With no new games particularly appealing to me this past summer and a sudden JRPG review I had to do (plus other things on my mind…) I haven’t had a lot of chance to dedicate to gaming, but I did finally fill in the gap in my Assassin’s Creed playthroughs with the PS4 “Remastered” edition of Rogue. It was originally released on the PS3 / XBOX 360 at the same time as Unity was on PS4/XBONE as a “make do” for previous generation owners, and as I had a PS4 at the time I played the latter and never picked this up… until now! What’s it like playing it after the three rebooted AC games have changed everything? Let’s find out…
This screenshot is worth it just for the weird look on the French soldier’s face…
Assassin’s Creed: Rogue was released originally on the PS3 and XBOX360 on November 11th 2014 in the US and the 13th or 14th across Europe. A PC version was released on March 10th 2015 with the “Remastered” version coming to PS4 and XBONE on March 20th 2018 and then finally to the Switch December 6th 2019.
It’s safe to say that “Remastered” is pushing it. The graphics and lighting got a bit of an upgrade but really it’s a straight up port. Fine for me not having the original, but not if you already own it…
The old casually walking up to two soldiers and double-assassinating them before causally strolling away. I wonder how many times I’ve done this across the original AC games?
The gameplay is pure classic Assassin’s Creed. The combat is split into stealth, long range and close up, as well as ship-to-ship combat. Stealth-wise you can leap from ledges and building to assassinate from above, or just slip behind or even run up to people and instant-kill them with your hidden blade so long as they don’t see you beforehand. You can also stealth kill two people at the same time, which is always satisfying. As for long range you have an air rifle that can not only fire darts that make people sleep but also ones that send them into a rage or poison them and a grenade launcher than can also either kill, sleep or enrage people caught in the crossfire. You also have your standard pistols and items like a knife on a rope Mortal Kombat Scorpion-style and other such novelties (most of which are ported across from ACIV: Black Flag…)
As for hand-to-hand? Same as the previous six and at least the next two AC games! People try to attack you, you press the counter button to immediately counter them and kill them in cinematic fashion, even stringing the combat along if there are other enemies nearby allowing for a very fluid and satisfying chain kill system. Some enemies block you and therefore require you to stagger them, and wild animals are often fought via some quicktime button prompts. You can upgrade your health and equipment (mostly just how much of it you can carry) by collecting animal hides and crafting them, as well as using gold you collect during the game at shops. New outfits, swords and guns are available to purchase as well, while some are locked behind certain conditions. Unique to this game are assassins coming after you, as you actually play as a Templar for most of the game (which I haven’t actually mentioned yet!). As you walk around you’ll hear whispering and a cone of pinkish red will start to appear around the screen indicating a nearby assassin, and soon enough one will try to hidden blade you from various positions, but if your quick enough you can counter them (otherwise you thankfully don’t die in one hit…)
The always-satisfying ship combat.
As for the ship combat it’s still just as fun as ever, allowing you to sail at different speeds and attack foes with a variety of cannons, mortars, “puckle guns” and even flaming oils barrels, all of which are upgradable along with the ship’s hull thanks to material like metal and wood you collect on your travels. Once an enemy ship is damaged enough you can then board it with your crew, take out a certain number of enemies and either scrap it for parts or add it to your own fleet, plus new to this game is the enemy being able to board you allowing you to fight them off your ship alongside your men. Your Fleet by the way is literally just a menu where you send your ships to locations on missions and they have a percentage chance of succeeding or not and… that’s it. You just wait the allotted time and then are told whether they did their job or not, repair them, and then send them off again…
As for things to do, well there is plenty of options, naturally. Alongside story missions you can reveal parts of the map via viewpoints, attack enemy bases via stealth and combat or enemy forts via naval combat followed by on-foot battling, intercept messenger birds and prevent assassination attempts by the Brotherhood, renovate buildings, go hunting, go fishing, collect several different types of collectable pick-ups and mess around in local taverns. There are also “Legendary Ships” to battle, much like in Black Flag.
Basically it was reskinned Black Flag with a few more bells and whistles, which at the time would’ve been fine by me as I LOVED Black Flag but I have to say that in 2021 there are parts of the game that felt dated, which is something I never thought I’d say about a game released in 2014. I think mainly it’s when I went to assault enemy bases / plantations / trade posts and couldn’t freely climb and enter them where I chose like in the current AC games, and the odd lack of a crouch button that I don’t remember being a thing. The game was still fun, in fact part of me prefers the simpler timing-based cinematic countering action of the old games over the more in-depth fighting mechanics seen today oddly enough, but it did make me appreciate that even later games in the franchise still show how good of a reboot the series got with Origins…
Graphics and Sound:
Not bad for an 8-year-old game!
The graphics are good for an up-scaled seventh gen game, with good lighting and water effects standing out. Obviously no point in comparing it to the recent AC games that have had the full power of the eighth generation consoles to play with but I can say that visually I didn’t feel like I was playing an old game, though that may be my older eyes not really seeing the big differences that seems to happen now and again (according to younger readers, anyway… I’m only in my mid-30s for the record, that sentence made me sound like I was 100 or something!)
Sound-wise it’s fine, the voice acting is decent, sound effects and what little music are all good enough. The sea shanties from Black Flag are back… literally, but there are some new ones as well. They’re always good fun!
Story (Heavy Spoilers Within!):
A stealthy Shay moments away from doing something entirely unstealthy.
It’s the 1750s and Shay Patrick Cormac is a newly minted member of the Colonial Assassin’s Brotherhood and eventually is given the task to retrieve a piece of Eden from Lisbon. When he removes the piece a massive earthquake levels the city as Shay just makes it out with his life. He returns to his brotherhood and its leader Achilles Davenport to tell him that the Eden Pieces are evil and only cause havoc and death and that he shouldn’t have been sent there, that the death of all those innocent people were on his hands and much as Shay’s own. He leaves in a huff only to eventually come to the conclusion that Achilles has to be stopped to save more innocent people and so he breaks into his office and steals a map to more Isu artifacts and tries to escape, only to be shot by his own allies and left for dead as he plummets off a cliff…
Shay is rescued and recuperates in New York, eventually meeting a Templar named George Monro (as in historical figure who failed to defend Fort William Henry as seen in classic film “Last of the Mohicans”) and after seeing that the Assassins are still searching for pieces and witnessing the death of Monro by an Assassin Shay ends up sympathising with the Templars, slowly fighting alongside them until he kills several of his old allies and is fully welcomed into the Order. While the Seven Years War rages Shay travels across the New World eliminating his old friends and finding clues, eventually teaming up with Templar Grand Master Haytham Kenway to take down Achilles and nearly all-but wipe out the Brotherhood from Colonial shores. We then see a flash-forward showing that Shay was the mysterious Templar who killed Charles Dorian in France to set up his son Arno becoming an Assassin during AC: Unity.
Being set in between Black Flag and Assassin’s Creed III timeline-wise led to some fun cameos and set ups, like Haytham from III coming face-to-face with his father’s old shipmate Kesegowaase from Black Flag, finally having someone remark how different the two generations were, or generally how it explains the fact that in ACIII the Brotherhood is all but wiped out. Throw in the nice little tie-in to Unity and Rogue adds some nice connecting points to all the 1700s-set AC games. Plus hats off for telling a story where you play as the villain yet giving that villain a compelling reason to think he’s in the right. All villains are the hero of their own story and all that, and you really do see why Shay fell down the path he did.
*sigh* Oh and of course we have some present-day stuff ruining the fun. To make matters worse it’s the first person wandering around Abstergo offices era of the 21st Century story so it’s not even remotely interesting and doesn’t play into what happened before or happens after at all. It’s a complete waste of time.
A friendly dog notices Shay is about to kill his owners… and does nothing. Bad boy!
There were a few DLC packs for Rogue, including some bonus armour and weapons and a couple of unique quest lines named “The Armor of Sir Gunn Quest” and “The Siege of Fort de Sable”. All of the DLC is apart of the Remastered version mind you, so I can’t really tell you what they were like or if they were worth the extra money as I’m not even sure if I ended up playing them naturally across the course of my playthrough!
Very few things in gaming are as satisfying as a good ship-boarding!
This is literally the only AC game where there won’t be a “Thoughts Then” (excluding modern ones I’ve reviewed as they were released, obviously) but I can tell you I would’ve liked it because I loved Black Flag. That being said in 2021 it’s old hat, and while the ship combat is still great and the land combat still fun and fluid the game does lack that polish it got with the recent trilogy and due to that it led to some frustration in places where I would’ve otherwise been fine in the past. I was happy to play through it, but I doubt I’ll give it another go. It doesn’t even have the nostalgia that would get me through the Ezio stories or Black Flag. Nice to finally be able to say I’ve played through all the mainline AC games though!