Blimey. It’s been a few years since Assassin’s Creed Rogue released on the last-gen platforms, and since then we’ve seen the series progress by leaps and bounds – quite literally.
Assassin’s Creed Rogue was, in my opinion, unfortunate the release day and date with its next-gen counterpart, Assassin’s Creed Unity. As everyone migrated to the newer consoles and the fancier graphics, Rogue was left to wallow in the last-gen player pool. It’s a shame that it has taken so long for Ubisoft to finally get Rogue out on PS4 and Xbox One. It was a decent game back in 2014 and easily went toe-to-toe with every entry before it. But how does it hold up in 2018 where 4K televisions aren’t just a nerdy wet dream? To put it in the words of the genius that is Karl Pilkington: Yeah, it’s alright.
Rogue is the first game in the Assassin’s Creed series that gives players the chance to play on the other side of the sword. Rogue is a tale of revenge, misunderstanding and, ultimately, tragedy. The story is easily the strongest aspect of Rogue. While the gameplay may have been fine back in 2018, it’s certainly feeling the weight of time, even more so after Unity, Syndicate, and Origins.
Rogue’s tale follows Irish-born assassin Shay Cormac who, as you may have already guessed, turns to the dark side. Or is it the dark side? He joins the Templars, sure, but Rogue definitely blurs the already blurred lines between good and evil. His journey from lovable Irish rogue (ha…) to grisly Templar is, in my opinion, a little rushed. The first couple of hours are all about teaching players the game’s systems, controls, and introducing the primary cast of characters. Once that’s all out of the way, things kick off at a pretty mean pace. One moment you’re wandering around Achilles’ Homestead, the next you’re rubbing shoulders with charming Templars. It was fine back in 2014, and it’s fine back now, but in hindsight I do think I’d have liked a bit more meat on the opening act.
I’m not in the business of spoiling stories, so I won’t go into too much detail. What I will say is that anyone who follows the Assassin’s Creed games for their deep stories will be happy. Rogue’s place in the Assassin’s Creed timeline sits between the events of Black Flag and the much maligned Assassin’s Creed 3, so expect to see some familiar faces among Rogue’s new introductions. They’re not just fleeting cameos; they’re full-on characters with essential roles to play in Shay’s fall from grace. This is what fans will want to see, and I’ve no doubt that if you skipped over Rogue in favour of Unity, you’ll find Rogue to be a pleasant surprise in that respect.
There’s even a connection between Rogue and Unity, believe it or not. Who am I kidding… Anyone with an interest in the Assassin’s Creed lore will already know this, even if they didn’t play Rogue back on the PS3/Xbox 360. Still, it’s one thing to read about it on a forum or whatever, but it’s another thing to actually play it for yourself.
Story wise, Rogue is exemplary. I’m a big fan of the narrative. But what about the gameplay? The graphics? The remastering? Well… It’s alright, yeah. I mean, it’s not a full-on remaster in the vein of Crash Bandicoot or Shadow of the Colossus, but would you actually expect that? No. Not by a long shot. Given that last year’s Ezio trilogy was a relatively simple port with a few little touch ups, nobody should assume that Rogue would be any different.
- Developer: Ubisoft
- Release Date: March 20th
- Price: £24.99/$29.99/€29.99
While the story may stand the test of time, the real question is whether the gameplay holds up after four years of new releases. It does and it doesn’t. This will really depend on you as a player. If you’ve become comfortable with the newer systems for traversal and combat in the newer games, Rogue may seem like a dramatic step down. Animations are stiff and don’t have the same level as polish. The combat is much more cumbersome and you’ll be thrust back into the pattern of hit, counter, hit. It was fine for its time and it’s still alright now, I guess, just don’t go into Rogue expecting it to play like Origins.
One thing many people said about Rogue upon its original release was that if you enjoyed Black Flag, you’ll dig Rogue, too. I agree with that sentiment, and it’s the easiest comparison to make, though you’ll be done with the main story much sooner; Rogue’s story can be concluded in around 10 hours if you don’t go mooching around with the side-quests and collectables.
Remasters are often judged by their visuals as much as their gameplay. We’ve had some stellar remasters this generation, and we’ve had some not so stellar ones. Rogue sits in the middle in this regard. You’re not going to be blown away by the graphics, let me tell you. They’re not bad, but they’re not current-gen quality. We’ve got the original game that has been given a sizable resolution boost that delivers a really clean image on-screen. I have to admit that when I first got into Rogue on PS4, I wasn’t sure what the dramatic improvements were. I then checked the Xbox 360 version on Xbox One and… wow. The difference is huge. Trust me when I say that you’ll never want to go back to the last-gen edition. It may not be a graphical powerhouse, but you’ll certainly appreciate the resolution bump and cleaner presentation, plus, the oceans look magnificent and are a definite highlight in this remaster. It runs much better on PS4, too, with the frame rate staying mostly locked on the 30fps sweet spot. No, you’re not getting 60fps, and if you’ve played all other Assassin’s Creed games on console, you know not to expect it.
The actual gameplay itself is interesting. We’re give the chance to see things from the other side of the fence, so to speak. It’s a shame, then, that more wasn’t done to differentiate the Assassin Shay from Templar Shay.
For the most part, you’ll just play the game and do whatever you’ve been doing in previous games, except you’re now batting for the other team. Assassins are your main enemy, though, and this is where things get interesting. Rather than having a dozen or so mindless drones to slay every few minutes, you’ll be hunted by the efficient killers. They’ll stalk the long grass. They’ll wait patiently on a nearby rooftop. They’ll be blending in with a group of civilians. This role reversal from the hunter to the hunted can be tense. The game employs the system used in the multiplayer modes in previous games. You’ll have a small circle around Shay that will indicate which direction the threat is coming from. You’ll hear the creepy whispers as you get close. It’s a smart move by the developers to re-purpose what made the multiplayer so good in previous games.
Unfortunately, that’s the lump of it. Other than the fact you’re now killing Assassins, there’s not a lot of difference between fighting for one side over the other. You’ll still climb towers. You’ll still kill people with your hidden blades. You’ll still be hunting the mysterious Pieces of Eden. You’ll still kick arse on your pirate ship, The Morrigan. It’s a little like the start of Assassin’s Creed 3 – AC3 SPOILER ALERT – where you play as Haytham Kenway for a few hours before it’s revealed that he’s a Templar. You wouldn’t know if the game didn’t tell you.
Perhaps that’s the intention? Maybe it’s all part of the blurred lines? Are the Assassins and Templars more alike than they know? Could they have solved their differences if they sat down and have a few drinks and a bit of munch together? Who knows.
Assassin’s Creed Rogue is a cheap and cheerful release. It’s not going to be for everyone and I’ve no doubt that many will lament “another remaster”, but I’m rather fond of this current trend of re-releasing last-gen games. If you never got the chance to play it on the old systems, you can now enjoy Shay’s descent into darkness in the best way possible. Plus, it’s a nice to have Rogue and Unity on the same console now, given their connection. I’ve only had to wait four bloody years for it to happen…
Assassin's Creed Rogue PS4 Review
Assassin's Creed Rogue Remastered is a worthy entry in the series, remastered or not. If you missed out on Shay's tragedy on PS3, this is the best possible way to play the game on consoles today. You'll have to be prepared for a little last-gen jank, but it's worth it for the story alone.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using PS4 Slim.