PS5 Review: Skull and Bones

Should you raise or lower the anchor for this game?

We are in the Golden Age of Pirates. Renegade captains command the most powerful weapons on Earth, warships. You assume the role of an upstart pirate captain who has refused the King’s pardon and sailed from the Caribbean to the Indian Ocean, an untamed frontier full of lavish riches. However, these waters are also a battleground where far-reaching colonial empires, powerful trading corporations, and ruthless pirate gangs ferociously clash. In order to survive, you must build a lethal fleet, prey upon lucrative trade routes, and ally with other pirates to join the endless struggle for supremacy.

Assassin’s Creed III introduced naval battles to the series for the first time, which would spill out into a full pirate-themed sequel in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, which perfected the formula. Afterwards, there was a lot of demand for a standalone game like Black Flag but with just the pirating combat. Sea of Thieves landed first and while that was first-person, Rare tapped into that audience well and still continues to.

Ubisoft on the other hand did decide to make their own pirate game, but it has seemed to be stuck in developer hell for quite a while now. It’s finally out now, a full 11 years after Black Flag but has the audience for this game sailed?

Skull and Bones is another live service game which requires a constant internet connection. I don’t have a problem with live service games, but they are a risk since you can invest real cash for a game that may not survive past a year or two, take Anthem or Marvel’s Avengers for reference. I don’t foresee that issue happening with Skull and Bones due to the superb naval combat that it inhabits, but it does have its issues…

It does have a decent setting, though the characters aren’t the most interesting. The online aspect is hit and miss at the time of writing and the endgame is a bit lacking in content currently, but I’m cautiously optimistic that it will improve over the coming months. Launch periods for these games are usually rough around the edges, so it’s hard to tell which way the wind will blow for the game at this point.

The good news is that the game handles just as well as Black Flag did. It also looks good with highly detailed ships, open seas and skies. Framerate never seemed to drop and lag seemed low overall. The music is impressive, while voice-acting also doesn’t disappoint.

The Verdict

11 years after Black Flag, Ubisoft finally brings out the pirate game most have been asking for. But was the wait worth it? Tough to say at this point. There are a lot of impressive elements such as the combat, controls and typical pirate-y stuff…but the live service element puts a question mark over where it has the staying power to survive. The ship is under fire currently, but hopefully updates over the future will give it a chance to fight back against the tide.

Score: 7.0