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New Skull and Bones gameplay footage shows how the story fits in

Ubisoft has revealed new Skull and Bones gameplay footage that provides our deepest look yet at how its narrative and multiplayer elements work together

Skull and Bones gameplay video: Three versions of the same pirate stand on a dock, one stripped to the waist and wearing rags, the middle one wearing a deck hand's garb with armoured leggings, and the third wearing a pirate captain's attire, complete with tricorn hat

Hot on the heels of announcing yet another delay for its upcoming pirate game, Ubisoft has unveiled new Skull and Bones gameplay footage that provides the most in-depth look to date of how its multiplayer open-world fits with its narrative elements.

Since it was first announced in 2017, Skull and Bones has shifted focus a couple times, going from what was essentially a multiplayer, arcade pirate ship simulator in which you were glued to the helm, to a more freeform open-world game in which multiplayer works as the backdrop for player-directed missions.

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In the new footage, senior community manager Alexis Cretton and narrative director Joel Janisse stop at a pirate outpost to pick up a clue about a power struggle in the local area, the coast of Africa. Following the lead takes them to a settlement, where a ‘plunder’ action begins and the pair fires broadsides of cannon first at a defensive tower and then at a pair of Company Royale frigates that arrive to chase them off.

Cretton says as he’s played the working build, he’s found it easy to get distracted while on a mission – there will be interesting things to see along the way, and Janisse says the narrative team is “happy to have you get lost in our world.”

The pair finds their next clue in a shipwreck that’s washed up on a nearby island. The footage features both naval combat and on-foot exploration, as you can see in the video above. Most of the action takes place aboard your ships, but you’ll also be able to explore outposts, which function both as social hubs and as places to find new clues and contracts.

The story, Janisse says, is an alternate history of the Golden Age of Piracy, and while the events don’t track one-to-one with real-world history, the narrative does deal with issues of colonialism and resource looting and exploitation of indigenous peoples by western powers, whose nascent economy is “addicted” to new resources they’ve found abroad.

We’re not sure when the new Skull and Bones release date is yet, but Ubisoft says it just needed “a little more” time to finish work on the game, which had been due to set sail March 4.