Hi-Rez Studios' games have always managed to find a niche in the competitive landscape. From Smite, its god-themed MOBA, to Realm Royale, a fantasy take on the battle royale, Hi-Rez approaches popular competitive game genres with interesting ideas. In this case, Rogue Company is a 4v4, third-person, character-based shooter with a sense of humor. It's a game where the team with the best positioning and ability coordination wins but it's also a place where you can throw a katana at someone's face and dance over their body.
The game's premise might sound familiar to Rainbow Six fans: Rogue Company is a paramilitary peacekeeping force comprised of a bunch of celebrity secret agents, murderous men and women that are the best of the best from their respective countries. It's kind of like if each member of G.I. Joe had a million followers on Instagram. The 13 agents fall under the usual archetypes we've seen before: the reformed Yakuza who won't button his shirt, the hacker with a LED face, the lady sniper in a stealth suit. There's a vibe and aesthetic for everyone even if some are a little eye-rolly.
After diving into a few matches, Rogue Company has the potential to insert itself into my competitive game rotation. I found myself really digging the speedy pace of the combat along with most of the wacky agents actually fun to play with. The format is nice and straightforward: the beta currently has two teams face off in a pair of modes, Strikeout and Demolition. Demolition is a first to seven where each team takes a turn trying to plant a bomb with a chance to change characters at halftime. Strikeout is a capture point best-of-five setup with limited team lives.
Seconds into a match, you can see the influence of other popular free-to-play shooters such as Valorant and Fortnite. Stop me if any of this seems familiar: before each round, you've got a buy phase for purchasing gear and perks. You then jump out of an airplane and glide down to the battlefield with your customizable glider.
Once you land, Rogue Company starts to come into its own. It soon becomes a frantic back and forth fights over chokepoints, a contest of who can establish superior sightlines as you work your way to planting the bomb or holding a capture point. Your positive actions in each round (kills, revives, wins) net a cash reward that you spend on a better loadout going into the next round. You can dump your match earnings into upgrading your primary (or secondary) weapon to reduce recoil or its magazine size.
In more straightforward modes, like Strikeout, it might make more sense to fully upgrade your guns early to their maximum level and push your less-equipped opponents in the early rounds. I found a lot of use in holding off early spending sprees for a round or two and using my winnings on special grenades and perks like Dallas' EMPs that disable gadgets or Vy's tear gas canisters that obscure vision.
Unlike some other popular shooters, each character in Rogue Company is limited to a choice of two primary weapons specific to them. This means if you want a sniper rifle, you'll have to make sure you have Phantom unlocked since she's the only agent with one in their loadout. Rogue Company's shootouts are pretty quick, but not blink-and-it's-over fights like Valorant. The dodge roll can be a lifesaver if you think someone is waiting for you around a corner, but even then the game is a little forgiving because your allies can revive you when you're down. Forcing your opponents to engage on your terms is crucial. The victor of most gunfights will be whoever had better positioning and information more often than who was a better shot. What turns the tide of a round is usually a well-placed ping from a downed ally or helpful callout revealing where your entrenched opponents were hiding.
Most of the agents' active and passive abilities seem to fall under three categories: combat, enemy tracking, and area denial. For example, Talon can toss sensor darts that reveal enemies as they cross. Trench can drop barbed wire that'll drastically lower movement speed in an area. Scorch's fantastically overpowered ability to add fire damage to her bullets just melts through armor. I like how each character's set of abilities work on a rock-paper-scissor format which makes for some interesting team picks and counter-picks. It's a good approach because it gives support characters important roles especially against a more experienced team in modes like Demolition that require a bit more strategy.
The carefree and casual nature of Rogue Company is a nice palette cleanser from more tense, tactical FPSes. As someone who is objectively bad at Rainbow Six Siege and CS:GO, Rogue Company was simple enough to pick up and feel like I was doing well in whatever role I played. Whether using my drone to remote-revive my allies as Saint or lighting fools up with Scorch's very overpowered fire bullets, I didn't feel like I needed to do a YouTube deep dive into figuring out how to play each character. Matches go by fast and everything feels lower stakes.
Since Rogue Company will be free to play at launch, players will complete daily contracts that'll net you in-game currency who can use to unlock other agents. Right now, there's nothing in the store to buy except Rogue Bucks, the premium currency, for real dollars.
In a chat with Hi-Rez last week during a briefing, they told us that Rogue Company will have a battle pass that you can level up. Anything that affects gameplay such as new agents can be earned through gameplay via in-game currency or bought outright. If you want that sick flame skin for your shotgun though, you'll have to shell out some cash for Rogue Bucks.
So far Rogue Company is a lightweight, casual shooter that's easy to pick up. Matches move quickly enough which encourages you to try agents or strategies. The abilities plus the speed of combat leave for satisfying gunfights, win, or lose. As always, it's going to come down to a healthy player base, update cadence, and how microtransactions are ultimately handled to see how well Rogue Company can establish itself in a very competitive shooter landscape.