Hi-Rez Studio’s Rogue Company arrives on Nintendo Switch in paid beta form with three tiers of Founder’s Packs – starter, standard, and ultimate – available to competitive shooter fans whose trigger fingers are too itchy to wait for the free to play version slated to arrive later this year. This one’s an absolute mish-mash of ideas from popular online shooters that have gone before, all drawn together with the expertise we’ve come to expect from the creators of the likes of Paladins and Realm Royale. It’s an impressively solid, if rather unspectacular affair that performs well on Switch whilst providing what feels like a pretty robust starting point from which to blossom through future updates and additions.
From the moment the action kicks off in Rogue Company you’ll be reminded of aspects of just about every other online shooter you may have played over the past couple of years. Rounds kick off aboard your team’s aircraft where you’ll get a limited amount of time to shop for weapons and perks à la Counter Strike before gliding into battle, as you’ll have done thousands of times before in Fortnite or Apex Legends, and landing on tight little maps that force you and your adversaries together in fast-paced 4v4 match-ups. Each character here has the ability to dodge-roll out of harm’s way and players get downed by attacks before dying, giving their team a few moments to attempt to revive them. It’s all been done before, there really are absolutely no surprises in store for fans of the genre, but what’s here is bolstered by slick performance that sticks to its 60fps target in both docked and handheld modes, voice-chat, seamless cross-play and cross-save with PC, PS4 and Xbox and a generous TTK that gives matches a laid back, arcade feeling that’s perfect for jumping into for a quick session here and there.
As this is a paid beta there’s currently a paucity of modes to engage with – Demolition sees attackers attempt to plant a bomb at one of two sites while Strikeout tasks teams with controlling an objective and whittling down enemy spawn tickets – but Rogue Company has landed with an impressively robust roster of heroes with which to tool around the seven maps upon which these two modes currently play out. Much like Overwatch, Apex Legends or Rainbow Six Siege, the cast of rogues from which you can choose here all come with their own individual set of perks, weapons and special abilities to utilise during battle. Anvil, for example, is the heavy of the pack, a shotgun-wielding big boy who can deploy a makeshift barricade for instant cover as well as having immunity from the effects of EMP and a host of other slowdown-inducing attacks. Dallas, our current go-to character, can temporarily reveal the locations of enemy players with his Target Finder skill, handy for getting a read on which objective your enemies are currently headed for, and Ronin is a dab hand with melee weapons whilst also coming equipped with an exploding ballistic knife and a passive ability which sees her remain hidden from any enemy surveillance tactics.
They’re not the most original or appealing bunch it has to be said, but across the thirteen rogues available at launch here there’s plenty of variety with every perk, ability and weapon you’ll have come to expect in the genre thrown into the mix and, when paired with that laid back TTK and a third person perspective which makes seeing around corners whilst remaining out of harm’s way a breeze, matches here can be satisfyingly tense and strategic affairs, hugely derivative for sure, but straight-up fun nevertheless. Of course, everything here also hinges on having a good team to play with; getting together a group of friends and going up against a well organised squad is where Rogue Company is at its absolute tactical best, and, unfortunately, in this regard Hi-Rez Studios certainly has some work to do with regards to balancing and ensuring that when a player drops out the game replaces them as quickly as possible. Indeed, we had a bit of a recurring nightmare during our time playing as random teammates constantly dropped out when the going got tough with the game then failing to replace them, often finding ourselves struggling through several rounds in a 1 or 2 vs 4 scenario. It’s an issue that should be easily addressed with a patch but for now we’d advise hooking a few pals in to ensure you avoid this particular drawback.
As with so many other offerings from Hi-Rez, gyro aiming is also included, and hugely welcome, especially given the fact that cross-play is already enabled across all devices including the Switch, so playing against mouse and keyboard users is a little less brutal than it could have been. It’s also wildly customisable, allowing for different sensitivities for both shooting from the hip and aiming down the sights, with the option to have it entirely disabled until you start scoping with the ZL button.
In terms of the three paid founder’s pack tiers currently available, the starter pack comes in at £11.99 and includes access to six core rogues – the rest can be unlocked with credits racked up through playing – and even at this early stage with only two game modes to dig into, there’s certainly enough fun to be had here to justify the asking price for those who just can’t wait for the FTP version to drop. Rogue Company may be highly derivative and certainly isn’t going to set the shooter world on fire as things stand right now, but it’s still a solidly good time. The 4v4 matches here are zippy, straightforward and newbie-friendly stuff whilst also providing plenty of tactical scope, perfect for dipping into for a quick blast with plenty of potential going forward while also performing impressively well on Switch, a console which could certainly do with a few more solid entries in this particular genre.
Rogue Company is a solid, if pretty unspectacular addition to the online shooter genre. It’s highly derivative – you won’t find anything you haven’t seen before here – but it performs impressively well in both docked and handheld, features cross-play and cross-save with other versions of the game and provides plenty of variety and strategy in its impressively large roster of rogues. With only two gameplay modes currently available there’s definitely a lack of ways to play as things stand right now but this is undoubtedly a strong base on which Hi-Rez Studios can build. Add a few more modes – there’s already extraction and 2v2 wingman incoming – and a steady drip-feed of new characters and this one could have a pretty decent future on Switch.