After a long time of arguing with myself, I have finally decided to write about Assassin’s Creed: Rogue.
When I first heard about this game, I was really excited. A chance to play as a templar? That would be interesting.
But then I played it, and I noticed several problems with the game. Some were problems I also had with Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, but some were brand new.
Let’s begin with the cover.
The cover features our protagionist, Shay Cormack front and center in his special templar armor, weapons at the ready, about to fight two assassins. Very striking. What is the problem, you may wonder?
Well, Shay looks very imposing and threatening, with his his face hidden in shadow beneath the hood of his black leather coat.
A coat which DOESN’T HAVE A HOOD IN THE DAMN GAME!
They fucking did it AGAIN! First with the flintlocks in Black Flag, and now this!
Just explain to me, when someone says “Hey, I’m gonna put this thing on the cover of the game”, what in the name of christ is so hard about telling them “Sorry. That’s not something that appears in the game”?!
I don’t know if it’s artistic liberty or editorial mandate for the sake of enticing buyers, and if I’m perfectly honest, I don’t give a shit!
Stop putting crap on the cover, if you can’t be bothered to put it in the fucking game!
Is it to show that Shay used to be an assassin? Is it to make a dark mockery of the Assassin look?
Because I can tell you something that also gives that impression.
The fact that Shay is wearing armor decorated with the templar cross, while also wearing a hidden blade. As in, the DEFINING WEAPON OF THE ASSASSINS!
You don’t need the hood to drive that point home! If it’s so important, just put it in the game!
Speaking of which, this game decides to add some things to decorate the ship, like special sails and figure heads. Nothing new about that, seeing as they did the same in Black Flag.
But among those decorations, we get a set of sails that once belonged to the Jackdaw, the ship of Edward Kenway.
A bit puzzling, considering there weren’t really a specific set of sails for the Jackdaw. I personally preferred the crimson sails, but other than that, they were standard white.
How does the sails look in Rogue?
What in the name of satans portion is that?! Those aren’t pirate sails! Those look like the kind of sails you buy to decorate a pirate themed birthday party for an eight year old child!
(And yes, I know it says “Black Skull Sails”, but trust me, they appear in this game as the Jackdaws sails)
I played as Edward Kenway, and followed his exploits over the course of almost 7 years, the totality of his pirating career.
At no point did I ever get the chance to outfit his ship with those sails! They only appear as a reward when you play Assassin’s Creed Initiates, but I call bullshit on that as an excuse! They are named as “The Jackdaws Sails” in this game, which I would take to mean as the sails the ship was known to have.
You would think the most famous set of sails the ship has (and I’d say sails decorated with skulls would be kinda hard to forget) would be included in the game without me having to buy another damn game!
Let’s move on.
Before we get into the real meat, the big problem with this game, let’s briefly go over some things the game IMPROVED from the last game. First off, they thankfully saw the light and realized that fighting with two swords was stupid, especially on a ship.
Now granted, they keep the same basic fighting style, but they at least have the good sense to replace one sword with a dagger or dirk. I personally would have preferred them skipping the second weapon altogether and just going with the sword on its own.
After all, I’d imagine that it might be a bit tricky to switch in the middle of a fight between a dagger and some other supplementary sidearm, like a pistol. But still, kudos for using some common sense.
Speaking of pistols, we have some more improvements on that point. In this game, they reduced the number of pistols you carry from four to two. Again, it takes almost no time to reload the pistols, but you only have two shots, instead of the (by comparison) hail of bullets you can unleash in Black Flag.
Some things are still lacking, like a helmsman and the ability to go below deck, but these are just minor luxuries, and are not really necessary in the grand scheme of things.
And of course, much like its predecessor, this game features legendary battles. You fight two historical battles, one at Labrador Bay and one at Qiberon, and you eliminate a remnant of golden age piracy during a battle with two Men O’ War, before finally going head to head with the Assassin’s flag ship, the Storm Fortress.
And unlike Black Flag, these aren’t just some ships that appear on the corners of the map. They are proper, bona fide missions, complete with descriptions and a warning that “these will be tough battles, are you really sure you want to do this, yes or no”.
And once you’ve beaten all four legendary battles, you are rewarded with a unique set of sails, a unique figure head and a unique steering wheel.
Can you play the missions again?
No, of course you can’t, because that would just make too much fucking sense!
Anyway, let’s get on to the real issue of the game.
But first, here’s a quick summary of the story
The story of this game follows Shay Cormack, an Assassin that becomes disillusioned by the methods of the Assassin’s Brotherhood, and their disregard of the damage they do (which includes destroying an ancient artifact and, in the process, all but wipe out Lisbon… oops).
To prevent future catastrophes, he joins the Templar Order and sets out to thwart the Assassins plans.
As a story, it’s pretty good. The problem is partly that the game is very short, compared to Black Flag. There are fewer characters and, much like AC III, the assassins all come across as stubborn morons. Couple that with the fact that the alternative is siding with the VILLAINS OF THE SERIES, and you end up with a game without anyone to relate to or root for.
And if this was some attempt to put the two organizations in grey areas, with neither side being more moral than the other, let me remind you that only one of these organizations actually have rules forbidding killing innocent people.
The game sees a return of Haytham Kenway who, as I’ve made clear before, was one of the best parts of Assassin’s Creed III, but he’s nowhere near as interesting or charismatic as he is in AC III.
But probably the biggest problem is that the game just feels pointless. The finale of the game has you uploading your findings to the Assassins, as a demoralizing message.
Now, either you’ve just struck a crippling blow to the Assassins brotherhood, in which case this is a real downer ending, with the villains winning….
Or (more likely) the assassins will ignore it, in which case you haven’t accomplished anything.
It just feels like, when the game is finished, nothing has been accomplished. Had this game not existed, I doubt anything would have changed in the overarching storyline of Templars and Assassins. Maybe it’s too soon to say, and the effects will not be noticed until much later.
But from where I’m sitting right now, it just comes across as a desperate attempt to squeeze the last drops out of Black Flag.
Play Black Flag. It’s more fun, the characters are more varied, well rounded and likeable, and it doesn’t just feel like a watered down version of a previous title.