Far from slowing down its annual release schedule, the Assassin’s Creed franchise has doubled down on frequent releases with two upcoming main titles – Assassin’s Creed Unity and Assassin’s Creed Rogue – releasing within a week of one another, followed by 2.5D platformer Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China in early 2015. With adventures spanning three continents and both current-gen and last-gen consoles, Ubisoft is certainly covering a lot of bases in the lead-up to the release of the Assassin’s Creed movie.
Assassin’s Creed Unity is clearly the biggest release of the three, especially since it’s currently unconfirmed whether or not Assassin’s Creed Chronicles will get a standalone release outside of DLC. Assassin’s Creed Rogue was a surprising late announcement, and will expand upon the Haytham Kenway section of Assassin’s Creed III by putting the players in the shoes of a former Assassin gone rogue, Shay Patrick Cormac.
In fact, looking at some new gameplay footage from Assassin’s Creed Rogue from EGX it’s difficult to see the game as anything other than a large expansion for Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. Whereas Assassin’s Creed Unity abandons the naval gameplay and goes in a new direction (albeit one based on previous landlocked Assassin’s Creed titles), Assassin’s Creed Rogue seems to have been put together largely from Assassin’s Creed IV assets, and the new protagonist and locations don’t do much to disguise the fact that there’s little in the way of new gameplay features.
This isn’t altogether surprising, since Assassin’s Creed Rogue is only being released on PS3 and Xbox 360, and it makes sense that Ubisoft would focus more effort on Assassin’s Creed Unity than on a last-gen title. Rogue looks so similar to Black Flag, in fact, that it seems possible that it was originally conceived as DLC like Assassin’s Creed: Freedom Cry, but grew large enough to warrant a standalone release (something that, incidentally, Freedom Cry also received).
Of course, that’s by no means necessarily a bad thing. Assassin’s Creed IV felt like a step in the right direction for a franchise that was starting to grow stale, and a lot of fans will no doubt miss the naval gameplay in Assassin’s Creed Unity. Assassin’s Creed Rogue offers a big additional dose of seafaring adventures and it looks like a solid addition to the franchise (assuming that the horrible framerate is a video streaming issue and not representative of the actual gameplay).
The move from Caribbean islands to the frozen North also offers enough of a change of scenery that would justify a purchase. There are new sea shanties, new wildlife (including the extinct penguin-like great auk) and the snow and ice will make for interesting new maps to explore. It’s also the first time in an Assassin’s Creed game where the main goal is to kill Assassins, and a story told from the perspective of a rogue Assassin could offer an interesting new angle on the already morally grey conflict between the Templars and Assassins.
Assassin’s Creed Rogue will be released for PS3 and Xbox 360 on November 11, 2014.