Dull and Bones

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spacemanspiff00

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#1  Edited By spacemanspiff00

Just finished a couple hours with the Beta. Hard to believe its actually in our hands. Its impossible to not notice how dated this thing is. And since its a live service game, it manages to be less interesting than its inspiration and pedigree, while hilariously showcasing the classic GaaS formula. Granted, I didn't finish the content available, and its surely more involved than what I did play but its hard to imagine it getting much better. There are more weapons and such that I didn't get to experience in my short adventure, however it doesn't seem like they would add a great deal of other options. The first thing that got me was how the ships have glowing red pieces on the side that you can shoot for more damage, not unlike the purple bits in Suicide Squad, and that gave me a chuckle.

The fact that you cannot board ships in this is easily the biggest glaring issue I have when comparing this thing to AC4. Even if the added weapons you get as you progress offer a few more combat options its difficult to reconcile this omission, which is likely due to it being a MP game.

The sailing itself is pretty much the same as you remember, albeit with a more zoomed out view unless you're doing certain things.

Exploration has been a pretty big letdown. You sail towards a ? and the most I found was another little village with more merchants and stuff you find in the main village you start in. Any other island I landed on had very little to find or engage with. When you happen upon a ship wreck or a resource, you are greeted with a lock picking minigame that simply requires you to hit X when the meter hits the green portion which either simulates you breaking locks to get loot from a wreck or chopping multiple times to get whatever material it is. There is also materials and loot strewn about the water as you navigate around that you can gather. Then there is ship storage that you don't want to let get too full or your ship will not be able to drop full sails.

One thing that returns from older games is the ability to hunt in the water with harpoons like AC4. I actually quite enjoyed that part in Black Flag, so its a shame that its dumbed down in this. You don't get dragged around at all by sharks or anything. Though, the sharks look kinda cool jumping out of the water. I'm curious if there are ship wrecks underwater, but I won't be surprised if its not an activity in this.

I find it hard to imagine what the real pull to keep playing this game will be. Looting is boring and the story and characters haven't enticed me in the slightest. The ship battles themselves are fun enough, but I just can't imagine it sustaining long term interest. Especially when I think about it not having the same team mechanics as Sea of Thieves. Roaming the sea's with some pals is likely to elevate the whole experience as per usual but the restrictive nature of everything leaves a lot to be desired and really highlights how long this game has been cooking. It does run pretty smooth so that's a point in its favor.

I don't think I'm done with the Beta quite yet. I'd like to see what else it has to offer since I loved AC4 so much and its kind of scratching that itch. But its not quite hitting the spot. Maybe if it were 2017.

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TheRealTurk

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A Ubisoft game that involves traveling between ?s on the map? Noooooooo. Get out of here! That's crazy talk! Noooooooooo.

In all seriousness, though, are we really surprised? This thing has been in development of one form or another for at least a decade and started life as a multiplayer expansion to Black Flag.

Which would have been super-cool. In 2013.

As it is, I'm shocked that this ever lived to see the light of day. I think if it hadn't been for whatever weird deal Ubi had with Singapore's government it would have been canned as a sunk cost a long time ago. i haven't exactly kept up with it, but the most recent thing I remember was some dev talk they gave trying to explain the gameplay loop. It was a masterclass of Ubisoft design buzzwords - "You need to board this ship to interrogate the Snitch to find out which Town to attack so that you can get the Doubloons to buy the Map that shows you which Cliff to look at to tell you where the Treasure is. And that's how you get Infamy."

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spacemanspiff00

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@therealturk: NANI???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

In regards to what the dev said: It sounds like dressed up fetch quests. Alternatively, isn't that what pirates do? I stopped playing the game right about when you get your first real taste of that. As I said, I'm gonna play more later since I loved AC4 and I am curious enough to see where this goes for awhile. I'd like to fight a sea monster since that dream didn't come true in AC Odyssey.

You're absolutely right about the Singapore involvement. I guess some devs had full time work for a solid decade so there's that.

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Shindig

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Hmmmm. Yeah, I guess kidnapping is a fetch quest.

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bigsocrates

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I was curious enough to play like 20 minutes. The opening battle is awful because it's a whole bunch of explosions but no stakes and basically an interactive cut scene. Then the next 15 minutes is you sailing around on a tiny little raft while people insult you constantly.

Is this supposed to hook people?

I actually think the game looks much better than I expected but I don't really see a reason to play it. I liked Black Flag but it's an older game and it had a lot more going on. This is just stripped down Black Flag as Destiny, with a much meaner spirited universe and without nearly the amount of variety or story hooks.

Not a fan.

I may play a little more just because I can't imagine actually paying to play this (though it will probably be free at some point) and I'd like to know a bit more about it, but while it's not totally incompetent or broken it's hard to see why anyone would spend time and money to play it in 2024.

Maybe worse than Suicide Squad, though less disappointing?

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BladeOfCreation

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I played that six hour long "closed beta" they had a month or two ago. I put that it quotes because it was really easy to get into, you just had to watch someone stream it on Twitch for a few hours. I remember being really surprised that there was nothing to do on land other than visit shops. I had always assumed you'd be going to islands, exploring them with some third-person parkour, then sailing away for another island adventure. Gathering resources by parking your ship near land and playing a silly little timing minigame is just profoundly uninspired.

The combat was fine and makes sense in terms of the different types of weapons used for gameplay purposes. That said...I laughed my ass off when the first ship that you unlock specializes in ramming enemy ships. Say what you will about gameplay and Assassin's Creed games, but Ubisoft has taken great effort in the past to make their games historically compelling. Maritime combat during the late-17th/early-18th century did not feature warships ramming each other as a primary means of engagement!

And I'll say this: at the end of the day, making a game about pirates in that era in a real-life historical setting is, at best, fucking weird. Pirates were murderers, brutes, enslavers, and bullies. But, hey, this is Ubisoft. They made a game about Vikings in which the player is penalized for murdering monks.

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gamer_152

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#8 gamer_152  Moderator

I'm honestly amazed that Ubisoft stuck with this. For all the projects that got cancelled, from that Deus Ex sequel to Blizzard's survival adventure, here is a concept that feels like a real long shot and that the developer stayed with. I'm not even saying that's necessarily a good thing; I just still don't believe Skull & Bones is coming out, even after it's come out.

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AV_Gamer

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All I can say is that the twitch streams for this game are already steady plummeting, and it was officially released Friday. And this is with many sponsored streamers doing the whole "drops" thing. That is not a good sign. From what I'm hearing, it's actually a worse version of the mode in Assassin's Creed: Black Flag.

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bigsocrates

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@gamer_152: Contractually obligated to put the game out because of a deal with the government of Singapore. That's why they stuck with it. Cheaper and easier to release a flop than to have to deal with whatever would happen from not meeting the requirements.

@av_gamer: It's not even that close to Black Flag. A lot of stuff is fundamentally different and it's more arcadey and faster paced. It's really quite an odd product.

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mach_go_go_go

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#12  Edited By mach_go_go_go

Zero dogs in this race (I don't play online-multiplayer games, I don't like Ubisoft games, I don't care for boats, and I have little opinion on pirates), but I feel like this game needed to undergo a drastic change in something during development, like Borderlands with it's refreshed art style, or Yakuza implementing turn-based combat, and never did.

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bigsocrates

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@mach_go_go_go: My understanding is that it DID go through several drastic changes during development and that's part of why it's such a mess and so content thin. They kept spinning off in different directions, none of which really worked.

What it needed was to...be better. Just better conceived and executed. If it had just gone with the original concept of "Black Flag with ship combat multiplayer" and executed it well it would have been fine.

The fact that you harvest resources from the world with a little golf-shot style meter is perhaps the best example of how little direction this game had. Nobody thought "well if we're going to do harvesting in 2024 maybe we should make it interesting or fun instead of just abstract busywork"?

Harvesting wood in the original Animal Crossing was more interesting and fun, let alone fishing or catching bugs.

If this game had built out its concepts of even its current iteration focusing on the ship stuff but really ramping up the quality of the experience and the content it could still be good, but instead of building one good game they built like 3-4 bad ones and just shipped the last half-finished.

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gamer_152

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#14 gamer_152  Moderator

@bigsocrates said:

@gamer_152: Contractually obligated to put the game out because of a deal with the government of Singapore. That's why they stuck with it. Cheaper and easier to release a flop than to have to deal with whatever would happen from not meeting the requirements.

I had no idea about this. This is so cool. Imagine being contractually obligated to make a pirate combat game by the Singaporean government.

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Ben_H

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I think one of the saddest and most frustrating things about this game happens at the start when they do the intro cinematic and list off the many, many Ubisoft studios that worked on this game in some capacity. What a waste of so many talented, creative people. Imagine what all of those people could have done had they worked on something else instead of this designed-by-committee nightmare of a game? That this game that took this much work from so many people just to be shoved out the door half-baked to fulfill a contractual obligation is so irritating. What a waste.

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spacemanspiff00

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Its kind of hilarious that it came out when it did. I mean, I certainly didn't think it would be competing with Helldivers 2, yet here we are. The general consensus seems to be "play HD2, its cheaper and better than S&B.." Did not see that coming. Quite the unfortunate turn of events for Ubisoft.

I still think I'll keep an eye on it. I like the ship battles enough to maybe check it out in the future.

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cornfed40

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Zero dogs in this race (I don't play online-multiplayer games, I don't like Ubisoft games, I don't care for boats, and I have little opinion on pirates), but I feel like this game needed to undergo a drastic change in something during development, like Borderlands with it's refreshed art style, or Yakuza implementing turn-based combat, and never did.

Admit it. You have SOME opinion on pirates. Doesnt seem like a "take it or leave it" kinda subject lol

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mach_go_go_go

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@cornfed40: Okay, I admit it. I am of the following opinion: pirates, like everything, are better when they come from Space.

(Yes, I was re-watching Beyond Good and Evil 2 trailers earlier today, tangentially related)

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mach_go_go_go

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#19  Edited By mach_go_go_go

@bigsocrates: that's so nuts - I had heard the game was (clearly) in development hell, but I truly don't understand the extent of it. And what's with the ME2 school of resource gathering? I 100% agree with you. Like honestly Ubisoft, remember the pirate game you already made? Just make it more of that but better. Or add non-legally-actionable Pokemon-like creatures.

(I know - armchair game design is always easy. I don't mean to hand-wave the herculean effort involved in making a game of this size and scope, or suggest I know how to do it better. And obviously AC4 wasn't designed under the looming circle of a game as a service, so although it may be a better game, it's not a forever game. For me, the spectacle surrounding the game is the entertainment, not the game itself. I'm almost happy at this point when a game announces live-service elements. One less thing to spend my rapidly diminishing time and energy on. Sorry Skull and Bones, you seem cool but I'm 100 hours away from finishing all the Ace Attorney games.

Again. )