Skull and Bones Season 1 Hands-On Impressions

Skull and Bones Season 1 Hands-On Impressions

Skull and Bones season one has already dropped anchor, a mere ten days after the game initially set sail into open waters. The trajectory and longevity of Ubisoft‘s long-delated pirate sim have long been in question pre-launch, but Season One – Raging Tides is our first true look at what the content flow will look like for player privateers navigating the many seedy ventures spanning the Indian Ocean.

The most highlighted addition is the arrival of dreaded pirate lord, Philippe La Peste, who has travelled from the Caribbean in search of a cure for what ails him. Players can expect to encounter many formidable ships from Peste’s fleet, named Plaguebringers. These ships appear as the redesigned rogue ships, lying in wait to ruin players’ travels. The Plaguebringers are fine on paper as a themed addition to the standard loop, but their persistent presence typically only serves to highlight the tediousness of the grind as these plague-bearing vessels pop up regularly and slow down current actions.

In its favor, the structure of the Peste arc is set to unravel of the course of the season, which should help spread out the hunt as everything culminates with the showdown against La Peste himself. In the meantime, players can keep an eye out for Plaguebringer captains, collecting their heads upon defeat for Robin Blackwood in exchange for silver and gin.

Of course, there are other pursuits cropping up throughout the seasonal journey, like Kingpin bounties and brand-new contracts. Among these, I found the monstrous face-off against Zamaharibu to be the most exciting. After chasing a lead about a sea monster ferociously sinking ships, players can go test the resiliency of their hull and effectiveness of their cannons against this prehistoric beast. Seeing the formidable monstrosity breach the water, decimate an NPC ship and then turn towards me may have been the most thrilling experience I’ve had in Skull and Bones, and it’s one those still embedded in the life of piracy should see for themselves.

At the heart of the entire season is the game’s battle pass, titled Smuggle Pass. The Smuggler Pass has three different tracks: Quartermaster, Gunnermaster and Shipmaster. Players are welcome to tackle these three tracks in whatever order they wish. It all depends on which rewards are designated as a priority. Among the many unlocks sits what is arguably the most exciting addition: the Barque. Before season one, the only support ship was the small Cutter ship. As digital pirates moved on to the more intimidating medium-sized DPS and tank ships, support players were left out. But the Barque changes that, providing a medium-sized support option for nautical healers to helm.

It’s hard to say how much Raging Tides has stimulated Skull and Bones, both because the game is barely three weeks old and because the newest pieces have a tendency to place a spotlight on the more tedious areas of the game. Ubisoft has a couple more months mapped out for Raging Tides, giving us time to see how they pivot based on feedback. For now, the offerings are unlikely to bring back anyone who has hung up their tricorn already.

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