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Skull and Bones: Impression after the first 30 hours: Despite its quirks, it's surprisingly fun!

Skull and Bones: Impression after the first 30 hours: Despite its quirks, it's surprisingly fun!

With Skull & Bones, Ubisoft's new pirate MMO finally sails to consoles and PC after 11 years of development hell. What originally appeared as a byproduct of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is now a true MMO for fans of the morally questionable sports of sailing and looting. After 30 hours, we've only begun to scratch the surface, but we can already see the game's challenging development history becoming clearly noticeable. But it's still surprisingly fun!

Skull & Bones begins – as befits its rugged origins – with a shipwreck. But you can only escape the burning wreck with a small sailboat. Since the small sailboat is more suitable for a fishing trip than ocean conquest, you head straight to the nearest port (Corsair) to upgrade. Of course, local carpenters, shipwrights and blacksmiths are happy to help for a small fee and the necessary resources. So I got an axe, a machete, and a pickaxe and started looking for materials.

Before you become the new Pirate King, you spend a good portion of the first few hours of the game less plundering and plundering, but collecting laborious raw materials near the shore from the ship. Some people will lose interest here. But you just have to push through the difficult initial stage. Because suddenly a pirate adventure becomes surprisingly fun.

It is best if the width of the water is below the bar

Once you have enough materials for your car, the entire ocean is finally open to you. But the road to becoming a pirate prince is still long. Skull & Bones doesn't have a fully developed campaign, but thanks to its numerous side quests, recurring quests, and the story that guides you through it all, there's still enough to do.

In addition to better silver, materials, and equipment for your ship, you'll also gain a good reputation with pirates, and over time, you'll unlock new blueprints for stronger ships or more powerful cannons. And you're in the middle of a looting spiral (or rather, a looting spiral) in Skull & Bones.

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When looked at realistically, the missions don't offer a lot of variety. Either sink a certain ship, deliver goods somewhere, or plunder a port. That's pretty much it. This bias is especially noticeable when task givers constantly talk about events that occurred elsewhere while we were on the move, all of which seemed more exciting than our own tasks.

Many of Skull & Bones' stories remain interchangeable and distinctly impersonal. One of them ends with us having to capture a traitor at sea that we've been tracking for some time. Although the character is very important to the story, he remains completely faceless and characterless. The grand final battle then takes place against the unknown Captain X. Compassion.

But while you are still regretting this fact, the game suddenly gets back on track and surprises you in a dazzling way that you did not expect and that becomes its pioneer. Because suddenly the sky became dark and the sea became rougher. And suddenly the observer in the crow's nest roars: the entire French fleet is approaching us! You have fallen into a trap that is now closing. Escape is no longer an option, so I make temporary repairs to the holes in the hull and desperately face the French…

By now the waves were already higher than the mast and six enemy ships were dancing with me on the waves, trying to get into a good firing position. At the last moment I can turn my bow into a huge monstrous wave thus preventing damage to the ship. Two French men were not so lucky and sank to the bottom of the sea. After an intense ten-minute battle, my boat was still afloat, surrounded by the wreckage of the French fleet.

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Then I suddenly realized that Skull & Bones could be a really good game despite its flaws.

Earth in sight!

This starts from the first moment with the graphical staging. Not only does the game feature beautiful sunsets and eye-catching water effects, but it also stands out for its attention to detail. If you take the time and observe your crew from a very unwieldy first-person perspective, you'll suddenly notice that the crew is not just following arbitrary actions that are repeated at some point to make it look like someone is working, but in fact everyone is responding to orders.

When the waves are calm and the sails are closed, everything seems very relaxed, but if you give the command to raise the sails with the push of a button, the team suddenly starts moving. The sailors walk across the deck and go about their errands, pulling the ropes to keep the sails in the wind, and if you give the order to trim the sails, that is, to turn on some kind of turbo again, they run to the appropriate ropes to do it. Do it by hand to pull it tighter and catch more wind.

Suddenly, it makes perfect sense that pruning costs stamina and can't be maintained indefinitely. They really have to work hard! Of course, the crew's behavior recurs at some point and I have no idea if this has anything to do with real sailing, but at least I'm convinced it does.

The huge game world feels organic and alive. There are windmills near the Dutch outposts that provide an authentic touch. In the distant mountains you can see small settlements that you can't even reach, but they only serve as a backdrop. You may stumble upon one of them when searching for resources. An elephant family stands not far from the beach.

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At some point, the monotonous tasks won't bother you, because sailing itself is so much fun that it makes the trip from port to port seem worth it. Since your ship depends on the wind, you can't just go where you want, but you have to pay attention to the direction of the wind and plan a suitable course before departing. Because if you are blown in the wrong direction, you will have no choice but to zigzag and continue crossing the wind.

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This also makes battles more dynamic, because the advantages and disadvantages of a tactical approach have to be constantly weighed: whoever has the wind at his back is faster, but the most damage is done due to a full attack, which you may end up having to have and thus result in worse wind conditions. Makes him an easy target. If you're not careful, you'll find yourself drowning faster than you think and all you can do is hope that you can somehow save yourself with a small fishing boat.

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The bottom line is that I've had a surprising amount of fun with Skull & Bones so far. My adventure as a pirate is not over yet. So much for my impressions after the first 30 hours. We will then examine the question of whether the game can still motivate you in the final test, which we will present as soon as possible.