Articles

Assassin’s Creed Main Games, Ranked from Worst to Best

4-12-18

Assassin’s Creed is one of the biggest franchises in the history of gaming. Ever since the release of its first entry in 2007, it has evolved into a series of ten multi-million dollar productions along with many more spinoffs. During its lifespan of over a decade, Assassin’s Creed games have been pretty hit or miss, with some being terrible, some mediocre, and others of exceptional quality.


This past year, I took it upon myself to play through all ten main games in the Assassin’s Creed series, from the original all the way through Origins, and created my own personal ranking from worst to best.


10. Assassin’s Creed


If I were to rank Assassin’s Creed based off of how good it might have been at the time, I may have ranked it higher on this list. After all, it was the game that revolutionized the series and brought it to where it is today. However, as it stands nearly eleven years later, Assassin’s Creed 1 is not very good. It suffers from clunky combat, limited stealth options, bland-looking locales, and very repetitive side missions. The only reason I ever opted to play this game in the first place was for the sake of playing every Assassin’s Creed, and the only way I could recommend this game to anyone is if they wanted to do the same. On the plus side, the game has some very well-written dialogue, and the free-running system is implemented very nicely even this early on in the series. I can appreciate Assassin’s Creed 1 for what it did for the series, but on its own it is not a game worth playing.


9. Assassin’s Creed Unity


Unity is considered by many to be the worst game in the series. On launch it suffered from a ton of game-breaking bugs, and ever since then the series’ reputation has been forever tainted. However, Ubisoft did end up releasing several patches post-launch, and while they did make the game mostly playable, the game is still pretty fundamentally flawed. The new combat system, which was clearly implemented to place less emphasis on counter-attacks and make the game more challenging, feels very clumsy and unreliable. Stealth is improved upon with the addition of crouching, but there were many instances where I found myself detected by enemies that I was supposed to be hidden from. The story, while interesting in theory, is very bland in practice, and suffers from a pretty weak and underdeveloped villain. However, that isn’t to say there aren’t a number of things to love about this game, and these things keep it from being number 10 on this list. For instance, the painstaking amount of detail the developers put into reimagining 18th century Paris in video game form is absolutely spectacular, with Notre Dame looking especially incredible. Another great thing about Unity is its murder mysteries, which are really well written and encourage critical thinking and thoroughly investigating every piece of evidence. Also, the revised free-running system feels pretty fluid, though it can get in its own way at times. Assassin’s Creed Unity, even with the patches, is one of the weakest entries in the series, though you could do a lot worse for its current price of 18 bucks.


8. Assassin’s Creed III


Assassin’s Creed III is probably the most polarizing entry in the Assassin’s Creed series. On one hand, there are many players who think it’s a boring, buggy mess, while there are others who avidly defend it and consider it to be the best in the series. Though it may seem like I fall under the former since I put it at number 8 on this list, I actually fall somewhere in the middle. To me, Assassin’s Creed III is just average, but not average in the sense that every aspect of this game is mediocre, but in the sense that some aspects are exceptionally good and others are exceptionally poor. On one hand, the overhauled combat and stealth work really well, and building the homestead and using the crafting system that comes with it is surprisingly creative and fun. The story is also one of the best in the series (save for the modern-day ending). On the other hand, the game suffers from a great deal of bugs even to this day (I would even go so far to say it’s buggier than Unity in its current state), and a lot of the mission objectives and full-sync requirements are really poorly done. Assassin’s Creed III’s retelling of Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride was one of the least fun experiences I’ve ever had playing a video game. Assassin’s Creed III is a pretty flawed game, but if it was given more time it could have been one of the best.


7. Assassin’s Creed Revelations


Overall, Assassin’s Creed Revelations is just decent. While it has a lot of good gameplay elements going for it, Revelations derives a lot of those elements from its predecessors, especially Brotherhood. The new elements it does bring to the table are pretty hit or miss. While the ability to craft different bombs to use in combat and stealth is an interesting new mechanic, the den defense minigame is not much fun at all. In terms of story, Revelations for the most part is pretty uninteresting, with a villain so bland that I literally forgot his name as soon as I killed him at the end of the game. However, the ending did do a pretty good job of tying up the stories of Ezio and Altair into a neat little bow, and to this day is one of the best moments in the series. Revelations isn’t necessarily a bad game, but it’s definitely the weakest of the Ezio trilogy.


6. Assassin’s Creed Rogue


Rogue is considered by many to be the most underrated game in the franchise, being released on the exact same day as Assassin’s Creed Unity, which received a lot more marketing than Rogue. Of course, Rogue ended up being the better game, but that really isn’t saying much. I myself believe that Rogue gets as much credit as it deserves. The game plays almost identically to Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, and it doesn’t do very much to innovate any further. The story for this game is also extremely short, having only six sequences, which is less than half that of the average Assassin’s Creed game. Not to mention the story itself is fairly lackluster. Rogue isn’t a bad game by any means, but if you’ve played Black Flag, this game doesn’t have much to offer outside of the novelty of playing as a Templar.


5. Assassin’s Creed Syndicate


Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is the game that prompted me to marathon the entire Assassin’s Creed series. This game is awesome. Its gameplay is fairly similar to Unity’s, but unlike Rogue, Syndicate takes the elements of its predecessor and improves on them immensely. The more than welcome addition of the grappling hook makes navigating London and using stealth that much more fun. Stealth was at the series’s best with this game. Not only does the player have a lot of tools at their disposal, but it also has a such a great deal of polish that I almost never felt like it wasn’t my fault when I got detected by an enemy. A major gripe I have with this game that prevents it from being higher on the list is that it’s extremely easy. Once I got the hang of the combat system, I was able to take on any number of enemies and not feel threatened in the slightest. With only one difficulty setting, the best way to challenge yourself in this game is to try to meet the full synchronization requirements, and even that doesn’t do much to make the game more difficult. In spite of that, however, I would highly recommend this game, and for its current price of around $20, you could do a lot worse.


4. Assassin’s Creed II


If you’re a fan of the Assassin’s Creed series, you’re probably wondering why this game isn’t higher on the list, or even number 1 for that matter. Don’t get me wrong, this game is fantastic. It improves on the original in every discernable way, and has what might be the best story and main character in the entire series. The reason it isn’t quite as good as the next three on this list is that it hasn’t aged all that well. It has a fair share of issues like being able to assassinate enemies in open combat and subpar AI. If you’re able to look past those issues, there is a lot to love about this game, and it’s easy to see how it made the series as successful as it is.


3. Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood


Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood is basically like Assassin’s Creed II, but with almost none of its issues. Just like how Assassin’s Creed II improved on Assassin’s Creed I, Brotherhood continued to improve the series even further. Combat, stealth, graphics, polish, side content; nearly everything in Brotherhood is an upgrade to Assassin’s Creed II. However, Brotherhood does lack a little bit in the story department, at least in comparison to its predecessor, and it’s still not quite as polished as the next two games on this list. Regardless, Brotherhood is really fun, and still holds up nearly eight years later.


2. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag


Black Flag being this high on the list should be no surprise to anyone who has played it. Assassin’s Creed IV managed to perfectly capture how it would feel to sail the Caribbean as both an assassin and a pirate. It basically plays like how Assassin’s Creed III should have been, while also expanding on the naval combat that that title introduced. Land combat is fun (if not a little easy), naval combat is reasonably challenging, stealth is layered and complex, the locales are gorgeous to look at and are a nice change of scenery from the European and Middle Eastern-esque cities seen in past games, the characters are interesting and likeable (Edward Kenway is one of the best assassins in the entire franchise), and the story is excellent. There were two things I didn’t like about the game though: ship stealth and diving. The former is about as clunky as it sounds, and its segments in the main campaign were some of my least favorite parts of the game. The latter is extremely frustrating as it requires you to swim around an area collecting treasure while hiding from sharks, but the problem is that it’s extremely difficult to gauge where the sharks can and can’t see you, so I often found myself just swimming from cover to cover as fast as I could hoping the sharks didn’t kill me on the way (not to mention swimming while also trying to be stealthy is about as difficult as you might expect). These are minor issues though, as doing either of these activities is rarely required to progress the story. I had a blast playing Black Flag, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who still hasn’t experienced it yet.


1. Assassin’s Creed Origins


When this game was first announced at E3 2017, I had high hopes for Ubisoft’s newest entry in the Assassin’s Creed series. Ashraf Ismail, the director of Black Flag, was confirmed to be directing the development of Origins, and Ubisoft dropped its “one Assassin’s Creed game per year” business model after Syndicate’s underwhelming sales, so the developers had plenty of time to put into the project. Come October 27th when the game was released, I was very glad that I wasn’t disappointed. The game brings a ton of new things to the table, and every single one of them is more than welcome. The overhauled combat replaces the counter with the ability to sidestep and block, placing an emphasis on skill rather than spamming the counter button until every enemy is dead. Eagle vision is changed to use an actual eagle that gives you a bird’s eye view of your surroundings. Melee weapons and bows have different types and properties that add variety to combat and stealth. The predator bow for example acts as a sniping weapon and, with the proper ability upgrade, arrows can be guided to their target in first person after they are fired from it. Enemy A.I. is greatly improved and adds a new layer to stealth (if you kill some enemies in a fort, the commander there will get stressed and start patrolling the fort instead of sleeping). I could go on and on about all of the great new things about this game, but there are just too many to cover. One complaint I have of this game is that the world is lacking a bit in the way of visual variety, but considering it’s based off of real-world Egypt, there really isn’t much the developers could have done about it. The story is also a bit lacking (especially the modern day segments) and the difficulty could have been a little higher (playing on normal difficulty felt like easy difficulty), but these aren’t very significant problems. I can’t recommend this game enough, and it’s a shame that its release was overshadowed by the release of more highly anticipated games in 2017. If Origins is the direction Assassin’s Creed is headed then I’m looking forward to Ubisoft’s next entry in the series.