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Skull and Bones to gain new life as a live service game

With the recent Ubisoft Forward event showing off major titles like Watch Dogs: Legion, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, and Far Cry 6, some fans still had one question on their minds: Where was Skull and Bones? The game first set sail at Ubisoft’s E3 presentation in 2017 with an extensive gameplay walkthrough showing off elements similar to the boat mechanics in certain Assassin’s Creed entries: Upgrading your ship, raiding outposts, and engaging in naval combat.

Initially planned for a release in 2018, the title has since all but vanished, getting pushed back year after year. The latest official news came from Ubisoft’s CEO Yves Guillemot during a 2019 investors call where he stated that the game would be out sometime in the 2021 fiscal year. But why the delay? And why no mention of the gaming during the recent Ubisoft Forward?

We might now have an answer. Video Games Chronicle reported that the game has expanded into a more ambitious live service title. Skull and Bones always had a large multiplayer component, but now its story quests and PvP combat are being blended into a single experience, something that one could assume is akin to Sea of Thieves. Apparently, the title was struggling to form its own identity and distance itself from simply being an Assassin’s Creed spinoff.

The team reportedly decided to turn it into a more cooperative game to separate it from Ubisoft’s predominantly competitive multiplayer experiences. Fortnite‘s big year was 2018, and its seasonal updates and chapters were reportedly a big influence on the game Skull and Bones has now become: A world where the communities’ actions will forge the experience going forward.

This transition also included a leadership change. The game’s previous creative director, Justin Farren, left the company and was replaced by editorial vice president Elisabeth Pellen.

Though two years is a relatively short amount of time, it’s an eternity in terms of game releases. Since the inception of Skull and Bones’ development, the battle royal genre has taken the world by storm, and titles have increasingly introduced persistent online components to maintain their relevancy in the discourse. It was probably a smart move for the team to make sure Skull and Bones pivoted to do the same. Does this mean the game is on the horizon, or will it have to weather the storm a while longer into 2022? With Ubisoft confirming another Ubisoft Forward event for later this year, we might not have to wait long to find out.

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Tom Caswell
Professional video producer and writer, gaming enthusiast, and streamer!
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