Assassin’s Creed is a vast and exciting franchise, that much alone has to be said. The series has come a long way since the first outing, with each new release bringing interesting (albeit minimal) changes to the fields of play. In fact, it wasn’t until Assassin’s Creed Origins that Ubisoft really made some heavy hitting adjustments to the core format. That, however, is not to say that Ubisoft never attempted to freshen things up beforehand. Assassin’s Creed Rogue is a prime example of that, and if you never got around to playing it the first time, this remastered version is certainly worth an investment, despite its few issues. Assassin’s Creed Rogue is far from the best in the series, but its solid mission structure and notable shift to the gameplay, are both nevertheless well struck.
Assassin’s Creed Rogue takes place between Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag, and Assassin’s Creed III. Yes, I know, the chronological order of this series is hard to keep on top of, but that’s a product of its design more than anything else. Players take on the role of Shay Patrick Cormac, an assassin that turns to the side of the templar following a key event at the beginning of the game. It’s an interesting adventure, and a much needed addition to the series, seeing as it released in the same year as the panned Assassin’s Creed Unity. Rogue never really enjoyed the acclaim or attention that it deserved upon initial release, which may well indeed change hands now that it’s being brought back. The game is set during the Seven Years’ War, and much of your time with the game will be spent preventing the procession of the ever elusive assassins.
I’ll admit, the first thing that hit me was how much I have come to appreciate Assassin’s Creed Origins. Rogue, if anything, highlights the differences with much emphasis. The controls go back to the classic layout, being that your sprint is tied to the right trigger, and traversal is automatic, alongside directional control of course. Combat is how you remember it to be, which I never really had much issue with. Rogue does spice things up by implementing new weaponry and a few innovative systems, but by and and large, this is classic Assassin’s Creed. That means you can expect a wide open map, filled to the brim with heaps of missions, side missions, viewpoints, and forts. Naval gameplay, which is the one ingredient missing from Origins, is present and equally as exciting as it was back in 2014.
Your ship, the Morrigan, will take you anywhere you want to go. It inadvertently outshines land combat, but it does become repetitive before long. Maybe that hit me, someone who played the hell out of Black Flag, more than it will hit you, but it’s something I wanted to make a note about nevertheless. During any given voyage, you’re likely to encounter enemy ships. The first half of these battles consist of damaging the opposition as much as you can before; either boarding the ship to obtain loot and crew, or sending the ship to Davy Jones’ Locker. Land combat, on the other hand, is less engaging, simply due to how frequent it is. Though again, I must point out, I never really had much of a problem with the combat system, seeing as it was the bread and butter of the series, and something I adjusted to naturally overtime.
Regardless as to whether you’re at land or sea, you’ll have access to a slew of upgrades and new weaponry, which has always been paced extremely well in this franchise. What I have always especially respected about Rogue, is how the overall progression is set in place. Syndicate did a great job at empowering the player with each new that’s taken over, ultimately making the game feel like a fight for control. Rogue, however, does one better. Not only do you slowly and gradually become a force to be reckoned with on sea, but on land too. Throughout the arch of the story, Shay will come to overpower a ma-hoo-sive district, one that can be customized further through more investments. It’s truly empowering, and something that’s sadly been overseen due to its lack of popularity. While I wont spoil the direct story, which is far from the most interesting, Shay’s character is easily one of the best in the series.
I don’t think any protagonist will ever outshine Ezio, but Shay isn’t far behind. It helps that the theme of this game upholds Shay’s overall growth. Starting out, turning his back on the Creed, it’s clear that Shay doesn’t have that many people to turn to for assistance. Watching him slowly gather new alliances and make news bonds is gratifying, and arguably the game’s most strongest asset. I’ve always seen Rogue as a mashup up of systems taken from Black Flag and Syndicate, so if those particular titles in this franchise sang to you, you should certainly be in your element with Rogue. Sadly, I cant quite commend every aspect of the experience. Rogue undeniably looks much better on current gen hardware, but design choices that hindered the origin title have come along for the ride too. Specifically, dated character animation and cutscenes.
Characters will often move in daft patterns, unnaturally shuffling around each other as you plot your own business, trying ever so hard not to be distracted by the obvious blunders. The same can be said about the cutscenes, which more often than not, showcase poor textures and more emphasis on the aforementioned awkward character animation. Still, with that being said, Rogue is a gorgeous game that comes with some wonderful design. This month has seen a collection of remastered titles, ranging from Raven Remastered, to Devil May Cry HD. It’s safe to say that in regards to the effort put forward to bringing an old game to current standards, Rogue wins hands down. Unlike Capcom’s efforts (or lack thereof) with DMC HD, you can see a great deal of care and attention within, and it’s clear that Ubisoft has put in the effort to relay Rogue’s beauty. This is further bolstered by how diverse Rogue’s environments are. Land and sea, it looks incredible throughout.
Improvements include; higher resolution, improved environment rendering, visual effects and textures, ultimately making the experience more immersive than ever. That immersion, however, can often be shattered due to some imprecise detection, be it enemy awareness or control input. Granted, these are but a couple of the reasons as to why Ubisoft took the decision to step back and rethink the core function of the series, but playing Rogue after Origins, only shows how deep these issues are/were. You can expect Shay to plummet to his death when he fails to recognize a safe jump, enemies to see you despite how well hidden you are, and my personal favorite, dying in combat when you know full and well you executed the controls correctly, only for Shay to disregard the command. Back in 2014 these were easier to forgive, seeing as they were to be expected, but four years (and a smash hit Origins title) later, it’s much less forgivable.
Mercifully the game performs exceptionally well. I haven’t witnessed a single drop in framerate throughout, despite the previously alluded to design issues. It helps that the cast remains well voiced, with some stellar writing to lean against. Throw in the fact that this package includes all of the original game’s downloadable content, as well as the bonus missions “The Armor of Sir Gunn Quest” and “The Siege of Fort de Sable”, there’s little reason to scoff at what’s in the proverbial box. Interestingly enough, the game also includes Bayek’s legacy outfit. Not revolutionary, I know, but a nice touch nevertheless. Other legacy outfits include Altair, Ezio, Connor, Arno, Jacob, Edward, and Aguilar, but if you’re like me, you’ll run any given Assassin’s Creed wearing Ezio’s iconic outfit, just for the sake of it. When all is said and done, this is a game that will appeal to those that never played the original, the most. If that’s you, you’re in for a treat, warts and all, though, warts and all.
Assassin’s Creed Rogue Remastered brings back one of the most interesting titles in the series, along with all previously released DLC. The visual improvements are top notch for the most part, but technical issues from the original version have come along for the ride too. That being said, it’s well worth a trip down memory lane, warts and all.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.