Everyone loves lists. And as it turns out, a fair number of folks really like the Assassin’s Creed series. A series as huge as Assassin’s Creed has a number of offshoots and mainline games, so this list specifically is going to look at the eight mainline games.
8. Assassin’s Creed 3
Right off the bat, and I nearly forgot this game existed. Of all of the Assassin’s Creed games, I don’t think there has been one as hotly anticipated as the third game. It brought the series to the U.S. during the American Revolution, and offered up the opportunity to play as a Native American, named Connor.
But the game fumbles right out of the gate. For starters, the first chunk has you playing as Connor’s white dad in some of the most bafflingly stupid segments in the series’ history (surely, no one will notice me climbing around during this play!). And when it was finally Connor’s turn to play, it turned out he was actually really, really boring. But story and character aside, surely the gameplay was great, right? Right?
New England proved that, in fact, the series does need more buildings than the frontier had to offer, but it also introduced better climbing mechanics with trees, and some improvements to combat. More importantly, it introduced naval warfare, which most people loved (others didn’t, more on that later).
All-in-all, AC3 capped Desmond’s story in a pretty… well, underwhelming manner. Personally, I was never a fan of the modern story anyway, but that ending felt rushed and poorly done.
7. Assassin’s Creed
The one that tricked us, in so many ways, into thinking it was about assassins during the Crusades. In fact, it was, but it was also about some weird, time-travel stuff, too. That decision was controversial, at the time, and Ubisoft was pretty great at keeping that information under wraps until launch.
The first Assassin’s Creed game is a much different game than it’s sequels. It’s more focused on the actual assassination, and the planning of said assassination, and in those respects, the original Assassin’s Creed is a lot of fun. Unfortunately, the execution feels very video-gamey, for lack of a better word.
It’s very much a “do A, B, and C, before being allowed to do D” and the repetitive nature of doing so grows stale quickly. There’s a lot of missed opportunity, too. The stealth is rarely as good as it could, or even should, be. The aforementioned A, B, and C parts don’t lend themselves enough to what happens in D, and in return A, B, and C rarely feel like anything more than stepping stones than actual preparation.
Finally, the character, not unlike Connor from AC3 is mostly uninteresting. He’s not as bad as Connor, but he’s a far cry from nearly any other character in the series.
6. Assassin’s Creed: Revelations
After Assassin’s Creed 2 blew the doors off of what it meant to be an Assassin’s Creed game, it was followed – quickly – by two sequels. The trilogy would come to be known as the Ezio trilogy, named for its central character, and in many minds, those three games are the highlight of the series.
Revelations was the cap on the end of the trilogy, and in many ways, it’s an improvement upon everything both 2 and Brotherhood already did pretty well. But it’s problems largely come from the aspects that weren’t in the previous two games. Revelations offered up a tower-defense-like mini game, that ultimately proved more annoying than fun. Ezio would command units to defend an Assassin base from incoming Templars, but as the game went on, these grew laughably easy, and served more as distractions from the main quest than anything else.
But Revelations actually comes out pretty good, despite these annoying segments. First, the series moves to a non-Italian setting, mostly featuring Constantinople. This offers up new sights which, at least the time, were stunning to explore. Then there’s the Hookblade, arguably my favorite tool that gets used in the series, allowing Ezio a freedom of movement previously unseen.
AC: Revelations might be one of the least-remembered games in the series, but that’s certainly not an indication of the game’s quality.
5. Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag
You probably expected this to be number one, didn’t you?
Black Flag is, in many ways, a continuation of the third game, which as I mentioned earlier is kind of the worst in the series, and remember how I mentioned most people loved the naval combat? Well, I was among the few who did not.
That said, Black Flag fixes so many of AC3’s issues. For one, there’s the pirate, Edward Kenway, easily among the most likable characters in the entire series (for my money he’s only second to Ezio). Then there’s the far-improved naval combat, just managing to feel right comparatively. And then, of course, pirates are a ton of fun.
Unfortunately, it suffers from similar issues to 3, mainly the land segments aren’t very fun. Combat is improved, sure, but free-running is far less fun when there aren’t tall buildings to climb.
The modern-day segments, too, are the beginning of a series of poor decisions. Abstergo is now a video game company, developing hyper-realistic VR-esque experiences, and they’re using the DNA of Desmond to… you know what? It’s bad. Like, really bad. No longer are you able to at least do fun things as the modern character, instead you’re forced into a limiting first-person perspective, and wandering around an office building. Seriously. It’s as lame as it sounds.
4. Assassin’s Creed Unity
And now you’re really angry.
I don’t care, Unity is a great Assassin’s Creed game, and it’s because it refocused back onto what made 2 and Brotherhood so great. It was a return to the series’ roots, bringing us back to a European setting, with tall buildings, and incredible landmarks.
Sure, the main characters sucked (like, seriously, what was that dude’s name again?) and it was mired by technical issues at launch, but brushing those aside (as much as you can, at least) reveals that Paris is one of the best cities to climb around in, and the French Revolution is one of the coolest moments in time to explore.
There was also that incredible sequence when you time travel to World War 2, and you’re climbing the Eiffel Tower while shit is exploding everywhere… Definitely among my favorite moments in the series.
I’ve also completely forgotten to mention the co-op mode that was added, too. Unity proved it was a blast to run around with your buddy and take out bad guys, syncing your jumps and everything.
3. Assassin’s Creed 2
Assassin’s Creed 2 is everyone’s favorite, or at least it’s everyone’s favorite that hasn’t played it since it launched. It took what worked about Assassin’s Creed, and ran with it, opening the world up and introducing light-RPG mechanics.
It’s also the first game starring everyone’s favorite assasino, Ezio Auditore da Firenze, and as it turns out, the likability of the protagonist is one of the most important aspects of the series. Ezio was also capable of climbing to dizzying heights, something that just wasn’t terribly common in the first game. Beyond that, he also was tasked with building up his family’s villa, which allowed you to do things like earn money, change colors of clothes, and try new weapons. It was simple, sure, but it was fun.
Ultimately, that’s what made AC2 such an accomplishment. It was fun, first and foremost, and seemingly everything it did was in an effort to make the game more fun, and it was entirely successful.
Assassin’s Creed 2 is so fondly remembered that people often describe a significant leap between sequels as “pulling an Assassin’s Creed 2.“
2. Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
Sure, the jump from 2 to Brotherhood isn’t significant, but the changes it made were 100% for the better. Ezio is at his best in Brotherhood, as he’s separated from the death of his family, but not an old man, like in Revelations. This time out, he’s building a brotherhood (get it?) of Assassins, which you can send off to complete optional objectives.
It also moves the setting to Rome, which is one of the most recognizable old cities in the world, though sometimes buildings proved to be too sparse in some locations.
But the big introduction here was multiplayer.
Ubisoft has a great history of atypical multiplayer, going back as far as Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow, and Assassin’s Creed’s multiplayer suite was no different. Moving about a densely populated map, players would be tasked with stealthily assassinating each other, finding places to hide in the meantime. It failed to catch on with most players, but for whom it did, AC multiplayer was incredible. It would be a part of each AC game, through Black Flag, but hasn’t (and won’t) made a return yet.
1. Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate
This time, though, combat got a significant improvement. Syndicate takes more from the Arkham games than the previous AC games, and that’s a good thing. Weapons act differently too, meaning no longer did you have only to choose from little sword or big sword. Instead, there’s an entire arsenal of weapons at your disposal.
And I’d be remiss not to mention the game’s two playable characters, Jacob and Evie Frye. This isn’t some skin swap either, as each offers up unique advantages when approaching missions, with Evie providing a more stealth focus and Jacob a more up-front approach.
In fact, stealth finally worked, too. Evie was not only a wonderfully realized character, but also a far more effective character to use.
But my personal favorite aspect has to be the gang wars between the Fryes’ Rooks and the evil Blighters. Turf wars produced some of the most visceral and fun aspects in any of the Assassin’s Creed games, with horse-drawn-carriage-chases and explosions aplenty. Ultimately, your goal was to take over the entirety of London, by completing a handful of side-quests.
Syndicate is ultimately the best in the series because it makes the game fun again, and not only that, but better. After Unity, which, while great, is a little too self-serious, this was exactly what the series needed.
So what do you think? Are we on the ball or way off base? Are you excited for Assassin’s Creed Origins? Let us know in the comments below!