There is a certain level of cynicism directed at Hi-Rez Studios’s output, as many of their titles are ‘[X popular title], but free’.
I didn’t know what to expect of Rogue Company, but I was pleased to see that is not only a good interpretation of ‘Valorant but free’, it is a solid game on its own terms.
Now in its first season (following season 0), Rogue Company is a third-person multiplayer shooter centred around three game modes – Extraction, Demolition and Strikeout.
Extraction is focused on two teams of 4 Rogues that are attempting to take a bomb point, secure it and eliminate the opposition. There are no respawns, so coordinated attacks are essential, and the first to 5 rounds, wins. Between rounds, the players take their earnings and spend them on upgrades for their weapons, passive abilities, and consumables like remotely detonated C4, heath boosts etc.
Demolition is similar to Extraction, but each round has a designated attacker and defender team. The attacker is attempting to plant a bomb in one of two spots before the time runs out, or the team runs out of lives, while the defending team is trying to stop them by any means.
Strikeout is a team deathmatch mode where each round the sides are trying to run down the life counter of the opposing team. The twist is that there is a central point that, when controlled, will reduce the enemy’s life counter.
These are all solid, but for my money Extraction is the purest expression of what makes Rogue Company great. No-respawns, and single focus point, means that playing too aggressive without proper planning will make the player a statistic at the bottom of the leaderboard. Teamwork and good Rogue synergy are essential, and a good communicating average team will almost always beat 4 exceptional individuals. The shortness of the rounds makes the game feel like low stakes in terms of commitment; this is not a game that needs 30-40 minutes to conclude a match, and there are no painfully long games where I had to watch as a superior team grind another, slowly, into dust. This lightness to the process indicates that simpler can be better.
When I mention synergies – each Rogue has the same movement and jumping speeds, but they have unique ultimate abilities, weapons and a set of passives that make them standout. For example, Ronin is a good flanker with high DPS weapons and explosive dagger that allows for her to attack from the sides and punish unsuspecting teams; Saint is the standard healer, with an Ultimate that allows him to revive downed teammates without having to look away from the action; Dima is a gold-masked lunatic, with a grenade launcher that can cause bunched up players to scatter; and Anvil is a big heavy, with a deployable barrier and a 100-round clip Light Machinegun that makes him great to lock down a defence position.
Season 0 and Season 1 Rogues have got wilder and become interesting counters to the core characters. A good example of this is Sigrid and Glitch. Sigrid is a shield carrier that can eat up Anvil’s bullets while allowing teammates to shoot through her, while Glitch passively marks traps set by opponents meaning that sneaky explosives are less likely to catch people off guard.
What continues to be impressive with Rogue Company is that that last paragraph is true as of when I wrote it, but due to the developers’ constant attention this might not be the case for long. Characters have had weapons changed, gadgets replaced, as well as Ultimates and passives adjusted. This has kept the roster healthy and competitive and means that there is usually a good incentive to try out a new/old character.
The monetisation here is also very well balanced. Out of the gate there is enough for players to figure out if they are going to like the game – with 6 starting Rogues. Content that exclusively requires premium currency is all cosmetic, with the game supplementing options to unlock more Rogues as part of Season packs for lump sums or by grinding through dailies.
Of course, not everything is perfect. The cross-platform compatibility is great because it keeps the game competitive and alive, it does also mean that from time-to-time PC players will appear in a game and generally stomp console players. The work done on cross-platform is good, and a lot of effort has gone into the connectivity issues that plagued the early launch, however at this point dropouts occur at least once a play session. My own team has frequently won by simply outnumbering the opposition.
The developers have paid attention to controller layout but there are some odd choices in there that anyone that gets into this meaningfully will want to spend some time changing them (by default, changing grenade type is done by clicking down the Left and Right Stick simultaneously).
Final complaint is that, although the marketplace focuses on paid skins and emotes, with every additional Rogue being unlockable by earning currency through beating daily challenges, it will still take a decent amount of time to unlock a Rogue and with no way to try them out first, it is possible to unlock ones that do not gel with someone’s personal play style.
All these complaints are minor in the face of what I consider to be an almost complete package.
Rogue Company – Season 1 is more than an imitator. It already has a large, varied roster, regular attention from the developers, and new content coming. This will never beat the biggest contenders in the field, but deserves the attention.Become a Patron!
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.