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skull and bones review

Writing reviews is tough ... especially when it comes to something like video games where people who play more, have more skills and experience that you, and quite frankly "care more" about the games than most normal people ever could. There are many times when I've read a review that completely pissed on a game but then I found some moderately enjoyable redeeming feature that made the work something that I could recommend. This isn't the case. The reviews are generally accurate and as someone who was once a game developer, it pains me to admit that.

No matter what the creative endeavor - cooking, brewing, painting, music, and yes, video games - nobody sets out to create a piece of crap. Sometimes mistakes happen, it's easy to get distracted or overwhelmed, and god knows ... in the video game industry, money talks, and sometimes accounting and marketing folks that know nothing about the creative process can have too much influence in the process.

I can't say what happened here, but I will admit that I was optimistic that maybe it wouldn't be as bad as everyone was saying. 

I've been a huge fan of pirate games for decades - Sid Meier's Pirates, Tradewinds, Port Royale etc. I love the notion of sailing the seas and chasing down merchant ships to plunder while exploring some romanticised historic setting. The thing that all of these games has in common though is that they are set in the Caribbean. This is fine ... but there's literally a whole world of famous pirate tales to explore.

Skull and Bones Promised to do something different. They were going to have a similar open world where you could sail a ship, trade, fight, explore, and live out your pirate dreams in a gorgeous world filled with vibrant storylines. Sure, it would be arcadish rather than real combat but Eidos generally knows how to make good games that are fun to play.

This isn't one of them.

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From the very beginning the game felt like it had a political agenda with condemning capitalism's evils and making you agree not to cheat in not just one spot but multiple places. I don't want a lecture ... I just want to have fun. So I played on but I was already a bit miffed that politics and treating me like a kid had invaded my leisure time.

The intro scene was redeeming and exciting ... sure I wasn't getting the ability to swashbuckle and sword fight the British fleet but the action was fun and I learned the basic controls. Then ... it failed me again. After an impossible fight against dozens of much more powerful ships it spat me out on a floating piece of wood as a black man and then let me choose my race and other attributes. I'm fine with starting out however you want ... but why have a cut scene showing me one way ... then let me customize my look ... then the next cutscene I look totally different? How about you let me pick before you show the character at all?

It's things like this that make the game difficult to enjoy. However, I wanted to play on since I truly did enjoy the frenetic arcade action that the intro promised. Again I was disappointed. 

Now the game had me sailing around picking up broken pieces of wood and other crap from the wreck of a ship on a meaningless retrieval quest for some guy that I have absolutely no backstory or interest in helping.

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I'm going to stop my rant here but suffice to say ... there are tons of great potential features in the game like crafting, missions, ability to team up with other players etc. But it's all meaningless.

They could have released a $29.99 naval arcade combat sim based on the introduction scenario and I would have been happy. Heck, a pirate ship battle royal Fornite at sea game would be a BLAST! Sadly, that isn't meant to be here, and that's disappointing.

For those of you who are willing to spend the time chasing dumb quests and grinding, the game does get better and you can eventually get into some pretty fun combat scenarios similar to what was teased in the beginning. For me though, I got tired quickly and simply stopped playing the game after an hour or two.

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Skull and Bones had so much potential ... a unique setting and different types of characters - Asian, Indians, Africans, Middle Easterners, Europeans, etc. all interacting in the Indian Ocean and Pacific Islands combined with the thrill of piracy and, quite frankly the artistic talent that Eidos has exhibited in other games. This should have been what they were claiming ... the first "Quadruple A" game. Unfortunately, it went from $69.99 to $59.99 in only a month, and even now, the numbers continue to drop based on the number of people playing it on Xbox Live.

So sad.

I have to imagine that the developers are not happy with what was shipped but after such a long development cycle they were probably glad to be done with the game and let it sink out of sight while they work on something else. 

If you are curious about the game, I honestly can't recommend you paying $59.99 for it but I can encourage you to sign up for the $17.99 / month Eidos+ service where you can download and play Skull and Bones and make your own decision. Even better is that for the same price you can play a bunch of other games that you'll probably enjoy better such as Far Cry 6, Prince of Persia, or Avatar Frontiers of Pandora.