Assassin’s Creed Rogue Remastered Review – A Tale of Templars (PS4)
From out of the blue lagoon, Assassin’s Creed Rogue Remastered sails its way onto current gen consoles just three and a half years after its initial release on PlayStation 3, complete with 4K visuals and other technical enhancements. That only leaves the first game in the franchise and the divisive Assassin’s Creed III as the only titles not available on current gen consoles. So how does this second pirate adventure from the perspective of a Templar fare among the cacophony of its sequels and predecessors, and could it be better than fan-favorite Black Flag?
While the main draw of Assassin’s Creed Rogue is the chance to play as an operative from the Templar Order, players may want to lower their expectations for what’s in store. A significant portion of the adventure sees Shay Cormac – a man that fits the generic “brazen young man” trope to a tee – employed under the tutelage of his Assassin’s Brotherhood mentors. Vague references to the Brotherhood’s past and the occasional mention of the Apple of Eden makes this adventure yet another tale that is far removed from the series’ rich lore. At this point though, everything is so convoluted that I didn’t actually mind, but what is substituted in is a fetch-quest laden story that takes you to a few limited locations and doesn’t give the player even a fraction of the freedom that Black Flag did.
Players jump from the settlement of New York, the quaint River Valley, and the ship-heavy seas of the Atlantic, but no place ever feels like home. You’re never really entrenched in one location long enough to get familiar like previous Assassin’s Creed games that directed their focus on a single city or two. Even on the high seas of Black Flag, I always felt like it was one, connected world that I was intimately familiar with, and this issue translates over to the missions where you will be constantly thrown out of the experience and into the modern-day Abstergo Entertainment storyline and then tossed wildly back into the Animus in a different location and time period.
Assassin’s Creed Rogue doesn’t seem to care that it’s an open-world experience and thus acts like a purely linear adventure at times to the detriment of the game’s overall design. For the most part, the main missions aren’t anything to write home about – which, to be fair, is a problem that even the latest game in the series suffers from – besides a specific hour-long slice that far exceeds anything else the game presents. Unsurprisingly, the aforementioned missions are also the emotional height of the story as Shay Cormac begins to question his allegiance to the Brotherhood when he finds out that his unwavering belief in the Creed was built on a grand lie. And just like that, after the span of two or three missions, Assassin’s Creed Rogue tumbles back to a sea of mediocrity.
Black Flags & High Seas
While the post-Ezio games have been up and down when it comes to narrative and mission design, I was incredibly excited to get back to the original Assassin’s Creed combat system. Whether it was false hope or a lethal dose of nostalgia, the old combat and gameplay system of past Assassin’s Creed titles feels more dated than the thirteen-year-old Shadow of the Colossus remake. This is all the more disappointing after playing last year’s Assassin’s Creed Origins although I noticed that Rogue Remastered constantly had me thinking of how much better Black Flag and Origins were, so there’s that!
While the rope dart is still a blast to mess around with and the ecstasy of taking out two targets with a single, silencing move is everlasting, it’s the poor platforming controls and tedious sword battles that left me wanting. On the naval side, the all-new puckle gun, which acts as a kind of primitive machine gun, is the only highlight of an otherwise lite-version of Black Flag. However, it’s still a ton of fun to ignore the main quests and make your way out into the deep ocean to board enemy ships and plunder their treasure.
As with all recent remasters, Assassin’s Creed Rogue features 4K resolution on PlayStation 4 Pro alongside everyday additions like denser crowds and improved lighting. While the terrain textures of forests and cities don’t look quite as good as the glint of the sun on the soft waters of the North Atlantic, you don’t have to worry about dated visuals that will take away from the experience. The merry chants and sea-side banter between your crew is carried over from Assassin’s Creed IV, but the novelty is simply gone. If you’re looking for a pirate game, there’s an infinitely superior adventure available on PlayStation 4, so I can only recommend Assassin’s Creed Rogue Remastered to hardcore fans who missed out on the last-gen offering when Assassin’s Creed Unity came out.
But even after all my criticisms with the game, the ending was both surprising and fitting. I won’t spoil it, but what I will say is that it reminded me of why I love this franchise so dearly and I would be lying if I said that I didn’t get a little emotional. It doesn’t stop there though, as Assassin’s Creed Rogue is full of small surprises for long-time fans that are better left explored. If anything can be taken from the release of Assassin’s Creed Rogue Remastered, it is that the series has come a long way in a short period of time. Unfortunately, Assassin’s Creed Rogue is on the wrong side of that timeline.
Assassins Creed Rogue Remastered review code provided by publisher. Version 1.01 reviewed on PS4 Pro. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy here.