My Skull and Bones captain pirate slow clapping a new ship build

Skull and Bones’ Biggest Problem is Ubisoft

Skull and Bones is having a rather lackluster moment in the gaming world right now. In my opinion, as a gamer and as a former game journalist, it’s a decent pirating adventure. It’s current state leans more heavily to players like myself who prefer a player versus environment (PvE) experience than player versus player (PvP). You can co-op as a group of three or sail the seas solo. Either way, there’s lots of boat battles, plundering, and booty to be had.

So what are my concerns with Skull and Bones in its current state?

Skull and Bones first season pass scoreboard rewards

High Seas Robbery

First off, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the biggest issue: locking half of the season’s scoreboard rewards behind purchasing a premium version of the season’s pass.

I’m no stranger to these scoreboard systems. Remember, I play Fallout 76 pretty regularly. Bethesda’s scoreboard runs 100 levels and every few levels or so there is a second reward available to Fallout 1st members. Meaning non-FO1st players still earn a reward on that spot. (Author’s note: this seems to be changing with Season 16 and looks just about as scammy as Ubi’s nonsense.) Ubisoft split its 90 total rewards into three categories, each with 30 rewards to unlock. This means that on average every other reward in each category is locked behind a paywall. But not always. The image above shows three rewards in a row locked behind the paywall. Talk about underhanded bullshit behaviour.

I learned this the hard way. I had earned my in-game Smuggler’s Marks from completing certain challenges and spent them all in the same category. Then I noticed that some of those rewards weren’t showing up for me. The 100 gold pieces (S&B’s paid currency) never added themselves to my tally. Not even after logging in and out as I’ve had to do for other weird issues this game has. Luckily I had a few extra bucks lingering in my PlayStation wallet. Purchased the cheap version of the pass (without the cosmetics) and sure enough….

This is how you alienate a potential fanbase and kill off your monthly player numbers. What does it hurt to give out 100 units of your paid currency every once in a while for free? Again, Fallout 76 offers its currency, Atoms, as normal scoreboard rewards. It also stifles the desire to play when you aren’t earning anything truly awesome in a season. Making the “best stuff” only available to players who pay extra on top of the $70 base game price (or the $90 deluxe version) is no way to grow or retain a community.

A Skull and Bones glitch where none of the interaction buttons work properly

Who Needs QA?

There are other problems with the game. Like the “choice” to make it so that your pirate has permanent drunken sea legs when on land. God, I hate just walking around and trying to pick up an item or interact with an NPC. You never stop where you want to; your pirate stumbles around, usually stopping at least a few steps from where you target. The camera angle has to be “just right” to pick up loot in the water or interact with settlements. The UI/UX design has the event prompts pop up in the upper left side of the screen which blocks out any shop menus you might be in. Then there’s my favourite: when the game bugs so hard that you can’t interact with anything and you have to completely exit and reload the game (sometimes a few times) to get it working again.

I’m honestly surprised this game didn’t get canceled. It had been in development hell for years, and with so many stupid programming issues that linger, one can’t help but feel like Skull and Bones was shoved out at the end of Ubisoft’s 2023 fiscal year just to get it off the books and maybe make a handful of cash. There is something there, if only programmers could fix these glaring problems. Instead, it feels like the core team is being forced to focus on paid DLC. DLC which I would not be shocked if is canceled halfway through the release calendar due to Ubisoft’s failure to cultivate a real community.

Would I spring for another premium season pass or paid DLC? With what I am experiencing right now, hell no. And I don’t think you should, either.