Three years after announcing Skull & Bones with an initial squall of previews, Ubisoft still don't have much to say about the pirate ship game which was once due in 2018. Don't expect to see it during tonight's Ubisoft Forward announce-o-rama stream or even this year, Ubi have now said, but they do assure that production is "in full swing with a new vision". Last we saw, it was basically the ship battles of Assassin's Creed: Black Flag expanded into a multiplayer game.
Elisabeth Pellen, the creative director of Skull & Bones, explained yesterday:
"Many of you have been wondering why we've had to postpone our launch. The answer is that we simply needed more time. We dreamt something bigger for Skull & Bones, and these ambitions naturally came with bigger challenges.
"These difficulties resulted in necessary delays for our game. Critical questions needed to be addressed over the past several months such as: how do we modernise the classic pirate fantasy? How do we ensure a more immersive and visceral experience? How do we create cool and memorable moments in-game? For most of these questions to be answered, it was clear that we needed more development time."
That new form is still a mystery. Hell, even the old form wasn't entirely clear. At E3 2017, our former Adam (RPS in peace) played a 5v5 multiplayer mode where two pirate fleets tried to plunder as much booty from NPC merchant ships and each other against a timer. The last we saw of it was at E3 2018, where Ubisoft revealed more of the its open-world sandbox, the Hunting Grounds:
The game has been delayed multiple times, first from 2018 to 2019, then into 2020, then indefinitely. Rumour has it that Skull & Bones couldn't find a unique spot amongst Ubisoft's many open-world games. The rumourmill says they've been rebuilding it as a live game in a persistent world with quests, characters, and storylines that change over time in response to players' actions. Even if I hadn't heard those rumours, that is probably the sort of game I'd expect.
Since Ubisoft last gave a look at Skull & Bones, Rare's own pirate sandbox game, Sea Of Thieves has gone from kinda empty to really quite good - providing far stiffer competition.
Tonight's Ubisoft Forward stream will reveal Immortals Fenyx Rising, the Zelda-lookin' game previously known by the superior name of Gods & Monsters.