Ah, Assassin's Creed. The success of Ubisoft's massively popular open world series is partly responsible for pushing the publisher up near the very top of the industry food chain, where it now sits alongside the likes of EA and Activision. But as is the case with any long standing franchise, Creed has had its ups and downs. Some of its games have been huge, genre-defining hits, which others have done little more than stain the series' name. As such, we've taken the time to rank each main Assassin's Creed instalment from best to worst.
Release date: 2009
An admirable but ultimately futile attempt at bringing Ubisoft’s stealth action series to the PlayStation Portable, 2009’s Assassin’s Creed Bloodlines picks up directly after the events of the first game, with protagonist Altaïr travelling to Cyprus in pursuit of the property’s MacGuffin mystical apple. While the game impressively captures the open world atmosphere of the original PS3 release, it’s an undeniably diluted experience that even the most ardent Creed supporter can feel comfortable skipping.
Platform: Vita, PS3 (Assassin's Creed Liberation HD)
Release date: 2012, 2013
Originally something of a tight fit on the PS Vita, Liberation starred the series' first female lead: Aveline. Despite its handheld origins, the title stuck to the property's open world formula reasonably well, but it suffered from a confusing overarching plot and an array of convoluted gameplay mechanics which it often failed to properly explain. Still, for a portable Assassin's Creed outing it couldn't be faulted for its ambition, even if it did end up feeling rather basic compared to its home console brethren by the time it was ported to the PS3.
11: Assassin’s Creed
Release date: 2007
The launch of a new intellectual property – particularly one as exciting and original as Assassin’s Creed – is always cause for celebration, and Altaïr’s inaugural adventure came with huge expectations attached when it released over a decade ago in 2007. The game ultimately failed to live up to its ambition, delivering an unprecedented historical sandbox with very little to do in it. Ubisoft would eventually improve upon the original’s core ideas to create the brand we know and love today, and the first game will always carry some authority for “starting it all” as it were.
Release date: 2014
The packed streets of Paris were the backdrop to Assassin's Creed Unity, the series' first current-gen exclusive venture. Utilising the increased power of the PS4, Unity was able to stuff its virtual French city with massive crowds, creating an impressive atmosphere. However, its ambition came at a cost. At launch and for a while after, Unity was a shambles of a release, plagued by crashing, awful framerate issues, and countless bugs. Ubisoft did eventually patch things up -- at least to some degree -- and we were left with a decent Assassin's Creed game.
Release date: 2012
Assassin's Creed III finally dropped established protagonist Ezio, but it made the mistake of replacing him with a wholly unremarkable lead in Connor -- a comparatively boring and dreary hero who unfortunately failed to stand out in a rather boring and dreary game. Okay, that's perhaps a little harsh. Assassin's Creed III did a lot right, and its American Revolution backdrop presented some intriguing historical storylines, but a tediously lengthy opening act set the title's dull tone, and overall, the game just didn't quite live up to the expectations that came courtesy of the fresh start that Ubisoft had promised.
Release date: 2014
Released during that strange transition period between the PS3 and PS4, 2014’s Assassin’s Creed Rogue released alongside Assassin’s Creed Unity on last-gen hardware, acting as a sequel to Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag in the franchise’s increasingly headache-inducing timeline. While it recycled a lot of the systems from its piratical predecessor, the game is perhaps best known for arming you with the hidden blade of a Templar. With a heavy dose of naval combat and a surprisingly mature narrative set against the backdrop of the Seven Years’ War, Rogue is perhaps the best Assassin’s Creed that very few people have actually played.
Platform: PS3, PS4
Release date: 2014 (standalone)
Birthed as an expansion to Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, Freedom Cry starred Adewale, Edward Kenway's second in command. After the events of the main game, Adewale finds himself tangled up in a war between scheming Templars, eager Assassins, and cruel slave traders. As a standalone release, Freedom Cry is a relatively short escapade, but it boasts a good story and some well designed missions. An easy recommendation for those who enjoyed Black Flag and want more of the same.
Release date: 2011
With Ubisoft having annualised the series, 2011’s Assassin’s Creed Revelations released to an audience showing signs of franchise fatigue. And like the elderly Ezio Auditore in its lead role, the title also felt fairly tired, focusing on (ahem) bomb crafting as one of its flagship new features. The game’s Constantinople setting still managed to impress, however, and its connections to Altaïr’s tale added narrative depth to the AC universe as a whole. As a conclusion to the series’ Renaissance storyline, it comfortably got the job done.
Release date: 2015
Similarly to Assassin’s Creed Revelations, 2015’s Assassin’s Creed Syndicate released at a time when the series really needed reinvention. Its sprawling interpretation of Victorian London certainly impressed from an artistic perspective, and gameplay innovations like hookshots and interchangeable protagonists ensured that it improved upon past entries. But with formulaic mission design and tired old gameplay tropes, the title failed to really rejuvenate the franchise after the disappointing Assassin’s Creed Unity, and ultimately led to the series being shelved for a couple of years while work on Assassin’s Creed Origins got underway.
Release date: 2010
Set in Rome, Brotherhood was very much a refined version of Assassin's Creed II. The controls were tighter, the combat was a little more fluid, and the setting itself was meticulously crafted. Indeed, Rome was the real star of the show -- a bustling, incredibly detailed location dripping with atmosphere. The only thing that let Brotherhood down was its somewhat disjointed story, which saw a more mature Ezio hunt down a fresh selection of power-mad Templars. Still, the overall experience shines as one of the best realised and most polished entries in the series.
Release date: 2009
An Uncharted 2: Among Thieves moment in a year that, well, also saw the release of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, 2009 was an amazing period for new PS3 franchises finally releasing their full potential. Assassin’s Creed II’s dashing Italian stallion Ezio Auditore proved a breath of fresh air compared to his stern-faced Syrian predecessor, and the open world mission design of the franchise’s second entry took a huge Leap of Faith forward, amplified by the romance of its late 15th Century Renaissance setting, which set hearts aflutter on last-gen hardware.
Platform: PS3, PS4
Release date: 2013
A PS4 launch game, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag washed away the disappointment of Assassin's Creed III by whisking us off to the Caribbean and allowing us to live out our pirate fantasies on the high seas. With a heavy emphasis on naval combat and exploration, Black Flag offered the drastic gameplay change that the series desperately needed, and the best part was that it all worked shockingly well. So well, in fact, that it's easy to argue that the game's at its worst when you're actually being an Assassin rather than a captain. It's certainly not your traditional Assassin's Creed, then, but that doesn't stop it from being one of the series' most memorable and refreshing instalments.
Release date: 2017
As with any Assassin's Creed game, Origins certainly has its flaws, but right here, right now, at the time of writing, it's difficult to argue against it being the best overall entry in the series. After the mess that was Unity and the safe but unremarkable Syndicate, Origins is exactly what the property needed. A roaring return to form, the release fully embraces its action RPG side, opting for an entirely new and far more engaging combat system. It also introduces enticing loot and a huge amount of side quests. What's more, Origins boasts one of the series' better storylines, and protagonist Bayek is a very likeable lead. Most importantly, though, the game absolutely nails its Egyptian setting, presenting us with an unbelievably detailed and gigantic open world that's a joy to explore.
And there you have it, all the Assassin's Creed games ranked from best to worst. Do you agree with our order? Make sure to vote for your favourite entry in our poll, and then tell us all about your choice in the comments section below.
[ Words: Sammy Barker and Robert Ramsey ]
What's your favourite Assassin's Creed game? (132 votes)
Assassin's Creed: Bloodlines
Assassin's Creed Brotherhood
Assassin's Creed: Freedom Cry
Assassin's Creed II
Assassin's Creed III
Assassin's Creed III: Liberation
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
Assassin's Creed Origins
Assassin's Creed Revelations
Assassin's Creed Rogue
Assassin's Creed Syndicate
Assassin's Creed Unity
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