Is Assassin’s Creed Black Flag (AC IV) Better Than Skull & Bones?

Pirate life for me~

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Skull & Bones and Assassin's Creed IV (AC IV) Black Flag comparison.

Well, Ubisoft’s at it again, releasing the so-called first AAAA title, Skull & Bones, while many consider Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag (AC IV) the better game. Let’s face it: Ubisoft’s throwing everything, including the kitchen sink, to chase its glory days, trying to appeal to lapsed fans with mediocrities. Case in point, our review of Assassin’s Creed Mirage will tell you that the company isn’t ready to innovate.

Rather, the corporate side is nudging the creatives to merely churn out middling experiences. But what about Skull & Bones? Ubisoft’s much-hyped and touted title? Well, it’s a doozy, so settle back and let’s discuss.

Why Is Skull & Bones, A 2024 Release, Dubbed Inferior To Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag?

The first step is admitting the problem, so yes, the sentiment about Assassin’s Creed IV being the better game is true. Look, we tend to give video game developers a pass in our critiques mostly, but not for Skull & Bones. That’s cause budget constraints, corporate mandate, and key decisions aside, the technical flaws and game design choices for Skull & Bones are horrendous.

Let’s break down each one of them and tell you what we’re talking about. Heads up: instead of customizing or purchasing the best PC for Skull & Bones, it might be better to jump ship and just wait for the Assassin’s Creed 4 Black Flag remake.

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The Character Models, Visuals, And Animations Comparison Between (AC IV) Black Flag And Skull & Bones

The comparison of graphics between Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag and Skull & Bones.

The only thing that Skull & Bones has going for it is the vastly superior character models, though even that is with an asterisk mark. While Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag (AC IV) might have slightly inferior-looking character models, the expressions and delivery of lines with facial expressions and animations are objectively better. Mostly because Edward Kenway and co are voiced and motion-captured by professional actors, but hey, it counts.

In comparison, the movement and traversal animation in Skull & Bones feels so bland and uninspired. It’s like the devs were just phoning it in. Despite the game’s long development cycle, these noticeable things feel utterly half-baked. Sure, the water and lighting particles and shading in Skull & Bones are better, but that’s not saying much.

The NPCs might look pretty, but they feel more like monotonous automatons than actual characters. For a Quadruple-A experience, that’s a big no-no. The overall graphical upscaling difference between Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag (AC IV) and Skull & Bones isn’t that big of a leap. So, yeah, point Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.

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The Better Pirate Experience?

The pirate experience in Skull & Bones is severely lacking in comparison to Assassin's Creed IV (AC IV) Black Flag.

We’re not gonna sugarcoat our experience with both games. Skull & Bones is the absolute bare-bones pirate experience compared to the masterpiece that is Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag (AC IV). Like seriously, this is a landslide victory for the 2013 game and a disaster for the 2024 title. You can’t swim in Skull & Bones or board other ships during naval combats, and really, Ubisoft? Do sharks roar? Cause in Skull & Bones, they do!

Leaving that hilarious detail from Skull & Bones aside, though, in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, you had the freedom to jump aboard enemy ships. It was a neat little immersive touch that made the act of commandeering enemy vessels intuitive. In Skull & Bones, all you get is a cutscene, and that’s it; the interactive simulation is nada. The vast wealth of side activities, land traversal, and the cinematic quality of the pirate life are not there.

The land segments where you explore beautiful tropical locales feel so enthralling. The treasure-hunting, assassination contracts, and even the naval combat implementation of Black Flag trump whatever Skull & Bones has. There’s no swashbuckling combat in Skull & Bones, no finesses-savvy fancy firearms, just ship fights. So yeah, another easy one for the OG and a big disappointment from the first quadruple-A title in history.

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Freedom, Game Design, And Immersion Differences Are Night & Day

Assassin's Creed 4 Black Flag is way more immersive and offers more freedom.

We believe in constructive criticism, but sometimes, even we’ve got our patience. The freedom level that Skull & Bones offers is you being a ship. You can’t walk around to examine it while sailing, and on land, you’re just a walking simulator avatar with glitchy movement. Your naval combat experience will also be average at best because the game’s still after those RPG trends. The upgrade mechanics in Skull & Bones feel tacked on, too.

We’re not kidding; the mission variety is non-existent; fetch quests galore, people! Not to mention, the progression system is tedious, bland, and definitely not piratey. Compare Skull & Bones to the 11-year-old Assassin’s Creed IV (AC IV) Black Flag; it’s shocking to see the differences. In AC IV, you seamlessly transition between land and water, engage in pirate-themed quests of treasure hunting, and board enemy ships to conquer.

Oh, and did we mention that in Skull & Bones, your ship has a stamina meter? Oh, that’s some next-level genius game design, Ubisoft, NOT! Assassin’s Creed IV (AC IV) Black Flag doesn’t have any of those outrageously absurd mechanics. It offers players a truly immersive storyline with a charismatic lead protagonist and a world worth exploring. We know what we’re playing: AC IV, not Skull & Bones.

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The Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag Remake Over Skull & Bones

Wait for the the remake.

The hefty price tag of $70 is a hard sell, no matter which way you slice it. Seriously, Skull & Bones’ free trial period isn’t even enough to crack past a million players on launch. Instead, the original Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag (AC IV) player count saw a spike after Skull & Bones’s release. It speaks volumes about how the general consensus of the gaming community has written off Skull & Bones.

Sorry for the game’s staunch defenders, but calling it a Quadruple-A title and putting on a $70 price tag just doesn’t seem justified. The formula was right there for Ubisoft: just copy everything from the Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag and modernize it. Instead, what do they do? They take out parts that make up the best bits of Assassin’s Creed IV. For the development hell this game was in, we should have expected this outcome.

However, fret not; there’s an upside, not Skull & Bones; obviously, it’s doomed, but there is an announcement of a remake for Assassin’s Creed IV. If Ubisoft wants to recapture the magic, they can devote resources with a clear vision and do right by the gaming community. Remakes are all the rage these days; after all, just take a look at our wishlist of games that deserve remakes, like Final Fantasy VII, for proof.

Final Thoughts

Well, that’s our take, however jumbled they might be, on Skull & Bones being nowhere near as great as Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag (AC IV). So, what d’yall think? Have we been overly harsh here, or do you feel the same way? Feel free to tell us in the comments below. We’re looking forward to the fireworks.

There is another colossal flop of 2024, aside from Skull & Bones. If you’re looking for palette cleansers, we’ve got’em. For instance, here’s our list of games to help you get over Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League. You’re welcome~ and until next time, happy gaming!

Author

  • Rafi Ahmed

    Retro(and modern) gamer, proud comic geek, anime connoisseur, and opinionated peach without a filter. I'm bringing you hot takes, recommendations, and what-if fantasy scenarios and championing the gamer cause against corporate greed. You're welcome!

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