After enduring some of the roughest tides known to mankind, Skull & Bones has finally emerged from the Davy Jones’ locker of development hell, and is now set to release in 2023 on Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 5, PC, and Amazon Luna. Question is, will it be worth the wait? And more importantly, will it surpass the likes of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag in terms of story, gameplay, and overall quality?
It’s hard to tell at this point, but after five delays and countless revisions, Ubisoft will finally weigh anchor and give players the ultimate pirate-themed experience they’ve been craving since parting ways with Edward Kenway. But what do you need to know about it? Well, here’s everything we’ve scraped together since its 2013 announcement.
What Is Skull & Bones?
Skull & Bones is an upcoming tactical action role-playing game by Ubisoft Singapore. Similar to its primary source of inspiration—Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag—the game will adopt a third-person POV, and will feature a full-length single-player campaign, along with the option to play with up to five other privateers in its online counterpart.
Skull & Bones is one of Ubisoft’s most hit-and-miss IPs, as the game itself has undergone nearly a decade of issues, which has been made even worse by Ubisoft forever switching up the game’s infrastructure. To date, Ubisoft has forked out around $120 million on its development.
Skull & Bones is set in the Indian Ocean during the golden age of piracy. As an up-and-coming pirate captain, you will enrol in the several wonders of the open sea, either alone, or with a relatively small crew. Besides this, there is no real story to follow, excluding the one that you and you alone develop for yourself along the way.
“Skull & Bones is not a narrative-driven game,” game director Ryan Barnard explained to True Achievements. “We have narrative pieces – in the game, you’ll meet important NPCs called Kingpins which have their own stories that you’ll learn as you develop rapport with them by taking on contracts with them. There is an underlying story to the game with which we build the entire world lore, but that’s not the main focus. We want players to create their own stories and be able to choose the type of pirate they want to be.
Skull & Bones is a third-person tactical action role-playing game. Unlike Black Flag, it will feature a more hands-on approach with crafting, customization, and ship building. It will also include a multiplayer-based open world environment, one that allows crews of up to five to explore the vast seas and embark on epic voyages for hidden quests and plunder.
When it comes to naval combat, Skull & Bones will take a leaf out of Black Flag’s book. As such, it will include customizable ships, which will come loaded with usable broadside cannons and other useful tools and resources. At its heart, though, Skull & Bones will be an open world game without any major narrative points to adhere to. In essence, it’s a game without a structure, and one that you, along with your crew mates, will make your own.
Development on Skull & Bones first started back in 2013, shortly after the release of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, with which Ubisoft used as a main source of inspiration for the newfound project. Originally envisioned as an expansion for Black Flag, the proposed DLC was to either add to the AC universe, or build on it, preferably by turning it into an MMO under the name Black Flag Infinite.
Of course, this wasn’t the route that Ubisoft Singapore traveled down, and instead the studio opted to establish the foundations for a whole new IP, which later became the concept for Skull & Bones. Since then, the game has undergone countless phases of what most would only describe as development hell, with a rough decade of making several changes to the direction, setting, and overall gameplay. To this day, the game has cost Ubisoft upwards of $120 million to build, which puts it up there with some of the studio’s most ambitious video games ever made.
Skull & Bones was initially set to release in 2018 before being nudged back to 2019, and then again to 2020. At this point, Ubisoft decided to revamp the world it had already constructed and ultimately follow “a new vision.” In September of 2022, Ubisoft announced that it still needed more time, and that the game would eventually release on March 9, 2023. In total, Skull & Bones received five year-long delays, making it one of the developer’s roughest projects of all time.
Since Ubisoft Singapore first announced Skull & Bones back in 2017, fans have been treated to several sneak preview trailers, only one of which outlined the actual gameplay of the finalized product. You can catch the most up-to-date trailer above.
Release Date, Platforms & Editions
Skull & Bones is set to release on March 9, 2023 for Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 5, PC, and Amazon Luna. At the time of writing, neither Xbox nor PlayStation have mentioned anything about the game launching on Game Pass or PlayStation Plus. This is subject to change, of course, but it appears that, at present, the only way to get your hands on a copy is by pre-ordering one.
Speaking of which, Skull & Bones will come in two different editions: Standard Edition, and Premium Edition. You can see what comes included in each version down below. For more information on the proposed DLC and pre-order bonuses, you can follow the official social handle here.
Standard Edition — $59.99
- Skull & Bones (PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PC, Amazon Luna)
Premium Edition — $89.99
- Skull & Bones (PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PC)
- The Ballad of Bloody Bones Collection
- Bloody Bones Captain Outfit
- 11 Ashen Corsair Ship Ornaments
- Additional DLC
- Digital Artbook & Soundtrack
- 2 New Missions: “The Ashen Corsair” and “Bloody Bones’ Legacy”
- Smuggler Pass Token
So, what’s your take? Will you be picking up a copy of Skull & Bones when it drops next year? Let us know over on our socials here or down in the comments below.