Did you think we were finally over battle royales? Nope. Sorry. Not if Ubisoft has anything to say about it. Today the French publisher announced yet another one, this time in the Ghost Recon universe. It’s called Ghost Recon Frontline.
In early production at Ubisoft Bucharest and a handful of other studios, Ghost Recon Frontline looks like it has some neat ideas, and also like it should have come out three years ago. The free-to-play game will feature multiple modes, but the main one will be called Expedition. In it, over 100 players will compete in teams of three for intel that is scattered across a sprawling map full of different landmarks and biomes. Sound familiar?
Once teams get the information they need, they’ll need to call for an extraction which will alert opponents, resulting in shootouts. Players will also get to choose from one of three classes—assault, support, and scout—each with different strengths, weaknesses, and abilities. Class-swapping on the fly will also be a thing. While there’s no release date yet, Frontline will have its first closed test from October 14 to 21 for PC players in Europe.
This marks the second battle royale from Ubisoft in two years, and the third free-to-play shooter the publisher has announced in 2021. In May, it revealed The Division Heartland, followed in July by the Overwatch-inspired XDefiant. These games come as Ubisoft tries to pivot toward releasing more free live service games to fill in the gaps in its blockbuster release schedule as projects are delayed or languish in development hell.
Beyond Good and Evil 2 is one of those games that Ubisoft announced forever ago. Skull and Bones, whose development woes Kotaku reported on extensively earlier this year, is another. While there are lots of reasons development can grind to a halt, in Skull and Bones’ case at least some of the problems stemmed from conflicts with management and studio work place issues, according to current and former developers on the project.
A larger reckoning over workplace culture, including cases of sexual harassments and misconduct, began sweeping through Ubisoft in mid-2020. Since then, the company has taken several steps to try to improve conditions, though not everyone thinks it’s been successful or gone far enough. In July, hundreds of current and former Ubisoft employees signed an open letter decrying the video game industry’s “culture of abuse,” and calling for more specific and transparent practices around reporting issues.