Ubisoft’s 6-year bet on pirate game feels like a chore

Pirates fight at sea for cotton fiber and metal ore.

Screenshot: Ubisoft

Commented test images for Skull and bones leaked online, showing much of the blockbuster’s transformation since it last officially aired at E3 2018. It’s pretty and also feels like a modern, classic Ubisoft game. Players will collect blueprints, loot materials, and build up their infamy rank to get bigger and better ships. Raise and grind sailors.

the new gameplay footage leakedwhich lasts just over six minutes, details how players will complete contracts for NPCs to rank up and unlock new ship designs and upgrades (Updated: 4/29/22, 2:40 PM ET: images have been removed). They will fill their ships with “rations, water, repair kits, and ammunition” before setting sail. If their ship is destroyed or their crew mutinies, they will lose their rank and respawn elsewhere while others players will have a chance to save their wreckage. Sources say Kotaku it could finally be released as early as fall 2022.

When Skull and bones was first revealed at E3 2017, it was billed as a PVP-focused session-based shooter. The new test sequence instead focuses on resource management, showing how players will harvest things like ore, wood, and animal hides that can then be refined at the main social hub into other materials. “Crafting is an essential activity for you to progress as an infamous pirate,” explains the narrator. The images emphasize that the game can be played single-player, but Ubisoft recently described it as “multiplayer first.” There’s even a robust “Vanity Shop” for cosmetics.

Like Kotaku reported last year, Skull and bonesThe development was a mess, marked by a lack of clear direction, inflated costs, and tons of attrition. Led by Ubisoft Singapore, the project started as an expansion for 2013 Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag before evolving into half a dozen other game types over the ensuing decade.

Read more: The messy and stuck calculation of an Assassin’s Creed co-developer

Despite repeated statements from Ubisoft management that the game is progressing well delays and attrition continue, in addition to tumult and misconduct alleged 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 last producer just a few months ago.

According to two sources familiar with the game’s development, Ubisoft hoped to launch Skull and bones from this spring. This date was then pushed back to the summer, then to September. There is, however, growing pressure to ship the game, which some sources say has cost Ubisoft more than $200 million so far, in part due to an existing deal with the Singapore government.

Ubisoft did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but did acknowledge the leak in a tweet Friday teasing an upcoming official reveal of the rebooted project. Updated: 4/29/22, 12:13 PM ET: A spokesperson issued the following statement:

We confirm that this is a preview of our next game Skull and Bones. Recently we performed a technical test for the game and some of its details became public. This video footage was taken from an early version of the game and does not reflect the quality and features of the final game. We will soon share more details about the game.

As a live service game, Skull and bones should continue to grow and evolve even after its release. But former developers associated with the project Kotaku spoke are skeptical of delivering anything close to what the publisher or players might expect at this point. A reddit post where the images were shared are full of comments just asking Ubisoft to do another one black flag Instead.