Assassin’s Creed III and Assassin’s Creed IV have both featured new protagonists, Native American Assassin Connor Kenway in the case of AC III and Connor’s grandfather, the pirate Edward Kenway, in the fourth official game in the main series. Both titles also features a whole lot of ship-based combat, which utilised some nifty gameplay mechanics to make pillaging the high seas a lot more fun than the main game.
Bringing us back to the ocean is the third game in the ocean series, Assassin’s Creed: Rogue. This time around however, you’re not playing as a member of the Kenway family. Instead the spotlight is focussed on Patrick Shay Cormac, a Welsh Assassin who finds himself pitted against his former brothers following events that cause a whole lot more destruction than was intended. We’re not going to make any more allusions to those events than that, you’ll have to find out the specific circumstances for yourself.
Two Sides of the Coin
It’s no spoiler to say that players will start out on the side of the Assassins this time around before switching allegiances – it’s kind of the whole point of this releases entire storyline and the Rogue bit of the title is a dead giveaway. Without giving too much (else) away, players are going to be embarking on a journey that takes place in the North Atlantic, the River Valley and New York, which is in itself a massive area that needs exploring.
While they’re there, players will make use of the familiar Assassin skills like clambering over buildings and blending with crowds as well as a few new abilities, to move the story along. There’s a massive amount of variance to be found in the story missions, you’ll be doing everything from tailing people to taking command of a Man’O’War and its stupidly fun amount of firepower, with a collection of assassinations making themselves known in between. And that’s not accounting for the vast amount of side content. Some of this you’ve seen, getting crew for your ship by saving people in strife or hunting down collectibles to unlock special gear and upgrades.
A Sailing We Will Go
And two of the three large settings feature mostly water, so expect to spend more than a little time at the helm of the Morrigan. Shay’s ship is a nimble little craft that can be upgraded, in the same manner as AC IV, until it’s one of the most feared craft every to sail the frigid oceans of the North Atlantic.
But the colder setting has its hazards. In addition to rogue waves, storms, other ships with bigger cannons and large rocks, players have to contend with iceburgs, frozen panels of ice (seriously, upgrade your icebreaker as soon as you can) and snow tornados. The enemy ship AI is also going to challenge you, they’re quite a bit more tactical at the later stages of play and if you’re surrounded, you’re boned. Hard.
But the oceans themselves are extremely pretty to gaze upon, Ubisoft have expanded the number of sea shanties available and just sailing around is so pleasurable that you might, like us, find yourself just looting and pillaging ships for the sheer amusement value rather than continuing with the main storyline. It’s that entertaining.
Nothing is Wasted, Everything is Updated
So far, so good, but eagle-eyed players (see what we did there?) will also note that Rogue looks very familiar. There’s a lot of new content to find but there’s also a whole lot of content that has been re-used from AC III and AC IV. You’ll see some of it from the world map, where the snow-covered locations have been repurposed, but the Davenport Homestead from AC III has also been popped in and there are a couple of familiar-looking places to see.
But Ubi have done it right. They may have reused parts of the past (and they even allude to it emails seen in the Abstergo building, which also make a reappearance from AC IV) but they’ve also included enough new content that most players won’t even notice the re-used assets. Either way, each and every location in Rogue is a blast to explore, though there’s little point to returning to some unless the story calls for it. We suspect Ubi made the collectibles very easy to get this time around. No matter, there are a large number of places to romp around in, including… you’ll see.
Assassin’s Creed: Rogue hasn’t done anything special. Shay’s story and involvement with the Templar might be new but everything else is just a tweak on what we’ve seen before from the series. There are changes, new locations and new characters, as well as a few old ones, but Rogue is just wrapping things up here. It’s not the place to hop into the series but if you’re any kind of fan of the ship-based gameplay from previous games, this is like slipping into a warm bath. You owe it to yourself to explore the North Atlantic before moving on to Paris.