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Skull and Bones Review



OUR RATING: 8/10


Skull and Bones tries to mix an online experience with a singleplayer campaign, where the player will find himself sinking during a raid on a French Navy, followed by the sinking of the ship we controlled. Waking up adrift on an islet, the player customizes his character's body, skin color and other details and must complete a short tutorial with a barge, rescuing certain items from the wreckage of the ship stranded on nearby rocks and reefs.



In possession of the manifest and orders given to the former captain, who is now dead in the ship's cockpit, the player heads towards Saint-Anne, a lair and large center of pirate trade. Here begins your journey, climbing the ranks of piracy, working for the “big boss” of the region. His name is John Scurlock, someone who abhors being made a pawn by others more powerful than him and determined to dominate the entire area of ​​the Red Isles.


Starting with small ships, the player will work to gain John's trust, whether trading cargo stolen through raids, goods traded with rebel groups, African and East Indian tribes. Over time, the “illegal” distribution of Rum Caveira Branca and Ópio Azul, produced by the merchant group known as O Leme, could even begin.

Unlike Black Flag, Skull and Bones has a more realistic approach, where your objective is not to live adventures of duels and damsels like The Dreaded Pirate Roberts, from The Princess Bride, but rather that of a pragmatic pirate. Don't expect saber duels while balancing on masts of paired ships. Here we are talking about true piracy, where the booty is what matters. So fire these cannons and make sure the enemy sailors know how to swim, or they will go to the bottom!



In Skull and Bones the player will spend more time studying merchant routes, planning how to improve his ship and weapons, in addition to always looking for raw materials, whether acquired through trade, collecting or as I prefer to call “misappropriation of goods for hidden purposes”. The better the equipment, the more exotic and demanding the materials, so get ready to travel the entire Indian Ocean.


As John's story progresses and the player's skills advance, Skull and Bones allows us to travel beyond the African coastal region and explore the regions of the East Indies through Big Nurse Rahma. Having heard about the player's prowess and skills with the helm and cannons, she offers us a job helping her get rid of the Dutch, who want to remove her from power at all costs. In addition to not seeing her as an equal because she is a woman, they want to dominate the region's trade routes.



The endings of the game's base story serve as a kind of introductory story for the player to understand more about the game's world, the time that the game portrays and recreates with its characters based on real personalities. John Scurlock may have been based on personalities like William Kidd and Robert Want, while Rahma may have been a fusion of Zheng Yi Sao and Sayyida al Hurra, due to the fact that the third season intends to bring Li Tian Ning as a direct allusion to Zheng.

Once the player has reached the title of “boss”, a new cutscene will be presented, where we receive a letter from a character called Freeman, where he tells us that our infamy has caught his attention. With this, the game finally frees the player from the constraints of the narrative and he can start building his own empire, where you are the one who will decide how big and powerful it will be!



Using what he learned during Skull and Bones mode, the player sets out on his own in the Indian Ocean to command trade routes, hunt great pirates and plunder cities, refineries and villages. Both in African regions and in the distant lands of the East Indies. Mainly using the second most important narrative element of the game: the Leme network.


In Skull and Bones, in addition to Scurlock and Rahma, there are the Nara sisters who command Leme, a rum and opium smuggling network across all the islands and continents in which they manage to wrap their tentacles, exercising power and dominance over local vices. For a pirate, rum is extremely necessary and opium is an absurd chance of profit, being bought and sold through Leme's own currency, called Ocho.



In addition to the silver obtained during the game that serves as the standard currency and the gold that can be purchased for cosmetic purposes, there are three other currencies. The ocho mentioned above as currency for smugglers, the sovereigns that you earn whenever you level up in the positioning ranking of Leme's infamy tasks and finally, the level coins for the smuggler Season Pass.

Silver, Ocho and Soberanos are used on the game's merchants. Smuggler Pass currency is used for each level gained in the Season Pass (which goes up to level 90) and Gold can purchase exclusive items from the Uplay store. Incredibly, Skull and Bones' “Game as a Service” system is much less invasive than expected.



But there's no point handing over the most beautiful and powerful Man-of-War to a scoundrel capable of sailing his own bathtub. The gameplay of Skull and Bones is not difficult to understand and you can finish the main narrative without much effort. But to become a lord of the Indian Ocean you will need more than knowing how to navigate and fire cannons.


The player can choose the speeds, including low sail, half mast and full sail with the help of oars. At top speed, vessels can reach up to 12 to 18 knots, an average of 22 to 33 km/h. With the help of the gallery of rowers, who in this world are all well fed, it is easy to reach greater speeds.


The vessels are divided into small and medium-sized ones with a “dhow”, an extremely small type of sailboat used only for hunting. Generally, small ships only hold three guns. Medium vessels can carry up to five different weapons, with the side weapons being made up of several rows of cannons, torpedoes, ballistae or whatever you use to sink your opponents.


The weapons are divided between long cannons, short cannons and countless other possible variations, as well as torpedo bombers, mortars, ballasts, ballistae, flamethrowers and even rocket walls that resemble aerial batteries! In general, these weapons are designed to cause as much damage as possible, being divided into five levels, in addition to a rarity system. The higher and rarer, the stronger. However, there are also weapons that can heal, such as mortars that shoot tar balls capable of repairing allied ships.


The world of Skull and Bones has many events and mysteries to be discovered, ranging from hunting wanted pirates, treasure maps and secrets whispered or found through letters. Still, there are mysteries that are beyond the control of men, sailors and captains, such as ghostly vessels, with projectiles capable of piercing hulls and armor as if they were nothing, sea monsters and the terrible cursed captain of this season, Phillipe La Peste.


Approaching this theme in a more realistic way is a double-edged sword, as even with its regions adapted from the Middle East and east of the African continent, there are sensitive themes that are better simply not to portray. Opium was responsible for a major social tragedy in Asia and is portrayed in a less aggressive light. I believe that Ubisoft made the right choice in avoiding bringing slavery routes into the game as much as possible, even though the Dutch East India Company was the biggest contributor to this inhumane crime.


Pirates are portrayed in the media as Robin Hoods of the seas, but in reality pirates like Vikings lack combat training and rely on numbers and savagery. Therefore, Ubisoft opting for large fleet combats and a capture cutscene is understandable given the context that the game presents us in its proposal.


A pirate attack was usually filled with savagery. A “duelist” like Capt. Jack Sparrow would most likely be eviscerated in front of his men, have his eyes gouged out with docking hooks and have his head cut off and hung over the bow, just as happened to Edward Thatch, the famous Blackbeard.


Skull and Bones is a game more aimed at those looking for a less fantastic experience and more focused on the mercantile life of a pirate. I still recommend it to those who would like to see what the world of piracy is like with less fantasy and more down to earth.

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