Is Skull and Bones, Worth Playing?
Despite being delayed for over half a decade, Skull and Bones has finally set sail, and despite being not all that it could be, its honestly far better than most reviewers give it credit for.

The Lowdown.

Product Details
Genre: Action
Developer: Ubisoft Singapore
Publisher: Ubisoft
Price: $69.99+
Release Date: 16 February 2024
Supported Modes:

Delays and Development Woes.

Skull and Bones was delayed so many times and spent so long in development (11 years) that it became a running joke that it would either never come out or would actually get beaten by Star Citizen, another game that is continuously mocked by many in the gaming community for its lengthy development time and multiple delays, that has seen it remain in Alpha for development for 13 years.

After such a lengthy period in development, it is, of course, understandable that many gamers (of which most had missed the news that development of Skull and Bones had been essentially restarted in 2018 after a lacklustre reveal) expected not only a game that offered excellent navel combat (which Skull and Bones does to be fair) but a full pirate life simulator, with in-depth systems and mechanics to rival Assassin creed Black Flag, and the Far Cry series.

Unfortunately, this was not the case, and far from using all that development time to expand the scope of Skull and Bones, the developers instead used it to narrow the scope of Skull and Bones until all that remained were those elements required to make a very fun arcade-like navel combat experience, with a loose single-player narrative to help pull it all together.

Is Skull And Bones Worth Playing 2

It Is Not Perfect, But It Certainly Has Potential.

Skull and Bones may not be the game that many of us expected, but it is still a very fun game in some key places. Unfortunately, in other places, it is severely lacking, such as the single-player campaign, which actually appears as if it was originally going to be something special but was drastically reduced in scope to fit with the limitations of what Skull and Bones would go on to become.

A perfect example of this is the campaign, which features some very well-written and interesting characters, only for them to essentially never do anything beyond stay in their office and offer missions while we are told via dialogue of the amazing things they apparently have done while we have been away, it’s not something we ever get to witness, and with the exception of a handful of narrative missions with named NPC elite ships, campaign missions are little more than go to X and kill Y, or collect X amount of Y item and deliver to Z.

While many games offer similar weak content, what makes Skull and Bones’ single-player campaign so disappointing is we are told about far more exciting events taking place but do not get to experience them outside of a few scripted scenarios (some of which are actually pretty good, such as a late campaign mission that sees the player being pursued by an overwhelmingly powerful force of enemy warships), players complete errands, report back to the either Captain Skurlock or Admiral Rahma, and are then told (instead of shown) the result of what we did.

Greetings, pirate, those munitions you delivered helped my people crush the DMC; we have now taken back our ancestral homeland, and we are free for the first time I can remember; thank you again, pirate. - Fictional Example

While this is only a fictional example (to avoid spoilers) of the type of dialogue players will encounter, it is not far from the actual dialogue found in-game.

Often, players will be required to perform a fairly uninteresting errand only to be informed of a much cooler event that happened off-screen because of it.

I understand that Skull and Bones, in its current state, cannot provide compelling land-based content (beyond basic exploration), and the developers were limited in what type of missions they could offer players. Still, even a few cutscenes would have gone a long way towards making the single-player campaign more compelling; however, like many other aspects of what has come to be associated with a Ubisoft RPG, they were strangely absent following Skull and Bones’ 2018 development reboot.

Is Skull And Bones Worth Playing

Progression & Rewards.

One thing that Ubisoft absolutely nailed is progression, and at no time did I feel like completing the Smugglers Pass (all three tracks) would require me to give up any semblance of social life while completing missions, doing my daily quests, and generally goofing off on the high seas I was able to gain 2-3 Smuggler’s Marks (level up tokens) per hour easily, and for those who were putting effort into the completing the battle pass, it’s not unheard of earn as many as ten Smuggler’s Marks per hour, making Skull and Bones’s 90 level Smugglers Pass a breeze for casual and hardcore players alike.

Battle Pass Progression aside,  Skull and Bones offers players multiple ways to earn cosmetic outfits and ship skins, many of which are as good or better than those sold in the cash shop, with players being able to unlock dozens of unique looks for their captain, crew, and ships just by playing the game.

While some things about Skull and Bones were handled poorly, the developers and publisher should be praised for what is perhaps the most player-friendly reward and progression system in any live service game. I would love to see other games adopt this no-stress approach to battle passes, allowing players to start the season late or who do not have multiple hours a day free to grind levels to enjoy each season’s battlepass without feeling like they will need to sign away their life (or open wide their wallet) to do so.

Is Skull And Bones Worth Playing 9

That being said, on the topic of progression, there is still room for improvement, and while capturing various factories and settlements is really fun and is the best way to engage in causal PvPvE content, being forced to visit each of your holdings manually is a real chore, with some players reporting that it can take as long as two hours to visit each location, something which at first needs to be done multiple times per day for optimal Piece of Eight gains.

Thankfully, as players invest in each location, its storage capacity increases, and it becomes possible to visit far less often (perhaps twice a week); a way to automatically collect earnings is very much needed and appears to be something that the developers are looking into, which honestly makes me and many other people very happy.

While collecting Pieces of Eight may be a chore right now, spending them is a blast, with players being able to exchange them for a huge selection of cosmetic and functional items, in addition to unlocking additional tiers that reward sovereigns, a premium currency that allows players to purchase the very best ship armour and weapons in-game, in addition to high-end cosmetic items that far surpass anything sold in the cash shop.

What sweetens the deal, even more, is that players can earn far more sovereigns than they need to unlock every high-end item very easily. This allows players to spend more time doing the content they love, such as hostile takeovers, raiding forts, and sinking convoys, and less time wondering how they will grind enough currency to unlock everything they want before the season ends and the offerings are refreshed.

Overall, while collecting Pieces of Eight manually sucks, everything else about Skull and Bones’ endgame, progression, and reward systems are close to perfect, and with a little bit of tinkering (and a better way to find groups for difficult group content), Skull and Bones will have one of the most enjoyable and player-friendly endgame grinds of any live service game, paid or free.

Is Skull And Bones Worth Playing 6

Gameplay Mechanics.

Skull and Bones’ moment-to-moment seafaring gameplay is really fun, looks fantastic, and is very well designed, and while its land-based content is laughable bad (players can dig up treasure chests within seconds with their bare hands and without any player interaction beyond a single key press), engaging in fleet battles, fleeing pursuit, or reading settlements and military fortifications is really enjoyable, and honestly as simple as it is, “just works”, and feels great alone, and even better with a group.

Unfortunately, getting a group together is difficult, as players are only given 60 seconds to respond to a call for help before the request must be reissued, something which makes grouping up very difficult without spamming the request button as the player in need and being constantly alert for requests for help as a responding player.

With no way to click and join a group, players must manually navigate to the distress call, which often results in players arriving too late to help, or in some cases, long after the mission failed or the player quit, feeling despondent that no one had come to help them, despite help being on the way, this is especially prevalent on console, where players are less likely to talk to one another due to the difficulties of using text chat and inability to easily join the requesting player’s party, to assure them that help was indeed coming.

Is Skull And Bones Worth Playing 7

That being said, it’s still possible to find a group of willing players, and playing with a large group of players when raiding high-level forts or seasonal bosses feels fantastic and is exactly the feeling that Skull and Bones need to expand upon by making finding groups easier, in addition to offering an incentive to players who respond to requests for help, be it additional XP and loot, or unique currency that can be exchanged for cosmetic items that are available via no other method.

Grouping issues aside, Skull and Bones allows players a huge amount of creative freedom when it comes to designing their ship’s functional and cosmetic loadout, ensuring that players can not only look how they want to look but fill the role that best suits them, from slow tanky ships that excel at taking damage, to fast and fragile ships that focus more on dealing out damage than taking, or even support ships that while able to hold their own in a fight, excel at keeping their allies in the fight, making them perfect for large scale pvp or pve encounters, where keeping allies away from Davy Jones’ locker could be the difference between life and death.

Is Skull And Bones Worth Playing 5

Business Model.

While Skull and Bones looks fantastic and is a lot of fun, calling it an AAAA game and pricing it as a AAA game was a big mistake.

Live service games are better when more people can play, and while I do not think making Skull and Bones free-2-play would have made it a better game (and actually think it would have made it much worse), pricing it closer to $35, and including it on every subscriptions service possible (not just Ubisoft+), would have been the right move.

With Skull and Bones being made available to tens of millions of players at no additional cost (beyond their subscriptions that they were paying anyway), players would have been much kinder towards Skull and Bones. With a more reasonable price tag, it would have attracted many more buyers, who would gladly part with $35 for a well-built naval combat game but baulk at the thought of paying $70+ for a pirate game that doesn’t even allow you to shoot a flintlock or actually board an enemy vessel (beyond a tiny cutscene).

That being said, as all of Skull and Bones’s year one content is free, by the end of the year one roadmap, Skull and Bones will definitely be worth its price tag; however, by then, it will have undoubtedly been on sale multiple times for at least 50% off, ensuring players who join later in the year certainly get their monies worth even if they did miss out on some pretty epic season one rewards, such as the Carronades (season 1 battle pass reward) which have players willingly parting with millions of silver to acquire more via player to player trades.

Thankfully, it has been rumoured that functional (non-cosmetic) rewards from the season 1 battle pass will be made available via other means starting with season 2, ensuring that latecomers do not miss out on some of the more powerful weapons available in-game, ensuring that pvp encounters remain competitive, and latecomers are not irreparably behind early adopters, without diminishing the rewards earned by early adopters who bought premium editions of the game or sprung for the season 1 battle pass upon its launch in late February 2024.

Is Skull And Bones Worth Playing 3

Hate Campaign.

There is nothing wrong with having expectations for how a game will turn out, and there is nothing wrong with being disappointed when it doesn’t turn out that way; however, hoping something fails, hating on developers, fans of a game, or its publisher is inexcusable, and honestly downright petty.

Skull and Bones is not perfect, but the way many of its most vocal haters have acted since its initial reveal is far worse, especially when it comes to content creators doing their best to encourage gamers to rage for the sake of attention and revenue is even worse, causing people to stumble (engage in sin) just so they can earn even more money (when they are already often filthy rich) is beyond inexcusable, it is something that God takes very seriously socially when it comes to causing minors (and impressionable people) to engage in such acts.

But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. - Matthew 18:6

While I could say more about this, I will leave you with a link to our in-depth editorial on this worrying trend and the words of Jesus when he talks about the importance of treating others the way you would like to be treated, even if a game sucked and was a total failure, hating on the people who made it serves no purpose, especially when we all have done things wrong, and hope for forgiveness, mercy and compassion from God and fellow man.

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. - Matthew 7:12
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. - Matthew 6:14-15

Skull and Bones FAQ

Skull and Bones is a action video game developed by Ubisoft Singapore and published by Ubisoft, it was released on 16 February 2024 and retails for $69.99+.

Platform Availability.

Skull and Bones is available on the following platforms: PC, Playstation 5, and Xbox Series X|S.

How Many People Play Skull and Bones?

As of May 2024, around 225,000 people play Skull and Bones on a fairly regular basis.

How Active Is The Skull and Bones Playerbase?

Skull and Bones is fairly active, meaning that matchmaking is stable for much of the day in populated regions and viable in less populated regions, even though wait times are considerably longer.

Is Cross-Platform Multiplayer Supported?

Skull and Bones supports:

  • Cross-Platform Multiplayer.
  • Cross-Platform Parties.
  • Cross-Platform Progression.

Are There In-Game Microtransactions?

The Skull and Bones in-game store sells:

  • Cosmetic Items.
  • Cosmetic Item Bundles.
  • Premium Currency Bundles.
  • Premium Battlepass.

What Peripherals Are Supported?

The following peripherals are officially supported:

  • Console - Controller.
  • PC - Controller.
  • PC - Mouse and Keyboard.

Is There Any Mature Content?

Skull and Bones is rated PEGI 18+ and contains the following:

  • Bad Language
  • Drug Use
  • Mature Themes
  • Violence

Is Skull And Bones Worth Playing 4

Final Verdict.

Skull and Bones is a far better and more enjoyable game than what many reviewers give it credit for; while it is but a shadow of what it could be (And I and many others wish it were), that does not mean it is a bad game, nor does it disqualify it from being an excellent title in its own right.

Is Skull and Bones an excellent game right now? Honestly, not yet, but if Ubisoft continues to update the game and release a comprehensive year two roadmap upon the completion of its current feature-rich and pretty impressive overall year one roadmap, Skull and Bones will join the ranks of Cyberpunk 2077 and No Mans Sky, as one of just a few “games that started off hated by the majority of the gaming community, and ended up being idolised by the very people who wished death and disaster upon its developers.

Do I recommend Skull and Bones? Absolutely! But only for those looking for a rather fun and low-commitment naval combat simulator. However, for those looking for a more in-depth pirate life simulator, I suggest holding off a few months and seeing what Ubisoft has cooking. This very well may include a form of land-based content, something that is not only being considered but is believed to be in the early stages of development.

That being said, I would not expect to see it before Q4 2024, and as of yet, Ubisoft has not even decided if they will go that route instead of doubling down on navel activities to over the gaming community; this would likely work just as well, assuming there is plenty to do for players and battle pass progression remains as manageable as it is right now.

Is Skull and Bones Worth Playing In 2024?

8
Honest Video Game Reviews has given "Skull and Bones" a rating of 8/10, indicating that it is a good game, that is well worth playing, and while it may have a few shortcomings, the average gamer will enjoy it.

You Might Be Interested In: