiplayer is not what I am looking for. I wonder how the world will work. But what I really want is Pirates!!, with more reactive world, economy, factions to interact with.

    • DuncUK says:

      I agree. A first person Pirates! would be great, a world driven by interacting systems, emergent AI and gameplay, ideally with an optional or entirely absent story. Basically a sort of Pirate version of Elite. Pirate games should be about the immersion and the freedom to go anywhere and do whatever you want… but multiplayer is the death of immersion for me. Shame, I’ll probably pass on this.

      • BobbyDylan says:

        Totally agree. I was hoping for a most hardened version of Black Flag (More ship customisation, and different ship options) and less following people around in bushes. But MP just is a non-starter for me in this. MP games too often devolve into fining the cheapest easiest way to win and milking that while spamming profanity in the chat.
        And I can only do that so often….

    • maxcolby says:

      there kind of has been a few games that would easily fit into that but were never popular.
      There was a “Pirates of The Caribbean” that had nothing to do with the movies. It had great mods including one that was Hornblower themed(along with a story line). I played it a lot back in 2009/10.

    • KastaRules says:


  2. Seafoam says:

    Pirates is a really bizarre genre, before Pirates Of The Caribbean pirates were not cool, then the movie came out and every single piece of pirate media since then has tried so hard to ride on its coat tails.

    I’ts kinda weird how you can easily see the singular films influence even in todays AAA titles.

    Look me straight in the eyes and tell me that the trailer isnt trying to remind you of the movie any chance it gets. I dare you.

    • modzero says:

      Pirates weren’t cool before Pirates of The Caribbean? We must be from different planets. There was a bit of a dry spell re pirate movies, sure, but that’s because writers weren’t cool enough, not the pirates.

      • Aetylus says:

        Pirates have been cool since 1724. link to
        By comparison, “cool” has only been cool since 1933.

      • Premium User Badge

        Ninja Dodo says:

        By most accounts Cutthroat Island killed it dead until Jack Sparrow brought it back.

        link to

        Obviously it’s going to be an influence as the first two films were quite good (except for the inexplicable and story-breaking resurrection of a major character for no reason at the end of 2 and then it was downhill from there).

        • Seafoam says:

          Yeah that’s exactly what I was talking about.

          Those 2 films are the almost a basis for an entire genre, and association with them makes it possible for people to go and watch even the 5th sequel in 2017!
          I do wonder when that falls down too. Knowing how good the films are I doubt it will be too soon, so we might see Skull and Bones 2?

        • Premium User Badge

          Ninja Dodo says:

          I’m fine with, as someone else put it, “pirates being the new zombies”… Honestly I’d be fine with anything being “the new zombies” as long as it means we get fewer zombies.

          I do really like pirates though. One of my favourite films when was I was little was The Sea Hawk with Errol Flynn. (note: I am not THAT old, my parents taped it when it was on TV one time and I watched it over and over… actually a *really good* film, same director as Casablanca)

  3. freedomispopular says:

    Ugh another multiplayer game. I’ve wanted something like this or Sea of Thieves for so long, and they’re freaking multiplayer.

  4. Hyena Grin says:

    This particular gameplay video is not available in my country (the US). =(

    This link works at least:

  5. Zaxwerks says:

    Darn, like other comments, I got very excited over this and then the dreaded word “multiplayer” reared its ugly head, so I’ll just be tossing this game on the “that’ll be a pass from me” pile.

    Multiplayer is quick and easy for Ubisoft, they don’t have to worry about a lengthy campaign, they can just rely on grinding and small repetitive gameplay features, plus it means they don’t have to try and code an AI or AI logical as your opponents are other humans… it makes life so much easier for them.

    • Aetylus says:

      Yeah. All they needed to do was Black Flag battle gameplay, slapped directly onto a variant of the old Pirates! dynamic campaign and hey presto, the pirate game everyone wanted.

  6. Raoul Duke says:

    “And we don’t whitewash it either, Morty, the pirates are really rapey.”

    (Rick & Morty quote before anyone gets too offended).

    Like others, disappointed to hear that it’s multiplayer. Black Flag freed from the AC rubbish would be superb, but multiplayer means it won’t be fun unless I spend 100 hours a week playing it, and or buy millions of UbiBuxx, or both.

    • Unclepauly says:

      I had the suicide hotline button ready to go…. Thank you

  7. racccoon says:

    Looks awesome again & very well made, multi play is a bit redundant, team vs team. A game full bodied of this kind would of been a lot more better i would of thought, Anyhow, fly the pirate flag, the pirates are coming..
    I did feel a lot & some disappointed for all those loses though! :(

  8. mitthrawnuruodo says:

    Another multiplayer exclusive. I want to say “f*ck you Ubisoft”, but I will not, since I am a polite person.

  9. April March says:

    So each player controls an entire ship? That actually sounds interesting.

    • DodgyG33za says:

      Right up until the bit where one of the pirates sacrifices themselves for the good of the others. Yep, that is certain to happen online when people have KDRs to worry about.

      And did anyone notice how bloody fast those ships were moving? It is like they took a space combat sim, made it two dimensional and then added a water effect underneath.

  10. Falsadoom says:

    I too was very happy to see this and then I realized the online only multiplayer focus. Researching this I saw a YouTube video where one of the project head honchos said, “Nobody plays a pirate game by themselves”. Well I guess he’s never heard of “Pirates!”, “Sea Dogs”, “Sea Dogs 2” which became “Pirates of the Caribbean” (buggy mess). Those were what fueled the contemporary interest in this genre and quite a few Indy games trying to continue this approach. Skulls and Bones should have been about single player, with multiplayer as well. Big opportunity missed. Another UBI game I will be passing up.

  11. ludde says:

    I really didn’t find the ship portion of Black Flag to be so good that it needed its own game. If anything I was pretty burnt out on it by the end.

  12. Premium User Badge

    Ninja Dodo says:

    This seems like an obviously good idea done well.

    I do agree with others though that a non-Assassin narrative singleplayer pirate game would also be good.

  13. LagTheKiller says:

    Sid Meier’s Pirates! 2 is that you? No.
    “Let the pay off begin!
    Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha!
    I’m the Ubi, I love monies!
    Check this DLC, it’s fucking too expensive!
    I’m the Ubi, I can do what I want,
    Whatever I got I’m gonna flaut,
    There’s never been a game that I’ve ever freed from the grind.
    I can’t wait to take ur wallets back to hell
    Im gonna fill it with my hot ubi crap,
    I’ll make framerate and optimalizations and servers and players squeal like my scarlet pimpernel”

  14. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    Joining in on the “boo, why is it multiplayer” train. I just want another fun Pirates! game, not a boring multiplayer shitfest.

  15. noisybadger says:

    Some of you folks may want to check out Naval Action.
    It’s is still early acces, but it has PvE and PvP servers.
    There is a Pirate faction along with 4 or 5 other nations.
    The ship combat is a lot of fun.

    • maxcolby says:

      I’m super excited for the game but currently lack a computer to play it on(Tried it on my last laptop but it would crash on any battles).
      I thnk most people are turned off by the realism of it and want the arcade of AC’s ships.

  16. Sian says:

    “Skull and Bones is Ubisoft’s open-seas pirate ’em up
    The splendid ship combat of Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag is returning, in a way, reworked and expanded to become a standalone game.”

    Interesting. Go on.

    “Ubisoft today announced Skull and Bones, an online…”

    Annnd you lost me.

    Ubisoft are known for churning out open world title after open world title, and basically every pirate game they could take inspiration from is also more or less open world and most definitely singleplayer – and yet here they go and make it online multiplayer.

    Well, I’ll still keep watching this just in case there’s a way to avoid pvp. Or, heck, anything to do with players who aren’t actual friends of mine. I wouldn’t mind working together on a ship or commanding a fleet together.

  17. mercyRPG says:

    These poor unfortunate developers did HD-Hoopla graphics just to fall flat on the LACK OF FUN. Meh.. AvoidWare. AAA-idiots..

  18. Biggus_Dikkus says:

    i am playing Naval Action, still hope it will sail out of EA some day

  19. dinosauriac says:

    Is it really multiplayer only? Has that been confirmed? Dammit, why weren’t there anyone talking about games at this games conference instead of just showing trailers?!

    And if this is really only ship battles and nothing else that’s a pretty big misstep. I couldn’t believe it when the thing just glossed over boarding an enemy vessel in less than three seconds. What were they thinking?

  20. Crocobutt says:

    Noooo, not multiplayer!
    The one time I thought I could get a cool sequel to High Seas Trader, they make it multiplayer. Unless there will be single player, which would be very, very nice.
    Worst case scenario, I’ll make my own High Seas Trader successor.. with blackjack! And hookers!!