Assassin’s Creed: Rogue is the seventh major instalment in the well-known Assassin’s Creed franchise and was initially released back in 2014 for last generation consoles. It was overlooked by many fans mainly due to it being released the same day as Assassin’s Creed: Unity, which was brought to the now current generation of consoles. Rogue has recently been remastered for PS4 and Xbox One, giving fans who missed the instalment the first time round a chance to play along with a few enhancements.
For anyone who had no idea this game even existed, you play as an assassin gone *ahem* rogue named Shay Patrick Cormac (no prizes for guessing his nationality). The game takes place during the Seven Years’ War of the 18th century, and with regards to the franchise’s timeline, it takes place as a sequel to Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and a prequel to 2012’s underrated gem Assassin’s Creed III. The game takes the much-loved sailing mechanics introduced in Black Flag and improves on them, making ship combat and sailing a lot smoother and overall more enjoyable and accessible. The ship upgrading system from Black Flag also makes a return, so if you feel like having a powerhouse of a vessel, you can if you work up to it. The sailing mechanics in Rogue seem to be a final farewell to the ship mechanics in the series as it has since been widely reported that Ubisoft started working on their upcoming pirate game, Skull & Bones. Exploring Islands around the multiple maps on offer in Shay’s ship, the Morrigan, is a fun side objective that, even though it may take you out of your way, doesn’t feel like an inconvenience thanks to the Morrigan’s tighter, more responsive controls. Hunting and harpooning also make a return and are required methods to gain resources to craft new equipment, such as outfits, weapon holsters, ammunition pouches and more.
As far as the plot is concerned, Assassin’s Creed: Rogue gives a refreshing new perspective on the series in that you play as an Assassin-turned-Templar. Doubtless, most fans remember the Haytham Kenway sequences in the beginning of Assassin’s Creed III, but that was only a tiny section in what was a considerably larger-sized game, and Kenway’s status as a Templar wasn’t revealed until the end of your time playing as him, whereas in Rogue, Shay becomes a Templar pretty quickly and remains so, although I refrain from spoiling the events as to why he defects; it’s truly intriguing, for sure. The game has some amazing sequences, including a section that sees Shay (accidentally) blow up a city. If that doesn’t want to make you play the game, I don’t know what will! An Assassin’s Creed game wouldn’t be complete without highlighting a few key historical figures, and Rogue is no exception. Familiar faces make an appearance, such as Freedom Cry’s Adewale, Benjamin Franklin and George Washington to explain their roles in historical events, albeit shaven down significantly.
However good the game may be, it does have its flaws. Even though the game is in a remastered state, after the amazingly well-received Assassin’s Creed: Origins, going back to the old mechanics isn’t easy, and I often found the game, especially the combat, to be slow by comparison. Rogue reverts to the free-form combat we all so fondly remember from the older games in the franchise, and although it worked well in its time, it is overly simplistic and very glitchy thanks to the long-winded execution animations. The story of Rogue is compelling and intriguing; however, the game isn’t set in a particularly exciting point in history. Sailing around the Atlantic and exploring small towns and islands just doesn’t match up to sliding down a pyramid, and it doesn’t have the scale of Black Flag’s world. The visuals, of course, have been upgraded. It looks fantastic in glorious 4k resolution, and the frame-rate holds up superbly, although the characters have a weird sheen to them, making them look like they’re slightly covered in oil. During free running, I found myself jumping off-track in random directions, jumping into water when land was clearly in reach, and every time I jumped back onto the ship, I landed on a crew member’s head. A lot of combat situations end up being button mashing nightmares, ruining the cool aesthetic of Shay’s character and skill-set. Immersion was quite often broken for me due to Steven Piovesan’s inconsistent Irish accent too, but this often came off as hilarious.
The modern-day sections in Rogue again feel tacked on as they did in Black Flag. They are played in the first-person perspective, which feels slow, and the puzzle sections seem forced and unnecessary. I would much rather play short third-person sections following a likeable character that builds on the story and is compelling on its own, like those found in the early entries and Origins with Desmond Miles and Layla Hassan, respectively. Shay himself is quite a dull character, and anyone playing Rogue before Origins probably wondered if the series would ever get a likable character steaming with personality. One thing that I personally would have liked to have been included was an online mode. The online modes found in the older games were fun, exciting and a welcome break from the story-heavy campaigns.
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Release Date: 20th March 2018