As the years have gone by and the many Assassin’s Creed games have come out, I’ve gone from playing the games to not even watching the trailers. I use to love Assassin’s Creed game, the mechanics, the story and just overall philosophies of the game, but things got stale, the games started to look the same, and they started to feel like a waste of money. Then I saw a trailer for a game that I didn’t know at the time was Skull and Bones. I knew right away that it was a Ubisoft game and I honestly thought that it was an Assassin’s Creed game at the time. I thought to myself, “well this has Assassin’s Creed IV’s naval combat, and the art style looks the same, so it must be Assassin’s Creed”. But it wasn’t, and I found out it was a game called Skull and Bones made by Ubisoft Singapore. I was blown away by the gameplay footage of Skull and Bones for a few reasons, it felt concise and focused on what the game wanted to be mechanically. That is what Assassin’s Creed is missing, focus.
I hate the fact that I have to talk shit about Assassin’s Creed, because it has done a lot for the games industry and it has a lot of good aspects. I’ve just become so uninterested in them because they all seem the same, and when they add new things, they just look half-assed and the fundamental gameplay issues of Assassin’s Creed games aren’t really improved upon. For example, when I was watching the E3 press conference in 2018, I watched the trailer for Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and it just felt like they added older mechanics into the game to make it seem more full. They added RPG mechanics, the naval combat from the 4th games, and a different combat system, but none of it felt fully realized. Plus, Assassin’s Creed is known for being a stealth oriented game and I just never, ever got those feelings from the trailer I watched. Is Assassin’s Creed a pirate game? No. Is it an RPG? No. Is it a stealth game? Not really. The story isn’t really even about assassins anymore.
Skull and Bones is one thing and one thing only, a pirate game. There’s a single player campaign and even a multiplayer mode where you battle other players’ pirate ships. There is plenty of customization when it comes to equipping and fashioning your ships, and it just seems that every aspect of the ships from Assassin’s Creed 4 have been built upon ten-fold. There has been an increased in pirate style games in the last couple of years but none seem to be as refined as Skull and Bones. Because Skull and Bones focuses on just the aspect of piracy, it means the development team can spend more time fleshing out just those mechanics, adding customizations for the player in the way of cosmetics and ships, adding more to the single player campaign, or having more and/or better multiplayer modes and matchmaking.
To me, current Assassin’s Creed games feel like someone took pieces from different puzzles and forced them to fit together by re-cutting them and then gluing them together. Games and their respected franchises are without a doubt allowed to experiment and branch out while trying new things, and Assassin’s Creed has definitely done that, but I think with Odyssey, it has become very apparent that they are just taking everything that has been popular from past games and just mashing them together. Besides the RPG mechanics, it doesn’t really seem to innovate upon the core gameplay. I really don’t think there is a point of arguing what makes an Assassin’s Creed game an Assassin’s Creed game, because games mean different things to different people, and Assassin’s Creed will without a doubt mean something very different to me than it will you. But I think things that made the Assassin’s Creed franchise popular, like stealth and creating a realistic historical world to explore, really peaked in the second game, while the naval combat also peaked in Assassin’s Creed 4.
Yes, Skull And Bones hasn’t released yet and I cannot say that it is a great game or that the mechanics are fantastic and fleshed out, but from the gameplay we have seen, it looks really great and I’m excited to get my hands on it. I don’t hate Assassin’s Creed at all, in fact I really use to love the franchise, I just think it really lacks focus. It’s the jack of all trades but is the master of none, and if people like that, I’m not going to judge at all, it just isn’t for me. I cannot wait to sail the seas, captain my own ship, and most importantly, ask why the rum is always gone.