The Morrigan is a deadly beast, easily cutting through the treacherous waters of the North Atlantic. Armed to the figurative gills with the best weapons Templar money can buy (which is quite a lot), she is certainly an impressive foe for any enemy ship. Like, for instance, the French ships in the demo below. Assassin’s Creed Rogue brings back naval combat in a new and exciting way. Witness Shay at the helm (with a little support from a familiar face) in a battle against a small fleet of French ships.
Set during the Seven Years’ War (also known as the French and Indian War), Assassin’s Creed Rogue will take you from the crowded streets of New York to the Appalachian River Valley and up into the frigid North Atlantic. This war marked one of the first global conflicts in history as the British went to war against the French and the Native Americas.
As Rogue Producer Karl van der Luhe recently told us, “As a Templar you have a gentle affiliation with the British. For example, we have French settlements and French forts and you take them over and raise the British flag.” From there, as the video explains, you can do Templar missions in that newly cleared area. “While you’re sailing around the ocean, when you see British ships, they’re not your enemy,” Luhe continued. “They have a blue icon above them saying they’re friendly. We don’t recommend you shoot them. They will become hostile if you really harass them, but they won’t immediately return fire and you won’t be able to board them or get a lot of resources from them.”
*Click for larger version*
We had some hands-on time with this particular demo and were able to get a good feel for how the Morrigan handles. Though many of the systems are similar to Edward’s Jackdaw, there is something about the Morrigan that just feels more aggressive. Maybe that’s all the Templar cash poured into her, or maybe that’s the souped-up version of her we were able to play, but whatever it was, we fell in love instantly. There’s something incredibly addictive about picking up speed right before you slam into an enemies hull, only to pull away and batter them with the puckle gun, an old-fashioned machine gun-type weapon added to your arsenal.
In our own hands-on demo, a ship pursued us, coming up behind us, but a trail of burning oil (another new tool) slowed it down and quickly ate away at its health. Our enemies defeated, we sail straight through an ice field – something that can only be done after an upgrade to the Morrigan, as she won’t have the ice ram in the beginning of the game. Again, we were playing with a highly decked-out ship in our demo. As we rip through the ice, our crew begins to sing. “Shanties were very popular and they were very common among seafarers, so yes, we definitely brought them back,” Luhe explains. “We’ve removed all the very pirate-themed shanties and brought in Irish ones for Shay and also some New York-themed ones.”
As we head to our destination – a shipwreck encased in ice – we run into another group of ships, this time belonging to a gang allied with the Assassins. Like the Pirate Hunters in Assassin’s Creed IV, the gangs will come after you when your Wanted level is raised. We deal with the brunt of the attack and are suddenly rammed by an enemy ship before they start pouring onto the Morrigan. This is one of the biggest new features of the naval combat; you can now be boarded by enemy crews. Much like boarding in Black Flag, you’ll have objectives to complete in order to successfully defend your ship. The crew isn’t particularly difficult to take down, but the captain is Assassin-trained and has a few tricks up his sleeves. Once dispatched, our journey to the shipwreck is smooth sailing.
We pass new harpooning animal on our way: the narwhal. We’ve always thought of narwhals as the unicorn of the sea, so we chose not to go hunting this time. Once we reach the Sapphire Shipwreck, we immediately notice another new change. As soon as we hop of the ship and step into the water, our screen begins to ice up and little by little, Shay’s health depletes. It would be unwise to stay in freezing water for too long. As Luhe pointed out, Shay is a very strong swimmer, but he’s only human. In other, more southerly areas of the map, Shay will fare just fine in the water, but here it’s best to be cautious and avoid a lengthy swim out at sea.
As we explore the area we come across a few groups of adorable auks (they look a bit like penguins), a lone polar bear and a locked door protecting legendary Templar armor. You’ll have to collect all the necessary keys in the world to gain access to that armor. Finally we make it to a viewpoint in the area and get a glimpse of the vibrant Northern Lights before the demo ends.
“We saw this as our chance to close out the North American saga,” Luhe tells us. “There were a lot of unanswered questions, especially in Assassin’s Creed III. Why is the Brotherhood in such disarray? Why is Achilles pretty much on his own? This was our chance to close out the story we’ve started over the last couple of years and really bring it home. Plus, it was a great opportunity to show what it’s like to be a Templar as well.”
Assassin’s Creed Rogue will be available worldwide on November 11 (November 12 in France) exclusively on PS3 and Xbox 360.
For more on Assassin’s Creed Rogue, check out these posts: