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Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Rogue Company review - a tactical console shooter worth playing?

There is no shortage of team based tactical shooters, like Counter-Strike Global Offensive, Rainbow Six Siege and Valorant, which are often embraced by competitively minded (PC) players. A new addition to the mix is Rogue Company, a 4v4, third person shooter from First Watch Games, published by Hi-Rez Studios (Smite, Paladins, Realm Royale), set to release later this year on PC, Playstation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch as a free to play title. 

The game is currently in a closed beta, but access can be obtained pretty easily for instance by watching Twitch streams or by buying one of the founder packs, which will also offer you access to more characters and some cosmetic items.

Being a hero shooter, those characters, named Rogues, are the most important assets of the game. The roster features not only a wide variety of appearances and backstories, but each Rogue has its own unique set of abilities. These are accompanied by different weapon types, gadgets and perks that fit a specific playstyle. This means that if you want to play with a sniper, you'll have to hope no one already picked Phantom, since only one of each Rogue can be chosen per team.

Not all Rogues will be unlocked from the start and if you didn't get one of the founder packs, your initial options are limited. You can unlock new Rogues via reputation, a currency that can be earned by playing matches or completing contracts or challenges, or with your hard earned real life money. 

Balance is naturally important in competitive games, but because every character doesn't have access to the same perks, gadgets and weapons it is not possible to make an overpowered loadout from the start, which is more likely in a game like Call of Duty.

That does not mean there aren't particular powerful characters. Chaac for instance has the ability to revive himself or gain more health during gunfights. Combined with Saint, who has a deployable drone to revive teammates from a distance, this can be a steady defensive setup.

My go to Rogue at the moment is Lancer, who can run faster with inaudible footsteps for a short duration, but most importantly instantly reloads her weapon when performing a dodge roll. Combined with a semtex grenade, this makes her a good choice for players who like to surprise enemies with a quick push or a flank. However, if the enemy team has Dallas, who can reveal the location of the nearest enemy, the surprise effect might be gone.

Being a beta, there's only a small number of modes available, such as Extraction and Strikeout, which currently is the only multi-life game mode, although respawns are limited as both teams fight for control over a fixed point on the map.

My favorite mode however is Demolition, which is not that different from Search and Destroy in CoD, or Demolition in CSGO. Although being an S&D player myself there are some differences that I found out by trying. For example, the defusal of the bomb can be finished when the timer runs out if the process was already started.

Each round starts with players diving from the back of an airplane, leaving a smoke trail which means it's possible to see which bombsite the enemy team might be targeting, but this can also be used by more experienced players to trick the opponent and go the other direction instead.

Before each round, players can access the buy menu to build their loadout and purchases are maintained between rounds, meaning that when a team is 3-0 up it might have a significant cash advantage and thus access to better perks or weapon upgrades to increase range or hip fire accuracy. Likewise, spending money on a grenade in the pistol round might be something to regret if things go south and you won't have enough to get a primary weapon in the next round. This system is simple enough and, of course, isn’t all that new compared to other games.

The maps you’ll be playing on are quite interesting, although not hugely unique. They’re pretty fun though with a bunch of lanes and interesting choke points and some maps feature zip lines to quickly get across. Most maps offer a variety of sightlines and enough cover, meaning they’ll fit most playstyles, which is especially useful when you are on the slow side with your Rogue pick and you might rely on a more close range weapon than you’re used to.

Rogue Company is quite a complete package and is something people who have been looking for tactical console shooters are likely to enjoy. PC players who are familiar with one or two games in the genre will recognize a lot, because the game doesn’t really offer anything that we haven’t seen before. Of course, when the full game releases (free to play), it remains to be seen if post launch support and developer communication, such as weekly video updates, will continue to be delivered. It is also interesting to see if the game will be picked up in the competitive scene, but with some big names connected to it, such as Dr. Disrespect and 100 Thieves, the future looks bright.

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