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    HomeTechnologies“Skull and Bones” is not for landlubbers

    “Skull and Bones” is not for landlubbers

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    Following in Jack Sparrow's or Blackbeard's footsteps? The pirate genre is set to be revived with the video game “Skull and Bones”. Ubisoft's open world is particularly impressive in battles on the high seas. However, the title also reveals weaknesses in some areas.

    “Jo-ho pirates and a bottle full of rum” – the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series really exploited the genre about the privateers of the seas at the film level at the beginning of the millennium, with “Skull and Bones” Ubisoft is taking a new approach in this area of video games. And because this start-up was particularly long due to the start of development around ten years ago, expectations of the game, which the developer described as a AAAA title (that's one A more than other big-budget titles), grew steadily. ntv.de tested whether the pirate open world meets the requirements.

    What decides between success and failure in many great video games is the story. And unfortunately this is only present in a rudimentary way in “Skull and Bones”. As a shipwrecked captain, the player is stranded in the pirate bay of Sainte-Anne, somewhere in the Pacific Ocean in the 17th century. The goal from here: to become the greatest pirate on the sea. Argh! This sounds like the pirate anime “One Piece”, but the story is less creative. In the game, the wishes of the island's pirate prince, John Scurlock, must first be fulfilled. You work through job after job, gaining more and more fame and reputation.

    It's pretty flat in its structure, and there are a lot of missing characters in many corners who are recognizable and could lead you through the tangle of various native clans, the French navy and other pirates. After all: the developers leave the approach open. As a bloodthirsty pirate you can sink pretty much any cutter that comes across your bow or become an influential privateer of the seas through trade connections.

    Open world an eye-catcher

    Hippo alarm in "Skull and Bones" Hippo alarm in "Skull and Bones"

    Hippo alarm in “Skull and Bones”

    (Photo: Ubisoft)

    The world created by Ubisoft has it all, especially visually. The mixture of rough seas, small islands and bays, numerous ports and trading posts that you can go to works excellently and is also rich in detail and, above all, very lively. This is not just due to the different waves depending on the area or the weather. A number of ships travel trade routes and are involved in small or large battles, and there is an active fauna consisting of sharks, crocodiles and hippos – which sometimes attack your cutter at the beginning of the game.

    The pirate base in Saint-Anne is the central anchor point in “Skull and Bones” and exudes real pirate charm. Here you can feel a little like Jack Sparrow or Captain Blackbeard, being tasked with treasure hunts, bounties, delivering goods, acts of sabotage or hunting sea monsters. But these are just a few examples. The variety of orders is surprising.

    The open world in the game is huge - your gaze often wanders into the distance. The open world in the game is huge - your gaze often wanders into the distance.

    The open world in the game is huge – your gaze often wanders into the distance.

    (Photo: Ubisoft)

    The most important crafting partners can also be found on Sainte-Anne: the shipbuilder, the carpenter and the blacksmith. And that is also an important part of the game concept. There are an enormous number of resources that can be processed into new ships, weapons such as cannons or useful tools. You need saws, pickaxes, etc. to mine resources such as wood, rocks and food along the way. What's really exciting is that the mining mechanisms are tied to small games of skill that determine success and yield. The same goes for cracking shipwrecks, which can be found scattered all over the map and contain a lot of loot. In a small crowbar simulation you have to wait for the right moment to pick the locks on the wreckage. This skillfully avoids the dull task of picking things up.

    Pirate action or sinking ships?

    Outmaneuvering the three-master - skill is also important in the game. Outmaneuvering the three-master - skill is also important in the game.

    Outmaneuvering the three-master – skill is also important in the game.

    (Photo: Ubisoft)

    But “Skull and Bones” would be nothing without the ships. There are ten types that can be equipped very differently. But the basic principle is simple: weapons are placed on the bow, port and starboard, armor protects the hull and various pieces of equipment give the pirate barge special properties: for example, a mobile carpentry shop speeds up repair work on the go, grinding stones increase the speed of cannonballs. At this point you ask yourself: Is it about the pirate or the ship? The visual design of the vehicle is even more diverse than your own pirate character, which you can ultimately only wear a wide range of clothes on. A lemur or a peg-legged cat can even be hired as a mascot on cutters, cruisers and warships.

    However, they are just pretty accessories in battles at sea. With cannons that take a certain amount of time to reload, you have to fire specifically at weak points of other ships; at the right moment, it's better to send your own crew into cover. With cannons, bombards, mortars and ballistae, there are several types of projectiles that have different aiming devices and several types of ammunition. Stricken ships can also be boarded. But anyone hoping that sabers and muskets will be drawn will be disappointed. A short capture sequence can be seen, after which the opposing barge is sunk and looted.

    Definitely not a AAAA title

    The battles still have the greatest potential for fun in “Skull and Bones” because firepower, precision and maneuverability are important in conflicts with one or more ships. It's challenging and doesn't get boring in the long run. You can also launch large maneuvers and raids with other players across platforms and put an end to notorious pirates or entire fleets. Since Ubisoft has been developing additional content for the game for a whole year, there should always be varied quests for pirate fans.

    So the game has its strengths and weaknesses. To be a triple-A title, it simply lacks a truly gripping story and supporting characters. There was simply a lot of potential left lying around. The battles at sea, which can be really action-packed and tactically challenging, work all the better. A nice aspect from the developers: You can test and try out the game for free for eight hours. It's not a game for landlubbers, you have to have a soft spot for pirates or the sea. But anyone who likes big ships, cannons with a lot of oomph and loot and levels will have fun with the game.

    “Skull and Bones” is now available for Playstation 5, Xbox X/S and PC.

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