With Sea of Thieves' launch drifting ever closer, Rare has offered a closer look at Skeleton Forts - one of the new "emergent" activities that wannabe pirates will be able to encounter come release day and beyond.
We've heard about Skeleton Forts before, of course, albeit in general terms. Speaking in the latest edition of Rare's Inn-side Story video series, however, Senior Designer Andrew Preston and Senior Software Engineer Tom Berry not only shared further information, but showed the new cursed encounters in action.
If you managed to check out the Sea of Thieves' beta, you might have come across inactive Skeleton Forts already - they're a labyrinthine tangle of walkways and islets that culminate in a large central fort structure. Ordinarily, there won't be much to see here - but when cursed Skeleton Fort events begin, an enormous skull cloud will hang above the fort, drawing the attention of wannabe treasure-hunters from all across the map.
On arrival, players will encounter increasingly vast hordes of aggressive skeleton pirates, all itching for a fight. They'll spawn in waves both inside the fortress and out, and crews can - if they like - pool their collective might in order to quell their numbers. Some players might choose to fight on foot while vessels circle the island offering assistance with cannon fire.
Eventually, a boss-style skeleton captain will spawn for one last, climactic fight. On defeat, it will drop a key giving access to the ordinarily-locked door at the base of the Skeleton Fort - behind which lies a vault of untold riches.
At this point, the temporary alliances from moments earlier might rapidly start to crumble as crews in the area fight for control of the rewards.
Craftily, Rare has deliberately piled the vaults with more treasure than a crew can carry at once, meaning that players may have to make some bold decisions if they want to claim it all. Alternatively, you can opt for a more harmonious form of seafaring, splitting the spoils between multiple crews as a reward for everyone's efforts.
Rare says that it plans to further enrich Sea of Thieves' emergent sandbox with more content as time goes on - although it only teased potential new skeleton types in its latest video.