In 2014, the Assassin's Creed series had a problem. Ubisoft no longer wanted to hold back the series to aging hardware, but the last gen was still popular. To solve this, they made two games. PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC got the now infamous Assassin's Creed Unity, while PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 got Assassin's Creed Rogue. Storywise, Rogue served as a bridge between Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag and Assassin's Creed III, while it was a Black Flag expansion on the gameplay front. Four years later, the series is popular again, and the game is finally hitting the current gen as Assassin's Creed Rogue Remastered. Should time have been spent on porting this weird stopgap entry, or should it have been left half-forgotten?
You take on the role of Shay Patrick Cormac, a young Assassin trainee who shows a lot of promise. When a mission causes him to accidentally destroy a village in Portugal, he finds himself disagreeing with the Assassins and leaving their ranks by way of "being shot in the back." Thankfully Shay is saved by a Templar, who quickly recruits him into their ranks. What follows is Shay questioning if the Assassins have the right idea by giving everyone total freedom. Basically, this game presents the Templar side of the argument to its fullest extent.
This story is much more compact than your usual Assassin's Creed. It features far less involvement from historical figures and fewer characters in general. In a way, this approach actually works to Rogue's advantage, as it didn't take long for me to actually care about Shay and the people he was assassinating. It felt less like the game was drawing up random people to assassinate, and you spend a good chunk of the opening hours getting introductions to your eventual foes. I came to really enjoy Shay's tale, and those who haven't experienced it before should find quite a bit to like here.
If you're coming to Rogue Remastered straight after Origins, you'll need to prepare yourself. Gone are the smoother controls, the reworked combat, and the much-improved parkour. Instead, you're going to find yourself making a lot of accidental jumps and wrong moves while trying to get where you want. You'll find frustration that Shay can't just climb up every cliff like Bayek can. At times the game felt outright clunky, at least until I got back into the flow of the older titles. It still wasn't great, but could just be an after effect of the newest entry's gameplay improvements.
Unfortunately, the combat really made me wish I could go back to Origins. There used to be a running joke that Assassin's Creed combat consisted of little other than counter attacks and instant kills. For the most part, Rogue doesn't prove that rumor wrong. Combat got boring quickly as I moved into battle and mashed one button until everyone was dead. Worse, combat sometimes felt broken. Shay would just put his swords away and lose his lock-on in the middle of a fight, meaning I would take a hit or two because Shay was standing around picking his nose. You can mostly avoid combat using stealth, which is on the rather simple side. So long as you're not in an enemy's line of sight or hiding in a bush, you'll be fine.
The only real addition to combat on foot comes as you fight off Assassins. They'll hide in the same places you normally hide, wait for you to get close, then jump out and stab you. When there's an Assassin nearby, you can hear their whispers, which clues you into using Eagle Vision to try to spot them early. It's a mechanic that reminds me of the (tragically discontinued) competitive multiplayer mode Assassin's Creed games used to have. While it could get annoying to keep countering Assassins while moving from point to point, it was a fresh mechanic for the game. Shay also has a rifle that lets him launch darts at individual enemies and grenades into crowds, but there's not much unique about it otherwise.
Thankfully, you only spend about half the game on foot. The other half has Shay piloting the Morrigan on the high seas. These nautical segments are still surprisingly fun, especially since Assassin's Creed hasn't fully embraced them since Black Flag. You get various types of cannons to use against enemy ships, giving you many ways to tear them apart. As you blow off chunks of their hull you can use special precision guns to deal even more damage. Eventually, you can even board enemy ships to capture them. As you raid, you collect supplies to further increase your ship's abilities. It really can't be understated how fun ship combat still is and how running around wrecking enemy ships can honestly be a great time.
Most missions will combine these two elements to effectively give you plenty to do. Sometimes you're chasing down a ship to board it, other times you run through the streets of a collapsing city and parkour your way through the rubble. Whatever you enjoy, Rogue's campaign does a good job making sure you have generally new content to play during its ten-hour run time. I enjoyed one mission that let me take control of an ultra-powerful man-o-war, which cuts through a French navy fleet like it was nothing. Another saw Shay in a complicated foot chase with an Assassin that blocked his path with poison bombs, forcing him to take alternative routes to catch her.
Unlike the past couple of games, there isn't one big open world. The game is instead split into three smaller environments that you can move between. Each map feels unique and has its own creatures to hunt and threats to deal with. You'll spend most of the game in either the North Atlantic or the River Valley. Both boast a combination of sea and land areas for you to explore. You can land at various ports to take part in various activities, then hop back into your ship to find somewhere else to go. The New York map is entirely land-based and plays closer to the older entries in the series.
Being an Assassin's Creed game, there is naturally tons of side activities for you to do that I can't reasonably cover in a review. You can raid forts, stop assassins from killing their target, recapture towns, save ships from sinking, take on timed hunting challenges, and more. There are also around ten different kinds of collectibles if that's your jam. None of this really stood out, but it was fun to just go from location to location to quickly knock out a few random tasks. If you feel the need to clean up 100% of any given game's map, you've got plenty to mop up here and could easily sink about 30 to 40 hours into the game.
There's also some modern day nonsense. Much like Assassin's Creed IV, you'll be playing in the first-person as a nameless employee of a video game company. You'll go around with a tablet and solve basic light beam puzzles while learning about the history of both the Assassins and the Templars. It exists, but for the most part, it's only really there to interrupt the game for a plot that isn't going anywhere anytime soon. There are some cool links Rogue made to Origins in the modern-day stuff, but it's otherwise just a waste of time.
Assassin's Creed Rogue Remastered Review | Final Thoughts
While this may be a remaster, it's pretty clear that Rogue is a last gen game from 2014. It doesn't feel like much has been done to touch it up, but it still looks better than I would have expected. All the Assassin's Creed games have looked great at release, but that's clearly not going to hold up against any modern releases. Thankfully the soundtrack and voice acting are just fine. The sea shanties are still as great as they ever were, though the smaller maps mean I spent less time hearing them. For all the good sounds, there was one weird spot. Animals in the game sound less like actual animals and more like people doing animal impressions. Every time I fought a wolf I had to stop myself from bursting into laughter over it.
I don't mind that Ubisoft is giving Assassin's Creed Rogue another chance, but it feels a bit weird right off of Origins. The story is good enough and the ship combat is still incredibly unique, but Rogue Remastered also seems to exist to show why Origins had to tear everything down and build anew. If you haven't played the game before and you still have a hankering for the old formula then I honestly suggest giving Rogue a shot. Just be ready for the step back.
Assassin's Creed Rogue Remastered was reviewed on PlayStation 4 using a copy provided by the publisher. The game is also available on Xbox One.
- Interesting Story
- Fantastic Ship Combat
- Assassins are a Clever Enemy
- Meaty Open World
- Boring Land Combat
- Awkward Controls and Parkour
- Lots of Repeitive Content
- Modern Day Stuff is as Pointless as Ever