Many of you might not remember the sea-faring pirate adventure Skull and Bones Ubisoft has in the works, which would not be a surprise as it was announced in 2017 but has disappeared behind the horizon in the meantime. News on the pirate game have been scarce, but the title is reportedly still very much underway, as Ubisoft revealed in a recent earnings call. Apparently, everything at Ubisoft Singapore, the team leading the production, is going well and Skull and Bones is still set to ship at some point before April 2023. Ubisoft’s ambitious pirate title has been stuck in development hell for eight years now, with one delay following the next. Here’s everything we know.
A title plagued by delays
Skull and Bones has seen more than its fair share of delays and release dates. Ubisoft first announced the pirate adventure that focussed on ship combat back at the E3 2017. The pirates returned the following year when the press even got the chance to give the demo a try in 2018. While it was expected to release in 2019 at the time, it was later slated for a 2020 release before being delayed to 2021. Now, here we are at the end of 2021 and still no sight of the pirate ship action: the game has been delayed again and is supposed to be released within the next fiscal year, which ends April 2023. Will the game still set sail for a release, or is Skull and Bones a drowning ship?
According to Ubisoft, we will in fact see the pirates appear on the horizon at some point in the future. It is hard to say what the game will look like once it ships. When we first saw the game, Skull and Bones was a sea-faring adventure focussed on ship combats. It took the naval warfare of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and turned it into its own game with hectic sea battles in which players take charge of their own ships and sink other vessels in the hunt for loot and power.
However, which direction Skull and Bones is sailing in now is not clear, and it is impossible to say how much the final game will resemble the one we saw in 2018. In 2020 Ubisoft Singapore creative director Elisabeth Pelle released an update on the state of production and revealed that the game had a completely new vision. Reportedly, the team had bigger, more ambitious dreams for the game. However, no light was shed on what this reboot would look like.
Ubisoft says everything is going well
Now, as we are heading into 2022 with Skull and Bones yet to be released, people have started to wonder whether the title is still underway. Recent updates from Ubisoft have tried to reassure everyone, that the team at Ubisoft Singapore was still working hard on the new title. Earlier this year, the game had reportedly already passed the Alpha stage. However, more details would be given once “the time was right”.
During a recent earnings call at the end of October, Ubisoft assured its investors that all was well at the Singapore studio. Trying to explain the situation, Ubisoft claimed, the creation of new IPs similar to Assassin’s Creed or Far Cry was hard and took a lot of effort and long-term vision. Delaying the release yet another year would give the team more time to create an AAA title that matches Ubisoft’s high quality standards.
According to a report by Kotaku, who spoke to several current and former developers from Ubisoft, the project has been plagued by many reboots and new visions. Originally, Skull and Bones was supposed to be an expansion for Assassin’s Creed IV: Blag Flag with a focus on naval battles. However, the game later turned into a standalone title. In the eight years of development, the direction seems to have changed a lot with fluctuating teams, new managers, and an overall lack of a clear vision as to what the focus of the final game should be. But with Skull and Bones reportedly having passed Alpha, the pirate adventure might in fact still ship.
While Ubisoft’s Skull and Bones is still quite a ways off, with the game possibly releasing some time between April 2022 and March 2023, pirate fans don’t need to fret, as there are plenty of pirate games available to bring the cruel seafarers’ adventures onto our screens. For one, Sea of Thieves by Rare has won over the hearts of many players and brings high-scale pirate action in an online first-person action-adventure game. Mobile gamers can already jump head-first into hectic online naval battles with the mobile game King of Sails: Ship Battle to captain their own ship ahead of Skull and Bones. Anyone looking for more casual gameplay can even find pirates within the iGaming genre, which is known for drawing inspiration from all sorts of topics and themes. There is a wide variety of free slots available online depicting many different mottos on their reels, from Greek mythology and Ancient Rome to futuristic worlds and the zombie apocalypse – and the golden era of pirates. With slots such as Ghost Pirates, the gruesome seafarers have found their way onto the classic slot machines. At least, while we wait, we will have a variety of pirate games to choose from.
Ubisoft’s pirate adventure Skull and Bones is still underway after eight years of development hell. While it is now supposed to release sometime before April 2023, it remains to be seen when the title will actually ship. Will it still be anything like what we have seen in 2018? Hopefully, we will find out soon.
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