Swedish

15 feb. 2024

Gaming

'SKULL & BONES' | OPEN BETA | FIRST IMPRESSION

“All hands on deck!” Said the pirate captain, however ‘someone’ on the crew must have been sleeping, because ‘someone’ forgot to add core game mechanics to this ship, ahoy! 

Jokes aside, Ubisoft’s ‘SKULL & BONES’ open beta concluded last week after being open for everyone to play for a few days, we got a chance to test the game and this is our first impressions. (Note: The game was not fully finished during our testing, so things are subject to change, this includes our thoughts on the game)

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I’ll start with saying that I personally enjoyed ‘SKULL & BONES’ more so than I initially thought I would. The game is fun! there’s no doubt about it, who would not want to be a pirate crashing through the waves of the seven seas? Aye, aye! But there are some important things missing from the game, things that are more or less essential to the pirate experience.

As I said, we played the open beta, meaning we are unsure if all features of the game we’re unlocked for us to experience. You could play up to what was called the ‘Brigade’ tier. Meaning we only played a small amount of the full game. We think this is enough to give you our first impressions. There are, however, some things we know will not be added to the game when it releases.

Nonetheless, ‘SKULL & BONES’ does feature some really satisfying ‘ship-to-ship’ combat. While we only unlocked the first couple of ships, and only tried out one of the many weapon systems to choose from in the game. We still had an incredible fun time battling ships at sea with the entry level gear. This is probably the area where the game reaches its peak. That and the strong voice acting is to be the games highlights.

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We only got to see a tiny bit of the game’s overall story in the open beta, and while it was interesting, it was also somewhat hard to comprehend. Ubisoft’s pirate story may be more for adults compared to for example Microsoft’s ‘SEA OF THIEVES’. That game seems more… easy to grasp when compared to Ubisoft’s pirate story. 

Moreover, the story of ‘SKULL & BONES’ was actually delivered by some pretty compelling characters. The voice delivery and voice acting is strong with this one. As Obi-Wan would not have said… This together with the ‘ship-to-ship’ battle makes up for a pretty satisfying video game experience in the end after all. The character aspect of the game together with the sea aspect, is definitely the game's stronger side.

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Talking about sides, one other side that was missing from the game was the ability to walk freely on the ships. Unlike its competitor, ‘SEA OF THIEVES’ where one could free roam the ship and work together with co-op crew mates to handle the sea worthy beast. In ‘SKULL & BONES’ one is contained to only be able to steer the whole ship from a 1st or 3 point-of-view. While this is enough, it certainly, when compared to ‘SEA OF THIEVES’ makes one feel like a pirate contained in a cage.

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However, that is not all. We still found things that were really missing from the game. One of them being, hand-to-hand combat. ‘SKULL & BONES’ essentially misses two core features, hand-to-hand combat, as well as the ability for the player to run around on individual islands, in an open world kind of way. Now if these are things that Ubisoft by choice did not want to include, that we don't know. It may be so, that they didn’t include these two aspects by choice for them to instead focus on the sea and ship side of the experience. 

Nonetheless, I feel like including hand-to-hand combat and some more free roam options would have made for a better gaming experience overall. We also need to add that the game is pretty open-world when it comes to the sea side of traveling by boat. But, there are still some limitations to how ‘open’ the world is when traveling by foot. 

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Furthermore, the loot handling side of the game I think was made somewhat slow. It did not feel as quick and easy as it could have been, perhaps. There was no ‘easy’ jumping in and out of menus and dropping loot, which overall did bother me a bit. I also think that the menus of the game felt somewhat slow, not that it was a big deal, and it may indeed be fixed for the final release. But it was just one thing I noticed on my playthrough.

Talking about the world, the ‘in-game’ world of ‘SKULL & BONES’ is pretty well made. The environment is detailed enough for one to want to explore it fully, even though it is not fully ‘open-world’ as I deem it. When it comes to aspects of how ‘varied’ the environment is, I can say so much that there is only so much variety when it comes to the sea.

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But what would a video game in the 2020s be without some cosmetics? ‘SKULL & BONES’ does actually feature a great character creator and cosmetic system. It is complex enough that changing and buying new clothes is fun, but not overly complicated so that creating your dream pirate takes five hours. It is somewhat in the middle, where it is just, perfect enough.

In terms of game mechanics, there are some pretty fun ones for ‘SKULL & BONES’. While we have far from tried out every one, we will just speak about the ones we found exciting. The game mechanics are exciting especially when it comes to ship-to-ship battle and ship traversal. The way you can increase the speed of your ship is satisfying and the way you engage in battles and aim cannons towards your opinion is also enjoyable. If there would not have been for some other ‘missing’ core mechanics, this would probably have been one of my favorite games of the year. 

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There is also the ability to choose between different answers when talking to some ‘NPC’ characters. While I am unsure how one choice over the other affects the overall story, it is nonetheless fun to have the opportunity to choose what to say and most likely affect the gameplay in some kind of sense.

‘SKULL & BONES’ is a pirate's dream. While some might call it “the live-action ‘SEA OF THIEVES’...”, and that is basically what it is. I think it on the other hand should be looked at as the brand new ‘flashy’ ship on the market’. At least if you love the sea aspect of being a pirate, and not so much the land side. The game features some amazing storytelling and cutscenes, as well as sea battles that are worth losing an eye for. While far from perfect, ‘SKULL & BONES’ is an enjoyable game which should have you hooked for that treasure.  

[OPEN BETA REVIEWED BEFORE LAUNCH, THIS IS NOT A FULL REVIEW]

RATING: 3,5 / 5

Av

Eddie G

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