Skull and Bones Open Beta Impressions: A Ship I Won’t Board

It has been nearly seven years since we saw Skull and Bones for the first time at the Ubisoft E3 Press Conference in 2017. As time has passed, expectations for this game have been raised and tempered more times than I can remember. The game had a few delays and gameplay showcases over the last few years. And while you’d think Ubisoft would iterate and improve on ideas they showcased over the years, it feels they’ve instead taken many steps back.

However, after many years, Skull and Bones is almost near the finish line. So, when I heard about the game’s open beta, I immediately started going for the high seas. Unfortunately, the open-beta barely managed to gain any positive confidence from me, and if this is what we are getting for the final launch, I am concerned. Here are my thoughts about Ubisoft’s upcoming pirate game.

The Not-So-Fun Portions of Skull and Bones

Originally, Skull and Bones was a game that tried riding the coattails of the Naval Warfare from Assassin’s Creed 3 and Black Flag. This means the same amount of naval warfare extravaganza minus moving around the ship. That is still applicable for the current iteration. But there’s no better way to say it, except that the game feels bland.

For starters, the game’s open beta gives you access to the beginning hours of the game, throwing you into naval warfare that showcases how the fighting system works. Once done, you’ll immediately fall back to becoming a nobody, slowly rising back to the ranks of a great pirate.

The beginning hours of Skull and Bones

And because you are a literal nobody in a world full of pirates, you have to earn respect and stature. Without this, you cannot build or upgrade your ships. That is where the material grind comes in, which stunts the progression and even the game flow. You visit various islands, farm for materials, and repeat the process. Oh, and you never leave the ship.

Once you have the items, you can start building ship weapons, tools for faster foraging and crafting, etc. The customization in the open beta isn’t the problem. A lot of games do that. The problem is that before you can even perform your job as a pirate, the game ensures you don’t. That annoyed me within the first few hours.

Gathering materials

While I understand hierarchy is a thing, restricting customization is something I didn’t appreciate. Some of my mind-numbing hours in the Skull and Bones open beta have to come from the material grind. It is not fun, and you don’t even leave your ship, which still irks me as I write this.

The Little Fun Portions of Skull and Bones

But when you are pirating in this game, there’s bound to be some fun. You deck yourself out with weapons and armor and engage in ship battles. It plays like a shooter, where you use right-click to aim your ship cannon or whatever weapon you have. Then, you have to keep shooting to take down the opponent’s ship.

Naval battle of Skull and Bones

If you successfully damage the ship, you can board it, where it ends with cutscenes, giving you the rewards. Otherwise, sink the ship as a whole. That pretty much sums up what you do in Skull and Bones. You fight with ships, team up to take out other players, and battle for better loot.

Outside of ship battles, you have settlements that you can plunder. These work like a horde mode, where after you take out the town tower, you will have to fight incoming ships. Successfully finishing it will reward you with loot. Though, this barely impressed me, as you don’t do much in this activity. Having some level of agency would’ve helped out.

Plundering settlements

Unfortunately, you have only this much to do in the open beta of the game. You can collect items, improve your ship, and gain an edge over other players and ships. So, having some more activities could’ve helped. There will be a confirmed end-game in the full game, of course.

Moreover, if you’re compelled to continue playing the game at launch, your progression continues. So that is a good touch.

Ultimately, the open beta of Skull and Bones barely has me excited about the game. While the ship battles are decently fun, everything else leading up to that isn’t. Unless there will be more activities in the final game, I don’t think I’ll be invested much in it.

Player battles can barely lift the experience unless you don’t have compelling exploration. Hopefully, we have enough launch content and activity, especially now that Ubisoft’s boss claims that Skull and Bones is an “AAAA” game. As it stands right now, this loot ain’t shiny enough for me, and I won’t be boarding this ship.

comment Comments 0
Leave a Reply