Assassin’s Creed: Rogue’s initial release on Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 was significantly overshadowed by the simultaneous release of Assassin’s Creed: Unity as naturally, the greater part of players turned to the game released on next gen consoles (at the time). That said, many never embarked upon Shay’s journey, including myself making the remastering of this title a divine opportunity to fill in some blanks for presumably, a vast portion of Assassin’s Creed players.
Although by now both long-term fans and newcomers to the Creed franchise are most likely to have been blown away by the masterpiece that is Assassin’s Creed: Origins, Rogue is still an Assassin’s Creed title worth investing time into. In contrast to the more fluent free-running motions and overall more stable gameplay mechanics of Origins, Rogue can be frustrating as it exhibits the same primitive gameplay style that aided the series in it’s downhill spiral. Rogue’s remaster may flaunt updated textures (including 4K textures for PlayStation Pro and Xbox One X) and other graphical enhancements but it simply isn’t a big enough deterrent to distract you from the instabilities that hindered a lot of the older Assassin’s Creed instalments. However, once you adapt to it’s feeble play-style Rogue really begins to showcase it’s ability to turn heads.
Rogue is driven by perhaps one of the best plots of the Assassin’s Creed franchise to date, it’s most definitely it’s defining feature. The story of Shay Patrick Cormac – Assassin turned Templar, is one riddled with betrayal, deceit and dubiety and offers a fresher perspective on the Templar/ Assassin feud, allowing you the liberty to experience the flip side of the coin. Creed games are no stranger to intense action sequences and Rogue does well to uphold this oath. You are spurred on by fierce, fast-paced sequences in which you find can yourself free-running through a crumbling capital or going toe to toe with a treacherous foe in amongst a tremendous battle that ensues inside a fort. It becomes easy to find yourself ploughing through memories quicker than you can upgrade your arsenal to match the difficulty curve. A further aspect that Rogue boasts is it’s ability to intermingle itself so effectively amid the other Creed games. In Rogue we see the return of the Homestead – the focal location of Assassin’s Creed: III, oceanic ties with Black Flag and some familiar faces from across a number of other Assassin’s Creed instalments. This in turn really fleshes out the story of Rogue and doubles the impact of it’s proceedings.
Shay’s memory sequences are broken down by out of Animus sections in which in first-person you are able to explore Abstergo (Entertainment) Industries as an employee and take a much-needed breather from your “Animus-antics”. Whilst exploring the offices of Abstergo, reactivating servers via nifty little ‘repair core’ mini-games, you are able to uncover more details about Shay and his importance among that of various other subjects across the eras of Assassin’s Creed. Littered throughout the pristine, excessively modern walls of Abstergo are countless points to other Ubisoft works including Far Cry 3 and Black Flag, making exploration as insightful as it is nostalgic. However, these sections are neither demanding nor long-winded meaning you can delve back into Shay’s memories promptly as I’m sure we’re all well aware – it’s what happens in the Animus that counts.
Avast ye landlubbers for Rogue, as mentioned prior shares a likeness with Black Flag as it sees the return of very forefront ship-based, naval-orientated gameplay. You must commandeer the Morrigan and navigate a predominantly marine setting, home to countless exhilarating ship battles that befall you as you sail the vast waters of the game. Unlike the extravagant, tropical beauty of Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag, Rogue’s setting is much less versatile and at times rather bland. Dazzling blue sea and the golden sandy shores of abandoned alcoves are replaced with murky waves polluted with the remains of war ships and demolished Frigates. The likes of River Valley and New York reiterate the same urban vibe that is portrayed in most of Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed handiwork. Furthermore, Rogue incorporates a far more underwhelming map that separates distinctly different locations in the game by fast travel points. Thankfully though, the utmost part of the game takes place in the choppy, icy waters of the North Atlantic. This brisk, unforgiving and very capricious setting does well in reflecting the very nature of the story itself. This ultimately gives Rogue a very dark ambience as you play that has you forever eager to sink your teeth into the next sequence. The game also maintains as expected the quintessential Creed elements including various synchronisation points that are sprinkled throughout the game, allowing you to appreciate the handful of obscurely situated vistas. There is some beauty to this less tasteful setting, you just have to do a bit of digging (well, climbing) to find it.
Although Rogue may not present you with the most alluring of settings, it doesn’t fall short on it’s span of things to do. Locations scattered throughout the map are infested with a number of collectables including chests to fill your pockets with dosh, Animus Fragments and new Shanties to chase down for your crew to sing along to on your many voyages. It sure is a pirate’s life for you. Moreover, some locations offer more than just collectable trinkets. Dotted around each section of the map are forts waiting to be overrun, warehouses begging to be looted for ship-upgrade resources and hostages being held at gun point waiting to be freed – and that’s just to name a few. However, voyaging to each nook and cranny the map has to offer can be as equally dangerous as it is rewarding as neither land nor sea be deemed safe. Not only are you to be concerned with enemy whereabouts but you also have to be perceptive of the flurry of wildlife that inhabit each location. That said, getting locked in combat with a Black Bear that expectantly lunges at you, claws blazing can have it’s benefits. By executing the on screen button prompts correctly, you could find yourself with that Black Bear pelt you’ve been after to craft that health upgrade you so desperately require. Even whilst sailing you are offered the chance to leave the comfort of the helm of the ship, hop onto a frail row boat and hurl harpoons at a monstrous Great White as to attain it’s skin. Yes, it pays off to unleash the explorer within you.
Assassin’s Creed Origins breathes a new, much-needed lease of life into the Assassin’s Creed franchise and having to backtrack to Rogue after indulging in such a magnificent advancement in the series at times felt like a hopeless task. Even the remastered graphics of Rogue could not put a dent in the beauty that was Origins (I am going somewhere with this, don’t fret). However, sticking with Rogue most definitely pays off. With an interesting, respectable lead at the helm of this title, Assassin’s Creed: Rogue goes on to tell one of the most awe-inspiring Creed stories to date. Not a single dull memory staggers the pace and joy of playing this game. The cleverly chosen, more favourable Assassin’s Creed gameplay elements intertwined in this riveting title do not draw focus from the core story but instead, do well to drive it. Furthermore, Ubisoft do an exemplary job of ensuring Rogue identifies itself rather shrewdly in the Creed timeline. Rogue is simply a must-play for all you Creed fans out there.