Earlier this month, there was an unofficial announcement that Pioneer, a game teased by a mission in Watch Dogs 2, was cancelled. However, according to Kotaku, the definition of “cancelled” may not exactly line up with what we thought.
For those that don’t know, in the 2016 game Watch Dogs 2, there’s a side mission where the player has to infiltrate an in-game version of Ubisoft’s San Francisco headquarters to steal a confidential E3 trailer to sell to a gaming site. The trailer shows ships flying through outer space and colorful satellites. Ubisoft later told Kotaku that the game, code-named Pioneer, is actually very real and would get an official announcement sometime in the future. News on the game went silent for a few years until earlier this month, when Alex Hutchinson, a former employee who was creative director for Far Cry 4 and Assassin’s Creed 3, and Jonathon Cooper, the animation art director behind Assassin’s Creed 3, wrote tweets implying the game had silently died.
However, “cancelled” may have been too strong of a word. Jason Schreier asked around and reported on Kotaku UK that a game called Pioneer is still in development, but it’s a lot different now. “Old Pioneer is dead,” one of the anonymous sources said. “Pioneer’s half-undead brother is here.”
The report also gives some details on Pioneer’s development and what it was about. The game was conceived in 2013 as a non-violent space exploration title, with the starting team consisting of some employees at Ubisoft Montreal and headed by Hutchinson. The game’s development faced difficulties such as tensions between staff members and the “newness” of what would be in the game, causing it to be rebooted in the fall of 2016. After the teaser trailer’s release, the game continued to struggle until early 2019, when Hutchinson and Cooper made their tweets. It turns out Pioneer has actually gone through another reboot and is now a co-op multiplayer alien shooter that uses some of the old Pioneer’s features. It’s reportedly also going to use the Rainbow Six branch of Ubisoft’s Anvil game engine.
Ubisoft said it does not comment on rumors and speculation.