Thursday, May 26, 2022

Assassin's Creed Rogue Review (PC)

I started playing Assassin's Creed Rogue right after I finished Black Flag. I went from not playing an Assassin's Creed in over two years to playing them back to back. I learned about the existence of this game while I was reading a review of Black Flag. The idea of a Black Flag like game set in North America felt very interesting to me. I really liked Black Flag, and I did not mind more of it. When I saw a picture of a ship with the northern lights in the background, I was sold.

I went scouring for a deal, and I found it on Fanatical. I paid $8.99 for the Deluxe Edition. In general I am not a fan of how companies carve out content and sell it as different editions, which is solely designed to nickel and dime gamers. However, the price of the Deluxe edition seemed acceptable to me.

This game was released very close to the release of Assassin's Creed Unity, which might explain why the game wasn't as popular. It was not as well received as Black Flag, which is a fantastic game, so it is a tall order for any game to top it, and considering that the main UbiSoft studio was working on Unity at the time, this was relegated to one of the smaller teams in UbiSoft Sofia.

Please be warned that this review will contain spoilers because I will discuss the story. SPOILER warning has been issued.

The premise is very interesting, but I felt that it was not executed very well. In Assassin's Creed Rogue, you get to play as Shay Patrick Cormac. He is a part of the Colonial Brotherhood of Assassins, working in North America during the Seven Years' War. He is tasked with retrieving a piece of Eden, which sends him to Lisbon. He locates the piece of Eden underneath a Church. As he tries to retrieve the piece of Eden, it triggers an earthquake in Lisbon. There apparently was a massive earthquake in Lisbon in 1755, so I guess I learned something new. Shay realizes that the Assassin's see this as a means to an end, and plan on retrieving all the pieces, at whatever cost. This causes him to question his loyalty to his side, and he eventually ends up joining the Templars.

When the Lisbon mission started, the opening shows a beautiful level, and it gave me the impression that we get to explore it. However, the exploration is confined to the church, and once the earthquake is triggered, the level becomes very linear, and you go through a set piece where everything around you is collapsing. Parts of this is done quite well, but I felt this was a huge missed opportunity. I was surprised that the Lisbon mission was over and we are back to North America.

Everything about how the story is told seemed very rushed. The transition from an Assassin to a Templar is jarring. One mission, you are an Assassin, and in the next mission, you are a Templar sworn to rid the world of Assassins. The transition felt like it was done in a very haphazard manner to move the plot along. If this game had gotten the attention it deserved, and if it was fleshed out a little bit more, it could have easily eclipsed Black Flag. As such, it has the feel of a budget title.

Those that played Assassin's Creed III and Unity will appreciate how the game attempts to tie up some loose ends. Not having played either of those games as of this writing, I am yet to appreciate the gravity of the plot lines.

When I watch the footage or look at the screenshot of Assassin's Creed Rogue those with Black Flag, I can't help but get the feeling that the visuals are very washed out in Rogue. One might argue that the saturation levels in Black Flag are a bit much, but I really liked the vibrant world of the Caribbean. The developers choose to make North America looks very dreary. At times, the game looks stunning, but for the most part the colors tend to be dull.

Music is another aspect of the game that does not live up to Assassin's Creed Black Flag. Black Flag is right up there with Witcher 3 as one of the best video game soundtracks. Assassin's Creed Rogue has some nice themes but I did not enjoy the soundtrack anywhere near as Black Flag. The music in Black Flag is just perfect, in my subjective opinion. In contrast, there was not anything memorable about the soundtrack of Rogue.

Speaking of aspects of the game that are not memorable, lets talk about the characters in the game. They are adequate. Let's just say Christopher Gist, and Hope are not as interesting as Adéwalé and Mary. There is no charismatic character like Black Beard, and lastly given how sloppy Shay's story arc was written, Shay is no match for Edward Kenway.

Its quite a shame really because this game takes place during the formation of America, and there are so many interesting characters to work with. They did try and shoehorn Benjamin Franklin who makes an appearance in the game, but in my opinion, his character could have been substituted by any generic mad scientist character and it wouldn't have made a whole lot of difference. He is portrayed more as a bumbling scientist than a legendary founder of a nation. Wasted potential in my opinion.

So what did Assassin's Creed Rogue do better than Black Flag? Naval combat is more streamlined. It is now possible to skip the cutscene that is played at the end of each encounter. The legendary ship encounters are a lot of fun. Ship upgrades are more easily attainable, there are no underwater missions here (I really disliked those in Black Flag). Some of the outfits are quite nice. I did not get a chance to unlock the templar and the native outfits, but the ones I had were quite nice.

That sums up the game for me. Its an adequate game, and the potential of an interesting premise is not fully realized. To me, its a budget version of Black Flag.

And yes, this game also has Abstergo missions. They are awful.

On the technical side of things, the game is locked at 60FPS, just like Black Flag. I upgraded to an ultrawide monitor, and It is possible to get the game to work on an ultrawide, but the FOV is not good, so I played the game at 1920x1080 in a borderless window.

In conclusion, for the price, I don't mind recommending this game. Anything more than $10 would not be worth it in my opinion.

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