The 10 Best Assassin’s Creed Games
The Assassin’s Creed franchise has spanned the globe since it debuted in 2007, and entries have taken players from Renaissance Italy to Ancient Greece to the American Revolution. Along the way, the series has changed dramatically, from sequels that made good on the promise of past entries to entirely new takes on character progression.
So which games are the best out of Ubisoft’s long-running series? IGN’s biggest Assassin’s Creed fans came together to agree, argue, and eventually cull together our favorites. It’s worth noting this list pulls from the mainline Assassin’s Creed series of console releases, so no mobile or handheld entries were considered as they vary greatly in scope and design.
Without further ado, here are our top 10 Assassin’s Creed games.
10. Assassin’s Creed Unity
After the tipsy sway of Black Flag’s pirate protagonist Edward Kenway, Assassin’s Creed Unity was a return to the tone of original Assassin’s Creed. As the first AC game to be exclusively released on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 (alongside PC of course), Assassin’s Creed Unity was a graphical powerhouse for its time and boasted enormous crowds of NPCs, but its launch was a bit of a bumpy ride.
The cavalcade of bugs, glitches, and an intensely overburdened map led some to flee the game, but those that stuck with it found a great setting in Revolutionary France, newly enhanced movement options that made scaling down the side of a building much easier, and fun, and multifaceted assassination missions. And frankly, seeing Notre Dame in all its glory makes AC Unity well worth the price of admission.
9. Assassin’s Creed Rogue
Meanwhile, that same year on the Xbox 360 and PS3, Assassin’s Creed Rogue introduced us to the Assassin-turned-Templar Shay Cormac for this pseudo-prequel to Assassin’s Creed 3 and Unity. Rogue trades Havannah for New York and the warm waters of the Caribbean for the ice flows of the North Atlantic and riverlands of the Hudson Valley, but keeps – and even expands on – the excellent naval combat and Arkham-esque swordplay of Black Flag.
The story may not take any huge risks to upset the franchise formula of Assassins: good, Templars: bad, but it’s an interesting trip through the looking glass to see how things operate on the other side of the hidden blade, and a must-play if you loved Black Flag but don’t want to play it for the fifth time.
8. Assassin’s Creed: Revelations
Assassin’s Creed: Revelations wrapped up Altair Ibn-La-Ahad and Ezio Auditore’s stories, and, despite some unremarkable additions like the Den Defense mode, it was a memorable and thrilling send off. From flying down ziplines in Constantinople to hanging out with Leonardo Da Vinci, Revelations was packed full of fascinating adventures.
Ezio and Altair’s final chapter was, in a way, both a sign of things to come and a celebration of what came before. Not only did we get one final fling with these two after seeing them grow and learn from lives full of adventure, but we had a chance to say goodbye to the first era of Assassin’s Creed.
7. Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood continues the story of Ezio Auditore da Firenze, cementing him as a fan-favorite protagonist for the series. It trades the diverse locations of Assassin’s Creed 2 for an expanded version of Rome and its surrounding countryside and builds on the new mechanics introduced in Assassins Creed 2 – swimming, property management, firearms, and recruitable allies. This chapter of Ezio’s story is filled with charm, wit, and drama, and, thanks to its updated combat, we got to be the aggressive combat assassin we all wanted to be.
It was also the first game in the series to introduce Multiplayer, allowing players to step into the shoes of the Templars to see who among their friends truly was the best assassin or hunter. It may not have advanced the formula as much as its predecessor, but it’s still cherished by many as one of the very best.
6. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
Valhalla didn’t reinvent the wheel like Origins did, but it did make some pretty substantial changes. Combat is weightier and more impactful than ever before; traditional side quests have been replaced by world events, making exploration and discovery much more organic; and the absurd amount of loot you’d have to organize and sift through was toned down substantially, making rewards feel much more valuable on the whole.
Eivor might not be our favorite of the Assassin’s Creed protagonists, but his (or her) story is an engaging one, and is one of the best blendings of historical fantasy and mythology that the series has ever seen.
5. Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
Assassin’s Creed games are often as defined by their locations as they are their protagonists, and Syndicate’s 19th Century Victorian London in the throes of industrialization may be the most memorable of the bunch. Sneaking around factories, racing horse-drawn carriages down the street, and even fighting Jack the Ripper all ground Syndicate in a setting that, while still fantastical, feels real.
Contributing to this sense of place is the string-heavy score from Journey composer Austin Wintory that doesn’t sound like anything else in the series before or after: dueling protagonists Jacob and Evie Fry even have their own soundtracks. It’s a small touch, but it’s one in a string of small touches that makes Syndicate’s world cohesive. Also, it’s hard to recall any game this side of Bloodborne that lets you fight this effectively with a cane.
4. Assassin’s Creed II
In many ways, we have Assassin’s Creed II to thank for not only proving the formula works but for also giving us the defining analogy of a video game sequel fulfilling the promise of its underwhelming original. Though later entries would add even more depth, ACII made assassination missions more dynamic, with increased flexibility in how you approached objectives, more options for hiding or causing distractions, better combat, and better mobility with the ability to actually swim. New catacomb missions let players put their parkour skills to the test, the upgradeable homebase villa gave players a reason to keep investing in picking up collectibles and coins, and new weapons and gear from everyone’s favorite video game character, Leonardo da Vinci, kept gameplay fresh.
All of these changes were also connected to a beautifully realized Italian Renaissance era that introduced an all-time protagonist, Ezio Auditore da Firenze, and meaningful additions to the current-day story that brought the two time periods together in the wildest way possible. I mean, you fistfight the pope only to have an otherworldly deity speak through Ezio to Desmond in the present day. It was an unforgettable ending to an entry that proved how incredible Assassin’s Creed could be. Oh, and it’s got one of the weirdest video game references of all time. (If we have the footage, cue up the “It’s a me, Mario” scene, otherwise you can just cut this whole final line.)
3. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
Assassins’ Creed Odyssey takes Origins’ combat style and new-found focus on role-playing, adds some extra ingredients to the mix, then sets it all against the sprawling backdrop of Ancient Greece, aflame with the war between Athens and Sparta. It’s an enormous, vibrant game, with some of the most stunning vistas we’ve seen in the series; both at land and sea (naval warfare returns here, and it’s wonderful).
The new spin on Assassin’s Creed’s notoriety system sees you hunted across these environments, in a series of cat-and-mouse chases that are the most tense in any Assassin’s Creed to date, while the nation struggle system sees you fighting large scale battles in the name of Athens or Sparta. It’s also got a relatively compelling story for a game that can take 60-odd hours to beat, with some eccentric sidequests, fronted by a genuinely charismatic protagonist – whether you play as a male or female. Even after you finish Odyssey, there’s still so much to plunder and discover, and it’s a delight to simply exist in its world.
2. Assassin’s Creed: Origins
Origins marked a turning point in the series. It was the game that turned Assassin’s Creed from a stealth-focused action-adventure, into a straight-up open world RPG with a size and scope rivaled only by very few games. But even setting the historical significance of Assassin’s Creed Origins aside, it’s important to note that it’s also just a damn good Assassin’s Creed game.
Its central story involving Bayek and Aya, who initially set out to find justice for their murdered son and ultimately wind up founding the order that would eventually become the Assassin’s Brotherhood, is extremely compelling; the world of ancient Egypt is a marvel to explore; and while many facets of its mechanics were improved in later games, the shift to loot-based progression and a more action RPG style of combat was just the kind of shot in the arm that the series needed to reinvigorate it in the eyes of fans.
1. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
After a long run of assassin protagonists, Black Flag tried something different, introducing us to a main character who was a pirate first, and an assassin second – and the ensuing adventure thrived because of it. It introduced a massively entertaining sandbox playground in the Caribbean, featuring a plethora of islands teeming with treasure and activities to embark upon – and an upgrade system that made the idea of hunting wild animals and harpooning something other than a chore. Instead of relegating the idea of sailing as means to an end, it built upon the framework of Assassin’s Creed 3’s naval combat to make nautical adventures the shining point of Black Flag.
Whether it was hunting hapless merchant ships or bracing against some of the toughest buccaneers ever to sail the seas, attacking other ships cemented itself as something too good to pass up any time one floated by on screen. Aided by its impressive seamless transition from land to sea, it allowed the freedom of choice for players to either sail circles around enemy ships while blasting them to pieces, or ramming head on to leap onto the enemy ship, before unloading a brace of pistols like a whirling dervish. Not only did Assassin’s Creed Black Flag cement itself as one of the greatest in the series, it has easily become one of the greatest pirate games to immerse yourself in as well.
And there you have it! Those are our top Assassin’s Creed games. Disagree with the ranking? Think another entry should have been on the list? Let us know your favorite Assassin’s Creed in the comments.
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