Assassin’s Creed has gone through a lot of changes over the year, but one of the last traditional Assassin’s Creed was Assassin’s Creed Rogue, which came out at the same time as Assassin’s Creed Unity. Rogue was a follow up to Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, that was left on the previous generation of consoles while Unity attempted to wow audiences. Both games were released in the same year, and it certainly shows.
It’s not that the team helming Assassin’s Creed Rogue didn’t try, in fact, I would say Assassin’s Creed Rogue’s team may have actually had the most chance to create something special and meaningful and in some ways have. However, the fact that this was created at the same time as Assassin’s Creed Unity, meant that there was always going to be a primary team and a secondary team, and it’s very clear that Assassin’s Creed Rogue being on the previous generation consoles was always going to be it.
However many fans including myself enjoyed Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag which was more of a pirate adventure than a typical Assassin’s Creed game, and it shows that Assassin’s Creed Rogue tries to do the same thing, though fails in a couple of ways.
The biggest problem is the story. I’m going to reveal a rather big spoiler here, but there’s enough information out that I’m not entirely sure Ubisoft was trying to hide this. For the second time in the series, players will take control of a Templar, but more importantly, this is the main character. The player controls Shay who starts as a typical and boring Assassin and becomes a Templar. Sadly the reason for this is poorly told as is much of the story. Stuff happens but as much as I tried to get interested in the story of intrigue most of the game just felt like reasons to set up the next mission.
The fact is, the story in Assassin’s Creed Rogue feels very poor and it’s one of the biggest problems with the game. I’ve seen it praised and while the concept of being a Templar could have been far more interesting, very little is done with it and worse, the game suffers for that lack of inspiration in the writing.
What’s worse is so many characters here just feel shallow, and have little purpose. You meet three friends when you join the Assassin’s but you learn a couple of lines about them and then when you turn to the Templars, you hunt them down and murder them violently. They’re better defined than previous villains in the game, but considering these are supposed to be former allies, it feels almost like the developers were afraid to give them personality as you might be upset by the betrayal.
I think that’s also the biggest problem with Assassin’s Creed Rogue, there’s a fear that players might side with the Templars in this game, but having hunted them down for four games previously, they still have to be the “bad guys” and rather than give a compelling and interesting reason to side with the Templars, it’s mostly treated as “There’s some bad Assassin’s” rather than “Templars have a valid point of views”.
Assassin’s Creed Rogue doesn’t challenge the player or the world of Assassin’s Creed outside of itself and that’s the biggest issue with it. It’s unable to tell a compelling story because it’s unable to treat the Templars as worthy of the player’s compassion and yet that wouldn’t have harmed the universe. Two compelling viewpoints on how the world should be cultivated would create better stories, but Assassin’s Creed Rogue is unable or unwilling to take the steps there.
Even in the modern world, the game falls flat with how it treats the universe, and the company you are working for. With no spoilers, it’s again another missed opportunity to understand and attempt to connect with people.
And if you want to say “You’re not supposed to empathize with the Templars they’re the bad guys.” Then why are you playing as one? Why is at least half the game focused on the “evil” group? When Assassin’s Creed 3 can develop the Templars more thoroughly and with less focus, then Assassin’s Creed Rogue, something has clearly gone wrong with this game, and it’s something I struggle to accept.
The rest of Assassin’s Creed Rogue is mostly what you’ve seen before. Assassin’s Creed is Assassin’s Creed at this point in the series, and much of this game feels very similar to Assassin’s Creed 2, 3, or 4. The great seafaring from the fourth game is here, though with a little less purpose.
The game does offer a few new additions to the formula, including saving towns and taking out gang headquarters in a version of Manhattan but stealth and assassinations are the keys to this game and open combat is still on the dull side. There’s a lot to do, and many random areas to explore.
Though after playing through Assassin’s Creed Origins and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey I will confess that I enjoyed my time with Assassin’s Creed Rogue more. The ability to use the original version of stealth and instant kills feels far better than worrying about item stats and player levels. Players may be bored of open combat, but that’s because it was never the intended gameplay of the series at this point, and it’s a failure of the player to reach it, rather than a viable strategy.
The stealth here though feels a little weaker when compared to more modern stealth titles, especially those outside of Assassin’s Creed and while the levels are interesting, there are often “places to hide” laid out to tell players there’s a reason to hide in them.
Game design was a little weaker in 2014, but at the same time it worked for what Assassin’s Creed Rogue needed and I enjoyed my time playing through it.
Overall though, Assassin’s Creed Rogue is a hard game to piece together. This was a return to the style of gameplay this series excelled at before Microtransactions and Live Services necessitated a change. Players who have become disillusioned with the modern offerings might want to give Assassin’s Creed Rogue a shot however I would only recommend that after playing every Assassin’s Creed up to this point in the series, as most of them are more interesting and done better.
And on the Arbitrary scale of Arbitrariness, that’s a
It’s an enjoyable game, which has some good moments of gameplay, but it is brought down by a story that could not excel. It also constantly feels like this was a game that was made to hold over fans on a series of consoles that Ubisoft didn’t care much about and that lack of care is clear in the final product here.
Note: This view was based on Assassin’s Creed Rogue that is available on Steam, which is not the Remastered edition, but since that edition hasn’t changed the story or the gameplay, players can assume Assassin’s Creed Rogue Remastered Edition would get the same score from me. A new layer of graphics doesn’t really change the problems with this game.
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