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Assassin's Creed Rogue

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Sofia
Release Date: March 20, 2018

About Andreas Salmen

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PS4 Review - 'Assassin's Creed Rogue Remastered'

by Andreas Salmen on Aug. 10, 2018 @ 2:00 a.m. PDT

In Assassin's Creed Rogue, players experience the Assassin’s Creed universe through the eyes of Shay Patrick Cormac, a Templar who suffers the brotherhood’s betrayal and transforms into an Assassin hunter.

If there's one franchise that has been milked to death in this console generation and the last one (apart from the iterative EA sports games), it's Assassin's Creed. You know a game series is in dire need of a refresh when there has only been one two-year gap between main entries in the last 10 years. The tried-and-tested formula really needed a redo, which we thankfully got last year with Origins. Shortly after the refresh, Ubisoft released Assassin's Creed Rogue Remastered to bridge the gap until Odyssey, which comes out later this year.

Rogue was originally intended as a last-gen follow-up to one of the series' more memorable entries, Black Flag, while next-gen gamers endured the buggy dumpster fire that was Unity. Released for the last generation at a time when Xbox One and PS4 were gaining traction and overshadowed by the Unity release, Rogue slipped under most people's radar, even though it was the better release at that time. It didn't reinvent the wheel, but it provided an interesting narrative within the AC formula. The big questions for the remastered release on next-gen consoles are whether Rogue is still a fun experience after Origins and if this remaster adds enough new and exciting elements to merit its re-release at this time. Unfortunately, the short answer is no.

In and of itself, Rogue is a satisfying experience. For me, it cherrypicks the best elements of all AC releases that came before it and combines them into one. There is the focus on ship traversal and combat like Black Flag, satisfying combat and a strong lead character akin to the Ezio Trilogy, and a similar time period to AC III while telling an alternative tale. We take control of the Irish assassin Shay Patrick Cormac in the French and English colonies during the Seven Years' War (18th century), and as the title may suggest, he's going rogue. We start as part of the Assassin's Order but soon witness events that make us question the motives of our organization, so we vow to stop them and run into the Templars' arms. This means Rogue is the only entry to make us play as a Templar who's trying to bring down the Assassins.

It's the story that carries the entry, with interesting characters that are more than two-dimensional puppets, a strong lead, and a nuanced story that is believable and unlike any that we've seen in the franchise. If you are a fan of AC, this will certainly provide you with a novel outlook on the universe and help you overcome the fact that Rogue feels awfully recycled in most aspects.

If you've played any other game in the series, especially any of the entries that directly preceded Rogue, you'll feel right at home — or plagued by déjà vu. We get our very own ship at the beginning, so we're free to explore the world or tackle Shay's story. The early two maps are a series of islands and landmass in the North Atlantic, similar to the islands found in Black Flag, so we get to enjoy the series' satisfying naval exploration and combat. Sinking and boarding enemy ships, destroying outposts, and plundering crates is just as you remembered it. That is hardly a novel experience, but given the time that has passed since Black Flag, fans of the series may feel that this is a welcome throwback.

Later in the story, we explore early New York City, taking us back to our memories of Boston in AC III. The traversal and combat by foot hasn't changed drastically. Shay is just as agile as his predecessors, and he can scale buildings in a matter of seconds, sync map details from watchtowers, and brutally murder English and French colonialists. A welcome addition to the usual item inventory of smoke bombs and hidden blades is a rifle to shoot special bullets that either make enemies sleep or go berserk. There's also a grenade launcher extension and potent explosives.

Given that our tool kit is only slightly different, mission structures and quests mostly adhere to the series' familiar structure. Follow this person, sink that ship, get this item, assassinate that guy, rinse and repeat. Again, this isn't necessarily bad, but it does remind us how uninspired AC can be. With all of this, what makes Rogue Remastered different?

Newly introduced elements are minor, with outposts that can be captured by removing their flag, which is a fun activity to indulge in, and enforcers are basically annoying new enemy types that exist to delay your progress. Enforcers are Assassins who use similar means of traversal and hide around the environment. When in New York, whispering in the background alerts you that they're near, so you can scan the area with Eagle Vision to take them out before they attack. They are frequent, they cost time, and they are annoying. They basically pad out the gameplay because the story content itself is well short of the 10-hour mark. This means Rogue Remastered is a very short experience if you don't care for 100% completion or take your time.

Unfortunately, the whole world doesn't feel too engaging. There's a vast area to explore, but the game doesn't go out of its way to surprise you, especially if you've played Black Flag and AC III. There are minimal side activities, similar-looking locations, standard collectibles, and everything is wrapped up in game mechanics and visuals that we've seen many times over. It's still painfully obvious and may pose an obstacle for some to fully enjoy the game.

The remaster doesn't add much to the experience, a decision that's both mind-boggling and insulting. The game runs in 1080p with a capped frame rate at 30 fps (!), even on a PS4 Pro. On the more advanced consoles, we got a 4K resolution, but the absence of 60 fps or the option to uncap the frame rate shines a bad light on this "remaster." Visual improvements also seem to be absent, although there could be some minor, imperceptible improvements here and there. The PC version of the original release looks the same, but at least that one runs at 60 fps. This hardly looks like a remaster, more like a basic re-release that doesn't add anything meaningful to the base systems or provide a higher frame rate on the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X.

The absence of those improvements also means that Rogue plays the same as it did years ago and suffers from the shame shortcomings: less-than-fluid controls, frequent mishaps while traversing the environment, dumb AI, and simple stealth sequences.

Assassin's Creed Rogue is an often-overlooked entry in the series. It's a fun compilation of all prior releases, and it has a cool story and strong characters. Its remastered version, however, doesn't add anything significant and falls flat since it doesn't offer any improvements to Shay Cormac's Assassin/Templar story.

Score: 6.0/10

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