Relaxed Fit | Rogue Company Review (Quick Take)
A few tweaks to a classic multiplayer structure creates a competitive experience that’s less teeth-grating than its contemporaries.
These days, most multiplayer games are intense. Call of Duty Warzone, with it’s powerful weapons and expletive shouting teammates is a teeth-grindingly tense experience. Valorant is so hyper optimized that looking two degrees around a corner in the wrong way can spell death and team humiliation. Even Fortnite can get hairy when an expert builder is boxing you in.
For those, like myself, who are looking for a more relaxed alternative, might I suggest Rogue Company, the relatively new multiplayer shooter from Hi-Rez Studios.
Rogue Company mashes up elements from many different multiplayer games. Counter Strike’s weapon purchasing system and small, objective-based maps form the foundation of the game, but there are also multiple playable characters with different abilities a-la Overwatch or Apex Legends, and the perspective is a third person, over the shoulder view which will feel natural to Fortnite players. The game modes are all familiar variations of death match, plant the bomb, or capture the neutral objective, with more experimental modes cycling in and out periodically.
This all probably sounds familiar (or maybe even outright derivative) to a fan of competitive multiplayer games, but what sets Rogue Company apart isn’t its structure — which is, indeed, mostly derivative — but its relaxed, casual vibe, which feels unique at this moment in gaming.
The core tenet of this relaxed ethos is simplicity. While many games pile on feature after feature, Rogue Company keeps things simple. The only additions to basic movement are a crouch, a sprint, a jump and a roll — there’s no sliding, super-sprint, or prone to complicate things. The primary weapons are all basic archetypes that follow a simple one-two-three upgrade path — no attachments or perks or color coded rarity system. The equipment options are usually familiar tools like grenades, smoke grenades, Molotovs (in spirit if not name) and gadgets that can counteract enemy tools — and you usually only get one, making them less of a factor. Even the individual ability each Rogue has — their ultimate, if you will — isn’t a devastatingly powerful weapon, but rather a simple perk that usually won’t swing advantage wildly from one team to the other.
These factors side-step a lot of the things that can be annoying in other multiplayer games. Because character abilities are conveniences rather than essential tools, you don’t need to worry about team composition as much, which means that there’s no yelling in the character selection screen when someone selects a certain character. And because weapons and equipment are simple, there isn’t necessarily a “meta” that needs to be followed. Everything is balanced enough that you can be successful simply by using what works for you.
The ultimate result of these design choices is an experience where the most important gameplay factor is simple strategy. While some games reward knowledge and mastery of their intricate systems or reflexes that are perfectly timed, Rogue Company rewards fundamental techniques like flanking and staying behind cover. Those strategies are much more important in this game than knowing exactly how everything works or being able to hit every shot perfectly.
When all that is combined with the positive, aw-shucks attitude the characters exude, you get an overall experience that minimizes the grating elements of many multiplayer games without sacrificing their thrill or excitement. In Rogue Company, winning is still exhilarating, losing is still frustrating, but the path to both of those destinations is softer on the nerves than most other games. For some players, that lack of teeth-grinding intensity will be a disadvantage. But when I’m looking for a game to play on a Friday evening after a long week of work, I know which title I’m going to click on.