Skull and Bones is not the treasure I will sail for, but there is still some gold in it

Pushing aside the jokes and memes around its troubled, long development, Ubisoft Skull and bones It’s really not that bad.

Although far from perfect, the pirate “ship RPG” is not the disaster many thought it would be; In fact, once you get into its deep ship upgrading system, it can even become compelling. But generally, Skull and bones is an exceedingly average game and a throwback to an era when AA, less-than-perfect titles were far more common – and no, it’s not a “times A” video game as Ubisoft’s CEO claimed in an interview.

On that note, I understand what many are disappointed with Skull and bones. It was viewed by many as a pirate-focused spiritual successor to Assassin Creed IV: Black Flags open-ended exploration and ship combat, but this, unfortunately, is not what the latest version of the game offers. To be fair to Ubisoft, the developer never directly said Skull and bones goal was to be “black flag 2″ But given the pirate Assassin’s Creed The popularity of this title and as it has been shown at E3 over the years, the expectation is more than understandable.

With that out of the way, let’s look at everything Skull and bones‘ issues (and there are a lot of them).

“The disparity between Skull and Bones looking great and suddenly resembling an Xbox 360 title is so jarring that it really feels like a video game that’s been stuck in development hell for years (which it was).”

First, there is no combat outside your ship, and on-foot sections are confined to settlements and cities where you buy items, take/complete missions or go on often frustrating aimless hunts for buried treasure. Making matters worse, the transition to the off-the-boat sections is not as seamless as in Black flag. Instead, you sail to a location and are greeted with a loading screen as you enter/exit settlements, making the experience feel very last-gen and a step back from what Black flag Offered 11 years ago.

Speaking of being dated, Skull and bones Visuals are very mixed. At times, the game looks stunning. For example, when sailing through a blistering storm, the crashing waves, lightning, and even my sea-weary ship look great and are decidedly current-gen. On the other hand, settlements and almost all environments are invisible, and character models are disappointing with lifeless eyes, especially your own pirate (I really like the ample customization options for your character). The difference between Skull and bones Looking great and suddenly resembling an Xbox 360 title is so jarring it really feels like a video game that’s been stuck in development hell for years (which it was).

There’s also not a story worth caring about in Ubisoft’s pirate title, which is disappointing because I loved the stories surrounding ‘The Golden Age of Piracy’, but also understandable because it’s a live service game ( more on this later). In summary, you are an outcast pirate in East Africa and Southeast Asia trying to become famous. You meet pirate captains like surly John Spurlock and the fearsome Admiral Rahma, along with other minor characters who offer you missions, but none leave a lasting impression. After spending approximately 25 hours with Skull and bones So far, I’d best describe its story as entirely forgettable.

It is important to do that Skull and bones is a lifetime service title. That’s not to say it can’t be played alone, but it’s easier and more fun with friends, especially when taking down tougher, higher-level enemies and over long distances, which can get monotonous and cumbersome pretty quickly when you’re fighting. to lead. Your ship’s stamina gauge (I find myself fast traveling whenever possible). I’ve primarily played solo and had a decent time uncovering trade routes, smuggling goods and taking down enemies in PvE combat. On a more positive note, there’s an interesting “Sim Pirate” late-game system that allows you to take over settlements and use them to generate income for you. This is related to Skull and bones PvP activities, like ‘Legendary Heists’, which task you with destroying a convoy and then fighting over the spoils. I haven’t spent much time with these activities yet, but they are interesting and for me, add a much-needed dose of variety to Skull and bones Gameplay Just when the game started to feel stale.

Customizing and building your ship quickly becomes very compelling and more rewarding than I expected.

Then there’s the ship combat, an area where Skull and bones Truly beautiful and the only reason to play this game at all. As a self-professed fan of sailboats, this is where the game feels like a dream come true for me to some extent. Whether you’re buying new ships, upgrading your current ship’s defenses, or crafting specialized weapons, every change you make to your ship feels meaningful and fundamentally changes how you approach combat. You will need to change your build for certain missions.

For example, if you are stuck on a raid, maybe it’s time to improve your defense and equip cannons with more range, while a fast and agile boat equipped with rockets (for his benefit, not everything in Skull and bones is historically accurate) can be more useful in smaller-scale warfare. I quickly realized that maneuverability and speed were important to avoid volleys of cannon fire. That said, the resource gathering required to craft upgrades and weapons can become frustrating, especially with more hard-to-find materials.

actually, Skull and bones is much like a traditional RPG, but the main character is a boat instead of a spiky-haired protagonist with fire-casting abilities. Although I am not sure how much longer I will stick with the life service title, this formula clicks with me despite Skull and bones Few issues, and I’ve had a lot of fun with the game over the last few weeks. Still, it really feels like a $40-50 video rather than a full-priced $89.99 title. A lower price tag would go a long way to make up Skull and bones‘ Shortcomings easier to swallow (it’s already dropped in price significantly in the UK, and I can see the same thing happening in Canada and the US).

Above all, the main question is whether I recommend Skull and bones Despite its problems. The easy answer is a resounding “no,” unless you’re into boats and pirates like I am. There’s a fun game in there, especially if you plan to play with friends, but it doesn’t feel like a full-price experience – just wait for the price to drop.

Skull and bones

To be very clear, the game is not that good (this is a screenshot provided by Ubisoft). Image credit: Ubisoft

Skull and bones is available now on Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 5 for $89.99 and PC on the Ubisoft Store and Epic Games Store for $79.99.

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Header image credit: Ubisoft

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