Review: Skull and Bones


Posted on February 26, 2024 by fncwill

Listen to this Article:

6.5/10

Summary

The game’s core gameplay loop is a mixed bag. Skull and Bones is primarily focused on naval combat, as you physically cannot get out of your ship unless you land on an island. Even then, it’s a teleport action and not seamless. Missions usually boil down to some sort of fetch quest where you go somewhere, pick something up, or sink another ship and loot it, with little to no story or character development. While the game’s map is large, it’s mostly empty and bland and feels like a repetitive grind.

Overall the game is Decent, but with the amount of years it took to make, we both expected way more from the game. While the game invites players to explore the beautiful but treacherous Indian Ocean during the Golden Age of Piracy, if it weren’t for the Online Servers, this game would likely be one you’d see heavily pirated, just like the Golden Age of Piracy the game is set in.

 

Developer – Ubisoft Singapore

Publisher – Ubisoft

Platforms – PC (Main Platform Reviewed) , PS5(Performance/Accessibility Input), Xbox Series X|S,Amazon Luna

Review copy given by Publisher

Ahoy there, me hearties! Gather ’round and let me spin a tale of Skull and Bones, the latest pirate adventure that’s took quite some time to finally release since being announced , and has taken me on a wild journey across the vast, unpredictable seas and uncharted waters. I’m going to share my thoughts on the PC version of Skull and Bones (with the help of our other staff member Henry who will be providing insight on the PS5 version). This co-op game offers an interesting experience, inviting players to explore the beautiful but treacherous Indian Ocean during the Golden Age of Piracy.

The story and narrative of Skull and Bones are deeply intertwined with the game’s four distinct regions: The Red Isle, The Coast of Africa, The East Indies, and The Open Seas. Each region offers a unique distinct and diverse setting, complete with its own challenges, opportunities, and storylines, ensuring that players are constantly engaged and immersed in the world.

The Red Isle, a lawless haven for pirates, serves as the game’s central hub. Here, you’ll find a diverse cast of characters, each with their own stories and motivations. The Red Isle is the perfect place to forge alliances, upgrade your ship, and learn more about the world and its many factions. As you progress through the game, you’ll uncover hidden secrets and unlock new storylines, deepening your connection to the world and its inhabitants.

The Coast of Africa, with its lush landscapes and bustling ports, offers a stark contrast to the lawless Red Isle. Here, you’ll encounter a variety of factions, each with their own goals and agendas. The Coast of Africa is a place of opportunity, where you can trade goods, form alliances, and uncover hidden treasures. The region’s rich history and diverse culture serve as the backdrop for a series of engaging storylines and character interactions.

The East Indies, a vast and treacherous region, is home to some of the most dangerous waters in the game. Here, you’ll face powerful storms, treacherous reefs, and fierce competitors. The East Indies is a place of high-stakes adventure, where only the bravest and most skilled pirates dare to tread. As you navigate this unforgiving region, you’ll uncover ancient secrets, hidden treasures, and engage in thrilling battles against rival pirates and formidable sea creatures.

The Open Seas, a vast and unpredictable expanse, offer the ultimate challenge for aspiring pirate kings. Here, you’ll face the full force of nature, from towering waves and powerful storms to deadly sea creatures and fierce competitors. The Open Seas are a place of mystery and danger, where only the strongest and most cunning pirates can hope to survive. As you explore this uncharted territory, you’ll uncover long-lost civilizations, hidden treasures, and engage in epic battles against rival pirates and mythical sea creatures.

Players will also encounter four distinct factions, each with its own unique culture, goals, and motivations. These factions include Ungwana, Clan of Fara, Dominion of Rempah, and Sea People.

Ungwana is a powerful and influential faction, known for its wealth and prosperity. Led by a council of wise elders, Ungwana is a beacon of stability and order in a lawless world. The faction’s wealth and resources make it a valuable ally, and many pirates seek to curry favor with Ungwana in the hopes of gaining access to its vast network of trade and commerce. Players who choose to align themselves with Ungwana will find themselves drawn into a web of politics, intrigue, and high-stakes commerce.

The Clan of Fara is a mysterious and secretive faction, known for its mastery of the supernatural. Led by a powerful sorceress, the Clan of Fara is rumored to possess ancient knowledge and powerful magic. Many pirates seek out the Clan of Fara in the hopes of learning their secrets and harnessing their power for their own gain. Players who choose to align themselves with the Clan of Fara will find themselves drawn into a world of mystery, magic, and ancient rituals.

The Dominion of Rempah is a powerful and expansionist faction, known for its military might and disciplined navy. Led by a ruthless admiral, the Dominion of Rempah seeks to expand its territory and assert its dominance over the Indian Ocean. Players who choose to align themselves with the Dominion of Rempah will find themselves drawn into a world of military strategy, naval battles, and territorial conquest.

The Sea People are a nomadic and fiercely independent faction, known for their seafaring skills and mastery of the open seas. Led by a council of experienced sea captains, the Sea People are a force to be reckoned with. Players who choose to align themselves with the Sea People will find themselves drawn into a world of adventure, exploration, and high-seas piracy.

In Skull and Bones, players will also encounter three powerful Megacorporations. These Megacorporations include Compagne Royale, Dutch Merchant Company, and British Trade Alliance.

Compagne Royale is a powerful and influential Megacorporation, known for its wealth and prosperity. Led by a council of experienced merchants, Compagne Royale is a beacon of stability and order in a lawless world. The Megacorporation’s wealth and resources make it a valuable ally and many pirates seek to curry favor with Compagne Royale in the hopes of gaining access to its vast network of trade and commerce. Players who choose to align themselves with Compagne Royale will find themselves drawn into a web of politics, intrigue, and high-stakes commerce.

The Dutch Merchant Company is a powerful and expansionist Megacorporation, known for its military might and disciplined navy. Led by a ruthless admiral, the Dutch Merchant Company seeks to expand its territory and assert its dominance over the Indian Ocean. Players who choose to align themselves with the Dutch Merchant Company will find themselves drawn into a world of military strategy, naval battles, and territorial conquest.

The British Trade Alliance is a nomadic and fiercely independent Megacorporation, known for its seafaring skills and mastery of the open seas. Led by a council of experienced sea captains, the British Trade Alliance is a force to be reckoned with. Players who choose to align themselves with the British Trade Alliance will find themselves drawn into a world of adventure, exploration, and high-seas piracy.

Finally, players will encounter two powerful Regional Kingpins. These Kingpins include The Lion of Sainte-Anne and Admiral Rahma.

The Lion of Sainte-Anne, John Scurlock, is a powerful and influential Kingpin, known for his wealth and prosperity. He is a beacon of stability and order in a lawless world, and many pirates seek to curry favor with him in the hopes of gaining access to his vast network of trade and commerce. The Lion of Sainte-Anne is a shrewd and cunning leader, and players who choose to align themselves with him will find themselves drawn into a web of politics, intrigue, and high-stakes commerce.

Admiral Rahma, on the other hand, is a nomadic and fiercely independent Kingpin, known for her seafaring skills and mastery of the open seas. She believes in freedom, no matter the cost, and is a force to be reckoned with. Admiral Rahma is a charismatic and inspiring leader, and players who choose to align themselves with her will find themselves drawn into a world of adventure, exploration, and high-seas piracy.

In Skull and Bones, Infamy serves as the game’s progression system, tracking a player’s growth and development as a pirate captain. As players engage in sinking Ships, killing Wildlife, plundering Points
of Interest, and completing contracts among other activities they will earn Infamy points. The more Infamy a player has, the more privileges they will have access to, and the more pirates in the world will want to work with them.

The ten tiers of Infamy in Skull and Bones are as follows, listed in order from worst to best:

  1. Novice
  2. Apprentice
  3. Raider
  4. Corsair
  5. Buccaneer
  6. Privateer
  7. Sea Dog
  8. Sea Wolf
  9. Pirate Lord
  10. Pirate King

As players progress through these tiers, they will gain access to new privileges, ships, and equipment, and will become increasingly well-known in the world. The higher a player’s Infamy, the more respect and fear they will command from other pirates, and the more opportunities they will have to shape the world to their will.

Next, let’s talk about Dens, Dens are central to the world of Skull and Bones, serving as social hubs where players can re-supply, craft, take on new missions, and interact with other players. At launch, there are two dens in the game: Sainte-Anne, located in the Red Isle, and Telok Penjarah, located in the East Indies. Each den is home to a diverse cast of NPCs, who offer a range of services and opportunities for players, allowing them to purchase supplies, ship upgrades, food, repair kits, blueprints, and more.

Speaking of Ships, there are currently 10 different ships with 3 different Archetypes: DPS, Tank, and Support. Ships are assigned unique perks based on their Archetype. Determined by the gear score of equipment that’s installed on your ship. The more powerful your gear, the higher your Ship Rank. Each ship can be equipped with different Weapons, Armor, and Furniture. I won’t go into every type in this review as there are tons, but each affects the ship’s stats and crew bonuses in different ways.

While sailing the vast expanse of the Indian Ocean in Skull and Bones, players will encounter a variety of world events that can occur spontaneously in various locations. These events provide exciting and dynamic opportunities for players to engage with the world and other players.

For example, players may come across valuable trade routes that are being hijacked by rival pirates. By successfully defending these routes, players can earn valuable rewards and reputation points. Alternatively, players may choose to join in on the hijacking and reap the benefits for themselves.

Additionally, players may encounter ships carrying valuable cargo, such as silver and other commodities. By boarding these ships and successfully securing the cargo, players can earn valuable rewards and loot.

Finally, players may be tasked with escorting merchants who are being targeted by rival pirates. By successfully escorting these merchants to their destination, players can earn rewards and reputation points. However, the journey won’t be easy as rival pirates will be looking to take down both the merchants and their escorts.

These world events provide an exciting and ever-changing gameplay experience, keeping players engaged and on their toes as they navigate the dangerous waters of the Indian Ocean. With a wide range of events and opportunities, players will find themselves constantly challenged and rewarded for their actions in Skull and Bones.

Not only are there World Events but there are also Activities :

Kuharibu (Sea Monster) – In this activity, players take on the role of a sea monster, tasked with sinking enemy ships to earn points. The twist is that the player’s sea monster has limited mobility, requiring players to strategically position themselves to maximize their attacks. Additionally, players must also manage their stamina, as attacking and moving depletes their stamina bar. The activity takes place in a large open sea, with various islands and rocks that players can use for cover or ambush points.

Maangodin (Ghost Ship) – In this activity, players are tasked with infiltrating an enemy ship and taking out its crew without being detected. Players must navigate the ship’s corridors and rooms, taking out enemies silently or by using stealth tactics. The twist is that the ship is patrolled by powerful guards who can instantly kill the player if they are spotted. Players must use their wits and stealth abilities to avoid detection and complete their objectives.

Cutthroat Cargo – In this activity, players are tasked with stealing valuable cargo from an enemy ship while avoiding its defenses. The twist is that the cargo is guarded by a powerful captain and his crew, who will stop at nothing to protect their valuable cargo. Players must strategically navigate the ship’s defenses, taking out enemies and avoiding traps to reach the cargo. The activity takes place at night, with the only light coming from the moon and the ship’s lanterns, adding an extra layer of difficulty and realism to the gameplay.

Overall, the three activities in Skull and Bones offer a diverse range of gameplay experiences, from the strategic positioning of Kuharibu to the stealth tactics of Maangodin and the high-stakes cargo theft of Cutthroat Cargo. Each activity requires players to adapt their playstyle and strategies to succeed, adding depth and replayability to the game.

Now let’s get away from the story a bit and talk about Game features, Modes, and Accessibility.

Skull and Bones features a photo mode that allows players to capture stunning images of the game’s breathtaking world. The photo mode offers a range of filters and options that enable players to customize their shots and create unique and beautiful images. Players can add filters such as sepia, black and white, or vignettes to give their photos a classic or artistic look. They can also remove the user interface (UI) to create a more immersive and cinematic experience. Additionally, players can adjust the camera’s field of view, depth of field, and focus to create a more dramatic effect. The photo mode is accessible at any time during gameplay, allowing players to capture memorable moments and share them with the community. Overall, the photo mode in Skull and Bones allows players to showcase their creativity and capture the game’s stunning visuals in a unique and personalized way.

The Game also Supports multiple Language options for Menu’s, Subtitle, and Spoke Language at launch. There are also tons of Accessibility Options in Skull and Bones which are big to both me and Henry, as well as Ubisoft the creators of the game who have a dedicated team who focus on accessibility.

Some of these options include input and Remapping of controls, which includes hold/press trigger type customization for selected actions, adaptive trigger effects, swapping left and right stick functionality an movement stick dead zones. There are also tons of other Gameplay accessibility features including the ability to enable/disable camera shakes, Colour Customization for Deutan/Protan/Tritan color presets for Visual Effects, Map, and HUD elements. As someone who is Highly Deutan Colorblind like myself, it makes Hud elements and more way more clear and noticeable. There are also Subtitles and Closed captions, Customizable font size, and background color.

The most impressive Accessibility feature however is the Text-to-Speech and speech-to-text in-game chat features. For example, the text-to-speech feature allows players to hear menu options and messages read aloud. This feature is particularly helpful for players who have difficulty reading text or who prefer to listen to information instead of reading it. The game also includes an option to narrate messages sent to text chat, enabling players to communicate more effectively with their teammates.

In addition to text-to-speech, Skull and Bones includes speech-to-text functionality. This feature allows players to transcribe voice chat messages from other players into text chat messages. This is useful for players who have difficulty typing or who prefer to communicate through voice chat. The game also includes an outgoing speech-to-text feature, which turns players’ voices into text chat messages. This feature is helpful for players who have difficulty typing or spelling, as it allows them to communicate more effectively with their teammates.

The accessibility features in Skull and Bones are designed to provide a more inclusive gaming experience for all players. By offering these options, the game ensures that players with different abilities can enjoy the game to its fullest while allowing players to tailor their experience to their individual needs. Overall, Skull and Bones’ accessibility features demonstrate a commitment to inclusivity and diversity, ensuring that all players can enjoy the game and have a fun and engaging experience.

One of the last big features is Streamer mode, which is designed specifically for streamers and content creators. This mode allows players to anonymize their names, keeping their identity private while still allowing them to interact with their audience and community. Streamer Mode is particularly useful for players who prefer to keep their personal lives separate from their online personas or who want to avoid unwanted attention or harassment.

In Streamer Mode, players can choose to display a randomized name or a custom name of their choice. This feature allows them to maintain their online identity while still protecting their privacy. Additionally, Streamer Mode includes features like chat filtering and moderation tools, which help to create a more positive and inclusive community. The chat filtering feature allows players to block specific words or phrases, preventing harassment or spam in their chat. Moderation tools give players the power to manage their chat and community, ensuring that their channel remains a positive and welcoming space for all viewers.

The introduction of Streamer Mode in Skull and Bones is a significant step towards creating a more inclusive and positive gaming community. By giving players the option to protect their privacy and manage their online identity, the game promotes a healthy and respectful environment for all players. Streamers and content creators can now focus on creating engaging content without worrying about their personal information being shared or compromised. Overall, Streamer Mode is a valuable addition to Skull and Bones, demonstrating Ubisoft’s commitment to creating a positive and enjoyable gaming experience for all players.

To Recap our thoughts; The game’s core gameplay loop is a mixed bag. Skull and Bones is primarily focused on naval combat, as you physically cannot get out of your ship unless you land on an island. Even then, it’s a teleport action and not seamless. Missions usually boil down to some sort of fetch quest where you go somewhere, pick something up, or sink another ship and loot it, with little to no story or character development. While the game’s map is large, it’s mostly empty and bland and feels like a repetitive grind.

During our Review Henry noted Technical performance on PlayStation 5 could use some improvements. Since Skull and Bones is an online-only game, meaning you need to connect to Ubisoft’s servers every time you boot up the game, it took him 30 seconds to a minute to fully connect to the server and the game to launch, which seemed a bit longer than PC which also felt a tad slower than most AAA games with online services these days. The chat service was also unavailable on PS5, which given the MMO nature of the game is frustrating, with no estimated time to be fixed.

For the most part, the 60 fps is smooth but there are stutters and frame drops every now and then in addition to a noticeable dip in visual quality, but nothing crazy. Going in and out of buildings does force loading screens upwards of 10 seconds, unfortunately, which is a bit of a bummer. In terms of graphics, the environments are rich and varied, from tropical islands to stormy seas, and the ships are modeled with great attention to detail. Still, the character models are disappointing, especially when it comes to lip-syncing.

Overall the game is Decent, but with the amount of years it took to make, we both expected way more from the game. While the game invites players to explore the beautiful but treacherous Indian Ocean during the Golden Age of Piracy, if it weren’t for the Online Servers, this game would likely be one you’d see heavily pirated, just like the Golden Age of Piracy the game is set in.

Share Everywhere!