Assassin’s Creed: Rogue came out in November of 2014 as a mixed-generation game due to being released alongside the PS4/Xbox 360 era. If you ask me, I do not know why they bothered releasing it. It had a higher-than-average reception, which I completely disagree with. Rogue summarises the worst parts of the previous instalments, so let’s just get on with it.
You play as another Abstergo Entertainment employee, who gets kept in a high-security lockdown effort by Abstergo. In a very plot convenient point, our computer gets hacked and we find the life of Shay Patrick Cormac, an assassin turned Templar.
Some big shot Templar shows up to lead the investigation and we get told to keep going with Shay’s story. Even though at this point anyone else could jump in the VR animus Abstergo is pushing out. Which is the whole point of Abstergo Entertainment, selling the animus as a games system. Well, it’s what we have so onwards and upwards.
Shay is an Irish American and is an assassin during the Seven Year war. He has a close bond with Liam O’Brien, a fellow assassin. They work under Achilles from the third game, and also partner with an unlikeable pair of assassins, Louis-Joseph Gaultier, Chevalier de la Vérendrye and Hope Jensen. Louis-Joseph is a self-absorbed, pompous Frenchman with a very long name, and Hope Jensen is an assassin that uses poison and misdirection to kill, how stereotypical. Neither of them are good characters, and both are killed by Shay.
Shay meets Benjamin Franklin because they had to have a famous historical figure involved in the game somehow. He does his science stuff and we see the kite and lightning experiment and then save him at the end of the game.
As an assassin, Shay kills some templars and takes a book. Inside the book are the coordinates of precursor sites. Shay goes to one of the sites and tries to take it, but it disintegrates, and the whole city it was under collapses.
Now, that happened. People died. A whole city collapsed and sunk. That’s indisputable. So, when Shay goes to Achilles and explains it, it makes perfect sense for him to say “Ah well, let’s go to the rest of them!” That’s the conflict of the game.
That’s why Shay turns into a templar, to stop the Assassins from going to the precursor sites. And at the end of the game, when Achilles and Liam get to the precursor site and that’s when Achilles goes “Wait, maybe we shouldn’t though.” Why wait until then? People died! Shay became a templar and turned his back on his upbringing.
Shay is also the reason Achilles has a limp because he convinces Haytham Kenway (Yeah, the least likeable character from 3 is in Rogue) to spare him so he knee caps Achilles. And Shay is responsible for inciting the entire plot of Unity.
Back at Abstergo Entertainment, the templars are treating Shay’s story like a major breakthrough in the fight against the assassins. If you recall from my analysis of the first game, I said: “the templars are evil, and the assassins aren’t”. That was very intentional wording. The assassins are not the good guys, they just aren’t the bad guys. The templars want control over the world and to have humanity under their thumb, the assassins just want that to not happen, they don’t do anything to better humanity’s lives, they just protect humanity from the templars.
That’s all you need to know about the story, I’m not wasting your time with the nitty-gritty because nothing else interesting happens.
Old Mechanics Kept Old
It plays the exact same as Assassin’s Creed 4. The ship sails the same, the combat is the same, everything is the same. I went into Rogue thinking it was going to be more of 4 because I love Assassin’s Creed 4 and would gladly play more of it. But they missed the point entirely.
Assassin’s Creed 4 was fun because it was one huge map. There was plenty of things to explore with a comfortable amount of space between the areas, the combat was fresh and revitalised from 3, the colours popped and it was warm and inviting. Rogue took all of that and ruined it.
The map is broken into three areas again, and you know how I feel about Assassin’s Creed and broken maps. One of the sections is New York which makes a return from Assassin’s Creed 3 but without the burnt-out sections. It is a city, with no outstanding changes. The other two are sailing areas, and they are cramped and claustrophobic, with the main waterways being rivers and valleys or filled with icebergs and floes. The colours are drab and cold, or a lifeless yellow scale.
The harpooning makes a return. Now there is Narwhals as well as a few of the large aquatic prey from Assassin’s Creed 4 but not all of them. And, because the hunting grounds are all partially frozen now there are chunks of ice to avoid while trying to harpoon the animal. That is just what you want, an inconvenience to add to the fun. I know it’s about adding a layer of challenge to an old mechanic, but it is just tedious and frustrating.
Replacing the blowpipe is the air gun. It’s similar to the blowpipe but instead, it has a grenade launcher as well. It’s fine, a bit too out of this world but hey, Altair had a wrist-mounted gun so who am I to say what fits.
In addition to that, they also have the addition of subtracting underwater sections. Confused? Me too! The frozen waters of the Atlantic damage Shay’s health, so say goodbye to swimming for any reasonable length of time, and diving to the ocean floor for treasure.
A Quick Nitpick
I used the Ezio outfit for Shay in my playthrough. Ezio’s assassin robes are my favourite outfit in the whole series, and every game I get the character dressed as Ezio when it is available. But they didn’t program it properly into the game. Shay will perform the animation to remove his hood, but the hood will stay on. This is not just with the Ezio outfit, if you wear an outfit without a hood he will still perform the animation to put his hood down even though he doesn’t have one.
Assassin’s Creed Rogue is a game that should not have happened. It should have been a very small DLC to 4 or integrated into Unity. There was potential to the story but it fell flatter than me doing a belly flop while trying to impress my friends as a kid. It’s a bland copy of Assassin’s Creed 4 and 3. I’m ranking it 16th in the series. Now I know what you’re thinking, there are only 11 main Assassin’s Creed titles. Well, I am certain Assassin’s Creed: Liberation, the Chronicles titles and the upcoming Valhalla are better than Rogue. Do yourself a favour and just replay Assassin’s Creed 4 or skip it and play Unity.