Little is said about 2014’s Assassin’s Creed: Rogue. Before playing myself it was hard to tell if it was a weak game, or just lost amidst the deep catalog of excellent AC games. Now that I’ve completed the main story, I can say that Rogue is massively underrated. It combines all the best parts of titles that came before it, in a game with admittedly less scope.
Rogue was released by Ubisoft on the same day as Assassin’s Creed Unity, but unlike Unity was available on the older seventh generation consoles, such as Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3. A remaster was released in 2018. I picked it up during the recent Assassin’s Creed 15th anniversary sale for only eight dollars. Of the slightly over fifteen hours I played, very little was truly disappointing.
If you temper your expectations, I honestly don’t know what more you could want from an old-school AC game. There’s fantastic naval combat in the waters along the American Atlantic coast, sites to infiltrate in the River Valley, and 1750’s New York to parkour all about. Combat is joyous, stealth satisfying and the story is high grade. It is a fitting and just farewell to a generation of games where it all began for the franchise.
In Rogue, you play as Assassin turned Templar Shay Cormack during the Seven Years War for the American colonies. While, on the face, this may not be the most interesting historical period these games have ever covered, I assure you it is rich. The way this title plays into Assassin’s Creed 3, 4 and Unity is brilliant, as is the plot all around.
Cormack is a hard man to pin down. He is on the path of righteousness, but that path is so confusing to anyone who has played these games. To see the Assassins as essentially terrorists, and the Templars as something to believe in a poison world is jarring. It parallels how you find yourself working with the British against the French, when you know the tables of good will be turned shortly.
The remaster looks amazing on my Xbox Series X. It runs very smoothly. There were numerous scenes in Rogue that captivated my eye. Honestly thinking this is a nearly decade old game is astounding when you take in the visuals. The sea waves look beautiful, as do many environmental effects such as snow, or auroras. Everything feels well designed.
This was not a perfect game. There were a few bugs. Some classic AC issues like misdirected jumps, which can be somewhat mitigated by mindful parkour. Two or three missions were a bit lacking, especially when compared to the general quality of much of the rest of the game. Some may actually wish for a longer game, to which I would say there is a decent amount of side activities you can do for that 100% completion. However, none of them interest me enough to keep playing this game past this point, for now.
Rogue is the ninth AC title I have completed in the last twelve months, so I feel comfortable with my critique of this game. It changes the dynamic of the struggle between the Assassins and Templars; makes you sympathize with people you know you should hate. You find yourself doing things that you question, but in tasteful ways, such as hunting down an old friend only to kill them. Big kills in these games are usually such a prize, in Rogue they feel sometimes like emotional punishment.
Wonderful stealth sections populate Rogue. There were a few that didn’t really go my way, but I was never stuck forever on one part. There was always a way, and it was usually walking the line between patient stalker and opportunistic killer. I found leaning more on patience typically paid off, but there are moments that require you to adapt on the fly, which I love. I hate when a stealth game is just memorizing guard patterns or something like that, of course timing is crucial in any stealth game, but I like that Assassin’s Creed is more nuanced, also there’s sometimes a combat option should stealth totally fail.
I always love it when a game is difficult to put down. If a game can make me want to play for hours on end, or come right back to another session night after night, I’m a happy guy. Assassin’s Creed games seem to often have this effect on me, regardless of what era they’re from. I beat Origins in a week. Same for Rogue. I didn’t want to play anything else. The story gripped me, and the gameplay held me.
Assassin’s Creed: Rogue may not be a contender for best AC, but in my opinion it has far too negative of a reputation. I found it quite enjoyable, despite a few flaws and spots of mediocrity. If you like classic AC, or Black Flag style naval combat, or just quality stealth action games, try to find a copy of the Rogue remaster. You don’t have to be a huge AC geek like me, but it will greatly enhance your experience if you have played at least 3 & 4.
Next, I plan on moving onto the game that dropped the same day as Rogue: Unity. Unity takes place during the French Revolution, and I’m excited to see how Shay Cormack’s story ties in. I believe I bought Unity when it launched, but only played it a little. Rogue will go into the archives, not that I didn’t have fun or more I could do. But for eight dollars it is hard to complain about any game let alone one as nice as AC: Rogue.
Credit: Assassin’s Creed Rogue Remastered. Screenshots by me.