Developed by: Ubisoft Sofia
Published by: Ubisoft
Platforms: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC
Released on the same day as Assassin’s Creed: Unity in November 2014, Assassin’s Creed: Rogue was slightly overshadowed by its next-gen brother and struggled to get the attention it deserved. Lacking the sense of scale of a mainline title, Assassin’s Creed: Rogue feels more like expansion content for Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, sharing a lot of the same UI and design as that title and its DLC, “Freedom Cry”. Much like Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood and Assassin’s Creed: Revelations before it, Assassin’s Creed: Rogue offers some intriguing new features that do remix the gameplay slightly, but it is largely more focused on resolving this era’s storylines and maintaining the status-quo than innovating.
While the present day storyline is mainly incidental to the wider mythology of the series, the animus elements of Assassin’s Creed: Rogue explore the time period between Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and Assassin’s Creed III, detailing the downfall of the Assassins before Connor brings them back during the American Civil War. This focus on the death of the Assassins is extremely reminiscent of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith and how Order 66 decimated the Jedi. Even the game’s lead character, Shay Patrick Cormac, experiences a turn ‘to the dark side’ as he switches allegiances from Assassin to Templar midway through the game. While the main missions are too brief to get emotionally invested in the newer characters, it does get dark at several points and provides added context behind Achilles’ actions in Assassin’s Creed III.
Assassin’s Creed: Rogue doesn’t really attempt to reinvent the franchise in any practical manner, aside from a few new tools for Shay and his ship. One neat addition is the inclusion of ‘Assassin Interception’, which takes the place of the traditional Assassin missions and sees Shay attempt to protect a target against assassins – however, these missions are very samey and don’t quite attract the same excitement as their counterparts did. I did enjoy the way the game incorporated elements from the online multiplayer into the single-player, though, with AI ‘stalkers’ hunting you down from the bushes and rooftops. The version I played was the recent ‘remastered edition’ for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 which removed the original online multiplayer elements; although I suspect they also mirrored Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag quite closely.
With a shorter main storyline, much of the game’s playtime comes from the wealth of collectibles and side-quests that an achievement addict like me yearns for. Once again, Assassin’s Creed: Rogue revisits past glories here and implements the familiar ‘gang HQs’, shop renovations, ship upgrades and hunting missions from previous games. Also present is the Assassin’s Creed staple, the ‘idle quest’ where ships are sent on timed trade missions to earn money and equipment. One fresh concept is the locale of the game, which takes place over three maps (New York, North Atlantic and River Valley) and sees a range of different landscapes.
Shay Patrick Cormac is a curious character as he lacks the same charm found in most Assassin’s Creed leads, although he isn’t quite as dull as Assassin Creed III’s Connor. The brevity of the story doesn’t really allow players to fully get to grips with him, and he doesn’t really seem to have much of a personality outside of the main story missions. It would have been nice to see more of the turmoil that comes from hunting former friends and colleagues, but the plot runs at such a brisk pace that those moments never really have the right emotional impact. It was nice to see Haytham Kenway appearing as a supporting character, and I’d have been more intrigued to find out more about his turn towards the Templars. Perhaps if more time had been spent building Shay’s relationships with Liam and Hope, it might have resonated more when he had to kill them. The only ‘kill’ that made any impact was Adewale, and that was because he was a former playable character from “Freedom Cry”.
In a game that felt short of innovative moments, there was one sequence that stood out for me; the earthquake in Lisbon and the subsequent action-packed ‘on the rails’ escape from the city as it falls. It might be one of the most exciting and well-choreographed chase sequences in the franchise’s history and it was an impressive interactive cut-scene that really showcased the scale of death and destruction all around.
A satisfying, if not slightly too short, conclusion to the Colonial America era of Assassin’s Creed, Assassin’s Creed: Rogue experiments more with its narrative through the use of a Templar lead character than it does with its gameplay mechanics. When it comes from picking titles to clone, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is one of the better options out there, although this derivative sequel doesn’t quite have the same wow factor.
Score – ★★★★
Assassin’s Creed: Rogue is available on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and PC from Amazon. It is also available on the Nintendo Switch as part of the Assassin’s Creed: The Rebel Collection from Amazon.