Skull And Bones, Ubisoft’s long-in-development multiplayer pirate game, is alive after all. Skull And Bones is now accepting Insiders players to inspect the game as development progresses.
The news comes from Sea of Thieves YouTuber Captain Falcore, who revealed he has previewed the game under a heavy NDA. Falcore explains his NDA is so strict that he can’t actually say anything about his experience with the game, just that he’s been playing it. Indeed, all the footage Falcore uses in his video is, by his own admission, from the last time the game was publically showcased in 2018.
Falcore does gesture broadly at the current state of the game, however. He mentions, correctly, that when the game was first announced, its focus on arena-based multiplayer naval combat wasn’t striking the right chord with audiences. He claims that the team then put its head down and significantly shifted the game’s focus.
What is Skull And Bones‘ focus now? Falcore can’t say. Yet.
I trust Falcore here because he’s been a reliable source of information on Sea of Thieves since that game’s inception (even if his guesses at forthcoming lore are a subject of much hilarity in the community). Falcore doesn’t post news and information he isn’t willing to back up. That he’d be involved in a preview on Skull And Bones makes sense, as SoT was at one time considered its primary competitor.
Those who are interested in getting a taste of Skull And Bones can sign up for the game’s Insider program, which went live on March 9. Like other Insider programs, successful applicants will be bound by the same strict NDA Falcore is trying to work around in his video. The most interesting takeaway from the Insiders program, at least externally, is that it is currently for PC players only. Though the game will undoubtedly come to consoles as well, there is currently no console build available to Insiders.
The news that the project is moving ahead follows several years of drama and rumour surrounding the project. The game’s managing director was removed during the 2021 sexual harassment scandal that engulfed Ubisoft’s upper management. It was delayed repeatedly, once into 2019-2020, once into 2022, and once indefinitely. A 2021 report from Kotaku’s Ethan Gach revealed a studio stuck in a pattern of chaos and mismanagement, and a game creatively adrift. When Ethan’s piece was published in July last year, sources told him that the game had just passed alpha. Only eight months later, it’s now apparently in a playable state for selected Insiders.
But what does it look like now? Until NDAs allow for it, we won’t really know. Right now, the most concrete rumour we’ve heard is that the game is now more in the vein of live service titles like Fortnite. Make of that what you will.
As for the Insiders program: yes, those players are functionally unpaid beta testers. Xbox has a similar program, which includes Sea of Thieves. The Sea of Thieves Insider program allows selected users to preview forthcoming patches and mechanics before they hit the live servers. Insiders that play for an hour a week are rewarded with exclusive cosmetics that can’t be earned in the live version of the game.
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