Skull and Bones is going free for a week to kick off its second season

We haven't talked much about Skull and Bones lately but it's still cruising along, and with the second season ready to set sail next week Ubisoft is giving everyone another opportunity to check it out for free.

Look, Skull and Bones isn't bad, nor is it particularly good: Australian editor Shaun Prescott called it, in his inimitable style, "great within the claustrophobic parameters of what market forces allow it to be," and I think that's a pretty reasonable summation of what it has to offer. I enjoyed my time with it enough to stick around through the duration of the open beta, and I felt no urge to go further with it after release. That was in part because "it's fine" isn't really a compelling pitch at a time when we're awash in really good games, but the whopping $70 price tag sure doesn't help.

I have to imagine that the upcoming free play session will help draw in others who are similarly put off by the cost, and that at least a few of them will be convinced that it is in fact something they want to pay for. Beginning May 30 and running until June 6, Skull and Bones will be completely free to play, with no limits on content or progress, and any progression earned during the freebie will carry over to the full game if you carry on with it.

The free week will get underway just after the launch of Skull and Bones season two, which across the course of four episodes will add new enemies, objectives, ships, weapons, sea monsters, game modes, time-limited events, and numerous fixes and gameplay tweaks.

Ubisoft and the Epic Games Store don't share player numbers like Steam does, and since that's where Skull and Bones is currently moored we can't make any real judgment on what sort of uptake it's had. Ubisoft said in its recent FY2024 earnings report that Skull and Bones "displayed strong engagement, achieving the second-best daily playtime for a Ubisoft game, with an average of 4 hours in the first weeks following launch," helped along by the addition of endgame content in its first season. That's better than bad, I suppose, but the fact that Ubisoft feels compelled to roll out another free week at this point makes me wonder if perhaps the numbers aren't quite as buoyant as Ubi would like.

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

But as the Dread Pirate Roberts once said, "Life is pain," so we might as well enjoy some free games while we can. Preloads for the Skull and Bones free week will begin on May 28, and it will be available on both Ubisoft and the Epic Games Store; if you dig it, it's also on sale on the Epic Store until June 13.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.