More on Assassin’s Creed Rogue

I’ve been awfully negative on the blog lately, so thought I’d better talk about things I AM enjoying, Assassin’s Creed Rogue being one of those things.

But first I have to eat some crow. When Microsoft announced backwards compatibility for the Xbox One I kind of scoffed. Everyone was losing their shit over the ability to play Xbox 360 games on the Xbox One and I didn’t get why it was a big deal. Who wants to play old games when there are so many great new games!?

And now I’m really happy to be playing Assassin’s Creed Rogue via backwards compatibility on the Xbox One. So yeah, I was wrong. BC is a great feature. You might not need it often, but when you really want to play an older title it’s a heck of a lot easier than dragging out an old console and hooking it up. It also helps that AC Rogue seems to play flawlessly via BC (when the feature rolled out I tried a few games and they were all glitchy as heck. Not so here.).

So anyway back to the game.

I am LOVING Assassin’s Creed Rogue so far. I feel like it’s a game that was kind of lost when it came out. If I’m remembering right it came out the same year as Assassin’s Creed Black Flag did, but Rogue came out on PS3 and Xbox 360 while Black Flag came out on PS4 and Xbox One. Since these were the hot new consoles at the time, Black Flag got all the attention but I’d argue Rogue is just as good.

Actually in gameplay terms it is very similar to Black Flag. Once again you spend a lot of time at sea, attacking enemy ships and building up a fleet that you send off to do missions (via a sort of mini-game). The big difference is setting. Rogue takes place during the French and Indian War. Instead of tropical beaches you’ll be dealing with snow and ice.

Warning: some early game spoilers incoming.

This time you play as Shay Cormac who, with his brother Liam, start the game as up and comers in the Assassin’s Brotherhood. Then Shay is sent to recover an artifact in Lisbon, but it turns out to be some kind of trap. When Shay picks up the artifact it causes the Great Lisbon Earthquake, an actual historical event. In real life the Lisbon earthquake, according to Wikipedia, killed anywhere from 10,000 to 100,000 people. The entire city is destroyed.

Shay is horrified by what he has done, but the Brotherhood’s leadership is undaunted and plans to continue trying to collect artifacts. This causes Shay to turn his back on the assassins, resulting in a battle that leaves him near death, only to be rescued by the Templars (of course!). So Shay becomes a templar operating under Haytham Kenway, son of Edward Kenway from AC: Black Flag and the character you play as at the start of AC3. I love how these games intertwine! As is typical of the series Shay winds up rubbing shoulders with historical figures like James Cook, George Monro and Benjamin Franklin.

There are two ocean areas in the game. One is the frigid North Atlantic which feels like Black Flag’s ocean area (aside from the icebergs). The other is the river valley which is a series of much narrower passages that make sea battles a lot more hectic as it’s easy to find yourself running out of room to maneuver in the narrow waters.

When you’re not at sea or at one of the smaller outposts that you can dock at and explore, you’ll be in New York City, helping the Templars chase off the Assassins and taking over the city, district by district. As you do so you can spend money and resources to renovate buildings which, besides making you a good guy (the buildings all tend to be public works) increases your income.

Basically everything you could want from an AC game is here. If you enjoyed Black Flag and didn’t play Rogue, you need to remedy that. I will admit there’s not a whole lot new in terms of game systems. You are hunted by assassins…you have to use eagle vision to find them before they find you when one is near. That’s new. Also there are firecracker darts (used to spook said assassins) and grenades that I believe are new in this one. Maybe I just didn’t use them in Black Flag. Honestly the games are starting to run together in my head these days.

Outside the Animus you’re as Abstergo Entertainment, same as with Black Flag. Your ‘handler’ there only refers to you as “numb skull” so I’m not sure you you’re playing as in ‘real life.’ When not in the animus you can roam around and hack computers via a neat mini-game and get caught up on the back story of who is doing what and why.

I’m still not finished. My save says I’m like 43% ‘synced’ but the sync level doesn’t really indicate how far into the story I am. I think I’m getting close to the end because missions are sending me to areas labeled as “hard.” My ship, the Morrigan, is pretty beefed up and I have nearly the best swords and pistols money can buy. At 17 hours in I feel like I’m nearing the end.

Just in time to play Assassin’s Creed: Freedom Cry on PS4 when it becomes free via Playstation Plus in August. You play as Ad�wal� in that one. He was a ‘good guy’ in AC Black Flag and is a ‘bad guy’ in Rogue (it all depends on what side you’re on, doesn’t it?) so it’ll be fun playing AS him in Freedom Cry.

Finished Assassin’s Creed III

My Assassin’s Creed obsession continues; I finally finished AC3. This is the Revolutionary War game that most folks didn’t seem to like very much. I played the Xbox 360 version via backwards compatibility on the Xbox One and it was a little glitchy. I’m not sure if that was due to the game itself or the backwards compatibility factor.

Still, I enjoyed it. You might hear people complain about the game having a 5 hour tutorial or some such madness. It’s not true but it does have an odd structure. The main character is Conner in this one (outside the animus it’s still Desmond) but for the first few hours you play as another character. It’s not tutorial but nor is it as open as most AC games. Still I thought it set things up nicely and I didn’t mind it at all.

Assassin’s Creed III

Conner ends up being a Forrest Gump-like character for the middle of the game. He’s defending the colonists as they dump tea in Boston Harbor, he’s riding through the night with Paul Revere, he’s at Bunker Hill. I loved these bits. In fact I loved the setting of this game. I have to admit I didn’t love Conner himself. He’s kind of a tragic figure; he’s been raised as Native American (his mother was Native American, his father was British) and he’s trying to protect his people, but he’s also helping the colonists drive out the British. We of course know that things won’t end well for his people but even now I’m not sure he was fighting on the right side. My issue with him was that he always seemed naive and/or pig-headed. He never stopped to question the motives of the colonists, and he’d barge into ridiculous situations and get himself captured.

Conner and George Washington chewing the fat (AC3)

Gamewise my only real gripe was the progression thing I was talking about when discussing Breath of the Wild the other day. It’s an AC game so your character doesn’t level up or anything, but he never really geared up either. There’re some interesting side-systems like producing goods and selling them via convoys, and there are naval missions and missions to improve your “Homestead” but in the end the income you made from all of this was kind of pointless since there wasn’t much to buy. I upgraded Conner’s sword once, and crafted a 2nd pistol holster and that was about it.

Assassin’s Creed III

Outside the animus, this is the end of an arc. The assassins have been trying to stop the calamity that was going to purge the earth for the second time (in December 2012…remember when that was a thing) and they succeeded, but not without paying a heavy price. We actually learn a lot about Those Who Came Before in this game, or at least a lot about what happened to them.

You might think after playing 4 Assassin’s Creed games in a row (AC2, AC Brotherhood, AC Revelations, AC III) I might have had enough. I thought I’d had enough. Every time I get close to the end of one of these games I think “Whew, finally done with AC for a while.” but then the endings always hook me. Same thing here. I rolled right into Assassin’s Creed Rogue.

Assassin’s Creed Rogue

And OMG I’m glad I did. So far Rogue is VERY similar to Black Flag in a lot of ways, and I loved Black Flag. Rather than playing a pirate you’re in the North Atlantic, prior to the Revolutionary War. In fact AC3, AC Black Flag and AC Rogue weave together really nicely. Your home base (at least early on) is the Davenport Homestead…which was the Homestead you had to rebuild in AC 3. Achilles, the old man who is your mentor in AC 3, is your mentor here too, but he’s a young man and his wife and son are still alive at the start of the game. Early on Ad�wal�, who was Kenway’s quartermaster in Black Flag, comes to visit. He’s older; this takes place after AC 4 and after the Ad�wal� side-story game.

So putting the pieces togeher, Rogue ties together Black Flag and AC III chronologically. Oh and it also tells us what we heavily suspected: that Conner in AC 3 is Edward Kenway’s (main character of AC Black Flag) grandson!

The more I play these games, the more sad I am that this fall’s AC Origins looks like it might be a kind of reboot. At the very least it won’t have historical events that we’re familiar with, given that it takes place in ancient Egypt. Leave it to me to get hooked on a game series just as it pivots. Though I’m going to take my time with Rogue and savor it, and then I have Unity and Syndicate still waiting (Unity got a bad wrap for being really buggy but I’m told it was patched eventually and that the PS4 Pro’s “Boost Mode” helps with framerate issues so I’m hoping it’ll be OK to play).

Assassin’s Creed Rogue