It’s had ups and downs, critical acclaim and voracious mockery. There have been eleven main releases to date, with another eleven sub-titles, spanning a timeframe of thirteen years. Recently, Ubisoft revealed the next iteration in the franchise: Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. This title will lead players through the Viking age, adventuring from Norway to Dark Ages England.
Unsurprisingly, Valhalla’s announcement was the biggest ever – the trailer amassed over 100m views across all networks. The PR guys over at Ubisoft also revealed that engagement on both Odyssey and Origins (the most recent titles) increased by a huge amount. It’s no secret: fans have been awaiting a release of this stature for a couple of years now, and it looks like Ubisoft are set to deliver.
In the run up to Valhalla, I am personally streaming every single main release in chronological order on my Twitch channel. If that’s the kind of thing you’re interested in watching, feel free to check it out.
Otherwise, here’s my complete ranking of every main Assassin’s Creed release to date!
11. Assassin’s Creed (2007)
It’s where it all began! Let’s be honest though, Assassin’s Creed wasn’t the most invigorating launch title for what would eventually become a world-renowned super-franchise. It was linear (despite being open-world), empty and drab. Although the story was a fairly decent introduction to the franchise, it was slow, painfully repetitive and built from a palette of… Well, just different shades of grey.
I didn’t overly enjoy it, despite it being my first foray into the world of Creed – it was okay, but definitely not worthy of a higher position on this list.
10. Assassin’s Creed Rogue (2014)
I always said that Assassin’s Creed Rogue was launched “just so the old formats felt included”. The 2014 title launched alongside Assassin’s Creed Unity in the first (and weirdest) Creed double-launch ever. It was my thinking that they’d done this to include everyone – you know Ubisoft is nothing but inclusive and considerate, right? The shiny, new consoles get Unity, while the old workhorses that was the PS3 and Xbox 360 were given Rogue.
However, Rogue was barely anything more than a reskin of Assassin’s Creed Black Flag, the previous year’s release. The only thing that was in any was unique was the story – you played as an assassin turned templar, fighting against his old masters to right his own internal wrongs. I’ll be honest, it made for a refreshing change and an interesting dynamic, but it wasn’t enough to save it.
Personal gripe: they seemed to forget to name the currency in the game, and it was literally called ‘money’. You’d get like, two hundred ‘money’ for completing a job. Weird.
9. Assassin’s Creed Revelations (2011)
Betrayal! Disgust! Dishonor! How can a true Assassin’s Creed fan rate a game featuring the great Ezio Auditore so low?!
Well, like this.
Revelations wasn’t all that memorable for me, that’s the first losing point for this title. While it was a fun game (especially the bombs) and a fine sending off for the Italian Stallion, it wasn’t something that stuck in my mind. I can’t recall much of the story and – at this point – I couldn’t even tell you who the main antagonist was.
Maybe that bald guy that was trying to hang Ezio in Masyaf? I don’t know.
8. Assassin’s Creed Unity (2014)
The other half of the fabled dual release that was Unity/Rogue didn’t exactly experience the most stable launch in video gaming history. Let’s be clear: it was an absolute shambles. It isn’t often that world-class developers have to give away paid expansions for free in an attempt to save some face.
I dropped Unity at launch (owing to said shambles) and revisited it around a year later, at which point I actually had a fairly decent time playing it. It was Ubisoft’s first ‘next-gen’ Assassin’s Creed, with thronging crowds, re-engineered combat, and genuinely beautiful graphics. The city of Paris was well-built and sprawling, and the story felt quite authentic and believable – to a point.
However, it couldn’t ever fully cast itself free of the shackles of a broken launch in my book, and the revitalised combat engine actually made it tough as nails to play.
7. Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood (2010)
The Roman adventure that was Brotherhood has landed a higher spot than it’s successor, Revelations, for one clear reason: I actually remember it.
In the aftermath of Assassin’s Creed II, Ubisoft would have to deliver something epic for the stage now set by the Italian masterpiece, but did they? In a word: maybe. I enjoyed climbing and fighting my way across Rome, liberating the city from the clutches of the antagonistic Borgia family, but it was very repetitive.
Unfortunately, Ubisoft decided to follow their tried, tested and (borderline) patented structure of ‘liberate the towers’ in Brotherhood, a tactic that made the game tasteless after a few hours.
6. Assassin’s Creed Syndicate (2015)
I feel I owe Syndicate a fair place on this list, being as it was my first ‘home’ Assassin’s Creed. I was able to freerun along streets I’d actually walked in real life, and that was an impressive experience.
Aside from that patriotic aspect, Syndicate was genuinely a brilliant game – and the first one I found hard to place on this list. I loved the twin protagonists, Jacob and Evie, and felt they offered a brilliant dynamic to the existing one-shot character process. You had a brash and bullheaded male character backed up by a stealthy and calculating female partner.
They each had their own share of the limelight, their own abilities and approaches, and branch of the story. It offered a cliche, familial-love kind of ending to the story, but I’ll let that go.
The city of London was masterfully recreated (despite the half dozen repeated models for NPC enemies) and to my memory was a real pleasure to explore.
Although we had a similar pattern of liberation to previous games (sector by sector) it somehow pulled it off in a way that didn’t bore me.
5. Assassin’s Creed Origins (2017)
Here it is… the ‘new’ formula for Assassin’s Creed. The one we waited for, the revitalised and regenerated model that would serve as the base foundation for Assassin’s Creed forevermore. Ubisoft poured production value into Assassin’s Creed Origins, knowing full well that this could either make or break the franchise.
In my opinion, it made it – I loved the new RPG-based, overwhelming world, randomised loot model that came with Origins. There were more than a fair share of people naysaying against Origins, claiming that – for the first time – it ‘wasn’t a real AC title’.
Fair enough, you weren’t an Assassin – you were a ‘hidden one’. Even better.
Egypt made for an incredible environment and it was absolutely gorgeous. Ubisoft had taken the existing model and contorted it a million different ways, offering new combat, customisation, interaction, UI… The acting was top-notch, the story was deep and immersive, the combat powerful and impactful.
It only got fifth because I enjoyed the other four titles more (and some other reasons of course) – it’s at this point it becomes really damn hard to choose between releases!
4. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (2018)
I know it had a lot of bad press, but I adored (and still do, as I’m currently playing it) Odyssey. There was, once again, an air of “this isn’t an AC title”, but that’s such a tired argument. It’s boring. This is an AC title, and it’s a damn good one.
I’m a huge lover of history, and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey brings it on in spades. The Greek world created by Ubisoft was incredibly impressive and spanned a huge, mindblowing area. In addition to the size portrayed by Assassin’s Creed Origins, we now had sea combat once again – and that’s a big yes in my book.
I could go from hanging off Zeus’ ass, to plundering the Aegean sea, to fighting a cyclops all in the same morning. That’s impressive! While I’m happy the mythical presence has been reportedly toned down for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, I certainly enjoyed it in Odyssey.
I mean, come on – you played as a demigod. If you didn’t go toe to toe with a few legendary creatures (or Gods themselves) then what was the point of your power?
Fourth place well-deserved: the retelling of the Peloponnesian War, the freedom and vast amount of choice, the deep customisation (including transmog)… Incredible.
3. Assassin’s Creed 3 (2012)
Is it ironic that Assassin’s Creed 3 receives third place? Maybe. Is it ironic that a so-called mega fan places it so high in his list? Definitely.
Firstly, let’s be clear – Assassin’s Creed 3 has one of the most incredible trailers in Ubisoft CGI history. That thing gives me chills (please watch it above).
Assassin’s Creed 3 was the grand finale of one of the greatest sagas in video game history, offering a plentiful, varied and impressive send-off for our undersung hero, Desmond Miles. This was the fifth game we’d see him in, and it all came down to this: the big one, the end of all things, the world at a precipice.
I wholeheartedly enjoyed every minute I played of Assassin’s Creed 3 – that’s not an exaggeration. In this release, we saw – and helped architect – the American Revolution, as badass half-native protagonist Connor (aka Ratonhnhaké:ton). He was an awesome assassin, and one of the first whose combat felt powerful. You could carve your way through a crowd of enemies like they were paper targets, and that was something special.
The world of Assassin’s Creed 3 was also fantastic. Ubisoft followed the multiple-locale model featured in Assassin’s Creed 2, but on a bigger scale. There were multiple cities available to visit, a ship you could board to travel further afield, and a massive, wild area in between it all to explore. Finally, it was all topped off with the Homestead: a location Connor called home that he could expand on and build out, with the help of civilians the player recruited through various side missions.
Assassin’s Creed 3 remains an underdog title, in my opinion. It doesn’t have the love it deserves.
2. Assassin’s Creed Black Flag (2013)
Oh man, pirate assassins!
Black Flag was a gem of a title, the first main release of the entire franchise that didn’t feature Desmond Miles, that changed the formula, and introduced a massively enjoyable platform: open-ended ship exploration. It was also the first game in the entire chain to go backwards as opposed to forwards in the timeline. Cool, right?
In Assassin’s Creed Black Flag, the player assumes the role of Edward Kenway – sailor turned pirate turned assassin extraordinaire. You’ll plunder the Caribbean, team up with infamous pirate legends, and build up your ship – the Jackdaw – to be the scourge of the seas.
In terms of chronology and impact, Kenway is an extremely important character – he’s the father of Haytham Kenway, the grandfather of Connor Kenway and (at some stage) the something-father of William Miles. This game works perfectly into the timeline of Assassin’s Creed thus far, and helps plug a few holes in the family tree.
While the combat formula was mostly identical to previous releases, it remained enjoyable. The shipping aspects were borrowed from Assassin’s Creed 3, but expanded on. The graphics and UI were the same as 3 as well, but they weren’t at all tired. It was familiar, it felt like what we knew, but it was better.
It was also the first game in the series to include a companion app, and I thought that was incredible. I could log into my phone, send my fleet of ships on missions across the seas, then come home and reap the rewards on my console. That was seriously cool.
I believe Black Flag did a lot for the Assassin’s Creed franchise. It was really well recieved, highly reviewed, and the fans genuinely enjoyed it. It was a superb time-killer and I would happily gravitate back to it at any point, no question.
1. Assassin’s Creed 2 (2009)
Here it is.
The number one spot. Numero Uno. The GOAT. The grand-champion.
Assassin’s Creed II is – for me – the first Assassin’s Creed. It took what the (real) first release did and made it something iconic, a title that would go down in history as one of the best games ever. Ubisoft took the minor win of Assassin’s Creed and exploded the formula, crafting a game that would serve as the bar, the unsurpassable level of Creed success.
This here is the pinnacle, folks. You’re looking at a game with a flawless story, brilliant acting, a perfectly crafted world, and entertaining combat. You’re given a base of operations (a literally town) to upgrade and fortify, customisation options out the wazoo, and a soundtrack that is still memorable over a decade later.
Aside from that, Ezio Auditore is considered one of the greatest assassins ever, bar none. His study, his journey, his legacy would go on to resonate across the entire franchise and throughout the in-game lore and history. He would make (ahem) revelations and discoveries that would have world-changing implications, and would utilise the power of Those Who Came Before to see across generations.
It’s something truly special. It’s deeply memorable, and it was the first Assassin’s Creed game I fell in love with. It explored the meaning of being an assassin, it gave us some of the best characters in franchise history, and it paved the way for another decade of success.
Long Live Assassin’s Creed II.
What do you think? Do you agree with this list, or do you have another title that you think deserves the number one slot? Let us know in the comments!