Assassin’s Creed Rogue originally released at a bad time for me. Upgrading to the Xbox One and falling into the troubled technical issues of Assassin’s Creed Unity, I had little time to revisit my old console and play Rogue – and it was a damn shame. The premise of playing as the enemy had a real shine to it, admittedly it would be odd to be a Templar but I just never found the opportunity to play it.
Rogue was the last throw of the dice for Assassin’s Creed on Xbox 360 and it served as a bittersweet symphony – while Assassin’s Creed Unity was only available on Xbox One – Xbox 360 owners got to experience a series first… the main character went from Assassin to Templar. I knew one day I would play Rogue; I just expected it to be via the Xbox One’s backwards compatibility program. When the news of a remaster arrived, I was giddy with excitement; finally I could play the game missing from my collection.
There is nothing more dangerous than an Assassin turned Templar – and while I was concerned about playing against my beloved Creed – I was excited to unravel the story and experience the events that made Shay Cormac turn his back on the Assassins. This equates for a third of the sequences in Assassin’s Creed Rogue, which in playtime, seemed like a good chunk of the game. There are six sequences in total, each one ranges from two to six memories, overall making for quite a short campaign, but what it lacks in length, it makes up for in story.
I thoroughly enjoyed Shay’s tale. It wasn’t convoluted or over complicated, it didn’t outstay its welcome and it balanced things perfectly with the right level of remorse from Shay, who constantly questioned his actions – both as an Assassin and now, as a Templar. Mostly, it painted the Templars in a light we haven’t seen – a group that was compassionate and rationale. It was the Assassins that were in the wrong and if you look deeply at the series, could it be that more of the Assassin’s values and actions were wrong? Hopefully in future games there will be more chances to play from a different perspective.
In the background there is a modern day story with a nameless Abstergo employee who is the puppet master behind the Animus’ entry into Shay’s memories. The gameplay may as well be straight out of Black Flag or Assassin’s Creed III and despite giving the exploration into Shay’s memories purpose, it wasn’t very memorable with dull walking sections and simple light based puzzles. The borrowing of assets and gameplay also extends into the main game with many of the missions and activities seemingly mere copies. Even the environments and character animations seem all too familiar.
There are some new elements though. Instead of a tropical climate, a cold chill is in the air, which presents Shay with a limited time in the water but also the opportunity to destroy icebergs and cause additional damage to enemy ships – essentially they are the sea version of gaming’s red barrel mechanic. There are also numerous additional tools and weapons to play with, the air rifle that eventually gives access to a grenade launcher and includes explosive, sleep and berserk area effects was easily my favourite.
One mechanic I was glad to see return was the multiplayer style of Assassin vs. Assassin. You can’t just defect and not expect the Assassins to be after you and it’s here that some of the multiplayer elements bleed through into the campaign. When an Assassin is near, whispers fill your ears. They use all the tricks in the playbook to try and get the jump on you but you also have those skills and turning the tide of battle is as fun as it was when playing online against other players, albeit considerably easier.
Shay will also come face-to-face with more experienced members of the Assassin’s Creed. These boss battle-esque sections were not too challenging, especially if you have the right tools, or rather, enough ammo in your pistol. What I liked best about these scenarios was Shay’s remorse for killing his friends. All too often games have you mercilessly kill, it was good to see that Ubisoft felt it wise for Shay to question these situations and show remorse for his actions.
Straddling the mechanics and style of Assassin’s Creed III and Black Flag may seem a little cheeky, but the story is what held my attention, particularly the end sequence, which ties beautifully to Assassin’s Creed Unity. While hardly essential to Assassin’s Creed lore, it left me with a genuine WTF moment… it was brilliant.
Ubisoft did a great job with remastering The Ezio Collection and they have done an equally fine job with Rogue. While it may not hold up to the wonders of Assassin’s Creed Origins, it doesn’t look out of place on Xbox One – unlike some other remasters out there.
Rogue serves more like an expansion to Black Flag/Assassin’s Creed III than a standalone title but the three titles sit together neatly making a great trilogy of stories, even if you do have to endure Connor. Rogue also gave me the perfect excuse to return to the excellent naval battles that were prevalent in Black Flag and the opportunity to experience a different point of view from the Assassins. It also gave me a new – and somewhat unexpected – perspective to the Templars. It is however, a title for fans of the series that may have missed it the first time round, and a far throw from the excellent mechanics of Assassin’s Creed Origins.
The campaign of Assassin’s Creed Rogue is but a mere drop in the ocean, there’s plenty to explore outside of the campaign and numerous forts to vanquish, not to mention numerous collectibles, treasures and animals to hunt. Rather than force all this into the campaign, you can choose how much you immerse yourself into Shay’s world, and while it may lack a character of its own, I can’t wait to carry on exploring the world through a Templar’s eyes.