Skull and Bones ESRB listing appears, this thing might actually be happening

Skull and Bones
(Image credit: Ubisoft)

More evidence that Skull and Bones is a videogame that will someday see the light of day has surfaced in the form of an official Entertainment Software Rating Board listing. The M (Mature 17+) listing doesn't contain a date, but it does actually exist, and that's a big step in its own right.

Skull and Bones, for those who have lost track, was originally announced in June 2017, but despite a promising initial presence it was soon cursed with the doldrums: Multiple delays pushed it into 2019, then 2020, and then an open-ended whenever. Things began to coalesce earlier this year, though, and in March Ubisoft actually put out a call for playtesters—another big sign that, yes, progress is being made.

Ubisoft urged followers to "stay tuned" in an April tweet, right around the time that a six-minute intro video leaked onto Reddit, but has otherwise been silent on the topic. But the appearance of games on rating websites is a pretty sure sign that more meaningful news isn't too far off. And even though the listing doesn't have a launch date, screenshots, or a cool trailer, it does provide some insight into what's ahead: Players will begin the game as a "shipwrecked outcast" and work toward becoming a famed pirate captain by taking on missions, exploring settlements, and of course engaging in dramatic battles upon the high seas.

"From a first-person perspective, players command their crew to shoot cannons at rivals (e.g., warships, merchant ships, settlements/forts) in attempts to obtain loot/goods," the ESRB listing says. "Enemy ships can be rammed and boarded, resulting in brief cutscenes of crew members shooting or slashing at each other. Combat is highlighted by gunfire/cannon fire, explosions, and blood-splatter effects. Some territories depict corpses impaled on spikes or hanging from nooses; beaches may depict corpses and large bloodstains in the aftermath of battle."

But the really good stuff is found on dry land: "Settlements occasionally contain brothels and prostitutes that call out to players when approached (e.g., 'Come spend your coin all over me'; 'The price of my a*se goes up tomorrow, so buy a piece today!'). Players can also engage in quests to bring poppies to opium dens, which are depicted with patrons lying on couches smoking pipes. The words 'f**k' and 'sh*te' appear in the dialogue."

I think I'm going to say "the price of my a*se goes up tomorrow, so buy a piece today!" during my next salary negotiation.

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Skull and Bones is also listed on Australia's Classification Board website—it appeared there in May, but without the fun details—but has not yet turned up on Pegi, which rates games for the EU and UK.

The appearance of a game on an age rating site is usually a pretty good indication that it's not too far off, and I imagine we'll be hearing more about Skull and Bones very soon—possibly at the upcoming Gamescom event, which takes place August 24-28 in Cologne, Germany. Ubisoft confirmed earlier today that it will be in attendance.

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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.