Assassin's Creed Rogue: the Gamescom Experience
Sara, August 19, 2014
Translated by: Stefania

Assassin's Creed Rogue was recently announced and, in just some days, it has been able to raise a passionate and lively debate between the fans. During our trip at the Gamescom2014 in Cologne, we had the chance to play the demo at the Ubisoft booth which allowed us to taste a bit of the atmosphere of this new chapter and then, thanks to Ubisoft Italy, we were able to experience an "hands-off" demo explained by Creative Director Mikhail Lozanov and an "hands-on" gameplay explained by one of the ACRogue developers.


This is the demo that could be found at the Ubisoft booth and which was available for the fans to play during the convention. We were able to play it with a developer in the Press Area too and so, here we go with our review.
AC:Rogue booth at Gamescom2014
As a general impression, we can say that the atmosphere of this game is amazing: ice and polar lights, the colors of the surroundings, everything helps to almost feel the freeze of the setting. In the sea, while you navigate, there are imposing icebergs that can help to get a cover while fighting with other ships and that can be destroyed with the weapons of the Morrigan (the new ship of our new protagonist, Shay). Sometimes icebergs shine with a blue light and, if the player shoots at them, an Animus Fragment is released together with other loot. Animus fragments are, in fact, still present in the game and, this time, they are blue colored pyramids.
The demo, as you can see in the video, starts with a naval battle whose mechanics are pretty much the same that we are used to know from AC4BF. There is something new though which is the fact that the Morrigan does not shoot the explosive barrels anymore: they are, in fact, replaced for this game by the burning oil. Besides, the frontal attack with the ram got improved because, in addition to the normal one we already had in Black Flag, we can now experience a new "first person ram" that can be activated by pushing the left trigger and A. It is a high speed attack which deals higher damage to other ships. Obviously, it does not last forever so the player has to measure the distance carefully or the attack will be wasted and, if we recall correctly, this weapon needs time to be available again.
The frontal shooting weapons are still there but this time they are carronades and their ammunitions are explosive. Lastly, when the players use the heated cannons, the weaknesses of the enemy ships appear and to hit them, the player has to use the new puckle gun and to hit them with free aim.

We tried the boarding sequences and, apart from the fact that it's too cool to have Haytham by your side, not so much seems to have changed. Our objectives were to kill a certain number of crew members and the Captain of the ship that this time was an Assassin. When we completed them, there was a scene of Shay with his face covered in blood walking on the deck of the Morrigan and, right after that, we could choose between three options as we were used in AC4BF: "Repair the Morrigan", "Send to Shay's fleet" and "Salvage the enemy ship". As you probably remember, in AC4 we had the first and the second ones but the third one was "Lower wanted Level". We guess that playing as a Templar, Shay does not need to lower his wanted level because he probably will not have one.
For what concerns the fleet, one of the developers in the press area confirmed us then that the fleet minigame will be back because of its success among the players.

Once we defeated the enemy ships, we could go back and sail the sea. We looked at the Morrigan and, as was already announced, it is smaller than the Jackdaw and, as a consequence, way more agile in its movements. We climbed the masts and we noticed that there
England white flag
were two different flags waving over the ship. The first one was the England white flag with the whole Great Britain one in a corner. The other one was green with a yellow crown in the center. During the hands-on in the press area, the developer who was guiding us through the demo explained to us that, as it happened in AC4, there will be a lot of improvements and upgrades for both the ship and its weapons: in particular, while we were approaching an ice-sheet, he told us that at the beginning of the game we will not be able to break it with our ram and because of that, some areas will be available as soon as we buy the right upgrades.

St. John town
However, we didn't want to immediately reach the target location and so we turned toward a small village on our left. We jumped off the ship into the arctic water (Note by Sary: yeah, I'm not very good at parking neither in real life nor here...). As we imagined, swimming into the frozen water affects Shay's life which decreases rapidly. To show that our character was receiving damage, the screen slowly became frozen on the sides until we got out of water.
The small town on which we docked was called St. John and it was under French control. In the game, Shay fights on the English side and so our objective in the town was to kill all the guards. This side mission cannot be considered like the AC4BF Forts even if the player has to free a town from the enemies' control. However, we received confirmation that the Forts will be still present in the game.

We went around the village, searching for the objects shown on the minimap and we were able to find an Animus Fragment, some treasure chests (that Shay opens with a kick, just like Edward) and Sea shanties. About these ones, during the hands-on presentation, we asked if they are going to be new and the developers answered that they kept some from the previous chapter while most of them will be fresh and original. The player can still ask the crew to sing a different shanty with the arrow pad.
In addition, we found ourselves in front of a pile of wooden boxes: they were similar in shape to those we could find on the islands of Black Flag from which we could obtain resources/money. The developers told us that in this game these boxes will provide the player with ammunitions and bullets.
We got in front of a tavern too but we didn't find a way to enter and we decided to leave St. John and to sail towards our main objective.

We set the Morrigan's sails and we navigated through the ice-sheet we avoided some minutes before.

Going through the ice-sheet

As soon as we reached the open sea again, we got boarded by a gang ship with brown sails. As the developers said in the demo, gangs are affiliated with the Assassins and, in fact, the Captain of the one which attacked us was an Assassin himself. Similarly to the boarding sequences, the objective is to kill a certain number of crew members and the Captain and, after successfully defending the Morrigan, it will be possible to choose between the same three options that are shown at the end of the boarding sequences.
We have to say, however, that it's nice to be on the other side and to actually see the enemies jumping on the Morrigan and fighting on the deck while Haytham incites the crew to defend the ship.

Once we defeated the Assassins' ship, we headed for the main target and, to reach it, we had to go across a very brief snow storm. Once we arrived at our objective, a ship wreck, the atmosphere was completely different: the only colors were the light blue/white of the snow
The Great Auks
and the dark blue of the sky. It really seemed like a winter night. We started parkouring around but, before heading for the synchronization point (which was our mission objective), we explored the surroundings.
We immediately met the Great Auks (that jump into the water as soon as you get closer) and the polar bear which will be one of the animals that the player will be able to hunt in AC:Rogue. We approached it, trying to be stealthy but it saw us and attacked us. A quick time event started and we had to push two buttons for three times before being able to kill it. We skinned it and left to search for other things.
We headed for an icon on the map that seemed like a map with a Templar cross on it but, once we reached it, we were in front of a shiny ice piece and we weren't able to do anything. We had the doubt later that maybe we could have used a bomb but it was too late to try. As the last thing before reaching the synch point, we found a treasure map: Shay opened a frozen pipe and on the screen a treasure map like the ones from AC4BF appeared, with both the red cross for the location and the coordinates.

Before ending the mission, we looked at the map which shows (as we already knew) three main areas: New York, North Atlantic and River Valley. In the North Atlantic, we were able to spot on the map the city of Halifax and, if we're not wrong, Port de la Joie. The maximum coordinates for the River Valley map and the North Atlantic one are (1000,1000). We are not sure about this for what concerns New York, as it is a city.
Satisfied with what we saw, we reached the syncronization point and put an end to our demo while watching at the northern lights of the Arctic.
The Arctic northern lights


For what concerns the River valley demo, we joined an "hands-off" demonstration explained by Creative Director Mikhail Lozanov from Ubisoft Sofia and played by Game Director Martin Capel (the same voice that you hear in the demo).

The demo we saw is the same that was released online and that you can find above. What we learnt from this presentation is the presence of a new kind of enemies: the stalkers. The stalkers are a particular group of the Assassins that we will fight in the game and that will able to hide waiting to attack the player. When Shay get closer to them, the player will hear the old multiplayer whispers and the screen will become red on the sides. Using the Eagle vision, the compass indicator from the previous AC multiplayers will appear on the HUD and it will show in which direction the enemy is located. You can see it in the video above to better understand the mechanics.
Another interesting innovation is the introduction of the gas mask. When using a bomb or activating the gas barrels, the player can press A (for Xbox 360 and probably X for PS3) and Shay will wear the gas mask which allows him to fight while the enemies cough. This is a good way to give more realism to the gameplay and it allows the players to better immerse in the game.

After this experience, we can come to our conclusions. Our second generation Irish, Shay, seems to be a strong character with an important personality. It will be nice to discover the story behind his betrayal and it will be interesting to live his choice.
In terms of gameplay, AC:Rogue is very similar to AC4 for what concerns actions and movements. In terms of interaction with the world, there will be some changes from the past like the weapons of the ship and of the character, even though they are not so different from what we saw in AC4. The most important innovation, however, will be the point of view of the main character. Ubisoft will, in fact, satisfy the desire of a lot of fans by releasing a game that will show for real the Templar side of the story. The players will found themselves, probably for the very first time, in front of the true choice between the two factions. Will it still be so easy to choose which faction to side with?

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