The Assassin’s Creed franchise has become something of an institution in the gaming world over the last decade, with a new release almost every year since the first title hit shelves back in 2007. I’m sure many can hardly remember a time when there wasn’t a new entry in Ubisoft’s landmark series either on the horizon, or had just been released. With that high volume, the franchise has reached an impressive number of main series games, currently sitting at 11, with several spin-off titles available on virtually every platform. That quantity of games over such an extended period offers a great opportunity to look at the pros and cons of each game, and how the franchise has grown and evolved since 2007. This list won’t include any of the spin-off games, but I absolutely recommend checking them out – particularly the Assassin’s Creed: Chronicles games, available on PlayStation, Xbox, and PC. So come along with me as I run down my ranking of the main series Assassin’s Creed games.
11. Assassin’s Creed (2007)
Starting us off at the bottom of the list is the original game, released in 2007 for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, with a Windows version following in 2008. Now don’t get me wrong, I love this game the same way that I love every other game in this series. I also am a strong believer in paying respects to the games and developers that paved the way for how good we have it now. However, this being the first game in the series, it’s simply not going to be as polished and fleshed out as it’s successors. The gameplay, while still enjoyable, hadn’t reached the adrenaline pumping heights of the games that immediately followed it, and the story, while still intriguing, falls victim to the fact that it was just starting to get the ball rolling on the series’ overarching continuity. That being said, the ending, both in the game’s present and past eras, is genuinely one of the most compelling endings to a game I’ve ever seen. Alas, for the earlier stated reasons, Assassin’s Creed lands at number 11.
10. Assassin’s Creed: Unity (2014)
Coming in at number 10 is what will likely be remembered as not only the most controversial Assassin’s Creed game, but likely one of Ubisoft’s most controversial game releases of all time. With allegations of sexism in regards to the lack of a female avatar in multiplayer, only worsened by Ubisoft’s poor responses to these allegations, to say this game did not get off on the right foot would be a bit of an understatement. Couple that with it being one of the buggiest blockbuster games released in recent memory, and it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Assassin’s Creed: Unity ranks so low on the list. In all fairness to the game itself, it did provide a fairly interesting gameplay experience, with a dense, beautifully designed location to jump about in, and plenty of charming, memorable characters (particularly the protagonist, Arno). It’s just a shame his turn at the helm was in a game that was so damaged by the time it released, it never really got it’s wheels spinning to begin with.
9. Assassin’s Creed: Revelations (2011)
At number 9 is the first of two games on this list that I feel have always been criminally underrated. 2011’s Assassin’s Creed: Revelations was the last game in the series to feature fan-favourite protagonist Ezio Auditore, and received criticism for not being as fresh and forward thinking as it’s siblings in what would come to be known as the Ezio Trilogy. While the hookblade was a fun gameplay mechanic, and the usual boons in the story and characters remained intact, for the first time the series felt like it was beginning to lose some momentum. With that said, it’s still a very fun game, and you’ll definitely be able to lose yourself in 16th Century Turkey. The modern day sections are some of the most compelling in the series, and the DLC is fantastic. Add in the fantastic multiplayer, and you’ve got yourself a well-balanced, perfectly enjoyable game.
8. Assassin’s Creed III (2012)
Now, I’m kicking myself a bit for putting this game so low on the list. I loved Assassin’s Creed 3. I played this game for so many hours. But I would be remiss if I didn’t try to rate it objectively. I understand that many people do not share that high opinion of the game and, to a degree, I understand why. The lead character, Connor Kenway, was dealt the unfair hand of following one of gaming’s most beloved protagonists and, as a result, people found it harder to be drawn into what is a really fantastic tale of betrayal and revenge. The game did suffer a bit in setting, as it moved from cities in Europe and the Middle East, dotted with plenty of tall towers, to colonial America, with it’s major cities still in their infancy, along with a series first of a large forest to explore. I think it’s a great idea to freshen up the formula, but with the high octane free-running aspect of the game so radically changed, players struggled to adjust. However, now that all this time has passed, I’d like to encourage everyone to go and give this game a second chance. It really does deserve it. At least play The Tyranny of King Washington DLC. It’s some of the absolute best add-on content ever.
7. Assassin’s Creed: Rogue (2014)
Now for the second underrated game I mentioned earlier. Rogue is a unique entry in that you play as a member of the series’ regular villainous faction, the Templar Order. This idea had been touched upon in the opening few hours of Assassin’s Creed III but still, right out of the gate it’s a concept with a lot of hook. The game came out on the same day as Assassin’s Creed:Unity, albeit for the seventh generation of consoles exclusively. As such, it was kind of lost in the shuffle, as people were largely focused on the next-gen at the time. Which is a shame, because this game is a blast. It combines the best elements of Assassin’s Creed III and IV: Black Flag, and introduces some unique gameplay elements along the way. It has since come out on the current generation, so do yourself a favour and give this one a look.
6. Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate (2015)
In at number 6 is the first game in what felt like kind of a new era for the franchise. While the game did away with the fantastic multiplayer, it refocused that energy wholly into the single-player experience, and in doing so corrected many of the mistakes made by it’s immediate predecessor, Assassin’s Creed: Unity. The game was met with much higher reviews on launch than the previous couple of titles, and for good reason. The gang-building system was a fantastic addition, Victorian London is a great setting, and the games’ dual protagonists offer two completely unique gameplay experiences. Ubisoft tends to get a lot of flack for creating giant game worlds that can sometimes feel a little empty, and whether or not you agree with that assertion (I personally do not), I can assure you that Syndicate, and the games made in the same style that came after it, do not fall into that category. The game world feels full, and every action taken throughout feels important.
5. Assassin’s Creed: Origins (2017)
On we go down our list, and we find ourselves now in ancient Egypt. This 2017 release put players into the shoes (well, sandals actually) of Bayek of Siwa. Honestly, for this and the next four entries, I’m not going to have a whole lot to gripe about. This game just hits everything perfectly. Great story, fun gameplay, and a shiny new level-up system. Combined with the new, revamped combat, this game was the first of the RPG Assassin’s Creed titles, and set a very high bar that might’ve seemed difficult to clear. Well, there’s only been one release since this game, so I think some praise for Ubisoft Quebec is about to be in order.
4. Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood (2010)
But that’s going to have to wait, because next on our list, possibly in controversial placement, is Brotherhood. This game is remembered very fondly as a great example of a perfect sequel. It retained the best parts of it’s forebear, while making a litany of stellar additions to the formula. Couple in the fact that it introduced, and arguably perfected right away, an addictive multiplayer mode, and you’ve got a recipe for a game that could easily be considered one of the best of its generation. The only reason it doesn’t rank higher is because, frankly, it’d be tremendously difficult to be as ground-breaking as the top 3.
3. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag (2013)
Raise the anchor and unfurl the sails, because we’re setting a course for our number 3 entry, 2013’s Black Flag. Yeah, this is the pirate one. And yeah, this is one of the best. Naturally beautiful environments, engaging sailing and ship combat, and more unique explorable islands than you could shake a peg-leg at, it should come as no surprise that it ranks so high on the list. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the sea shanties. Literal chills. I could spend hours simply sailing the Jackdaw on the sparkling cerulean Caribbean waters, listening to my crew sing their cares away. Truly a masterpiece of a game. It’s also the first game not to feature modern day protagonist Desmond Miles, opting instead to have a nameless first-person player stand-in, a trend the series would follow until Assassin’s Creed: Origins. So that’s fairly interesting, and a credit to the innovative minds behind this game, and the franchise as a whole.
2. Assassin’s Creed II
Oh boy, if Brotherhood’s placement could stir up some debate, I don’t even want to think about how much vitriol could arise from placing this literal landmark of gaming history anywhere beneath the top spot. Put the torches and pitchforks down for just a moment, and hear me out. Obviously, this game is basically untouchable. It’s such a completely perfect game from start to finish, and it would be impossible for me to even try to poke holes in it, because there aren’t any to poke. I mean, it’s the game that gave us Ezio. That’s literally all I need to say. But hear me out. Way back at number 11, I alluded to the idea that we can’t allow ourselves to be held back by nostalgia, and that gaming, just like all other art forms, must always move forward. We have to pay our dues to Assassin’s Creed II, because without it this franchise likely wouldn’t still exist, but it would be a disservice to it and the developers to be too stubborn to acknowledge when a successor has surpassed it. So, without further ado, let’s move onto number 1.
1. Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey (2018)
Here we are. The peak of the mountain, the crème de la crème. The latest entry in the Assassin’s Creed series is, in my mind, the best of them all. This game takes elements from all that came before it, and combines them into a perfect blend of pure video game bliss. The basic concepts laid out in the first game, the charisma and charm of the Ezio Trilogy, the fast-paced horizontal action sequences of III, the wild free-roaming bliss of Black Flag, the beautiful set pieces of Unity, the deep philosophical undertones of Rogue, the innovative systems and free-running methods of Syndicate, the RPG elements and combat revamp of Origins, and the deeply engaging continuous, overarching storyline that spans the entire series (which I didn’t get to touch on nearly enough in this list), all come together to become what is essentially a metaphor for what the future of video games can look like. This game is absolutely breathtaking, and it truly speaks for itself in terms of quality. If you haven’t played it yet, go and do that, and I’m fairly confident you’ll understand why it deserves the top spot.
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