During a lengthy discussion that probably took up too much time on the last Pure PlayStation Podcast, myself and Max spoke about the various Assassin’s Creed games. To my shock, we both agreed that Assassin’s Creed 3 gets more hate than it deserves and that Conner is a decent character. It turns out we’re both big Assassin’s Creed fans and we’ve both played pretty much every mainline entry in the series.
So, what’s this article about? It’s a list where we both rank the mainline Assassin’s Creed games in order of least-favourite to favourite. It’s just a bit of fun, really, to see how our tastes differ. It’s also quite timely considering Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is releasing this week. There’s also a little poll down at the bottom of the article so you can vote for which list is more in line with your own thoughts on the Assassin’s Creed series.
First up, we’ve got my list and reasons.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
Black Flag didn’t hit the right notes for me, but it’s still a decent game. My main problems revolve around the movement being a pain in the arse and the tailing missions being an even bigger pain. Seriously, like half of the game’s missions have you following someone. It’s boring and, thankfully, Ubisoft has seen the light and doesn’t include too many of them in the more recent games.
The original that started it all. I recently went back to it via the Xbox One X enhanced version, and wow, it’s still a really good game. It has aged without a doubt and some of its gameplay mechanics do not hold up today; the combat is so slow and, compared to recent games, very difficult to master. It’s still a very good game and I’m actually a fan of the mission structure where you need to do a few tasks to unlock the actual assassination.
Assassin’s Creed Unity
Ah, the one that pissed everyone off, everyone except myself. I really enjoyed it and the virtual tourism has never been better than in a painstakingly recreated version of revolution-era Paris. The story is alright but the gameplay takes a step forward here. It’s a top game even today, so if you’ve skipped it due to the bad press, I recommend picking up a cheap copy. The patches and updates have more or less sorted the game out, just be mindful that if you buy the physical copy you’ll have to download a very big update.
Assassin’s Creed Rogue
Rogue had the bad fortune to release alongside Unity, so it was pretty much overlooked as everyone’s jaws fell to the floor with Unity. It was the first game to present the Templar/Assassin conflict from the perspective of a Templar. Shay was a likeable dude that, unfortunately, fell to the dark side. The gameplay is still stuck in the Black Flag era, but it’s worth having a look if you’re interested in a different side to the story.
Assassin’s Creed Liberation
I have fond memories of Liberation on the PS Vita. I bought it again once it was re-released in HD for PS3, but I never really got into it in the same way that I did on the Vita. It was the first proper Assassin’s Creed game to release on a handheld that could stand up against the home console versions. It wasn’t perfect and the frame rate was utter dog shite at times, but Aveline’s story is one worth experiencing. Luckily enough, it’s coming to PS4 next year.
Assassin’s Creed Origins
Origins saw us go further into the past, back to ancient Egypt and boy, what a game. Ubisoft decided to fully embrace RPG mechanics this time around, for better or for worse, but in doing so it also adopted the massive open world that typically comes with the genre. Again, it’s by no means perfect and it’s full of little issues, but it’s still an amazing game and a technological achievement. Also, being able to go on a virtual tour without the stress of having bad guys launching themselves at you is a nice touch.
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
The troublesome Frye twins were great fun in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, and the game itself righted more than a few of Unity’s wrongs. The story was disappointing but gameplay came out on top. The removal of multiplayer was welcomed and the ability to switch between two characters with their own distinctive traits was, at the time, mind-blowing for Assassin’s Creed fans.
Assassin’s Creed: The Ezio Trilogy
I know, I’m cheating a little here, but I think it’s fair to lump all of Ezio’s games into one entry, at least for me. I’ve played each of them several times and they’re still as good today as they were on release. Sure the mechanics are a little dated and the traversal isn’t anywhere near as fluid and open as recent games, but it stands up on the charm of its hero and the story it tells. And yes, I even liked the modern-day sections with Desmond. Go away.
Assassin’s Creed III
My all-time favourite Assassin’s Creed game is Assassin’s Creed 3. It was a near-perfect game. It had it all. The open world was a joy to move around and explore, and even the vast wilderness was worth mooching around in.
So that’s my list and I know many will disagree with me. I don’t care. Connor was a legend and I’m looking forward to the remaster that’s coming out next year. Fight me.
And here we have Max’s list, but unlike me he’s listed his from favourite to least favourite.
Assassin’s Creed: Origins
When first announced, Origins had me as excited as I was when the original Assassin’s Creed was revealed in 2006. The historical context of the Assassin’s Creed games has always been the primary draw, and having been compelled by Egyptology as child, I found Origins enormous world and its detailed portrayal of ancient Egypt utterly engrossing.
In terms of gameplay, Origins fully redesigned combat system felt like a much-needed breath of fresh air. Its embracing of role-playing mechanics and sensibilities, seemingly inspired by games like The Witcher, deepened my investment in the game’s world and its inhabitants. This sense of meaningful action and progression helped Origins transcend the repetitive nature of prior entries and other open world Ubisoft games.
It’s odd in retrospect to think I was only 12 when the first Assassin’s Creed game was released. Around this age, with games like Oblivion, Bioshock, Mass Effect and Shadow of the Colossus, I became more invested in narrative, atmosphere and world building in video games. Assassin’s Creed unique alternate history meets contemporary sci-fi story fascinated me, and its Prince of Persia inspired free-running and stealth gameplay felt innovative and exhilarating.
Assassin’s Creed III
Assassin’s Creed III’s fresh setting and protagonist brought a welcome change to the series following the somewhat drawn out Ezio trilogy. The snowy wilderness of the American frontier introduced variety to the open world. These expansive rural areas contrasted perfectly with the game’s crowded cities, and necessitated a fluid new parkour system, whilst marking the beginning of role-playing mechanics being introduced to the series.
Connor’s tale remains one of most well-constructed in the series’ history, handling issues of race and colonialism and offering an insight into the turbulent founding of America. Assassin’s Creed III’s story and setting are a definite standout in the series, and I look forward to revisiting Connor’s story in next year’s remaster.
Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag
Alongside other games, like The Last of Us and GTA V, that came at the end of the last console generation, Black Flag felt like it was pushing the PS3 to its limits. Manning your ship, The Jackdaw, and sailing the vast open-world of the Caribbean with your pirate crew was liberating wish-fulfilment and its thrilling naval combat felt exciting and fresh. Black Flags pirate fantasy and gorgeous tropical setting set it apart from previous entries in the series and established an ambitious blueprint for the likes of Origins.
Assassin’s Creed II
Following on from the first game, the potential for where the series could go next seemed endless. Assassin’s Creed II progressed the first games mechanics and offered a beautifully detailed Venice to explore. The inclusion of historical figures like Da Vinci and memorable set pieces like soaring over the cities rooftops on Da Vinci’s flying machine made for a cinematic story which deepened the lore of both the creed’s past and present. However I personally found Ezio a fairly unlikeable protagonist, and the story and setting failed to engross me quite like original did.
Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate
Syndicate is another instance of the game’s setting taking precedence over the quality of its content. The bustling cobbled streets and gritty industrial underbelly of Victorian London were a joy to explore, and with the grappling hook traversal was fast and fun, although like somewhat of a betrayal to the series’ parkour roots.
The Frye twins were likeable protagonists, imbuing Syndicate’s story with personality and humour. The compelling drama of gang warfare and the inclusion of several of historical figures helped carry along the otherwise padded experience, although sections like the time rifts (also seen in Unity) made for some memorable fan service.
Assassin’s Creed: Unity
Unity marked the first truly next-gen entry in the series, following Black Flag. Visually it was incredibly impressive and the game’s dense and detailed 18th century Paris was beautifully realised. The reworked parkour system made it the most fluid yet and despite many players reporting a multitude of bugs, I encountered very few issues with the game’s performance.
While I enjoyed Unity, it stands as one of the most forgettable entries in the series from a narrative perspective. Its content felt bloated and beyond its improved visuals and movement systems it did little to progress the series, forecasting a rather mundane future for the franchise.
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
Brotherhood continued Ezio and Desmond’s story, fleshing out the concept of the creed as a collective and introducing several new mechanics. I found myself more invested in Brotherhood’s story than I did in Assassin’s Creed II’s, and the game’s ending was surprisingly impactful.
Ultimately though Brotherhood felt like more of the same and the light management aspects of building your brotherhood and sending your assassins on missions felt a bit shallow and tacked on. The ability to call on your assassins in battle however helped diversify combat situations and the feeling off offing guards with a flick of the wrist without stopping to fight them was gratifying. The addition of multiplayer was appealing in theory, though it proved to be short-lived in practice.
Assassin’s Creed: Revelations
Perhaps I was worn out on my least favourite assassin Ezio with this being his third game, or perhaps those damn 3D block puzzles pushed me over edge, but for me Revelations felt like the lowest point in the series. Its tower defense sections were another misstep for the series and the game’s plot and gameplay simply felt stale. Revelation’s biggest accomplishment was that it made Assassin’s Creed III feel so welcome and fresh after the sterility that it offered.
Chris has been writing about gaming news for far too long, and now he’s doing it even more. A true PlayStation know-it-all, Chris has owned just about every Sony console that ever existed. Trophies are like crack to this fella.