FACTS 2014: Assassin's Creed Rogue Hands-On

Sure, Assassin's Creed Rogue is mostly Black Flag 2.0, but it has its charm.

By Daavpuke, Posted 23 Oct 2014

People have no idea about Assassin's Creed Rogue. That’s the sentiment coming off this short demo we played, as crowds pondered what the hell this game is. This is likely due to the fact that the open world title pitches the same atmosphere and gameplay from Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. It looks like an expansion and it acts like one, so maybe it’s downloadable content (DLC)? Confusion aside, it does deliver a similar quality as its predecessor, but hopefully it will have more than just swashbuckling fun and a glossy new veil.

Assassin's Creed Rogue wants to push the boundaries of an appealing open sea. Not only do the fully detailed boats still thrust into the waves gracefully, but now the landscape itself gets more than just a soothing blue shine. Whoever is in charge of art design at Ubisoft is nailing it with the subtle color tone changes lately. Even though the orange and teal shades may be a bit overdone, there definitely is a picturesque blend painted across the screen that makes the game look like a classical masterpiece. Moreover, the wintery surroundings add snowfall and a particularly satisfying breach through ice caps that shatters and shoots flakes upward.

Assassin's Creed Rogue,Gameplay,Preview,Facts 2014,PS3,Xbox 360

There’s also room for tons of activity on screen. Each detailed shipman tosses around as an opposing fleet sways in the distance. Going over to boarding reaches downright chaotic animation terms, though the framerate holds steady as distinguished army men and pirates do battle. Collision detection could use more work though, to prevent some occasional glitches that go through bodies. If only the show floor allowed for more sound, because the gunpowder puffs and fiery ashes around fighting ships cast off such an atmosphere that it’s almost possible to smell it. It probably has a riveting sound as well, hopefully.

Seafaring and fighting is still a huge part of this game as well. When boats meet, it’s possible to engage in combat. Nothing says “screw you” like a swift shot to the hull. Firing cannons can be done on the fly; simply pointing the ship is enough. It’s not the clearest system, but there’s a more awkward aiming alternative for those who need that sort of precision. It does look like Assassin's Creed Rogue is big on automation now though. When ships go down, it’s possible to quickly loot the remains and rescue men at sea via a button prompt, without stopping the nearby engagement. In the demo, there weren’t sufficient tooltips available, which could definitely help figure out the intricacies of battle. Figuring out how to place different shots while getting side-slammed from different sides isn’t a good learning opportunity. It’d be surprising, however, to see Ubisoft implement more automated means to ditch any explanation. If so, it’s not working out to its fullest potential, but let’s stay mildly optimistic that the hand-holding in the series hasn’t stopped.

Assassin's Creed Rogue,Gameplay,Preview,Facts 2014,PS3,Xbox 360
It's so pretty.

Boarding enemy fleets take the fight to a personal level. This goes hand in hand with the highly facilitated combat of the series, with strikes and parries adjusting automatically to hit targets. A pistol can also be aimed and fired, which is especially handy to pick off enemies from a distant location, such as the player’s own ship or a crow’s nest. Additionally, ships double up as climbing ranges. Ropes and masts allow for some verticality that can be put to good use to drop down and assassinate a target instantly. Taking over a ship can require taking out a stronger captain, so this feature is ideal for such purposes. Again, getting in the thick of encounters comes with some technical foibles, but it’s not impossible to keep at bay with a good parry spamming sequence.

After some ship fights, which cleverly navigate between icebergs and with multiple foes, the demo moves to an exploration section. A high point has to be accessed to get a lay of the land, but there’s no real visible access to it. A passage needs to be found. Running, jumping and climbing is as easy in Assassin's Creed Rogue as it ever was. Basically just point and go; characters fluidly bridge any gaps with smooth animations. Oh, and a pack of penguins sleekly dive in the water during travels, but moving on.

Assassin's Creed Rogue,Gameplay,Preview,Facts 2014,PS3,Xbox 360

What gets shown off in this section is the creative level design that has only one way to get to the end, but many different roads leading to other vantage points. With the several perspectives mapped in the mind’s eye, it’s possible to sort of puzzle together progress. Puzzle platform elements are a thing in this game, if ever so subtle. It’s damn ingenious in its stealthy implementation, as any real brain teasers would lead to frustrating climbing exercises, while this seems like an organic continuation of exploration. One minute, the player is at a certain point, sees how platforms ahead wrap behind a pole, which urges the move to there and this, in turn, reveals a new section that climbs higher. At the top, the camera pans out and the game ends.

While Assassin's Creed Rogue looks to its predecessor heavily for naval battles and so on, there are some subtleties to look forward to. Even if it’s just an improved version of an already existing game, it is a ton of new content in a nicely working title, with a smooth new visual layer to ward off the repetition. It may even introduce a few facets of its own with more engaging platform sections. It looks like the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 can stop getting hauled off to the attic just a bit longer. Yes, this game isn’t on new consoles. That was also not clear with crowds, even though they were literally seeing the consoles the game was running on.

 

Daav Valentaten, NoobFeed (@Daavpuke)

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General Information

Platform(s): Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Publisher(s): Ubisoft
Developer(s): Ubisoft Sofia
Genres: Action, Adventure
Themes: Stealth
Release Date: 2014-11-11

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