Assassin’s Creed Rogue was released around the same time as Assassin’s Creed Unity in an attempt to placate the fans of the series that hadn’t yet made the move over to the next generation of consoles. I worked in a local game shop at the time of release and I kept hearing the same feedback: Rogue was easily the better game of the two.
In hindsight, it is easy to see why this was the case.
For this outing in the Animus, we step into the shoes of Shay: a trainee assassin who finds the morals and principles of the Brotherhood slightly disturbing. As the story progresses, Shay begins to develop as a character and you realise that his ideals and reasons for doing what he does aren’t as obscure as you think they are. However, because the main story is ridiculously short, you really don’t get to know Shay as you did Edward or the Frye twins. I think this is a shame because Shay is a truly engaging and interesting character (he’s better than Connor, anyway!). But one thing Rogue does, and does well, is allow us to dig deeper into the Templar organisation, something that many fans of the series will agree has fallen far short. Sure, we all know about the Brotherhood, but it is nice to find out why we are hunting them and what threats they do actually pose. Not only is this something that the series needs to introduce more often, it is also a pleasant breath of fresh air.
It must be said that Ubisoft have done a fantastic job of bringing Rogue onto the next generation of consoles. The graphics have been tidied up significantly and the gameplay mechanics also feel as if they have been tweaked as combat and sailing feel a lot more responsive than they did in the previous version. Although Rogue does feel very much like Black Flag, it has a darker feel to it and the whole atmosphere of the game reflects this. The Rogue universe is set in the frigid atmosphere of the North Atlantic and so you must navigate icebergs as well as enemy ships. Shay’s ship feels slightly more rigid and the places you visit tend to feel like they are the last outposts on Earth. The developers have done a great job in trying to bring this alternative layer to the cannon of the Creed universe.
It is here that Rogue is at its best. The naval combat is identical to Black Flag but you use different weapons to slow down and incapacitate your enemies. Harvesting tobacco seems to be your number one goal in order to gather enough money to upgrade both your ship and Shay. In Black Flag, the upgrade system worked perfectly and Rogue is no exception.
As with other Assassin’s Creed games released around this time, Ubisoft have added in a number of short segments that take you out of the animus and into the real world, forcing you to hack computers and retrieve files from Abstergo. In all honesty, I was never truly invested in any of this and I feel it is there as more of a filler, but for those of you who want to take the time to find all the hidden documents and files, then you will be rewarded with a deeper look into the Assassin’s Creed universe.
However, despite its numerous sidequests and filler section, Rogue does feel very empty in comparison to other Creed games. The main story does feel rushed, especially towards the end and it seems to miss the charm that came with constructing your own homestead in Assassin’s Creed 3 or your own port in Black Flag. Once you have tired of blowing up ships or looking for the last elusive collectible, fans of the series will really struggle to find an activity worthwhile aside from the main quest. Side quests often feel repetitive and with as with any other Assassin’s Creed game, you do find that it can feel a little grindy.
All in all, though, Ubisoft have done a fantastic job of bringing Rogue to the next generation of consoles by providing us with a story that is worthy of being told. If you can look past the short single-player campaign and repetitive side-quests, then Rogue should be on the list of games to play in between the big releases of 2018.
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Ubisoft have done a fantastic job of bringing another instalment in the series back to our consoles. However, the short single player campaign and relatively empty game world that pales in comparison to other entries in the series hampers the progression of one the series’ most interesting characters. Microtransactions: none.
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