Ubisoft‘s Assassin’s Creed franchise has become one of the more prevalent series throughout gaming. When originally released it promised to let gamers dive into the world of Assassin’s and Templar’s. The series has had many outings, some great and some not so. We decided that in lieu of the upcoming Ezio Collection – we’d take a look back at the franchise and rank our favorite outings from the main series of games. To be clear, what makes a good Assassin’s Creed game for me is the ability to hold my interest and deliver a fun world to explore. The weaker games don’t do this – the better ones excel at it.
So let’s not delay, let’s dive into the action and rank the Assassin’s Creed games (worst to best).
14. Assassin’s Creed: Bloodlines (PSP) – The only outing on the original PSP console also happens to be one of the more awkward offerings the series threw up. The switch to Cyprus is really cleverly done, and the attempt to bring the original games more impressive features along for the ride shouldn’t be overlooked. Yet despite all this, a lot of the features don’t make it through the scaling process well at all – in particular the Assassin-Templar war which becomes an awkward background player to the Maria Thorpe/Altair relationship. Ass in the fact the camera is garbage, the levels are cramped and the combat is shockingly nullified – and what you’re left with is a disappointing mess that never comes together.
13. Chronicles: Russia – Here’s the problem with these Chronicle games – you really need to be a hardcore fan of the lore to get the maximum enjoyment from them. Here we have the return of Nikolai Orelov (Who featured in The Fall and Chain comic). The problem however is the game itself is just a tedious slog of awkward combat and chase missions that feel hilariously poor. I’m sure if you’re a big fan of the Chronicles series – this final outing will interest you. But for me, I couldn’t be bothered to finish it.
12. Assassin’s Creed: Unity – Let’s just say it – Unity was a horror show across the board. The first truly next-gen outing crashed hard when it landed on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in 2014 – delivering the worst of all aspects for the franchise at a time when it needed to nail it out the park. The introduction of co-op missions and game play should have been a huge moment for the franchise, but it amounted to little more than an awkward sideshow. Add in the fact the game arrived with a boatload of glitches, bugs and generally poorly optimised gameplay that really brought the franchise to its knees and you’ve got the worst console offering of Assassin’s Creed ever committed. All this is without talking about the micro-transactions, which proved to be the icing on a horribly baked cake. Avoid.
11. Chronicles: India – Another Chronicle game, another take-it or leave-it affair. In defense of this game, it feels much more inviting than then Russia outing – the story of Arbaaz Mir another excuse for hardcore fans to deep dive into the wider Assassin’s Creed world. The gameplay is fine, focusing more on stealth and trying to create a better flow throughout. Yet despite this – I’ve never felt compelled to push people who aren’t huge Assassin’s Creed fans into this game. Another one for hardcore fans.
10. Assassin’s Creed III – The wheels come flying off the franchise for the first time as Assassins Creed III disappointed upon arrival. The game tried its hand at a number of new ideas, something that should be commended. Yet even when playing – it just lacks the fun of the series better games. The story is woefully poor while the fun parts don’t last nearly long enough. This game has some serious fans – but for me it was never good enough to be in the conversation for best game in the series.
9. Assassin’s Creed: Liberation – Liberation is the portable Assassin’s Creed game that could. Stripping back a number of the series features allowed the game room to tell a much deeper story. The introduction of the disguise system delivers a hugely entertaining twist on the gameplay. The biggest problem however is the limited scope – something that only gets more noticeable when you play the console versions of the game. Yet despite this, Ubisoft failed to back the game with a strong marketing presence, pushing the game on both Vita and 360/PS3. Many gamers simply passed it by – a shame if you’re more interested in the story than the gameplay aspect of the series.
8. Assassin’s Creed – The original Assassin’s Creed managed to set up the series and established the order of what came afterwards – yet it has a heap of niggles and problems that don’t make things enjoyable if you’re revisiting. The awkwardly dull “down” periods between hubs plague the games enjoyment – while the combat was still very much a work in progress. The missions are hugely repetitive while the games lack of refinement means that a number of game play issues weren’t ironed out until the sequel. Yet it’s the introduction of Altair and the presentation that would become staples of the series – and in these areas the original still stands up.
7. Assassin’s Creed: Revelations – The big problem with Revelations is that it didn’t do enough to stand out from the other Ezio games. By this stage fans were yearning for something new – Revelations felt very much like a retread. The little improvements like the introduction of the hookblade, as well as the movement tweaks added to the more tight game play didn’t add up to a new enough experience. The only huge new addition to gameplay came in the form of the tower defense game which…. does anyone remember it fondly? This one’s mostly a nice way of wrapping up the Ezio and Altair story lines – and if you’ve become invested in either of those guys then you’ll probably love this.
6. Chronicles: China – Arguably the best of the Chronicles games – the Chinese setting lends itself beautifully to the art style. The story of Shao Jun is the best in this mini-series – and the story lends itself to some deeper pondering. Sadly it’s here where this game falls apart – the villains are lazily slapped together and lack depth in their motives. It’s here though that gameplay is at its peak – the marriage of stealth and less focus on combat means the game never feels like it’s overreaching.
5. Assassin’s Creed: Rogue – What should have been the sideshow to Unity turned out to be the best game of that year in the franchise. The axing of multiplayer may have upset some, but the focus on single player allowed for a much more refined experience. This time you play as a Templar – a unique twist that the series hasn’t come back to address since. The introduction of the air rifle and grenade launcher shakes things up nicely – while the gameplay feels close to Black Flag’s solid experience. Your enjoyment of Rogue will largely differ on how much you enjoyed Black Flag – given that the two share so much DNA. For me it was a welcome return to form – arguably better than the games that followed it.
4. Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate – Syndicate found itself in a very awkward position. After the disastrous Unity – things had to improve quickly for the series. Luckily the decision to focus on the story’s of Jason and Evie Frye means the game has a renewed sense of purpose – the two sharing jokes and bantering quickly helps ease you into their world. The controls are much smoother while the industrial setting of London really comes to life as the developers get it right. The best thing about it though is the series began taking logical risks again. Hitching a ride on a train, riding carts and just a generally good time. Syndicate feels like the series on the rise – hopefully Ubisoft can stick the landing in the next outing.
3. Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood – Arguably the point at which the series entered its annual release schedule fully – leading to a game that felt more like a refinement of Assassin’s Creed II. At this point however that wasn’t a bad thing – Brotherhood took to new locales and delivered a hugely exciting expansion to the ACII experience. The biggest single addition was multiplayer – which threw in a competitive mission-based battles between Assassin’s and Templar’s. It was hugely fun and while not totally refined – was the kind of experience that fans had been dreaming up as you didn’t know who to trust and who was out to beat you.Add in the improved single player experience – which turned Ezio into a master planner for the Assassin’s and brought in a global element to proceedings – and its easy to see why so many gamers hold this up as one of the series high-points.
2. Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag – In truth, picking between this and Assassin’s Creed II was hugely difficult. In the end I opted for Black Flag through sheer enjoyment. It’s a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously – embracing the pirate themes and delivering a raucous outing that not only blows the series off its hinges, hasn’t been topped since. The ship exploration and combat sections are well thought out, while the main character Edward is the perfect vessel for fans who’d grown weary with all the pointless fluff that previous games had built up. He didn’t care about the Templar’s and Assassin’s – he was a pirate and by god he wasn’t afraid to have fun with it. Sure there are niggles in the mix (Some of the overworld is dull to explore) but it’s nothing that steals from this great adventure.
1. Assassin’s Creed II – What can be said about Assassin’s Creed II that hasn’t been said a million times over? The game takes the ideas from the original outing and refines them into a perfect sheen. The game manages to iron out the dull overworld, giving gamers a deeper world to enjoy. Ezio is the real star of this world however, the gamer being given reasons to invest in his story of revenge – watching him grow and develop as the tale takes its twists and turns. It’s the cast of characters too that helps to define the games excellence; from the eccentric Leonardo Di Vinci through to the villain of the piece Rodrigo Borgia – who gamers are invited to despise. It’s in the game play however that things really pickup – the combat fleshed out while the running mechanics are less tedious to employ. Overall, Assassin’s Creed 2 set the bar high for the series, delivering on the promised potential the original outing teased.