Skull and Bones has loot boxes that reflect 'real economy of the Indian Ocean', won't be pay-to-win

When Tim took Ubisoft's Skull and Bones for a whirl at E3, he reckoned it felt like Burnout as much as it did Black Flag—which was something he was on board with. What's perhaps less inspiring is the fact the forthcoming pirate action adventure 'em up includes loot boxes. 

Speaking to Gamespot, the developer's creative director Justin Farren confirmed Skull and Bones will include paid-for personalised cosmetic items, but that enforcing a pay-to-win-like system is something it's keen to avoid. 

"Our economy emulates the real economy of the Indian Ocean, so things that are important to the people who are shipping goods, the merchants... the empires, those things are important to you," says Farren. "What I don't want to players to feel it is, that it's some abstraction from the fantasy. 

"It should feel like the things that you're hunting, using your spyglass to see the things that are on board, should directly relate to the things that you need. But you know, there's nothing more pirate-y than the treasure chest."

Farren underscores he and his team's desire to sidestep a pay-to-win structure, however expands on how microtransactions might feature in the game at launch.  

"It's early for [more info on microtransactions]," he says. "What we want to do is make sure if players want things, that we provide content for them if they want and that they don't feel like it's gated off because they didn't pay for it. So, we want to have live events, we want to have seasonal events, seasons where you're able to compete against other players to try to get to the top of the ladder and the top of the food chain. Those things will give you opportunity to get those customization elements, those cosmetics, vanity items that will allow you to personalize your experience.

"If somebody sees your ship, they should know you're a badass, or that you're really invested in cosmetics. Or that you've got all the figureheads that represent you being in the right place at the right time to take down the right enemy. That's super important to me. I play racing games, and when I see someone's car that's tricked out, I'm like, 'How'd he get that?'

"That's what I want. I've spent hundreds of dollars on Overwatch, and I can't see it. I'm only doing it so that other people see what I spend or what I buy, and that's crazy, but it's, lots of people are like that, and I'm one of them."

Skull and Bones is due at some point during the latter half of 2018 and will come with a single player "narrative campaign". Whether or not any of the above ties into that segment of the game remains to be seen.