Another week, another online shooter. After an interesting first showing during one of last year’s Nintendo Directs, Hi-Rez Studios’ (Paladins, Smite) latest entry into competitive shooters is finally out in beta phase.

Rogue Company stars a lovable group of dastardly rogues in 4v4 matches. On the surface, it’s a generic-looking game with generic-looking characters and generic gameplay. We’ve all played things where teams have to attack and defend points, and we’ll probably keep playing things just like that until the end of time.

Strangely, this lack of discernible flavor is what makes Rogue Company so enjoyable in its early hours. Depending on the access package they’ve purchased, players will have up to 13 ‘rogues’ to pick from, each with their own special abilities, loadouts and melee weapons.

Each Rogue feels like a different action movie archetype ranging from hackers, former soldiers, mob enforcers and demolitions experts. All of them have banded together to join the titular Rogue Company in some bizarre mission to do… something? The game doesn’t establish much lore or worldbuilding except for the opening tutorial and some biographies on the character select screen. It’s a multiplayer entry after all, so for me, story isn’t a major thing.

While the characters look like they’re from an off-brand action figure mold, they offer some great gameplay variations. My favorite, Ronin, has a katana for melee and throwing, and can slip away undetected on the enemy team’s minimap. Another cool rogue is Chaac, a former vigilante with the ability to revive himself from being downed.

There are two play modes available at the time of writing — Demolition and Strikeout.

Demolition is advertised as the premiere competitive mode. One team of four needs to attack and plant a bomb at one of two bomb sites. The other team is tasked with defending the sites and then it switches over at halftime. A round ends when the bomb goes off, or when either team is eliminated, and there are no respawns. Strikeout is identical to Demolition, though each control point rotates and players can respawn after death until the teams’ lives run out.

This formula is nothing revolutionary, as this mode or modes like it have existed since Counter-Strike hit the scene two decades ago, yet it’s this sense of familiarity that makes me enjoy each match of Rogue Company more than the last.

See, Hi-Rez has a proven track record of taking concepts from other multiplayer games and rolling with them in some interesting ways. I have no doubt that once Rogue Company goes free-to-play, it’ll be a success on par with their other releases. I’ve enjoyed my time with it so far, and plan to keep playing for the foreseeable future.

Rogue Company is in early access now so there’s plenty of time for things to change, but be aware that buying in now includes a currency called ‘Rogie Bucks’ which (as far as I can tell) is used to buy more characters. It remains to be seen how this economy will play out over time, but buyer beware that it does smell a bit like free-to-play microtransactions.

Rogue Company is currently available in Early Access on PC, PS4, Xbox One and Switch. There are four versions that can be purchased, with the lowest-priced edition starting at $14.99 and the highest at $59.99. Each version offers a different amount of Rogues and cosmetic items included. The game will become free-to-play later this year.

Cj Salcedo
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