The history of Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Rogue is almost as twisted as the timelines in these historical action-adventure games. Originally released in the fall of 2014, alongside the controversial Assassin’s Creed Unity, Rogue was created to give PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 users a full-featured Assassin’s Creed game, while Unity was made exclusively for the current gen systems. Unfortunately, Unity stumbled out of the gate, alienating critics and the hardcore fanbase, with a myriad technical issues across the board, and Rogue got sucked into the maelstrom of hate. Adding insult to injury for Ubisoft, Rogue borrowed many assets from Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, and fans — already turning on the Montreal-based developer for the Unity debacle — never really gave it a chance. That all changes with the release of Assassin’s Creed Rogue Remastered, now for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and enhanced for the PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X.
Using the same techniques that ported Black Flag from last gen consoles at the launch of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, Ubisoft has taken a game that many fans may have dismissed, and created a stellar play experience. Shay Cormac has never looked better, and the Morrigan, his ship, now rules the North Atlantic seas with the same level of jaw-dropping beauty that Edward Kenway and the Jackdaw had during his adventure in the West Indies.
While Assassin’s Creed Rogue may have been overlooked four years ago, those who played it found a solid game that added an incredible twist: the protagonist, Shay Patrick Cormac, becomes a Templar, the eternal enemy of the Assassins, and players get to experience the story from the other side. Instead of spending 40-50 hours assassinating members of the Order, the player was tasked with teaming up with Haytham Kenway (son of Edward Kenway) and hunting members of the Brotherhood, including well known characters like Adewale, Edward’s second from Black Flag.
Assassin’s Creed Rogue Remastered returns to the more classic Assassin’s Creed play control. Sprinting is mapped to the right trigger, and the parkour/freerunning is once again automatic. We absolutely loved the changes that Assassin’s Creed Origins introduced, but once again playing with the old controls creates a feeling of warm nostalgia. And now that enough time has passed between Black Flag and Rogue, this game feels new, even to someone who played it back in 2014.
Assassin’s Creed Rogue Remastered’s story is nestled between Assassin’s Creed III and Black Flag, creating a “North American Trilogy,” and leads right up to the story in Unity. This adds importance to the events here, as Shay battles his enemies against the backdrop of the Seven Years’ War, between the French and English in the New World. Rogue Remastered also introduces some new tools and techniques, like an air rifle, grenade launcher, and the puckle guns on the Morrigan, building on the foundation set by the previous games. While there is some familiarity in the sea combat and naval campaign, more of a good thing is never bad — and this comes from a guy who has over 200 hours logged into Black Flag, most of which was sailing around and taking enemy ships for fun.
When it comes to the visuals, Ubisoft has done a solid job at taking advantage of the more powerful console hardware. The remaster makes the character models pop off the screen, shadows are rendered with more detail , and the flora and fauna, as well as the rolling seas, look more realistic; something the last gen consoles could never really do. The beauty of Assassin’s Creed Rogue Remastered really shines in the northern region missions, where snow and ice make an appearance. Shay’s breath comes out in puffs of white, and that serene feeling of near-arctic temperatures can be felt through the TV screen. For those playing on base hardware, that means a clean looking 1080p, while Xbox One X and PlayStation 4 Pro owners can enjoy 4K visuals. This remastered version also adds a few new features, including the option to equip new outfits from games that came after the original Rogue release. Players can even wear Aguilar’s outfit from the Assassin’s Creed movie.
Perhaps the best thing about Assassin’s Creed Rogue Remastered is that it gives fans an opportunity to play a game that may have been forgotten, or revisit a game that had a stigma attached to it upon its original release. Shay Patrick Cormac’s story is important to the greater mythos of the Assassin’s Creed franchise, and it never comes off as a throwaway side story. This is an Assassin’s Creed game through and through, and it feels amazing to once again sail through frigid waters, hunting Templars and Assassins alike, all while experiencing a critical part of the franchise’s ongoing narrative. And when all is said and done, that’s all we can ask for in a game, remaster or not.
This review is based on a PlayStation 4 copy of the game, provided to us by Ubisoft.
Assassin's Creed Rogue Remastered gives players a chance to play an important game in the series' ongoing narrative, and this re-release looks (and plays) better than ever.