Assassin’s Creed: The Rebel Collection on Nintendo Switch Is a Serviceable Eyesore
Assassin's Creed: The Rebel Collection for Nintendo Switch significantly undermines visuals for portability; there are better (and cheaper) options for Black Flag and Rogue.
The Assassin’s Creed series has relatively recently undergone a seismic shift in both what the game is and how it is played; both Origins and Odyssey have been game-changers in moving the gameplay goalposts from incremental annual improvements to more radical change. Yet, for gamers that have grown up with the series, there is something nostalgic about the checklist-era approach of the classic Ezio titles. And that includes some of the most cherished middle-children to the series: Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and Rogue, both newly available on Nintendo Switch.
Yet, despite the acclaim these seafaring adventures have garnered from the fanbase over the past half-decade, both are pretty hard to recommend in 2019. Are both of these some top-quality Assassin’s Creed adventures? Absolutely. Do they hold up today? Without a doubt. Are the titles visually stunted and poorly optimized for Nintendo Switch? Yes–enough so that you should consider not grabbing the collection.
Before we dive into that, a quick overview of the titles–Assassin’s Creed: The Rebel Collection houses both Black Flag and Rogue, the two games that came at a significant intersection of our current gaming generation. We reviewed both games when they released, with both receiving and 8.0 out of 10 — feel free to check those for deep-dives of the individual titles.
During the launch of the newly-released PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, Ubisoft didn’t know where to play their cards and chose (like most major software releases in the time) to create a cross-generational title releasing simultaneously for PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. A year later, with the PS4 and Xbox One bases firmly established, Ubisoft took on a new Herculean task: create two entirely different Assassin’s Creed games for both generations.
Though Assassin’s Creed: Unity for PS4 and Xbox One crashed and burned at launch in a mess of nightmarish bugs and glitches, the PS3 and Xbox 360-dedicated Assassin’s Creed: Rogue mainly flew under the radar. Lifting most of what made Black Flag phenomenal (sailing, shanties, and the like), the game remained a cult classic to the dedicated fanbase until recent years when Ubisoft remastered the game for current-gen systems.
In short, there is no question that these games are worth playing. At least one of them–Rogue–is likely criminally underplayed by even most fans of the franchise. But that doesn’t mean you have to play this on Nintendo Switch. And you shouldn’t… unless it is your only option.
While Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and Assassin’s Creed: Rogue are both technically serviceable on the Nintendo Switch, the game is pretty visually repulsive. Every graphic-based buzzword is on display here: bad textures, missing frames, random pop-ins, graphic artifacts, mismatched lip-syncing. You name it, and The Rebel Collection’s got it.
Even worse: I’m not some self-professed graphics expert or a frame rate savant, and I (more than the average gamer) am more likely to overlook smaller inconsistencies in games if it doesn’t impact gameplay. However, two significant issues dog the Nintendo Switch versions of both Black Flag and Rogue. On the one hand, the series itself tends to aim for more realism in their art style; if we were talking about a cell-shaded series, noticeably pixelated textures might not be so much of an issue. In The Rebel Collection, it makes the screen tough to look at.
Following that, issues like the lip-syncing (or lack there-of) bring back some violent callbacks to Wii-era ports. You remember the ones–where developers were porting each and every technical marvel to the vastly-underpowered but commercially successful Nintendo console. Those games weren’t pretty and were occasionally barely functioning. And while I’m not suggesting developer and publisher Ubisoft is taking this same strategy with the Nintendo Switch, both Rogue and Black Flag are reaching the upper limits of the Switch’s capabilities.
Weirdly, the effects seem worse when you dock the Nintendo Switch for TV Mode. I can’t say if it is running worse, but more likely projected in 1080p on a big-screen TV, all the blemishes look more jarring. On the bright side, handheld-dedicated gamers (especially those with Nintendo Switch Lite) likely will get the best experience out of the bunch.
If you are reading this and thinking, “But Lou, why are you putting graphics over gameplay?” it’s a pretty simple answer: both titles are so readily available, and are cheaper, for systems that offer a better experience. A cursory look over at Amazon shows Black Flag and Rogue Remastered for $19 each, new. These prices aren’t even including digital sales where you can grab one of these regularly for as low as $4. Pretty bluntly, you are paying more to get a worse version of these games to take on the go.
On the other hand, I don’t think this should be the nail in the coffin for your decision making. If you are a Nintendo Switch-dedicated gamer with no other consoles, there is nothing wrong with these games. Except for frame drops, the mechanics port over smoothly, and the title is functionally the same as other current-gen consoles. There are more pros than cons, and you will leave the end credits with a smile on your face and ‘Fish in the Sea’ stuck in your head. But I have to imagine there is a relatively small market for Nintendo Switch-only gamers that are faithful fans of Assassin’s Creed.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and Rogue are both great titles and deserve to share the stage with some of the more mainstream releases in the series. While the Nintendo Switch’s Assassin’s Creed: The Rebel Collection will offer the essential experience on each, you are better served as a consumer to pick up the titles separately on PC, PS4, or Xbox One — provided you have those consoles. Because it’s hard to appreciate the sprawling adventure in front of you when you keep getting distracted by janky waves and shadows.
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