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Skull and Bones: Review

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Skull and Bones Review

Skull and Bones is a new action-adventure video game developed and published by Ubisoft embarking players on an open-world journey set in the late 17th century in East Africa and Southeast Asia. It is a brand-new adventure in which players get to play as a Pirate and pursue the journey to become the Kingpin by taking the rest of the Kingpins in the regions of the world.

When we talk about Pirates, it is not the first time Ubisoft created a world full of popular pirates. Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag was the first one with a pirate story and the world was filled with piracy activities providing an immersive experience that many players enjoyed. Now with the release of a full piracy adventure video game from Ubisoft, it is only left to see whether it provides a better experience than the previous piracy experiences or not.

Story

The narrative of Skull and Bones revolves around the Golden Age of Piracy in the Indian Ocean covering four main regions in which the unknown Men/Women get to build their name. From the point of ‘No One’ to becoming the ferocious ‘Kingpin’ of the Lawless Seas, players will get to create their own character and venture across the vast seas to strengthen themselves and take down the threatening Kingpins.

Gameplay

The gameplay of Skull and Bones is mostly Piracy with a third-person perspective along with controlling your character at the main outposts to meet various NPCs, take on Contracts, Bounties, and Jobs, manage your ships, craft essential items, run your supply network, and much more.

As the game begins and you complete the opening scene of the game, you will get to create the custom character and get to pursue the main story which will take you to Red Isles, one of the four main regions of the game. You will reach the Saint-Anne outpost/den where you will get to meet John Scurlock, one of the Regional Kingpins in the game. Pursue the main contracts for various NPCs and John Scurlock to earn his trust and progress in the main campaign. The game allows you to pursue the main journey completely Solo or with your friends in a group of three players.

The main progression in Skull and Bones is tracked by Infamy. Infamy works as the character Level in Skull and Bones and as you complete the main/side contracts along with several other activities, you will gain Infamy which will promote your character to the next Infamy Rank at surpassing the threshold of the current rank. There are ten ranks of Infamy in Skull and Bones, and throughout your playthrough, you will be required of a certain Infamy rank to avail of respective privileges. Not only that but increasing Infamy is also crucial for the main campaign as certain pirates will require a specific Infamy tier to work with you and grant you the main contracts to pursue for the main story.

One of the essential ventures throughout your playthrough will revolve around gathering the materials as they are crucial for crafting all sorts of weapons, tools, armor, and furniture items for your ship as well as even crafting a new ship. There are various types of materials in Skull and Bones and each type contains several materials. The main material types are raw materials and refined materials which can be obtained through various means.

You can get the raw materials using the respective tool type from the spawn locations which can be seen and tracked thoroughly from the map. Open the map to locate the spawn locations for the raw materials you are looking for, then set sail to the location to harvest the raw materials. Furthermore, you can turn the raw materials into refined materials by going into the Refinery at one of the main outposts. Alternatively, you can hunt down the various enemy factions’ ships in every region to loot their Cargo to get both raw materials and refined materials along with Silver (the primary currency in Skull and Bones). Another thing worth mentioning is that in each region, there are several settlements and docking points where you will be able to find vendors and merchants who will be willing to trade you those needy materials for Silver.

All the materials that you obtain from your ventures will be stored in your ship’s cargo which is dangerous as you will get into enemy ships quite often and there is a chance that another player might just shoot your ship while you are out of the safe zone. It is best to dock at the outpost as soon as possible and move all of your valuables and materials into the warehouse to keep them secured and then use them freely to craft all the necessities.

Speaking of crafting, before you get to craft any item, you will be required to first acquire its respective blueprint. Blueprints are either obtained by completing contracts or buying from certain vendors and merchants across the regions. After getting the blueprints, you need to speak with the respective NPC who will craft that required item for you using the required materials along with the work fee (Silver).

Moving on to the main and probably the most important factor of the game, Naval Combat. Before I try to explain all of the Naval Combat, let me tell you that there is zero character combat in the game. You will not be engaged in any combat which requires you to control your character to shoot/fight the enemies or other players. It will only be your ship and enemies’ ships that will be engaging in Naval battles.

For the actual naval combat, it is pretty decent but sometimes lacks responsiveness. You can modify your ship at the dock by going into the ‘Manage Ship’ option to equip your ship with the maximum number of weapons and armor to have an advantage in the battles. Before engaging with any enemy ships, use the Spyglass to highlight the weak spots for the ships and then use the various types of weapons to shoot at the enemy ships. The game offers a wide range of weapons from which you can equip only a certain number of them depending on the type of your ship. Equipping different types of weapons is essential to make a deadly ship as it will allow you to tackle enemy ships from both greater distances and close distances.

Furthermore, the naval combat does allow you to board enemy ships but it isn’t exactly what your mind would think initially. Instead of allowing your crew members or your character to actually board the enemy, it will only play a cutscene of your crew throwing the hooks at enemy ships and then pulling the ship close. That is it, the enemy ship will explode and a menu will open through which you can loot the Cargo of the enemy ship. It is a bit disappointing as boarding the enemy ships in Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag was way more immersive and that game came out over a decade ago.  

However, one of the appreciative things about Naval Combat in Skull and Bones is that several activities include Naval Combat. You will not only get to engage with enemy ships in the open seas but you can plunder the small settlements that act as a trading point. Instead of just purchasing the goods from them, you can start a plunder and start attacking the towers at the settlements and the enemy ships in the area to clear the enemy waves and get several chests to complete the plunder.

Additionally, there are several world events that happen throughout the day in which you can participate to earn various rewards. These world events include both PvP and PvE content for players to experience. In the PvP events, players can challenge other rival players to take over certain manufactory locations which then can be funded to produce exquisite items. The PvE events allow players to come together and defeat a much greater threat, such as Sea Monsters and Ghost Ships, etc.

Upon making further progression in the game, you will unlock the Pirates Den – one at Saint-Anne (Red Isles) and the other one at Telok Penjarah (East Indies). The Pirates Den will give you access to the Black Market where all the exquisite items, weapons, tools, outfits, and blueprints can be purchased with Pieces of Eight (an End-Game currency). This currency is earned by running a Distillery at Saint-Anne and a Laboratory at Telok Penjarah. Running the Distillery will allow you to make White Skull Rum and the Laboratory will allow you to make Blue Lotus Opium which both can be sold to earn Pieces of Eight.

The Pieces of Eight can also be produced at the Manufactories for which players have to engage in a PvP world event. Upon securing a manufactory, players will be able to fund the place with the required materials to produce Pieces of Eight every hour.

Last but not least, another end-game factor that you will come across is the Helm Empire which is also found inside the Pirates Den. It is a seasonal system in Skull and Bones that will allow you to spread your empire by unlocking your production for Pieces of Eight in all different regions. As you succeed in the takeover opportunities and generate more Pieces of Eight every hour by funding the manufactories, the system will track your progression which then can be seen in the Seasonal tab.

The Seasonal tab has various threshold points which will reward you with Seasonal Currency upon surpassing the thresholds. Additionally, there is also a weekly tab that offers a small amount of Seasonal Currency upon surpassing a certain threshold every week. Your seasonal progress will be reset at the arrival of the new season so, it does provide a great way to let players engage in the end-game content and grind for the top spots at the leaderboards.

Sound and Visuals

The audio design of Skull and Bones is decent and the voice acting for all the main characters along with several NPCs that you interact with throughout the playthrough does add a nice touch to enhancing the experience. One of the soothing and appreciating features of the game is that you can actually order your crew to sing along the journey so that you don’t get bored while venturing for several minutes in the open seas.

The visuals of the game are promising and have a lot of piracy-looking depth to it. The water visuals look stunning, and the design of the ships is quite compelling which greatly enhances the experience as not all ships work the same and have different perks.

Verdict – Score 7.5/10

Skull and Bones is a great single-player/multiplayer piracy adventure game that emphasizes players take on the role of a nobody and become a Kingpin themselves to control what sails on the seas. It might not offer a great range of controlling the actual character but the amount of activities and customization available for the character and the ships is appreciated. Unlike any other online adventure game where you only get to create your character once, Skull and Bones allows you to customize and recreate your character as many times as you want. The depth of customization is decent and there are several outfits to choose from.

Skull and Bones is now available on PC, PlayStation 5, XBOX Series X|S, and Amazon Luna.

Playing video games since a kid, Max Payne was the first game I ever played. I adore the soundtracks and worlds created in gaming. Passionate about writing gaming guides across all genres for all platforms. Confident in my publications in order to help other gamers across the world. I love video games in general and they are close to my heart.

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