With a new game coming out almost annually, Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed series has seen a lot of growth, change, peaks, and valleys. It’s done some daring and unusual things, but its core mechanics and design has mostly stayed the same, creating a series that’s almost always fun but also reliably safe to enjoy.
Picking a favorite is a very personal endeavor, and it’s really down to which story, protagonist, setting, and mechanics you prefer. That said, some games have aged better than others, and some can be praised over others for their ingenuity and ambition. So here are the thirteen main-series Assassin’s Creed games, ranked.
Updated November 23rd, 2020 by Hodey Johns: With the latest game in the series this list needed a revisit. Additionally, since the publication of this article, more stand-alone Assassin’s Creed games have been recognized, even ones from much earlier. At over thirteen years old now, the franchise is still going strong and pumping out games, though what fan opinions of those games are will, naturally, be all over the map.
13 Assassin’s Creed
The first game dazzled upon release, with its building on the then-popular wall-running gem Prince of Persia by allowing gamers the freedom to climb any surface and have total freedom of the city.
It also had that awesome twist about how you’re actually a boring Nolan North in the future playing through the memories of his ancestor. The game was cool for its time, and it set up mechanics which are still used to this day, but it was also repetitive with little variety and a frighteningly boring protagonist. Its historical inaccuracies gave license to future installations occasionally neglecting history entirely.
12 Assassin’s Creed Rogue
Shat Patrick Cormac will not be found on a list of the most powerful assassins of all time. He’s a self-serving traitor to the Assassins. It’s too bad the entry called “Rogue” is reserved for somebody who ends up preserving the establishment instead of dismantling it.
The game takes advantage of the sailing foundation laid by previous games, but not much else. The historical figures are interesting, but their time on screen is too brief and the feel of the controls outside of the ship is just wrong.
11 Assassin’s Creed Freedom Cry
This game is a heartfelt labor of love and an intense experience from beginning to end. So why is it so low on the list? Beginning to end, being charitable, takes only about seven hours. It was originally meant to be DLC for Black Flag.
Former slave Adéwalé is a perfect fit for the Assassins. His personal connection to the theme of freedom is so strong that you can’t help but be inspired by him. Of all the unique boss fights in the series, plantation owners and slave traders make for satisfying villains to take down.
10 Assassin’s Creed Revelations
Although the story of Ezio wound up being so popular with fans that Ubisoft decided to turn it into a trilogy, said trilogy certainly lost its momentum as it went along. AC Revelations took the aging Ezio to Constantinople, a whole new setting and a fairly interesting story that brought his saga to a close and made some neat links between him and the first game’s protagonist: Altaïr.
While Revelations isn’t a bad game (none of them are), it certainly relied on fan engagement with Ezio and their excitement to see his story wrap up as a way to keep players engaged.
9 Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood
How could we not ask for more Ezio after fans fell in love with his cheeky charms in Assassin’s Creed II? Its sequel, Brotherhood, offered us a more condensed world in the form of Rome, as well as the series’ introduction to online multiplayer through an Animus system that is inconsistent with the lore.
At the time this game was released, every game of every genre was having online multiplayer awkwardly shoehorned into it, from Bioshock 2 to this. The games industry will always insist on capitalizing on any potential market that it can, no matter how poor the experience is.
8 Assassin’s Creed Unity
I personally enjoyed Unity a whole lot, though I recognize that Arno felt like Ezio’s boring little brother. I also recognize that it was a buggy mess upon release (though by sheer luck I finished my first playthrough without any bugs).
The game also suffered from an oversaturation of repetitive tasks which just felt like busywork. It was also released following the success of Black Flag, and yet this entry didn’t feature a single ship. That’s an immediate let-down. Still, the game is set during the French Revolution, so it feels like playing through Les Misérables, and that is engaging enough.
7 Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
From one game that suffered from game-breaking bugs to another, Valhalla is even more painful to complete due to a long, bloated, and boring story. And it raised more questions than answers in a story that is rapidly becoming more convoluted.
It is bailed out by some things that it does better than any other game on this list. For being so vast, the architecture and environment are unique and beautifully crafted, the accessibility options are on an entirely new level, and the sky, with accompanying weather, is downright gorgeous.
6 Assassin’s Creed Origins
For me, a lot of what makes the Assassin’s Creed series fun is its settings. As a history buff, if I find that particular period exciting then I’ll probably be into the game despite its flaws. For that reason, I could never muster up much love for Origins because I’ve never liked the period of Ptolemaic Egypt.
Although the game received a massive overhaul in its gameplay, map design, and approach to exploration, and it looked and felt gorgeous to play, the setting was a letdown. But this one is very subjective, more so than any other on the list, and I recognize that. It’s still a damn fine game, and mechanically one of the best in the series, despite introducing a few new annoying systems that Odyssey and Valhalla would copy.
5 Assassin’s Creed III
In the same way that Assassin’s Creed II built on all the foundations laid down by the series’ first entry, so too did ACIII attempt to take what made its predecessor great and keep building. Connor was certainly not in the same league, as protagonists go, as Ezio was in, even though his story and stakes felt far greater than those of the previous trilogy’s.
What also made this game a big winner was the series’ introduction to naval combat. Although it paled in comparison to what it would later become, this was a really good start. Its setting and aesthetics were also fantastic. The gorgeous townships and a greater focus on wilderness exploration really added an extra layer to the series.
4 Assassin’s Creed II
The game viewed by many fans as the series’ true starting point, Assassin’s Creed II took everything that made the first interesting and forged something truly compelling. Altaïr was a little bland? Okay, here’s Ezio. The first game’s mechanics were a little limited? Okay, now your climbing is fluid, your movements faster, and your arsenal wider.
This game is a great lesson in how to produce a true sequel that knows how to expand on its world. The setting of Renaissance Italy was also a real winner, with none other than artist, mathematician, and inventor Leonardo Da Vinci himself providing all of your tools and upgrades for you.
3 Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
Syndicate is, to this writer at least, still the most fun game in the series. Its twin protagonists of Evie and Jacob Frye are full of engaging banter, and the game did such a wonderful job of capturing the setting, feel, and tone of Victorian London (one of my favorite periods in British history).
Being able to interact with Charles Dickens and Darwin was just wonderful, as campy and silly as they were, and the smoggy, grimy, dirty environment was one I found myself slowly wandering and soaking up slowly every time I booted up the game.
2 Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
Just as the Assassin’s Creed series was beginning to feel a little stale and its momentum slow down, Ubisoft more-or-less transforms this murder simulator into a pirate simulator, making this entry more about living out the fantasy of being captain of a pirate crew, along with everything that comes with it.
In this game, players could style their ships as they saw fit, raid forts and islands, and scour the seven seas for sunken treasure and enemy ships to engage in combat, board, and destroy. Its engaging protagonist, Edward, was a wise-cracking gentleman from Welshman from Swansea.
1 Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
Odyssey’s success was guaranteed by two things: it is everything that Origins should have been, with a massive open world to explore and a lean towards RPG mechanics, upgrades, and progressions system; and it hailed a return of the sailing mechanics so beloved in Black Flag, making them better and more fun in every way. And it was big, so big that players are still finding out things about the main story.
The inclusion of the option to play as a woman and for your character to fall anywhere on the sexuality spectrum was also a much-needed and appreciated move on Ubisoft’s part. And let’s not forget the setting: Ancient Greece was a period series fans had been wanting for years, and it proved to be exactly the right choice for this massive open-world game.
NEXT: 10 Lingering Questions We Have At The End Of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
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