I haven’t followed the development of Skull and Bones too closely over the years; I’d see the pirate game emerge at a show with a new trailer or demo, and then sink back beneath the waves with delay after delay. So when Ubisoft opened the game to the public with an open beta recently, I was intrigued to see how the close-to-final product looked. I’ve been known to enjoy a spot of piracy, and Ubisoft has the incredible Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag in its back catalogue, after all.
The open beta weekend was a surprising experience, because I didn’t realize that there was a whole MMO-style game on top of the pirate ship combat. The MMO stuff also isn’t great; from seeing everyone’s gamertag above their ship, to poorly implemented mechanics, it feels like the boat portion of Skull and Bones is hauling around a ton of extra mechanics as luggage.
Skull and Bones opens with the player embroiled in battle against a British fleet, helming a respectable pirate galleon. Unfortunately for the buccaneers aboard, the British bring overwhelming force and sink the ship with volleys of cannon fire. The player wakes up, having washed ashore, and the problems immediately begin with character creation.
The player’s pirate looks into their reflection in a body of water, which shows their face and shoulders. This means that some of the character creation categories are a mystery. For instance, I can change my body type to one of four options… but I can’t see my body. Same with tattoos; there are options that clearly add some kind of scar or ink to my pirate’s body, but I can’t see what they look like before I confirm. Even basic things like whether a hairstyle has a ponytail are a mystery. Character creation feels hacked together with incomplete tools; I pick a starting face, each of which only has three skin tones assigned to it, and then stumble through the rest of the options.
Things don’t get easier once I climb aboard my new ship, which is a much humbler vessel than the mightyRead more on polygon.com