The Settlers: Even after the beta debacle, Ubisoft is sticking with the RTS

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More than half a year after the devastating feedback on the closed beta and the subsequent indefinite postponement, Ubisoft is now commenting on the ongoing development of the settler reboot. The publisher doesn't get too specific, but apparently it's still turning it into a real-time strategy game.

The development needs a lot more time

A new settler game was announced at Gamescom 2018, almost exactly four years ago. Nothing came of a planned publication in autumn 2019 and the postponement to the following year could not be kept either. The general public was then able to judge what Ubisoft had the Blue Byte developers in Mainz work on for so long at the beginning of 2021. It quickly became clear that the actual development strategy game had been softened into a pseudo-RTS – the reaction of the vast majority of beta testers and critics was bewilderment, disappointment and sometimes anger. Ubisoft then succinctly announced in March that “the quality [of the game] did not yet match the team's vision” and that The Settlers would be postponed “to a later date”.

Closed test gets regular updates

Five almost silent months later, this time has not yet come, but the publisher dares to come out again: The game will be further developed and this time the community – or at least a small part of it – will be involved. A closed technical test has been running since May 2022 with 1,000 players so far; another 500 are to be invited shortly. When selecting the testers who are subject to a non-disclosure clause, Ubisoft only indicates that they are former participants of the closed beta test phase in January.

The Technical Test Server is a closed version we set up to test the game's development with a select group of players. […] To date, over 4,000 matches have been completed and the data we have collected on them is invaluable to us. The test server is updated every 4-5 weeks and the team is already working on the fourth update. Each of these versions brings the game up to date with the developer version. Thus, the invited players see the latest changes very early on in an unfinished state and with preliminary balancing.

News will be published in-game for each release, supplemented by regular preview articles on upcoming content. At the same time, all participants of the test server have access to a closed forum, which is under NDA. There they can exchange their experiences and errors found and of course also discuss the content. We wanted to give back to the community by providing you with more information about the process and progress. More than 1,000 players have been invited so far, with another 500 invitations coming soon.

Ubisoft

Accordingly, information on the development status of The Settlers hardly leaked out, but now Ubisoft and Blue Byte are commenting on a blog entry. Accordingly, the developers have primarily worked on the economy and the combat system, as well as new maps, new tutorials and a modified balancing of building costs and production chains. Blue Byte has also adjusted the behavior of the units and the general game balance. However, the blog entry is not specific.

It probably stays with the RTS reboot

Another change shows that Ubisoft is still sticking to its plan of developing a real-time strategy game and not a development strategy game: value was placed on making other “usual elements of real-time strategy games available, also with regard to the user interface. In addition, The Settlers now have a lobby and the opportunity to play not only with friends, but also against them. To what extent a revision back to the roots of building games was even up for debate remains open – the reviews of the closed beta left no doubt that players were not enthusiastic about the change to real-time strategy games.

The Settlers (Image: Ubisoft)

Meanwhile, further updates include graphical improvements to the maps, settlements and units. Each location should have special locations and an independent identity and play accordingly differently. All of this is only part of the areas on which Blue Byte has worked – more information is reserved for the invited testers. From now on, the number of these should increase with each new game version, but Ubisoft also wants to give the public “further insights into the progress on the Technical Test Server” in the future.

A year full of shifts and problems for Ubisoft

The fact that The Settlers will hardly appear in the current year fits into the picture that Ubisoft recently gave. In addition to Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope, produced together with Nintendo, which will be released exclusively for the Switch on October 20th, the pirate game Skull and Bones, which was also delayed by years, is Ubisoft's last major new release in 2022. Only Roller Champions was launched recently , although Ubisoft denied rumors of an imminent discontinuation at the end of July, but had to admit further delays in new content.

It was only announced a few weeks ago that the open-world Action-adventure Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora has been delayed by up to a year and a half, while four developments have been shelved before their release. In the fall, the online services of 15 older Ubisoft games will also be discontinued. The remake version of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time also has no release date after some delays.