This time, things get dark. Hello and welcome to another Assassin’s Creed game to rank. As always, you can find the actual rank here. So, let’s get into what I think is the weirdest AC to rank to date.
Taking place in between AC3 and AC4 and during the Seven Years’ War, you play as a new assassin recruit named Shay Cormac. You are tasked with going to Portugal and finding a precursor site which contains a piece of eden, but interacting with the precursor site devastated the whole city. Despite warning the Assassin’s about the destructive power of the precursor sites, they decide to continue the search and possibly destroy another city. A mixture of that plus some other things causes Shay to steal a manuscript and betray the Assassins. From there, things take a turn for the different. Meanwhile in the modern time, you play as some tech guy trying to relive Shay’s memories, but issues ensue and it causes a shutdown at Abstergo. Throughout the game, you are tasked with cleaning up the virus and finding all of Shay’s memories.
What makes this game hard to compare to others is just how different the game feels. I don’t mean in the sense that you aren’t jumping into piles of hay or anything like that; but there are changes that makes this experience feel weird. There is the obvious, like how you are playing as the bad guy; but then there isn’t the obvious, like how the gameplay changes because you are a Templar. I can’t quite put my finger on an exact answer, but it still makes this one weird to rank. So, I guess let’s get into it. Also, before I get into it, this will contain spoilers.
When I first started this game, I had no clue what to think about it. Something definitely felt off with the first act. I went through all of the tutorial stuff as normal, but the first few hours of the game has you playing as an Assassin, and I didn’t know what to think about that. Something just felt off about my time with the Assassins, but now that I think about it maybe that was supposed to be. After playing through and switching sides, the game really opened up, and I found my time with the game to be a lot better. I don’t know what exactly clicked with me changing sides, but something did click and the game got to be way more enjoyable. So, let’s get into it.
AC Rogue follows in the same vein as AC4, in which you are in a large area with dozens of mini areas and a lot of sailing in between. Instead of being in the Caribbean though, Rogue takes place in the cold North Atlantic; and instead of one map, there were two. At first, I didn’t like the two maps, but the two offer different weather settings, so it is nice to have the change. Despite that, I didn’t feel that the North American setting fit well with the island map design, which made the setting feel tacked on. Also, the North American setting just isn’t as fun as the Caribbean. Still, I am glad that they stuck with the island map design because I still have a fun time both on and off land.
Speaking of which, ship combat has been improved with new weapons. The rear weapon spews fiery oil, and the small gun to the side shoots much faster. Not only that, I think ship gameplay has improved as well. While it doesn’t happen often, enemies can actually board your ship, and there are more random events you can find on the waters. On foot, some new additions have been made as well. The new air rifle combines all of your darts into one weapon, and some new collectibles are available that can raise your wealth or call back to the early AC days of unlocking a set of armor. As for the story, I think it is a little dull. While it is cool to see some of the characters from previous AC games and it does a good job tying up all of those stories, I found the new set of characters to be dull and the story to be going nowhere. These are the thoughts I had about the game before hitting a pivotal story moment. The improvements of the game can be seen early on, but the experience felt forgettable. Then I got shot trying to escape the Assassins and wake up to a whole new game. From here on, things get a lot better.
After reaching this pivotal moment in the story, I wake up to find myself in a new map: New York. Wait, New York? Isn’t that a big city without water ways to sail ships? Why yes, yes it is. I love the addition of this third map because it calls back to the earlier non-sailing AC games and it offers a change of pace. From there, I soon get into contact with the Templars, and next thing you know I am continuing my journey with Shay, only this time I am helping the red coats. It isn’t long before the whole game opens up to me, and the different gameplay aspects that were missing are now available to play with; and boy do I love these new game mechanics.
The New York map isn’t the only thing that calls back to previous AC games. AC Rogue offers the ability to restore buildings in exchange for money to be flowing in, just like in the Ezio games. I love the economy aspect of the previous games, and I am so glad it is back because I felt the last game was too stingy on money. The stupid combo kill thing is still here, but at least I can spend my money on other things like guns, skins to upgrade myself, and ship upgrades. What is also back are land forts. Fort capturing was the one thing I enjoyed doing in AC3, so I am glad they are back. Don’t worry, island forts like in AC4 are still here too.
I continue my story with Shay as he now runs with the Templars, and may I say that they are a much more interesting lot. These characters don’t feel like one-dimensional villains, but as people who act very similarly to the Assassins. Haytham (yes, THE Haytham from AC3) can act a bit cold, but all of the other Templars I met feel like real characters. I really like the change of pace with the story because after playing eight other AC games, it’s good to have a different point-of-view. Plus, seeing your former allies turn into the enemies you must kill shows just how conflicted Shay is and how much he is attached to his older friends personally. On top of that, I am glad to see that this game goes all the way with Shay staying as the bad guy. I know of some games that chicken out of that, so props to keeping him the villain.
Changing sides doesn’t just change the story though. The developers did a good job at changing up the content to make it feel like the opposite of what I have been playing in previous games. After the switch, Rogue gives you a grenade launcher, which shoots a larger version of the same effects of the dart. While the grenades were something I didn’t like in Revelations, I feel that they work better in this setting because I feel the gameplay is steering towards action more than stealth. The game also puts in a new enemy type known as stalkers. They blend in with public, and come and attack when you are close, and you can only find them by going into eagle vision. I love this new enemy type because it shows just how different the perspective is from the other side as well as offering a new challenge for me. The biggest change that can be seen, however, are the side missions. Most side missions in previous AC games requires you to assassinate someone, but this time you are out trying to defend someone. Assassins are sent out to kill someone, and it is your job to kill the assassins before they attack. The changes in both the story and the gameplay tell that this feels like a different experience, and I love that change because I feel change is needed.
Smaller gameplay changes also made their way into the game that I appreciated. Rogue offers a sort-of progression house similar to AC2 that I love, naval trading battles can be skipped, naval trade ships can be repaired with normal money instead of diamonds, more ammo can be picked up off of dead bodies, there are new island types, and more. The biggest one of these smaller improvements has to be that this is the first techincal-issue free AC game I have played. I have had issues throughout the AC games, whether it be frame rate issues or glitches, but this is the first time I didn’t have any of that.
As tradition, I talk about the multiplayer offerings and follow it up with “it all doesn’t matter because I didn’t play it anyways.” As it turns out, there isn’t any multiplayer, so I guess let’s move onto the end.
In conclusion, I think AC Rogue is a sleeper hit. While I don’t think it is the best AC game around, I still had a great time with the game because of how different the game felt and how it combined older and newer elements together. Playing as the Templars shows just how nuanced the situation can be, and the changes that it makes to the gameplay provide a change of pace. Also, being able to interact with some of my favorite mechanics from previous games is a blast, and it combines with newer ones to make a pretty great experience. Because of all of that and more, I decided to put this game at number four in between AC1 and AC Brotherhood, and I predict by the time I hit AC Odyssey, this game will still be in the upper half of this rank.