Skull and Bones release date – all the latest details on the multiplayer swashbuckler

Ubisoft's delay-ridden boat-battler is still on its way, so here's everything you need to know before you sail the seven seas

We’ve still got a while to wait for the Skull and Bones release date, but we’re getting increasingly excited to get our hands on this wave-bothering adventure full of single and multiplayer pirate shenanigans. We’ve seen multiple delays to the game, but we’re crossing our hooked hands here at PCGamesN that us landlubbers can set sail again soon.

Skull and Bones is Ubisoft’s response to their previous venture onto the seven seas: Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. This, one of the most well-received entries in the stabby series of Ezio and co, has prompted Ubi to drop anchor and stay floating atop the waves with Skulls and Bones.

We’ve plumbed the murky depths of Davy Jones’s locker to bring you the latest Skull and Bones release date, gameplay news, and everything else you need to know about this upcoming nautical adventure. We have the latest details on how multiplayer works, as well as the ships and weapons you will wield as you channel your inner mangy cur. Here’s everything we know about Skull and Bones.

Skulls and Bones release date

After a delay shortly before E3 2018 pushed Ubi’s sail-’em-up into 2019, it has been confirmed that there will be another launch setback and there will be no Skull and Bones at E3 2019, either. We thought the Skull and Bones release date was TBC 2019, but now the game won’t land until the end of Ubisoft’s new fiscal year. That means the Skull and Bones release date is March 2020.

The studio in charge of development, Ubisoft Singapore, previously contributed to the Assassin’s Creed games (including the Black Flag naval combat system), but this is the studio’s first project as lead developers. Hopefully we see more of the sail-’em-up soon.

Skulls and Bones gameplay

In some ways Skull and Bones’ gameplay looks very similar to Black Flag’s naval battles, albeit with some new bells and whistles. Taking us back to 2013’s Assassin’s Creed outing is bracing: as an enemy ship is ready to fire, you can ready your crew for impact to reduce the damage taken. Bounty hunting ships called Pirate Hunters also try to take you down if you’re making waves too much, so to speak.

There’s plenty of scope for Skull and Bones ship customisation. While your ship classes allow you to choose between agility and brute strength, you’ll also be able to tweak your vessel with different weapon and crewmate types. Legendary chests might be one of the ways we can unlock cosmetic items to customise almost every last part of our ship including the helm, wheel, and figurehead.

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You start your game with a fortune teller that decides the crucial elements of your game such as the wind speed and the conflict scenarios you’ll encounter. For instance, calm winds will mean more tasty merchant ships will be sailing straight into your battering ram, but you’ll have more pirate competition, too.

Your Hideout is your base of operations in which you can plan your activities, track progression, and manage your resources. Ubisoft has said that choosing your crew is essential, but we’re not sure how that works in practise yet. You can also manipulate trade routes and factions.

Planning each attack is as important on the seven seas as it is in your Hideout. Your crow’s nest-based spyglass is Skull and Bones’ answer to the Detective Vision from the Batman Arkham games, and it allows you to a sneak peek at the cargo of your target, their level, and how they’ll react to you roughing them up a bit. If your foe looks tough, you can steal the sails from other ships to blend in and strike when they least expect it.

Keeping an eye on wind speed and direction in combat is crucial, too. If you are sails are facing against a strong wind you’ll find yourself ‘In Irons’ – in other words, a sitting duck for your enemies to effortlessly pick off. Once you’re in an attacking position, be aware that the sails and hull of Skull and Bones ships have separate health bars, so focus on enemy sails to stop them dead and the hull if you’re looking to board. If you board there is only an animation – since there’s no option to explore Skull and Bones on foot outside of your Hideout – but you will have the option to steal their sails, plunder supplies to repair your ship, or steal loot.

Skull and Bones classes

Here are the three Skull and Bones classes of ship we know about so far:

  • Frigate: an armoured warship bristling with cannons that gets into the thick of the battle with siege mode – which allows your ship to unleash an unlimited volley of pain while weighing anchor.
  • Brigantine: comes equipped with a deadly front-facing battering ram.
  • Sloop-o’-War: fitted with mortars and long-range cannons, a veritable sniper of the sea.

From the E3 2018 Skull and Bones trailer, we get to see more of Skull and Bones’ classes in action. We know that, regardless of ship type, you’ll have three different types of weapon: bow, broadsides, and artillery. Your broadsides are your cannons on the side of your boat, your bow are your front facing weapons, and your artillery are your long-range mortars.

The ships we’ve seen seem to have subclasses as we can spot a Merchant ship and the distinctly intimidating Royal Fortune in the E3 2018 gameplay trailer, the latter falling into the Frigate class.

Skull and Bones multiplayer

Skull and Bones is a shared world pirate game that you can play in solo if you want. That means Skull and Bones’ multiplayer and single-player are weaved together, but the Ubisoft devs hope you will team up with friends to maximise your treasure.

Hunting Grounds is the main multiplayer PvPvE mode in Skull and Bones and it unleashes you into the Indian Ocean to hunt merchant ships, take advantage of lucrative trade routes, and sink the vessels of your enemies with friends. And, in a way that recalls The Division’s Dark Zone, you can turn the guns on your erstwhile allies once you’ve downed your initial foe.

The solely multiplayer mode is Disputed Waters in which you and up to four mateys against a rival gang of thieving varmints to sink ships and claim their spoils. Deadly Encounters rounds off the multiplayer modes for Skull and Bones, but we know nothing more besides the name so far.

Skull and Bones beta

Registration for an upcoming Skull and Bones beta is available, but for now it’s only open to North American players. It’s unknown when the closed beta will start, however.

Skull and Bones trailer

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The E3 2018 Skull and Bones trailer gives us more context to the world through which we’ll be sailing. Battered by the Empire, us pirates have set a course for the Indian Ocean, a new frontier ripe for plunder.

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The first Skull and Bones trailer is from E3 2017 and it shows us a different pirate captains (suggesting there will be character customisation in the final game), and the reveal of a titanic kraken. It’s a fair bet that this leviathan will feature in the game, perhaps as a boss in the single-player, or as an environmental hazard in the multiplayer.