If you don't want to pay $60 for Skull and Bones, you can play it 8 hours for free instead

Ubisoft's long-awaited pirate adventure Skull and Bones is out today, and if you're curious but put off by the unexpectedly steep price tag, I have good news: An eight-hour trial version is available, so you can see what it's all about without paying a penny.

I initially expected Skull and Bones to come in with a fairly moderate price tag, given that it's all-in on the live service thing, including a battle pass and in-game store selling a range of cosmetics for premium currency. But no, it's a full price game: $60 for the standard edition on PC, and $70 on consoles. (It's actually $90 in my backwater little country, and let me tell you, folks, whew.)

Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot recently defended the price, describing Skull and Bones as a "quadruple-A game" and saying that "people will really see how vast and complete that game is" once they play it. The challenge, of course, is convincing them to take that step in the first place: 60 bucks is a lot to pay to indulge curiosity, after all, especially given that the reception to the pre-release open beta was not universally great.

Which is where the trial comes into play. Pop around to your storefront of choice—for PC, that's Epic and Ubisoft—and opt for the free trial version of the game. You get eight hours to horse around with as you see fit, which based on my experience with the beta is enough to at least sink your teeth into the post-tutorial locale of Sainte Anne, and any progress you earn in the trial will carry over to the full game if you decide to spring for it.

The launch of Skull and Bones seems to be going reasonably smoothly so far, at least to the extent that nothing appears to have exploded—metaphorically, that is. Ubisoft has already addressed some issues, including contract completion requirements, resource regeneration timing, and some server wonkiness, and more work is ongoing. 

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How it will fare in terms of players, free trial or not, remains to be seen: Because Skull and Bones isn't on Steam, we don't have access to concurrent player counts or user reviews, and the next Ubisoft quarterly financial report (where the company will presumably say something about it) isn't until May.

We'll have our own fully-formed thoughts on Skull and Bones (that is, a review) up soon. In the meantime, if you're just taking to the high seas, here's a quick rundown of 11 things that will help you get off to a good start.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.