Have you played Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag? If so, you will agree with me in that Ubisoft created an amazing open world able to drag you to any part of the world with multiple activities and all sort of diversions. You would mark your main objective in your map, begin your journey to advance further in the story and 2 hours later still doing side missions because you were having fun.
In that sense, Assassin’s Creed: Rogue is Black Flag 2, and I loved it. And that’s the reason I keep playing it. If you haven’t played Black Flag, then go ahead and buy them both. I don’t care if you spent it all in Assassin’s Creed: Unity, I’m telling you this right now so we get over it: Rogue is better than Unity.
Assassin’s Creed: Rogue
Rogue stars Shay Patrick Cormac, an Irish man who lived in the mid-late 1700’s and is part of the Assassin order but, after (accidentally?) killing thousands of people while digging up First Civilization artifacts, he decides to join the enemy: the Templars.
Are Templars exciting to be played though? Seven games away from the first we already know who the Templars are and there isn’t a sense of mystery anymore, even more, we know they are more or less the same. Sure, one group lurks in the shadows fighting for freedom while the other hides in plain sight maintaining order, but as the characters often point out, the difference is really just a matter of interpretation and ideological blindness.
Is this traitor plot twist enough to make a game? Or even more, is it fun? This is the answer: It doesn’t matter. The conversations with English colonels in order to finish the story will soon become trivial and forgettable once you take a bit of that tasty open world and start having so much fun. You won’t follow the story. Not this time. The story lasts about half as long as the average Assassin’s Creed game, but it doesn’t feel like the focus of the game anyway.
The awesome stuff Rogue has are all taken from Black Flag, as I already stated: Shay quickly acquires a ship, the Morrigan, which he can upgrade by acquiring loot. He gets loot by fighting other ships for their cargo and exploring the villages and outposts and any other unidentified locations out there for us to explore. Then we upgrade the Morrigan and this allows him to pursue loot in more treacherous waters.
There is so much content that the cycle of discovering, collecting and upgrading works perfectly. There is virtually 0 chances to get bored of it. You have treasure maps, forts, shipwrecks and parallel activities to keep you bouncing all around the map with no real sense of primary objective. The freedom of splitting the action between seafaring and going ashore makes it easier to ignore the game mechanics that are so similar between every single Assassin’s Creed titles. Especially that really questionable algorithm they made for pathfinding, which means that Shay still jumps the wrong way all the time and stealth and combat are not exactly fresh. Even more, combat feels like a simple change of skin and environment, the moves and finishers are the same.
But there is one big and important difference with Black Flag: Rogue is split across three maps. New York is just a city, River Valley is an enclosed network of massive deltas and the North Atlantic is a patch of ocean with lots of icebergs and interesting things to visit and ships to fight with.
You still have harpooning and Kenway’s Fleet (now called The Naval Campaign). Shay also gets an air rifle and even a grenade launcher to play with, both of which become overkill to his already massive arsenal of hidden blades, cutlasses, darts and more.
We don’t have a multiplayer mode, which is understandable for a title who was released together with Unity (all the hype and effort for multiplayer went that way). We can use Eagle Vision in our campaign now and it shows the rough direction of nearby assassin attackers, who may be lurking on rooftops or hiding in crowds or anywhere they can. This adds a sense of enemies being equal to us in the way they can do the same but, you know, we can take tens of them at the same time, so not really. Shay also has to avoid their lethal attacks as he stalks enemy bases trying to kill commanders, lift keys and cut down flags. Are you smelling Far Cry too? Well it never reaches that level, but it is fun. As I said above, this is just one of the many activities you have.
Unlike Unity, which focused almost exclusively on adventures within the Animus, in Rogue you will spend a lot of time outside the machine in Abstergo Entertainment, but I won’t spoil anything.
Assassin’s Creed Rogue may be flagged as the tiny version of the bad boy Unity, but it is not. It is fun, it has tons of content, you will spend tons of hours messing around and if you enjoyed Black Flag you will simply love Rogue. It’s a shame that being a Templar isn’t very different to being an Assassin, Ubisoft could have burned that card with something more creative, but final result is still an amazing game.