Ubisoft announces Skull and Bones, an open world multiplayer pirate game

Praise Poseidon, they've gone and done it. It's been four years since the best Assassin's Creed, Black Flag, gave us a taste of the pirate's life. Ubisoft's finally taken that potential and spun it out of the Assassin's Creed universe in a new game called Skull and Bones.

Ubisoft first showed off Skull and Bones with a cinematic trailer at its press conference, but the video above is a longer look at the game, which describes it as a multiplayer, open world pirate game.

Here's the trailer description: 

“It is the Golden Age of Piracy. Renegade captains command the most powerful weapons on Earth: warships. You are a pirate captain who has refused the king’s pardon and sailed from the Caribbean to the Indian Ocean, an untamed frontier full of lavish riches. However, these waters are also a battleground where far-reaching colonial empires, powerful trading corporations, and ruthless pirate gangs clash. In order to survive, you will have to build a lethal fleet, prey upon lucrative trade routes, and ally with other pirates in your endless struggle for supremacy.” 

"We're not making Black Flag 2.0, we're making our own game, but we really went to school on what we've done in the past," says an Ubisoft developer. You'll collect different types of ships that fill "traditional RPG archetypes," like a long-range, weakly armored ship and a heavy gun-toting frigate. Navigating with the wind is a key tactical element.

The game isn't all PvP, and sounds a bit like The Division in its open world design and challenges built around co-op play with your friends. Ubisoft talked just a bit about being able to develop your own gang with, naturally, your own pirate emblem.

And a bit more detail on the different forms of piracy in Skull and Bones:

Dominate a Dangerous Open Ocean:
A shared open world that reacts as you plunder rich trade routes

Customize Your Pirate Experience:
Choose your captain, recruit your crew and build deadly ships

Naval Combat Redefined:
Use your weapons, spyglass and even the wind to stalk and destroy your prey

Play Solo or Coop:
Raid the Hunting Grounds alone or group with other players to hunt larger prey

Explosive Multiplayer:
Enter the Disputed Waters and fight for supremacy in a variety of game modes

Here are two more videos of Skull and Bones: a gameplay walkthrough and the cinematic trailer I mentioned above. Skull and Bones is due out in Fall 2018, but will have a playable beta well before that, which you can sign up for here.

This gameplay video depicts two teams of players in a 5v5 multiplayer mode called Loot Hunt, which gives us a look at a few ships. The powerful frigate, the close quarters brigantine (with a nasty battering ram), and the long-range sloop of war. While there's a lot of ship-on-ship combat, the goal here is to collect treasure scattered around the ocean play area.

And yes: sea shanties are definitely back.

Wes Fenlon
Senior Editor

Wes has been covering games and hardware for more than 10 years, first at tech sites like The Wirecutter and Tested before joining the PC Gamer team in 2014. Wes plays a little bit of everything, but he'll always jump at the chance to cover emulation and Japanese games.

When he's not obsessively optimizing and re-optimizing a tangle of conveyor belts in Satisfactory (it's really becoming a problem), he's probably playing a 20-year-old Final Fantasy or some opaque ASCII roguelike. With a focus on writing and editing features, he seeks out personal stories and in-depth histories from the corners of PC gaming and its niche communities. 50% pizza by volume (deep dish, to be specific).