The Average Gamer

Assassin’s Creed: Rogue Review (360)

Assassins Creed Rogue - Shay
Following the story of Shay Patrick Cormac, Oirish Assassin-turned-Templar, Rogue is essentially Black Flag with the pirate glamour hastily scrubbed off. There’s little new here and what you do get could desperately use a lick of polish.

You start out with your new ship, the Morrigan, which handles in exactly the same way as the Jackdaw. You’ll get into plenty of naval battles, wheeling about the ocean to fire broadside cannons, toss mortars and cripple sails. Instead of dropping oil barrels, you can dump burning oil directly into the sea, so there’s less risk of running into your own sea hazards a few minutes later. It’s not a particularly noteworthy improvement.

Since you’re now sailing about the North Atlantic rather than the tropical waters of the West Indies, your naval ram is now capable of cutting through ice floes, with a suitably dramatic ice-shattering, screechy sound effect. You’ll also occasionally be battling around icebergs. Smash them and the resulting shock wave will damage smaller ships in the vicinity.

Despite Cormac definitely not being a pirate, you’re still forced into dozens of naval battles in order to get upgrade materials for your ship. You may be a Templar in league with the British government; you may be carrying tens of thousands of pounds around in your pockets at all times but by god, you’re never going to trade with those filthy foreigners. Or something. It’s never really explained. Just try and aim for the French ships, yeah? There’s a war on.

Assassins Creed Rogue - FightThe forts are still around, only this time you’re liberating them from the French. You’re still hunting whales with harpoons and leaping on deer to fashion upgrades for yourself. On land, you can spend your days hunting down sea shanties, finding cave paintings, searching for Viking sword pieces and generally just running from map point to map point until you find the shiny spot and press the Interact button. It’s busywork, nothing more. At one point you do get a grenade launcher, which is simply an area-of-effect version of the sleep and berserk darts along with a shrapnel grenade.

Once you join the Templars, in a perfunctory ceremony that gives no insight into what the Templars actually stand for, you can raid Assassin headquarters in various towns. Sorry, they’re labelled “gang” headquarters for no reason that I can fathom, even though the Assassin’s logo is plastered all over the walls. Perhaps it’s a way for the Templars to dismiss their importance, despite every cutscene talking about how the Assassins are terrible and they must be stopped.

The story never delves beyond this, though. We know that the Assassins are doing A Bad Thing but there’s no complex tale where each person believes they’re in the right for Reasons. No one ever explains to Shay why they’re doing what they’re doing. It’s just Assassins vs Templars with no ideology given beyond the repetition of bland statements like “We stand for order”.

Assassins Creed Rogue - FortUbisoft don’t even have the Abstergo propaganda excuse to fall back on as they did with Liberation – you’re a technician delving through Shay’s unedited memories. You would expect the occasional debate as Shay changes his way of thinking, but instead, he just swaps sides because the Templars are against the Assassins and so is he. It’s a disappointment as understanding the Templar faction from the inside was the big draw for me with this game.

Shay himself is one of the blandest characters I’ve ever seen, in a cast of bland characters. He witnesses one very bad thing and his whole life becomes Stop The Assassins. He’ll meet other famous characters from history and the Creed series, yet every conversation is so woefully underwritten that it becomes “Here’s where you go next” and “Stop The Assassins, they are Bad.” The best writing in the entire game is reserved for audio logs that you hack from computers in the Abstergo offices. These provide some intriguing hooks into the premise of Assassin’s Creed: Unity but unlike Black Flag, nothing significant really happens in Rogue’s Abstergo sections.

Instead, you’re just wandering around, picking up tablets, hacking machines and being called numbskull every 20 seconds. I will never understand why game designers fill a world with places to explore and then set up their NPCs to abuse you so frequently for doing so. Chill out, Abstergo lady. I’ll get there.

In short, Assassin’s Creed: Rogue is okay. It works, even though the voice acting is awful and the shadows in the cutscenes hover independently from the things that are supposedly casting shadows. There are a couple of significant moments, if you don’t mind your open-world exploration game being put on rails for a few minutes. Everything that you enjoyed doing in Black Flag is there. It’s just not as interesting.

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