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Report: Ubisoft’s Skull and Bones is taking a dramatic change of direction

Ubisoft’s oft-delayed pirate action title, Skull & Bones, was conspicuously absent at the weekend’s Ubisoft Forward event. Now, new reports are suggesting the game is getting a dramatic redesign from Ubisoft, taking it in a new direction. 

An anonymous “development source” told VGC that Ubisoft were struggling to carve out Skull & Bones’ unique identity and niche within their catalogue of open-world adventure games.

The source suggested that Skull & Bones will now have a focus on a live game model, in which a persistent game world – littered with quests and plot-lines – is heavily influenced by the actions of players and the online community.

Related: Skull and Bones – We try out the pirate adventure for ourselves

It seems Ubisoft have been influenced by the remarkable on-going success of Fortnite, with its focus on live in-game events and the community’s ability to shape the game-world.

Another source told VGC that the game will have a keen focus on collaborative play, in order to appeal to a slightly different audience than the company’s other, simpler, action-focused titles.

So, rather than a sort of sea-combat-sim, it sounds like we’re going to get an evolving online world which forces fleets of player controlled ships to work together to overcome in-game events, quests and challenges. Right now, that’s still a little vague, but we’re eager to see what the final game looks like.

Related: Best PS5 Games – All the biggest confirmed games coming to PlayStation 5

To reiterate, this game is way, way, way behind schedule. Nothing has appeared on the Skull & Bones Twitter page for over a year – and even that was just informing fans of a delay. Surely, we can’t be too far away from some more information?

When we played a much earlier version of the game, at E3 2018, we got hands-on with the game’s ship combat. At that stage it was the most impressive and fun part of the experience. Our reporter at the event talked us through a ship battle:

“Once we reached our destinations, combat in Skull and Bones was a lot more fun [than the sailing sections]. We chose to play with a ship featuring pretty decent all-round abilities, which meant that it featured a balance of speed and firepower. Simply unloading into our opposing ships using our broadside cannons wouldn’t have worked, so we nimbly switched to our front-facing cannons to ruin their sales and make it easier to circle them and position ourselves so we could fire at them without them firing back.

“With their health depleted, we boarded their ship for extra resources. Rather than seeing our crew leap aboard the enemy ship as we played, however, this action started a short cutscene, where we were treated to a montage of our crew jumping aboard and overpowering the enemy vessel. It was a similar story when it came to repairing our own ship; rather than seeing our crew get to work with planks of wood as we sailed, all the action instead took place in a cutscene, which felt strange considering we were still taking part in a multiplayer match.”

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