Skull and Bones – This Piracy Deserves Harsh Punishment

REVIEW – After eleven years of toil, Ubisoft’s Skull and Bones has finally docked, but it seems to drag us into the depths rather than lead us to treasure islands. The game, which promised a dose of pirate romance, turns out to be a sea journey where the spark of adventure barely flickers: there’s virtually no story, and the characters have personalities as empty as a rum bottle. The gameplay oscillates between being frustrating and as dull as if we were just loitering around the dock.


Ubisoft’s Skull and Bones ship has navigated the stormy seas of development for eleven years. Initially, it was an offshoot of Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag, then morphed into an MMO, and finally emerged as the multiplayer action game we see today. Needless to say, such an odyssey rarely promises a bounty of riches. Yet, I harbored hope that this would be the seafaring adventure worth setting sail for. I dreamt of seas teeming with notorious pirates, memorable rival pirate captains, crews, and intrigues. But it seems these frothy dreams dissipated faster than foam in a storm.

Instead, the outcome is a game where none of the original Black Flag’s essence has carried over. Rather than conquering the legendary seven seas as a pirate captain, we find ourselves in a personality-lacking, often irritating and dull boating experience, where we might also engage in lame arcade shootouts. After Ubisoft’s long voyage, we’ve unfortunately arrived at the isles of disappointment.


Az Ubisoft forrásai egy szingapúri kormányzati támogatásról beszélnek, amelyet a Skull & Bones további késése esetén törölnének.


Every beginning is hard, okay, but why does it have to be boring?!


The true essence of piracy only hits me when my new boss, John Scurlock, reminds me that indeed, I’m raiding under his flag. The foul-mouthed leader of the Sainte-Anne pirate den, who compensates for his paternal complexes by encouraging us to scam someone at every opportunity – primarily the French Company. This scamming usually means conducting artillery drills on enemy ships over a few sea tours, snatching an item or treasure map here and there, then returning to collect Scurlock’s inevitable commendation. Although I’d like to believe there’s more to Skull and Bones than meets the eye, it seems any deeper narrative threads and coherent structure evaporated over the years.

Undoubtedly, the most painful shortcoming of Skull and Bones is its soulless protagonist. Despite the game’s abundance of customization options, which extend beyond the initial character creation, offering numerous outfits and collectible accessories, my personal story is completely absent, leaving my place in this world uncertain. This tabula rasa state leads to “thrilling” twists, such as suddenly becoming the captain of two (yes, TWO!) shipwrecked sailors in the prologue. With this unexpectedly acquired title, we board our ship and head to the Sainte-Anne pirate nest to gain Scurlock’s trust – which is too easily achieved. Shortly after, I’m made captain of a larger ship, but first, I must complete some excruciatingly dull tasks, collecting materials that reappear only after a long time, especially if another player is already ahead.


Skull & Bones sokkal ambiciózusabb játék, mint amilyennek eddig tűnt?


Even without a PVP zone, there’s no shortage of players stirring up trouble…


The sequence of annoyances sadly doesn’t end with the single-player gameplay’s dullness. Although the game initially gently advises us to be courteous at sea and avoid friendly fire damage, it seems some players completely ignore this well-intentioned advice. Real player battles are limited to specific zones and events, but what do you do when a bored pirate buddy rams full speed into the side of your ship? Given the choice between Skull and Bones’ traditional gameplay and these unexpected encounters, it’s no surprise some players prefer the latter.

Browsing through ship customization options and the extensive array of personalization possibilities promises a more favorable pastime during sea adventures. However, the excitement quickly wanes when faced with the astronomical prices of the in-game premium currency. Asking 1200 gold for a cosmetic pack, approximately equivalent to $13, is a steep price for a game that already costs $60. Fortunately, I managed to secure numerous cosmetic items without spending a dime, simply by completing missions and plundering ships.

Acquiring plans for bigger, stronger ships, however, is a lengthy and often monotonous process. Finding the plans can be challenging without following a guide, and strangely, currently only small and medium-sized ships are available. To acquire plans for medium-sized ships, you first need to achieve Brigand I reputation, then sail to distant islands to purchase them. Then, embark on another long journey across the ocean to sink enemies and plunder their wrecks for the materials needed to build your ship. Although this activity cycle repeats, it remains one of the few genuinely enjoyable challenges in the game.


Játssz a Skull and Bones-szal, mielőtt a többjátékos kalózhajós játék jövő héten "elindul" - már, ha valóban elindul...


Loading screens… loading screens everywhere!


The monotony of weapon crafting is exacerbated by the incessant return of loading screens, appearing every time we wish to expand our arsenal. This is just one of many minor annoyances that collectively slow down the game’s pace. Whether disembarking from the ship, interacting with NPCs, or treasure hunting, these loading breaks collectively make the gameplay experience nearly unbearable. Moreover, the fact that we can dock only at specific locations and fast travel is only possible on land exacerbates the situation to the point where Skull and Bones starts to lose all the charm typical of open-world games.

Despite everything, there are moments of fun, especially when joining forces with friends to send enemy ships to the depths. However, the combat system’s meticulous complexity, particularly the weapons’ intolerably long reload times, ultimately tested my patience to its limits.



Lame PVP, monotonous single player


Currently, player versus player combat is utterly unbalanced, partly because you might find yourself facing opponents five levels stronger or weaker than you. These fast-paced clashes are among the rare occasions where players can truly interact with each other. While I try to highlight the positives, the opportunity to create your own contraband and sell it on the Black Market opens the door to more complex, yet satisfying missions – assuming you have the perseverance to get there.

However, every occasional entertaining moment fades in comparison to the crumbling open world, lack of character personality, and those seemingly endless, monotonous missions that rarely provide real excitement. Skull and Bones had every opportunity to enchant us – it was full of promises – but regrettably, I must admit that the final version falls significantly short of the pirate adventure I dreamt of.

-Gergely Herpai (BadSector)-


+ Wide range of ship customization options
+ Rare but enjoyable moments of teamwork with friends
+ Availability of a multitude of free cosmetic products


– Story management and characters without personality
– Frustrating and often boring gameplay
– Shortcomings of open world and PVP

Publisher: Ubisoft

Developer: Ubisoft, Ubisoft Singapore, Ubisoft Blue Byte, Ubisoft Chengdu

Style: action-adventure

Release: February 13, 2024.

Skull and Bones

Gameplay - 3.8
Graphics - 7.2
Story - 1.8
Music/Audio - 6.2
Ambience - 2.4



Skull and Bones, after eleven years of development, has finally been released but fails to live up to its expectations. Characterized by a lack of personality, often frustrating and dull gameplay, and deficiencies in open-world exploration and storytelling. The ship customization and rare enjoyable moments of teamwork with friends provide some light, but overall, the game falls far short of our desires for pirate adventures.

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BadSector is a seasoned journalist for more than twenty years. He communicates in English, Hungarian and French. He worked for several gaming magazines - including the Hungarian GameStar, where he worked 8 years as editor. (For our office address, email and phone number check out our impressum)

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