Assassin’s Creed Rogue is a bit of the forgotten cousin of Ubisoft’s flagship series. Launched in conjunction with Unity, Rogue was built on the Black Flag engine as a transition game for Xbox 360 / PS3 gamers who hadn’t upgraded yet to the current generation of consoles. Because of that, everything about Rogue Remastered feels familiar — except for the premise. That alone makes it worth re-visiting for die-hard series fans.
Assassin’s Creed is known for many things — in-depth environments, cool ways to stab people, a storyline that rivals Metal Gear in convolution. And up until the most recent Origins, the series has been known for its extremely clunky parkour/environment controls.
Built on the Black Flag engine, Rogue is several iterations behind, which means that the controls fit squarely into the series span behind the defining Assassin’s Creed 2 and Black Flag (starting with Unity, more gradual control changes found their way into the game).
For the uninitiated, Rogue’s controls will feel dated and somewhat strange, with all sorts of contextual button maps and combat based on timing rather than slash-and-defend (like Origins). For longtime series veterans, Rogue will feel like riding a bike, albeit a somewhat clunky one with squeaky wheels.
No one’s gonna argue that the series’ controls at the stage were great, but they are what they are, and since Rogue will most likely appeal as a missed release to AC fans, there should be a certain comfort in that — particularly for fans of the series’ naval battles.
As Rogue came late in the PS3/Xbox 360 cycle, its graphics are natively a tad bit better than the earlier entries in the series. If you put a side-by-side comparison with the original game and this remastered version, however, you’re not going to see much of a difference other than slightly more detail in the lighting and environment effects.
As the game takes place in many of the similar colonial-America geography as Assassin’s Creed 3, the overall visuals are fairly reminiscent of that game, though it does extend further north to icy arctic environments (an area where you can see the snow effects are markedly improved over the original game).
Rogue is both familiar and different for the Assassin’s Creed series. It feels like the game you played for more than five years, and it has elements similar to Black Flag and Assassin’s Creed 3 — most notably, the naval battles, which have been such a series highlight that Ubisoft is giving it its own spinoff game.
So while the mechanics feel familiar, the game is inverted because Rogue features you controlling Shay Cormac, someone who chooses to leave the Assassin Brotherhood behind in order to join the Templars.
How does that change things? While some goals are standard series fare (eavesdrop, follow, break-in), there are also moments where you’ll be averting attempted assassinations rather than planning them. This is fun simply because it’s different, and in the way that villain narratives try to humanize their experience, you do get to see the Templar perspective.
At the same time, there are small nuances, such as weapons unique to this particular game. As the environment pushes further north, elements such as crushing snowstorms (which are much harsher than AC3) give it a different flavour.
That being said, the game is overall less dense than main series entries, especially since Syndicate and Origins pushed the envelope in what it contains outside of the main story. As such, Rogue can feel like a $20 add-on to Black Flag rather than a standalone full-price game.
Still, if you’re the type of fan that played only the main story, you’ll get a good 15-20 hours out of this while enriching the series’ overall lore.
While not a must-have, Assassin’s Creed Rogue Remastered brings a reliable-though-dated functional formula and dresses it up with the Templar perspective. It’s not as deep as some, but die-hard fans should find it a fun play that is worth their time and money.