Every year Ubisoft has at least one big announcement at its E3 press conference, and this year that surprise was Skull and Bones, a multiplayer action game about the pirate's life which has been rumoured for years.

The game, developed by Ubisoft Singapore, will allow players to sail alone, team up with friends and fight against them in the Indian Ocean.

The game's lineage traces back to Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag, the 2013 entry in Ubisoft's globe-trotting franchise which shook up the series formula by making its protagonist, for all intended purposes, a pirate.

Black Flag's sailing and naval combat mechanics were refreshing, and developed by Ubisoft Singapore, for Creed fans at the time, and it seemed inevitable that Ubisoft would find a use for them in future titles.

A CG launch trailer was followed by look at pre-alpha multiplayer gameplay (embedded below) presented by creative director Justin Farren.

Two groups of rival players competed in a player-versus-player mode, each battling each other and the elements to pillage the most loot. Sailors will have to navigate winds and use their ships' unique abilities in battle. Some ships will be smaller, more agile, while others will have battering rams for devastating attacks.

Gameplay appeared limited to ships, with no direct combat between players when pirates board each other, but there's still plenty for players to be doing.

A final reveal teased the presence of an enormous squid, likely the legendary Kraken, which players will be tasked with taking on.

It'll be interesting to see how Skull and Bones compares to Rare's Sea of Thieves, which offers a similar conceit in terms of play, albeit from a first-person perspective and with a more cartoonish style and sense of humour.

Skull and Bones is set to release in late 2018 on PS4, Xbox One and PC.

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