With a new main-series game coming out every single year, with the exception of the year the film came out instead, Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed series has seen a lot of growth, change, peaks, and valleys. It’s done some daring and unusual things, but its core mechanics and design has mostly stayed the same, creating a series that’s almost always fun but also reliably safe to enjoy.
Few boundaries are pushed but we all have a good time out of it. Picking a favorite is a very personal endeavor, and it’s really down to which story, protagonist, setting, and mechanics you prefer. That said, some games have aged better than others, and some can be praised over others for their ingenuity and ambition. So here are the ten (so far) main-series Assassin’s Creed games, ranked.
10 Assassin’s Creed
Though it’s certainly not the case for every long-running video game series that the first one ends up being the worst, and the most forgotten. For Assassin’s Creed, however, it is. The first game dazzled upon release, with its building on the then-popular wall-running gem Prince of Persia by allowing gamers the freedom to climb any surface and have total freedom of the city.
It also had that awesome twist about how you’re actually a boring Nolan North in the future playing through the memories of his ancestor. The game was cool for its time, and it set up mechanics which are still used to this day, but it was also repetitive with little variety and a frighteningly boring protagonist.
9 Assassin’s Creed Revelations
Although the story of Ezio wound up being so popular with fans that Ubisoft decided to turn it into a trilogy, said trilogy certainly lost its momentum as it went along. Following the epic Assassin’s Creed II, and a sequel which focussed in on exploring renaissance Rome, AC: Revelations took the aging Ezio to Constantinople, a whole new setting and a fairly interesting story which brought his saga to a close and made some neat links between him and the first game’s protagonist: Altair.
While Revelations isn’t a bad game (as we’ve said, none of them are), it certainly relied on fans’ engagement with Ezio and their excitement to see his story wrap up as a way to keep players engaged.
8 Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood
How could we not ask for more Ezio after fans fell in love with his cheeky charms in Assassin’s Creed II? Its sequel, Brotherhood, offered us a more condensed world in the form of Rome, as well as the series’ introduction to online multiplayer. At the time this game was released, every game of every genre was having online multiplayer awkwardly shoehorned into it, from Bioshock 2 to this. It never went well, but then the games industry will always insist on capitalizing on any potential success that it can, no matter how dire and sad it makes them look.
Anyway, although it was certainly more of the Ezio we love, Brotherhood was also less than ACII in every single way, from its size to its scope to its story
7 Assassin’s Creed Unity
I personally enjoyed Unity a whole lot, though I recognize that Arno felt like Ezio’s boring little brother. I also recognize that it was a buggy mess upon release (even though I finished my own playthrough without encountering a single bug, which must have been down to sheer luck).
The game also suffered from an oversaturation of repetitive tasks which just felt like busywork. It was also released following the insane success of pirate simulator Black Flag, and yet this entry didn’t feature a single ship. That’s an immediate let-down. Still, the game is set during the French Revolution, so it feels like playing through Les Miserables, and that is wonderful enough. The guillotine in the box art always makes me chuckle.
6 Assassin’s Creed Origins
The backlash for this could be huge, but for me, a lot of what makes the Assassin’s Creed series fun is its settings. As a history buff, if I find that particular period exciting then I’ll probably be into the game despite its flaws. For that reason, I could never muster up much love for Origins because I’ve never liked sand or deserts or the period of Ptolemaic Egypt.
Although the game received a massive overhaul in its mechanics, its map design, and its approach to exploration, and it looked and felt gorgeous to play, the setting certainly let it down for me. I just couldn’t care about it. But this one is very subjective, more so than any other on the list, and I recognize that. It’s still a damn fine game, and mechanically one of the best in the series.
5 Assassin’s Creed III
In the same way that Assassin’s Creed II built on all the foundations laid down by the series’ first entry, so too did ACIII attempt to take what made its predecessor great and keep building. This it did, in many respects, but it also felt a little repetitive, with not quite enough added to make it feel diverse and layered. Connor was also certainly not in the same league, as protagonists go, that Ezio was in, even though his story and stakes felt far greater than those of the previous trilogy’s.
What also made this game a big winner was the series’ introduction to naval combat. Although it paled in comparison to what it would later become, this was a really good start. Its setting and aesthetics were also fantastic. The gorgeous townships and a greater focus on wilderness exploration really added an extra layer to the series.
4 Assassin’s Creed II
The game viewed by many fans as the series’ true starting point. Assassin’s Creed II took everything that made the first interesting and forged something truly compelling. Altair was a little bland? Okay, here’s Ezio. The first game’s mechanics were a little limited? Okay, now your climbing is fluid, your movements faster, and your arsenal wider.
This game is a great lesson in how to produce a true sequel that knows how to expand on its world. The setting of Renaissance Italy was also a real winner, with none other than artist, mathematician, and inventor Leonardo Da Vinci himself providing all of your tools and upgrades for you.
3 Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
The last game in the series before it shook up its style and mechanics, shifted to a new engine and moved back (rather than slowly forward) in time to Origins. Syndicate is, to this writer at least, still the most fun game in the series. Its twin protagonists of Evie and Jacob Frye are full of engaging banter, and the game did such a wonderful job of capturing the setting, feel, and tone of Victorian London (one of my favorite periods in British history).
Being able to interact with Charles Dickens and Darwin was just wonderful, as campy and silly as they were, and the smoggy, grimy, dirty environment was one I found myself slowly wandering and soaking up slowly every time I booted up the game.
2 Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
Just as the Assassin’s Creed series was beginning to feel a little stale and its momentum slow down, Ubisoft more-or-less transform this murder simulator into a pirate simulator, making this entry more about living out the fantasy of being captain of a pirate crew, along with everything that comes with it.
In this game, players could pimp out their ship as they saw fit, raid forts and islands, and scour the seven seas for sunken treasure and enemy ships to engage in combat, board, and destroy. Its protagonist, Edward, was also inexplicably made Welsh; a wise-cracking gentleman from Swansea. This decision is hands-down one of the best that Ubisoft has ever made to this day.
1 Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
The latest entry in the series is also easily the best. This one’s success was guaranteed by two things: it is everything that Origins should have been, with a massive open world to explore and a lean towards RPG mechanics, upgrades, and progressions system; and it hailed a massive return of the sailing mechanics so beloved in Black Flag, making them better and more fun in every way.
The inclusion of the option to play as a woman and for your character to fall anywhere on the sexuality spectrum that they chose was also a much-needed and appreciated move by Ubisoft’s part. And let’s not forget the setting: Ancient Greece was a period series fans had been wanting for years, and it proved to be exactly the right choice for this massive open world game.