Ubisoft's Skull and Bones: The World's First AAAA Game or an Overpriced Flop?   


Ubisoft's action-adventure game Skull and Bones has finally arrived after a development odyssey that spanned 11 years, numerous delays, and an alleged cost of roughly $200 million. Released on February 16, 2024, for the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and PCs, this open-world pirate adventure promises a swashbuckling good time, but does it deliver the AAA experience—or perhaps a new classification: AAAA—that its $70 price tag suggests? Let's navigate the game's troubled history, its core features, and ultimately, whether it's worth all the hype. 

The AAAA Title: Ambition vs. Achievement 

AAA titles typically boast cutting-edge graphics, innovative mechanics, or a massive scale, though there are double-A games that have outpaced triple-A games in terms of player engagement and critical reviews. In 2020, the AAAA moniker emerged when studios, including Microsoft’s The Initiative, used it to describe upcoming games. Recently, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot stated that Skull and Bones is a huge, fully-fledged quadruple-A game. 

Skull and Bones was planned as a large-scale expansion of Ubisoft's successful Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag. However, during development, the project evolved into its own standalone title and was announced as such in 2017. This shift in ambition, as alluded to by Guillemot, aimed to create a large-scale, much more expansive experience. Unfortunately, after multiple delays and reported development difficulties, the final product has drawn mixed reviews, with a few saying it doesn’t provide a definitive AAAA experience, at least at launch. 

Charting Your Course: Core Gameplay and Customization 

Skull and Bones offers a core gameplay loop centered around ship customization, exploration, and, of course, naval combat. You play as an aspiring pirate captain, building your reputation by completing missions, plundering trade routes, forging alliances with other pirates, and eventually taking down formidable enemies that include fantastical creatures like sea monsters. The ship customization system offers a decent amount of depth, allowing you to modify your vessel's weaponry, armor, crew skills, and even its visual appearance to create your ideal pirate ship.

In Season 1, titled “Raging Tides,” players go against pirate lord Philippe La Peste and his fleet, encounter elite warships and merchant convoys, and earn bounties. The Smuggler Pass unlocks three paths where players can beat weekly challenges to win rewards, while the Premium Pass provides access to two cosmetic sets for ships and captains. 

Skull and Bones is an "always-online" experience, meaning you'll need an internet connection to play. While the game can be enjoyed solo, it's designed with multiple players in mind. You can team up with other players to tackle tougher challenges or engage in Player versus Player (PvP) game modes, such as a time-limited treasure hunt against other pirates and takeovers of points of interest (POI) to earn gold and barter items. 

Keep in mind that your gaming hardware needs decent firepower for you to appreciate all that Skull and Bones has to offer. With an Intel Core™ i9 processor, an NVIDIA GeForce RTX™ 4080 graphics controller, and 32 gigabytes of RAM, Acer’s top-of-the-line Predator Helios 16 gaming laptop is more than capable of meeting the game’s requirements. Meanwhile, those looking for a more budget-friendly option might want to consider the Nitro 5, which also steps up to the plate. 

Is Skull and Bones Worth the Price? 

Now we face the critical question: at its current state, can Skull and Bones justify its $70 price tag? (The Premium Edition, which includes an exclusive digital artbook and two extra missions, sells for $100.) The consensus among gamers is that no, it can’t. Additionally, an unnamed employee who was part of the project stated that the game obviously belongs in the $30–40 price range. While the ship customization and the thrill of a well-executed naval battle offer some fun, for that price, you'd expect a more robust and engaging experience. Gamers are also balking at the price because of complaints about dated visuals, repetitive gameplay, and lack of exploration options, which make the game a hard sell.  

If you’d like to see whether the game is worth buying, you can take advantage of Ubisoft’s free trial. Play up to eight hours at no charge on multiple platforms and carry over your progression when you buy the game. 

Potential for Future Improvement 

There is a glimmer of hope for Skull and Bones. If you're absolutely enthralled by the pirate ship fantasy and can tolerate a slower gameplay pace, there's some enjoyment to be found here.  

Though the live service model holds the potential to add substantial new content to enrich the game in a meaningful way, Skull and Bones falls short of the quadruple-A experience that Guillemot claims it offers. It's a decent pirate ship simulator with a vast world to navigate, but what many feel are significant flaws—an uninspiring gameplay and lack of a compelling narrative, plus a high price tag—hold it back. It might be a game worth revisiting if the price drops significantly or if future updates bring more of what gamers want in a high-quality pirate adventure. 

 Recommended Products

Predator Helios 16
Gaming Laptop

Shop Now

Nitro 5
Gaming Laptop

Shop Now

About Lalaine Capucion: Lalaine has been working as a freelance writer and editor for more than 12 years, focusing on lifestyle, travel, and wellness. When she isn’t writing, she's most likely curled up with a good book or trying out a new recipe in the kitchen. She lives in Metro Manila, Philippines.  



Stay Up to Date

Get the latest news by subscribing to Acer Corner in Google News.