Ubisoft’s 6-Year Bet on Pirate Game Looks Like a Job

Pirates fight at sea for cotton fiber and metal ore.


Narrated test images for skull and bones has been leaked online, showing off much of the blockbuster’s transformation since it was last officially shown at E3 2018† It’s beautiful and also looks like a modern textbook Ubisoft game. Players collect blueprints, loot materials and build up their shameful rank to get bigger, better ships. Arise and grind sailors.

The new leaked gameplay footage, lasting just over six minutes, details how players complete contracts for NPCs to level up and unlock new ship designs and upgrades. They will resupply their ships with “rations, water, repair kits and ammunition” before heading out to sea. If their ship is destroyed or their crew mutinied, they lose their rank and respawn elsewhere, while other players get a chance to save their wreck. Sources tell my box it could finally be released in the fall of 2022.

When skull and bones was first revealed at E3 2017, it was pitched as a session-based shooter focused on PVP. The new test images instead emphasize resource management and show how players will harvest things like ore, wood and animal skins, which can then be refined into other materials in the main social center. “Crafting is an essential activity for you to progress as a notorious pirate,” says the narrator. The images emphasize that the game can be played solo, but Ubisoft recently described it as “multiplayer-first† There’s even a robust “Vanity Shop” for cosmetics.

if my box reported last yearskull and bonesDevelopment has been a mess, characterized by a lack of clear direction, ballooning costs, and tons of attrition. The project, spearheaded by Ubisoft Singapore, started as an extension for 2013 Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag before evolving into half a dozen other types of games in the nearly ten years that followed.

Read more: The messy, stalled reckoning at an Assassin’s Creed co-developer

Despite continued statements from Ubisoft’s leadership that: the game is going well the delays and attrition remain, in addition to: alleged tumult and misconduct in his main studio. skull and bones lost an associate game director in December† Other high-ranking designers and writers have also left recently. The game lost its newest producer just a few months ago.

According to two sources familiar with the game’s development, Ubisoft had hoped to launch skull and bones all this spring. That date was later moved to summer and then to September. However, there is mounting pressure to ship the game, which some sources say has cost Ubisoft more than $200 million right now, in part due to an existing agreement with the government of Singapore.

Ubisoft didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, but did acknowledge the leak in a tweet Friday teases an official upcoming reveal of the rebooted project.

Like a live service game, skull and bones is expected to continue to grow and evolve even after it’s released. But former developers involved in the project my box have spoken, are skeptical that it could deliver anything close to what the publisher or players would expect at this point. A reddit post where the footage was shared is full of comments simply asking Ubisoft to make another one black flag instead of.

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