So Skull and Bones has been delayed once more, to the shock of completely nobody. For a second, I puzzled if Ubisoft could be higher off ‘doing a Star Citizen’ and mainly abandoning the thought of a launch date for the sport altogether, merely letting us benefit from the drips and drabs of the sport that trickle by over time somewhat than giving us any type of expectations. But then I had an epiphany within the type of a query: does anybody really care about Skull and Bones any extra?
Even when it was first introduced within the slipstream of the success of Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag, Skull and Bones at all times appeared conceptually, effectively, somewhat barebones. It went from Black Flag DLC to MMO to ship skirmish recreation, and it by no means appeared to choose any components that sounded terribly compelling. It’s stagnated in growth for therefore lengthy now that a complete new video-game style, survival video games, rose up within the meantime, which prompted Ubisoft to at one level chuck in Rust-like survival components into it. I imply, at this level, why the hell not? It’s not like the sport has any sturdy sense of identification anyway.
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Skull and Bones, no matter it truly is or might be, clearly isn’t clicking. And with Black Flag now a distant reminiscence, and folks persevering with to flock to Sea of Thieves for his or her on-line piratey kicks, perhaps that Skull and Bones ship has sailed, and it’s time to present us the Black Flag sequel so many people have at all times needed. Take no matter shippy-saily stuff they’ve achieved with Skull and Bones because it entered growth 10 years in the past (they need to’ve achieved one thing in that point, proper?), and combine it right into a sprawling open-world pirate journey for the present era.
And sure, positive Ubisoft, you may hold in a multiplayer mode pushed by microtransactions and cosmetics, seeing as you’re so determined to discover a foothold within the service recreation scene. Whatever.
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To date, Black Flag is the best-selling recreation within the Assassin’s Creed sequence, regardless that it’s the least ‘Assassin’s Creed’ recreation of all of them (whether or not you select to guage it by the pre-Odyssey ‘murderer sim’ metric or the next RPG stylings). The adventures of rakish pirate Edward Kenway have been solely tangentially associated to the overarching Templar story nonsense, and the sport thrived in that freedom in addition to the liberty of the excessive seas. And the latter is a key factor right here; for its time, Black Flag’s sense of freedom was incomparable, regardless that it was to an extent illusory.
The motive for that was what I wish to name ‘The Wind Waker Paradox.’ By being set in an archipelago of islands that you possibly can sail between with wanton abandon, waves bouncing off yer ports and starboards as you sang sea shanties together with your crew, Black Flag felt big, regardless that most of that was simply open sea; the truth that you possibly can soar off your ship at any level to swim to a close-by island, or dive beneath the waves for treasure, amplified that sense of scale.
Impressive although Black Flag’s Caribbean spectacle was, the truth is that you just couldn’t go to a lot of the islands within the archipelago, and the larger ones have been very restricted in your factors of entry and the way a lot of them you possibly can discover. But the sport was intelligent, and even when the islands have been largely made up of glorified corridors, what beautiful corridors they have been–verdant tropical tunnels crammed with the cacophony of a thousand unique creatures, hanging vines, waterfalls, and daylight shimmering by the canopies. Even although you’d be hard-pressed to really get misplaced within the recreation’s jungles, there have been loads of moments the place you possibly can cease no matter you have been doing, slowly pan the digicam round Kenway, and really feel completely immersed within the setting.
Skull and Bones is a tarnished IP even earlier than it is launched, whereas Black Flag is the best-selling Assassin’s Creed recreation in historical past.
The stunning factor is that within the 9 intervening years since Black Flag, gaming tech has reached some extent the place that immense sense of freedom not must be an phantasm. Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey already proved that 5 years in the past, and we’re one more console era on from that now. But admirable although Odyssey’s depiction of the Aegean archipelago was, the setting couldn’t fairly faucet into that swashbuckling seafaring fantasy like Black Flag. The Golden Age of Piracy holds a really particular place within the in style creativeness that isn’t simply changed–even when a few of these Greek shanties have been fairly catchy themselves.
It’s viable at this level to suppose that Kenway’s journey is healthier generally known as ‘Black Flag’ or ‘The Pirate One’ than ‘Assassin’s Creed 4,’ so why not separate it off into its personal IP whereas Assassin’s Creed continues down its path in the direction of changing into a unified service mega-game? Skull and Bones as an IP feels tarnished now, lifeless within the water, effectively on the way in which to develop into a working joke synonymous with limitless delays. Black Flag, then again, represents Ubisoft’s most interesting hour, and could be a much better launchpad into a brand new IP that might deftly journey the wave of one of many firm’s most beloved video games.
Free from the Assassin’s Creed IP and integrating the robust classes discovered from the protracted growth of Skull and Bones, a Black Flag 2 could possibly be simply what Ubisoft wants to interrupt out of its artistic and industrial rut. Whether it spins Edward Kenway off into his personal mythos or follows a brand new hero; whether or not it takes place in a realistically modelled Caribbean, or a fantastical seascape the place Kraken lurk beneath the waves and the sides of the maps are waterfalls resulting in a Stygian underworld, a brand new Black Flag might give us that sense of seafaring freedom and journey we’ve lengthy been lacking.
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