Preview: Assassin’s Creed Rogue

One of two upcoming additions to the popular Assassin’s Creed franchise, Ubisoft announced that Assassin’s Creed Rogue was in development, and will serve as the sequel to 2013’s Black Flag.

Chronologically speaking, it is the prequel to Assassin’s Creed III. The game follows Shay Cormac, a former Assassin, whose desire for revenge leads him to join the Templars in the New World. Of course, Haytham Kenway makes a return, standing by the helm.

I was extremely pleased to see that Ubisoft had retained the naval gameplay element that had been present in the previous two games, and which proved much of the focus of the demo. Given the setting in the icy North Atlantic sea, it was a nice touch to see that you could ram the ice, breaking through it. And for those of us who love sailing on the open seas, Ubisoft’s even brought in a couple of new sea shanties for your enjoyment, beautifully performed by your crew of seafarers. (and admit it, you love belting out off-pitch renditions of the shanties)

There was very little change to ship battles. I was quite surprised, however, when an enemy vessel came in close and boarded me instead. All of my focus had been on sinking a small fleet of vessels, when we were grappled. Suddenly on the defensive, and after a brief moment of shock, I moved quick to eliminate the enemy captain and several of his crew members.

In terms of shipboard weaponry, you can still fire broadsides right through your enemy ships, so I imagine that throughout the game, you’ll once again get the chance to upgrade your ship’s arsenal. A new addition to that was the introduction of the Puckle Guns, which seemed to replace the Swivel Guns. Unlike the Swivel, however, these guns could be fired freely and not simply at vulnerable points in your enemy’s vessel. Through that, there is the ability to use them openly as an unrestricted weapon along broadsides.

Now, I was slightly disappointed at the inability to swim for extended periods of time or dive underwater. In games past, my character would gracefully (most of the time), leap into the water and tactically assault enemy ships from the other side. However, preventing players from spending time in the water might’ve been for good reason. You would really not want to stay in the North Atlantic water for too long, lest you share the same fate as Leonardo di Caprio’s character from Titanic. Upon my pressing of the wrong button while free running, Shay plunged into the icy cold water below, floundering about for a few moments as he searched for a way back up, before freezing to death. I don’t mean to be quick in writing off swimming, however, as there may still be the chance to do so in warmer waters during the campaign.

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As a long time fan of the franchise, I fully intend to purchase the game after it comes out.

Raymond has covered all that really needs to be said in terms of the naval advancements but I would love to take the opportunity to quickly expand on a few of the finer point of the demo. Once disembarked from the new Templar ship that Shay controls you are tasked with finding a view point to synchronize your location with the game. A trait that has stood firm since the first Assassins Creed game. During this task, we were to navigate a snowy bay that I could only assume was frozen over solid as the wreckage’s of ships were the climb points. As I trudged along the heavily scripted path I was treated with viewing some penguins native to the location. As I continued toward them, they obviously fled for safety in the water but seeing these magnificent creatures was brilliant but that was not all. I could go toe to toe with a polar bear, my host hinted at me. I opted not too as I didn’t feel it necessary to slay the animal.

Traversing the frozen waste land was typical of any Assassins Creed game. Up ledges, across huge gaps and up timber beams and like any Assassins Creed game there were instances where the free running mechanics were just a bit off with Shay stupidly attempting to climb up beams as opposed to running around them. Nearly perfect but not quite there yet.

Going up against the New Gen Ac: Unity, AC Rogue needs something to stand out from its opposition. Whilst most the game play is nearly a direct copy of Black Flag with a few tweaks, I expect Rogue to shine in its story, being promised as the darkest AC story to date. As Shay betrays his Assassin brothers for a reason unknown to us other than “Vengeance” my host stated. So with that intact it  could be a stand out from Unity but in saying that for New Gen console owners I believe it may be a safer bet to wait for the inevitable port to new consoles this game will eventually receive.

The highlight of my hands on however was the ending. Not that I was happy to end my experience but when I finally achieved my initial goal of find the sync point, from that wonderful advantageous view I was treated to the breath taking scenery of the northern lights hovering just over me on the snowy wasteland.

Developed for last-gen consoles, Assassin’s Creed Rogue is due to hit Australian shelves on November 13.

(this is a joint article between Jake Anlezark and Raymond Gajitos)

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