Assassin's Creed: Rogue Review

Richard Walker

Initially, Assassin's Creed: Rogue seems like little more than just Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag Mk. 2. Ubisoft Sofia's game re-uses a great deal of assets from the previous AC game, whether it's the present day Abstergo Entertainment offices or the vast stretches of ocean, it feels a lot like deja-vu. That's before you very quickly become engrossed in Shay Patrick Cormac's story and Rogue's superior mission design, making for what might just be one of the most satisfying AC experiences in some time.

For fans of Black Flag, the naval warfare and sailing aspects of that game still play a significant role in Rogue, and upgrading Shay's ship, the Morrigan, will see you battling other vessels and harvesting them for precious resources. It's almost all secondary to the core narrative, however, with only a few missions demanding that you tail ships and engage in battle. You can have as much naval warfare as you like, but it's not force fed to you for any sustained amount of time. For the most part, you can take it or leave it.

Haytham and Shay: bezzie mates 4 eva.

With links to Assassin's Creed III and Black Flag, Assassin's Creed: Rogue dispenses with tedious eavesdropping and tail missions (a pet hate of mine), favouring some fantastic and memorable set-pieces, while even managing to fold in some of the mechanics from the now absent multiplayer mode. As a former assassin turned Templar, Shay not only hunts down and dispatches his erstwhile brothers, but he in turn finds himself hunted at almost every turn.

Like AC multiplayer, you'll hear the ethereal whispering of assassins when they're in the vicinity, usually hiding in a haystack, blended on a bench or watching from on high, and hitting Eagle Vision will bring up the compass, enabling you to track them down and take them out. It makes exploring Rogue's New York townships and islands dotted throughout the North Atlantic that little bit tenser, while wiping out gang hideouts helps eradicate assassin presence in each location.

Exploration is once again actively encouraged, and like Black Flag, there's a wealth of treasures to unearth and secrets to find, whether it's totems, maps or other such leads to follow. The vast map is full to bursting with side quests, forts to destroy, renovations to make and collectibles to gather, as per usual. But where in Black Flag, the story failed to grab me, Rogue manages to turn things on its head by casting you as a Templar; a rebel with a cause. It makes for a genuinely interesting yarn, as you question whether Shay is doing the right thing.

Death from above, baby!

Rogue's narrative also fills in a load of gaps and even features a few killer twists, especially in the game's final mission, where there's something pretty big for anyone who's played Assassin's Creed Unity. Shay's no one-dimensional villain either. He has his reasons for abandoning the creed, and you'll fully understand his motivations for joining the Templar order. What you may not understand is his dodgy Irish accent, which is all over the place. It's not an issue, per se; just worth noting.

Oddly, Shay grows to become a likeable character, despite being on a vendetta to murder his former allies. That's no mean feat from a story perspective, as Shay could have easily been completely unsympathetic. As for new abilities, Shay acquires a silenced rifle with berserk, sleep and firecracker darts fairly early on, as well as a funky underslung grenade launcher that can pelt enemies with area of effect shrapnel, berserk gas and sleep gas projectiles.

These new tools give Shay a variety of potential approaches to adopt for each of the game's neatly designed missions, although enemy guards still aren't particularly smart, but then they were remarkably stupid in Black Flag and Unity too. Still, there's no diminishing how enjoyable exploring Rogue's open-world steadily becomes as you sink into its story. Sure, there are a few missions that made me turn the air blue with frustration, but not nearly as many as there were in Black Flag. That game confounded me at seemingly every turn. Rogue by comparison is a far more pleasurable experience.

Grenades or darts? The choice is yours!

That said, the achievement list is a completist's dream, tasking you with capturing all gang HQs, completing every one of the dozens of renovations scattered across the world, visiting every location, fully upgrading Shay's ship, crafting a couple of outfits that require various animal pelts, and collecting every Animus shard. It's a tall order, but it'll keep you playing for a long time. There's not a huge amount of invention in Rogue's achievement list, but it does promote poking around the various side activities on offer, such as the Naval Campaign in Shay's quarters aboard the Morrigan.

This in itself is a neat little mini-game that makes use of your fleet, consisting of vessels that you've managed to board and seize during your reign of seafaring terror across the North Atlantic. It's also just one of many ways in which Shay can generate cash. You'll never be short of funds once you get into the swing of Rogue's economy; only a lack of materials will hold you back in carrying out ship upgrades and building renovations.

Assassin's Creed: Rogue feels like something of a return to form for Ubisoft's wayward series. The story is genuinely compelling, the missions are far more enjoyable than they have been since Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood and AC II arguably set the bar, and Shay – despite his shaky Irish brogue – is an interesting new character who I'm eager to learn more about. He's a rogue, but a likeable one, and AC: Rogue is in turn a very likeable game indeed.

Assassin's Creed: Rogue

Assassin's Creed: Rogue is the sort of thing we like to see in an AC game. A well-paced story with plenty of intrigue, twists and a vaguely charismatic lead with a shonky accent. It's good to be bad.

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That good old Assassin's Creed theme never fails to produce goosebumps, while the rest of the score is strong. Voice work is patchy, and when Captain Cook rocks up, it's like he and Shay are locked in a battle of “who can do the worst accent”. We're not sure who wins.


It looks like Black Flag, which is no bad thing. The beauty of Assassin's Creed Unity on new-gen leaves Rogue looking like a lesser game, but given the hardware, it's looking good.


The free-running gameplay still has its niggles, some of which were remedied in Unity, but Rogue feels like a tight game, and it's an infinitely more entertaining one than its recent forebears.


No fannying about with interminable setups, Rogue gets straight into the thick of the action without losing anything in character development or story beats. It's well-paced, not too long nor too short, and bristling with side content for anyone who wants to seek it out.


Some recycled from Black Flag, other just lacking in imagination. It's a list that's all about completing side missions and activities, and gathering collectibles. Meh.

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