Rogue is one of those games that hasn’t been given enough attention and most of the attention on it seems to be quite negative for a few different reasons. Rogue initially came out for last generation consoles in November 2014 (PS3 and Xbox 360) and came out the same day as Unity, the game was typically overlooked then as the attention of the media at that point was focused on Assassins Creed Unity and it’s launch problems. Now, March 10th 2015 it has finally been released onto PC after Ubisoft took the extra time to port the game.
This review will contain some spoilers for the game.
Sadly Rogue is being called a “reskinned Black Flag” however this is far from the case and those who have played the game can clearly explain why that belief is wrong. Yes, the game does reuse locations from Black Flag and the ship mechanics are the same. However Rogue also includes areas from Assassins Creed 3 yet as this was not included in any trailers there have been no-little complaint about this. During the glitched memory sequences Shay Cormac, the protagonist, actually vists Paris and locations from Unity have been reused here also building up to the final glitched memory surrounding an important moment from Assassins Creed Unity.
The reason Rogue is set in ‘old’ locations is because the game exists to bridge the game, fill in plot holes and explain certain topics in greater detail; iconic characters from both AC3 and Black Flag are in the game including Achilles and Adéwalé both working with the assassins and Haytham with the Templar’s. There are plenty of new characters and locations of course plus many of the ‘old’ locations have been modified to fit in with the wintery setting most of the game has. Funnily enough there was even a potential reference to an AC3 edition during a speech given by a Templar to some civilians he ends by declaring “join or die” which is the name of an AC3 collectors edition, it may not be picked up by many but it does cause some wonder about whether or not this was intentional.
Shay himself is an interesting character, much more so than Arno from Unity, as the game portrays him from his initial time in the assassins to why he changed sides as well as his internal struggle for doing so. He left the assassins and became a ‘traitor’ in doing so because he felt he could not support what they were doing as it was going to lead to the death of thousands of innocent lives; the assassins would not listen so Shay did what he felt he had to do resulting in his almost death by the hands of his once friends. As he did what he considered right Shay was slowly introduced to the face his new friends were Templars and began to help them stop the Assassins from accidentally killing more innocents. Being said Shay can get annoying with his constant need to repeat his catchphrase “I make my own luck” whenever anyone mention luck, a few times is fine but constantly does this.
Throughout his transformation Shay’s struggle with it was clear, he often asked his new friends “how do you know if you’ve made the right decision?” which only intensifies as the game progresses and he begins having to fight old friends. By the end of the game it is clear who he is allied with, possibly because the Assassins refused to accept that he was right to try and stop them, continuing to call him a traitor. At this point most players will sympathize with him and agree that the Assassin Brotherhood here was in the wrong, however after the final glitched memory… feelings will become much more mixed.
Perhaps the most important gameplay mechanic is the ship; this is very much like Black Flags mechanics which makes sense as it was simple, easy and a lot of fun. While not being a pirate Shay is a privateer, his ship is called the Morrigan which he had even during his time as an Assassin. Enemies can both ram and board the ship so players should watch out for this though it is not difficult to defend the ship when being boarded, you will just find you lose a lot of crew members.
The North Atlantic is the main naval location, filled with icebergs and sheets of ice makes naval battles in this region more difficult as players will need to watch out of else they may take damage for smashing into one. On the other side of this, shooting an iceberg causes a wave that can damage enemy ship so not only are the good to hide behind during combat, players can use them to absorb shots or damage the enemy too. One the player has an ice-breaking ram on the front of the ship it will be possible to simply sail though icesheets which is something most enemy vessels cannot do making for a useful escape route if needed.
On top of this trying to swim in the ice cold water throughout the game causes damage to Shay which can linger after leaving the water for several seconds, Shay also has a nice water dripping animation on him once he climbs out of the water. The harpooning returns and the mechanics are the same as in Black Flag however it is still just as fun to do. Rogue waves do only sometimes return to the game however there is no explanation as to how to deal with them ingame, if you don’t remember how to not take damage from Black Flag you’re a little bit screwed here.
The money earned in the game can be used several ways, buying new gear, upgrading the ship and renovating buildings to increase your income. Building to renovate are in each main location, from the islands in the North Atlantic, New York and the towns in the River Valley.
River Valley is a similar to the Frontier from AC3 only with much more water and wide rivers allowing Shay to sail up through the valley. It also contains many different things to do with plenty of towns and villages, there are also Native American tribes to be found here. Players do not have to spend much time here following the plot of the story but it is a great place to explore, hunt and do side quests. New York is also nice for exploring however players will spend much more time here when following the story and will be introduced to several side quests they could take up during their time in the city.
Sadly, Shay does not have the ‘run down’ mechanic that Arno from Unity does making things relatively awkward when trying to get down from a building. He does have a wide arsenal of weapons including the classic hidden blade, an air gun and a grenade launcher. While the selection is great, it does get annoying when you need to change secondary weapon in combat especially since the ‘throw money’ option is mixed in with the weapons. Instead of shooting that enemy in the face, you’ve just thrown a handful of money in their face instead. Awkward for everyone.
There are some very nice scenes and ‘boss’ fights in the game; escaping a city as it falls around you, being flung about in a building, being poisoned so you need to keep moving or you lose health, running across sinking ice sheets and saving someone from a burning building. Some of the side quests also are quite interesting with stopping assassinations as they counter the typical side quests seen from other AC games. A gameplay aspect from the AC3 and Black Flag multiplayers has been used in the game, the danger meter for sensing hidden attackers has been implemented as there are ‘stalkers’ who hide in different areas ready to leap out and do some serious damage or kill you; they hide almost everywhere you can so remember to look up as well.
Beside from being inside the memories it is possible to leave and wander around Abestergo Entertainment and slowly you are given more access as the story progresses both inside and outside the animus; outside of the animus you can explore the offices and unlock computers to receive more information about what is happening inside of Abstergo, the worker the player is controlling is being warmed up to the idea of being a Templar which is different to Black Flag where that worker is intercepted by the Assassins. Perhaps in future games we will see the return of both these workers as it would be very interesting to see how the AC world is post-AC3. Though Ubisoft claim Watch Dogs has nothing to do with the Assassins Creed series there are several files mentioning someone called “Aiden” which seems like a strange thing to do when the Watch Dogs protagonist has the same name as it could only confuse fans further.
Ubisoft have transitioned the game to PC well, controls are fine with the only issue being Shay not wanting to climb down very well and often falling on his face. They have even added “cheats” to the game once you’ve progressed far enough into the story to give players more to do with ‘endurance’ or “hunted” codes to give an extra level to the game. The ship controls are the same as Black Flag so there will be no trouble for PC users when starting to play Rogue however there is less explanation in terms of how to use the controls; players should have played AC3 and Black Flag before this game however so it should be little trouble recalling the correct way to sail and what to do in naval combat.
Overall Rogue is a pretty smooth game with the awkward climbing returning though it could by no means ruin the solidity of the story; for fans of the series the game will be certainly appreciated for doing it’s job well and exploring the Templars further however the story can produce mixed feelings as Shay convinces the player what needs to be done. A lot of the gameplay has been lifted from past games though it has all been used well, it’s great to see old characters come back and all of the references may not be understood. The world to play with is large, no where near the size of Black Flag however, and diverse.
The final glitched memory will mean more to those who have played AC Unity and those who have will both hate and love Ubisoft for making Shay crossover with Unity in such a way.
And yes, you can kill civilians. Once a Templar Shay will not desynchronize for it however bounty hunters will be sent after him and on land they are not the easiest enemy to beat.
- Graphics are great
- Story is amazing with no glaring plot-holes like with Unity
- Does it’s job of interlinking games in the series well
- Diverse, good and fun gameplay
- Able to kill civilians without being desynced
Highly recommended for all fans of the Assassins Creed series however is NOT a good entry point to the series.