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  • Writer's pictureJames Crow

Skull and Bones: Did Ubisoft Get it Right?

Join James from Podcasters United as he reviews Ubisoft's latest game Skull and Bones!


Skull and Bones

Developer: Ubisoft Singapore

Publisher: Ubisoft

Platforms: Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 5, PC

 

Do you want to be a pirate and sail the high seas? Do you want to fight off the imperial fleet as you navigate the world in search of treasure and adventure? Well then Ubisoft’s latest game Skull and Bones might be just the game for you! Now, I know what you are thinking. James, this is just another Ubisoft game, and it will fade fast as they move onto their next title. Well, I am here to say, that is not the case as I too found myself thinking that.

 

Before I dive into reviewing this game, I want to give a special thanks to Nick and Bruno for sharing the chance to play this game and review it for all of you. As many of you know by now from the various articles I have written, I am a PlayStation guy through and through. JRPG’s are my jam, and this is about the furthest away I could get from a JRPG. This was the game that got me to actually unbox my Xbox Series X (it had been collecting dust for almost a year now) and give Microsoft another chance. I am not ashamed to admit I have sunken more than 80 hours into this game.




I cannot truly begin this review without first addressing the elephant in the room. When we all hear Ubisoft mentioned we assume the worst and that it will be a microtransaction filled nightmare that we would put down quick, fast, and in a hurry. I want to let you know right now, that is not the case. This game allows you to truly enjoy every aspect of it without purchasing additional items, in-game perks, or anything else. I am very happy to say that my initial skepticism was blown out of the water, and I didn’t have to worry about possibly paying to win in this game. To come to an end in this regard, there are always microtransactions available however, you will find yourself so lost in the world that you will never need to make said purchase.

 

With that being said, let’s set sail and truly breakdown what this title is all about and if it is worth an experience.




Skull and Bones starts with you and your crew attempting to evade the Compagnie Royale Navy as you haul smuggled goods back to Sainte-Anne. Let’s just say that doesn’t go well and your ship gets obliterated by the Navy. From there you dive into the tutorial area where you will learn the controls, do a few rudimentary missions, and eventually make your way to the main game. This was one of the better openers for me as the game didn’t hold my hand and take me out of the experience, it guided me just enough to where I enjoy learning how to play the game without mundane examples of how to play the game.

 

I’m looking at you JRPG tutorials and the proverbial death by dialogue we must endure before we can dive into the game.

 

Once you leave the tutorial area the world of Skull and Bones can truly be seen, and you get to start your journey to become the next great pirate. This is where the game shines the most. The vast map allows for countless hours of exploring, gathering materials for your next ship, building up your notoriety as a pirate, and just getting lost in the ocean, naval combat, and world.

 

The loop that exists in Skull and Bones is as follows. Explore new areas while doing tasks and quests to gain notoriety, enjoy real time naval combat, work to destroy forts for loot, gather materials, build new and stronger ships, fight other players to pillage their loot, then rinse and repeat. While this might not seem like a lot, Skull and Bones keeps you engaged as with every area you explore, more quests, tougher enemies, and more loot await.

 

In diving into the gameplay loop what stood out most for me was the ability to actually enjoy sailing on the ocean as I went from area to area searching for more to do. A lot of games nowadays prioritize fast travel and rush to get you to the next location to continue the story. Skull and Bones does indeed have a fast travel mode, and it certainly helps avoid losing your cargo to PvP, there is just something nice about a game that allows you to actually engage with the world when it comes to gathering materials and combat.

 

While it was nice to be able to explore the world, I would be remiss when I say that for as much fun as I had traversing said world and sailing around, the overall experience was sadly quite devoid of life at times. For as massive as the world of Skull and Bones is, there are many times I found myself just sailing in a line with nothing to gather and no enemy ships to fight. I think this was a missed opportunity to fully flesh out the world and make it rich with encounters, lore, quests and more and I truly hope in the future Ubisoft will give us that.




Now let’s shift gears and talk about the combat in the game, this is where Skull and Bones truly shines, and is also its greatest flaw. When engaging the NPC enemies of the Compagnie and merchant ships, the combat is seamless as you use your cannons, while steering your ship, to destroy the enemy vessel. This combat flows very fluidly and honestly, I found myself just traveling up and down the coast destroying various faction ships for the sheer fun of said combat.

 

Where it becomes a flaw though, is with the player vs. player combat.

 

I remember vividly messaging Nick, “I have a clip recorded where I got destroyed 15ish times in a row.”

 

That isn’t fun for anyone in the slightest and the further you get in the game the more often it happens as higher-level players spawn camp and make it miserable to even leave port. I understand that PVP is something that was going to happen in the game, but dear god, the number of times I had to wait in safe zones to not get destroyed was asinine. Those instances were the only times I found myself taken out of the experience and had to step away from the game to let time pass and the players move on to bigger fish in the sea.

 

In conclusion, Skull and Bones was a project ten years in the making and I feel Ubisoft did a solid job in giving us an overall enjoyable experience. The game isn’t without its flaws (PVP will be the death of me yet in this game) but for the most part I think what we get to do in this game outweighs those flaws.

 

So, what are you waiting for? Grab this game, join me on the high seas, and let’s see if you have what it takes to be the best pirate of them all!

 

About the Author:


James is an avid enthusiast of all things gaming, especially RPGs. He is an aerial photographer and digital marketer by day and a die-hard gamer by night. His ideal weekend is spent relaxing playing an RPG and recording the next episode of the Games with Jon & James podcast sharing all his JRPG knowledge with you.



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