Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC (reviewed)
Rogue Company is a third-person 4v4 shooter developed by First Watch Games and published by Hi-Rez Studios out of Alpharetta, Georgia. And what a breath of fresh air! From the exceptional polished visuals to the inherently simple combat, Rogue Company skips all the complexities of modern shooters and aims straight for gameplay. The controls are intuitive if still a tad buggy, and the three objective-based modes are compelling.
One of Rogue Company’s weaknesses is also its strength: originality. From Overwatch and Apex Legends to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Fortnite, Rogue Company has seemingly borrowed concepts from everywhere. Yet, it truly merges the best of everything, cherry-picking concepts like Apex’s famous ping system, Fortnite’s cosmetics store layout, and Overwatch’s hero loadout style.
Because Rogue Company only takes the best concepts and merges them together, it still feels original, without feeling like another derivation of the most popular games, and that’s important to gameplay feeling fresh. The bombastic music in the game doesn’t hurt, taking the instrumental from Run The Jewels’ “Legend Has It” and throwing it behind each player-select screen before games.
Of course, it’s the lack of any sort of Battle Royale mode that makes Rogue Company stand out at the moment. Taking a queue from Riot Games’ VALORANT, Rogue Company takes players back to a simpler, objective-based game with clear goals and clear winners. The game implements an easy anti-cheat software and there doesn’t seem to be any hackers here yet, which have now plagued games like Call of Duty: Warzone for weeks on end.
Playing with friends is simple too, as the self-dubbed RoCo is cross-platform across PC and all consoles, including Nintendo Switch. Many console players will even be relieved to learn that they will not be matchmade with PC players unless they share a party with a PC player. As a PC gamer myself, playing with friends on PS4 has been a blast, and I highly recommend playing RoCo in a group. The communication required to be successful in a mode like Demolition, similar to CS:GO or Call of Duty’s Search and Destroy, is vital. Plus, playing with friends makes the already compelling gameplay even more fun.
There are only three modes in the game, boasting an assortment of 10 well-polished and often interactive maps, which is a great start. Demolition is the most tactical of the three, requiring teams to communicate and collaborate to defend or plant a bomb on one of two objectives. The ping system comes in handy, but a good ol’ microphone is definitely a win here. I found myself spamming the “enemy here” pings most often, only rarely using other contextual pings. Victory here comes in the form of successful bomb detonation, a defusing of the said bomb by the opposition, or a team wipe. There are no respawns, and it is a first to 7 mode.
Extraction is a mode similar to Cyber Attack in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. There is a single objective that can be “hacked” to activate, with both teams trying to hack it first. Victory comes in the form of a team wipe, a successful countdown, or a successful defuse for the opposition. There aren’t respawns here either, and this is a first to 5 game mode.
Rogue Company’s most unique mode is Strikeout. Strikeout plays a lot like Destiny 2’s Survival. Rather than points being racked up like a traditional Team Deathmatch, Strikeout uses Respawns as points, but with a twist. There is an objective zone to capture, which will slowly eliminate the opposition’s respawns when held. This mode allows respawns until your team runs out, and is a first to 3 win mode.
I have a group that plays Modern Warfare’s Search and Destroy nearly every night together, which has been a great way of staying in touch during COVID. Rogue Company is the first game to completely unseat Modern Warfare, becoming our new nightly gaming regimen. That’s not an easy feat, and it speaks to the engaging gameplay, the Mastery system, and the team’s commitment to a fluid experience by the player.
There are a total of 12 “Rogues” or playable characters. The approach to these characters is a combination of a hero-based game akin to MOBAs and a tactical shooter such as VALORANT or CS:GO. Each Rogue has unique perks, guns, gadgets, melee weapons, special ability, and passive ability. However, each player starts the game with only a Secondary, one of 4 different pistols, and some cash. In the store, opened between each round, a player can use cash to buy their perks, guns, gun upgrades, melee weapons/upgrades, and gadgets. Because of this system, each round is important, because better performance equates to more cash next round. It also allows everyone to start off on relatively equal footing at the beginning of the game, and for an in-game skill to take over the rest.
There are definitely some over-powered hero-specific abilities and guns, but each seems fairly well balanced for counter-play. For instance, Saint, a clone of Apex’s Lifeline, has the ability to revive downed teammates from anywhere on the map and is nearly a staple on any team. However, the drone that Saint deploys to revive others is easily heard and seen, and can be shot as it hovers above most cover. In addition, the only current sniper in the game, Phantom, is a monster from range with how easy it is to use the Sniper rifle. Shutting her down early on, however, before she can buy her rifle, is a good way to nullify her.
There are certainly Rogues that most teams tend to have due to their sheer power, such as Ronin, whose explosive-trap knife can get an easy triple down for unsuspecting grouped players; or Scorch, whose fire-infused rounds can make players rage-quit faster than it downed them. There is counter-play here as well, as the knife is clearly visible and blinks red, and Scorch’s ability only lasts a few precious seconds.
Thus, the game remains fairly balanced, and exploring each Rogue is fun and engaging, with a locked “Bio” tab promising deeper lore in the future. Each Rogue is fully voiced and has their own personality, and it has been a blast exploring each so far.
More Money, More Rogues
Here, we come to the quandary, however, of spending money on this delightfully Free-To-Play game. Players are given 6 Rogues for free, including Saint and Ronin, as well as Dima, Dallas, Anvil, and Trench. In-game reputation is earned per game and can be spent to purchase additional Rogues. You can also buy a pack to unlock the rest of the roster for only $29.99. This, for me, was an easy decision. The game is already more than worth $30 for me, as I’ve sunk nearly 24 hours into it, plus I like the idea of supporting these developers by purchasing their content. I want more of what they’re dishing out!
Additionally, real-world money can be spent on “Rogue Bucks” to then purchase in-game cosmetics, of which there are currently precious few. It’s great to see that this game is not going the “Pay-To-Win” route and that each Rogue is unlockable through grinding reputation points.
Esport organization 100 Thieves looks to be an early proponent of the game, releasing two content packs in the store. This could mean there is a general interest in an esports scene coming to fruition for RoCo’s future.
Since the game’s release on October 1, a new map has already been added, along with a much-needed player identity system, more Rogue Mastery rewards, and new cosmetics.
Prior to the update, Rogue Mastery felt lacking, only offering a reward at Level 1 and Level 3. Now, there are rewards for each level and a way to customize player emblems, banners, and borders. This increases the game’s replay value and helps to keep the community growing and playing.