The Assassin's Creed series is about to take its first real step into the future of gaming with the release of Assassin's Creed Unity exclusively on next gen consoles. I have a lot of love for the series, so I decided I wanted to share my thoughts on all six of the main games released thus far.

If I had to pick one thing that I really enjoy about Assassin's Creed, it would have to be its devotion to bringing to life different eras from history. Always being able to explore new worlds and sort of experience history firsthand is what allows the series to remain relevant from entry to entry. The best Assassin's Creed games must not only balance their love for history, but also tell great original stories (in the past and present) and gracefully manage to integrate a number of interlocking gameplay systems. Even with thousands of people working on these games getting everything right is no easy task, but Assassin's Creed largely always delivers year after year.

I thought it would be fun to try ranking the series before the release of Unity. All six of the Assassin's Creed games were designed and released during the Xbox 360 and PS3 era so this is sort of the last time where it will be fair to compare all of the games in the series against one another.

Here is my ranking of the Assassin's Creed games. (Spoiler Free! - Does include basic plot info and character backgrounds.)


6: Assassin's Creed Revelations

Revelations is the only Assassin's Creed game that never quite came together into something meaningful and is the low point of the series. While I am negative on the game, it should be said that there were a few bright spots such as some really well designed hidden dungeons (the light house dungeon being one of the series best) and also realizing an inspired setting with the underground city of Cappadocia. The bright spots however do not forgive the inconsequential story or all of the many gameplay failings. A majority of the missions were either tailing missions or walking slowly through the city with a companion. Neither mission type was fun or engaging and both especially fell flat since the central conflict being unraveled never feels relevant to Ezio or the player. Revelations most heinous crime was how it actively discouraged fun by linking criminal activity to an awful tower defense minigame and how at the same time it made it harder to reduce notoriety. Mercifully, Revelations is easily the most skippable of the Assassin's Creed games as there is no significant developments for either Ezio or Desmond.

5: Assassin's Creed III

Assassin's Creed III was a major improvement over Assassin's Creed Revelations, but it still had some problems of its own. AC III contains large stretches of land that really do not have any significant amounts of content attached to it. The vast wilderness was artistically impressive but there wasn't much reason to explore it beyond that it existed. The cities in the game being full of small houses didn't lend itself to the series parkour navigation and the underground catacombs were even more devoid of actual content and purpose than the wilderness. Mission design remained uneven in Assassin's Creed III as many missions were either fetch quests or the infamous tailing missions.

Despite its stumbles, Assassin's Creed III reestablished the sense of purpose and confidence that was missing from the series since Assassin's Creed II. While it didn't deliver with the then future storyline, it did an amazing job in presenting interesting stories within the American Revolution (one of my favorite periods of history). Assassin's Creed III introduced an incredible and complex character with Haytham Kenway that gave us real insights into the Templars' ideology. The main character of the game, Connor, also had an interesting arc and perspective for the American Revolution that really mattered especially as he interacted with the Founding Fathers.

Assassin's Creed III also introduced two very fun activities with fortresses and naval combat. The former was reminiscent of the original Assassin's Creed as it presented significant open-ended problems to solve. The naval combat was the highlight of the entire game. While essentially restricted to linear missions, the boat combat was something I had never experienced in a video game before. So much love was put into this one aspect of the game (the waves and weather technology, the impact of the weapons) that it was able to serve as the anchor for future games in the series.

4: Assassin's Creed

My first experience with Assassin's Creed was with the original game in the series. I was interested in the game because of its unique setting and because it was supposed to be the follow up to the Prince of Persia games from the previous generation. What immediately struck me about the game was how different its open world was from its competition. Not only was the setting really inspired, the protagonist, Altair, had minimal equipment at his disposal and had very unique abilities. Altair could blend in with crowds, climb up the sides of buildings and traverse the world on horseback. Whether he was traversing the world or taking part in sword combat, Altair always looked and felt awesome to play as.

The structure of the game really appealed to me as you had to gather information on targets that each had their own back stories and motivations before being tasked with infiltrating their unique strongholds, killing them (hopefully stealthfully) and then safely returning back to the Assassin's bureau. During this process the three cities in the game (Jerusalem, Acre and Damascus) would begin to open up more and more, which felt like a significant reward. The game felt extra significant at the time too as it introduced a framing device for the story with a future storyline that wrapped up your character in a war between the Assassins and Templars. It made me excited to see where they would take the series in the future and sort of ensured I'd always be interested in frequent entries in the series to keep up with the overarching story.

While it may be rough around the edges in some ways and lacks the variety of future games, I think Assassin's Creed still has significant value. It established the fantasy of playing an assassin in history and presented a strong structure that has been disappointingly abandoned. Since it is so unique within the series, I think it's a game still absolutely worth playing.

3: Assassin's Creed Brotherhood

I wasn't sure about Assassin's Creed Brotherhood before it came out. We had just gotten Assassin's Creed II the previous year and I was concerned that the rapid turnaround would mean it wouldn't be nearly as good. Brotherhood is one of the best games in the series because it really expanded the great gameplay established by Assassin's Creed II. Brotherhood is restricted to Rome, but it really feels like Rome is your playground as you loot and conquer the city only to eventually reinvest in it and reap the rewards. Brotherhood has the best metagame in the whole series as everything you do feeds into giving you more tools and money. There are a lot of fantastic activities to partake in too such as taking over all of the Templar towers, finding and looting puzzle-like tombs and solving The Truth puzzles.

The title of the game refers to one of the significant new features of the game where you as Ezio must rebuild the Assassin's Brotherhood. After rescuing and recruiting new members you can send them on missions, level them up and even call them in to help you out. It really is the best implementation of the system in the series and makes you feel even more awesome than you are by default. While I didn't enjoy Ezio's story as much as I did in Assassin's Creed II, Brotherhood did have the best modern day gameplay and story of the series.

2: Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag

Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag is the best pirate game ever made wrapped up in an Assassin's Creed shell. I really enjoyed exploring the waters and islands of the Caribbean while taking on all of the battleships and forts I could as my pirate crew belted out sea shanties. It was fun being able to mix the naval combat introduced in Assassin's Creed III with the classic combat when boarding ships and taking over forts. While some of the on foot gameplay left a little to be desired, I really appreciated how well designed all of the maps were. Not only were they super colorful and beautifully realized, but they once again felt great to traverse like they did in the first three games.

Black Flag mixed in some of the best elements of Far Cry 3 like the hunting, more open-ended challenges, and some of the trippy insanity from that series which all worked out really well. Perhaps my favorite thing about Assassin's Creed IV was the return of the variety of activities and post game content that was missing in the series since Brotherhood. I enjoyed treasure hunting, diving missions, whaling and my absolute favorite activity taking on the five super boss legendary ships.

Black Flag may have had some bad stealth gameplay and the most absurd modern day content yet, but the core gameplay loop is so strong and the vast amount of its content is so interesting that it edges out Brotherhood for me. 

1: Assassin's Creed II

Assassin's Creed II is without a doubt the best Assassin's Creed game to date. All three of the major elements of Assassin's Creed, story, gameplay and history, are carefully blended together to become something far more special than any of their individual parts.

The story of Assassin's Creed II is the best in the series by far as it focuses on establishing the origin of a very loveable character, Ezio Auditore da Firenze. Unlike his predecessor, Ezio is very much a human character. While he is motivated by avenging the wrongful execution of his family, he is also a character capable of loving others and is often quite positive and humorous. He develops a network of friends, family and love interests over the course of the game which really helps to further endear him. The challenges Ezio faces over the course of Assassin's Creed II feel the most natural and meaningful. The finale of the story doesn't disappoint with an epic final showdown and a series of revelations and developments that were really cool to consider.

The gameplay of Assassin's Creed II was one of the best in the series as the platforming was really refined from the original game. Ezio's abilities expanded naturally and he didn't get too many overpowered weapons that would trivialize the combat as in later games. Stealth was improved significantly as you could recruit different groups to blend in, manipulate the crowd via money and fear, and also move and hide incapacitated bodies. Assassin's Creed II also introduced meta elements to the series with the introduction of Ezio's villa. You could not only upgrade your arsenal by investing in shops and infrastructure but you could also invest in aesthetic improvements by investing in art work.

Assassin's Creed II also used history to its advantage better than any other game in the series. Visiting Renaissance Italy doubled as both a history lesson and an exercise in virtual tourism at its finest as the different cities all had their own distinct wondrous qualities and atmosphere. My favorite thing about the setting was being able to experience firsthand the art, architecture and philosophy of the era that I was learning about in my AP European class. Perhaps even better was that the use of history wasn't just confined to the Renaissance as Assassin's Creed II introduced an epic conspiracy called The Truth that was greater the entirety of human history. Trying to figure out how it all fit together was one of the most exciting parts of the series.


That concludes my latest blog! I hope you enjoyed reading it. I'm curious what are your favorite Assassin's Creed games and why? Are you picking up either Unity or Rogue soon? Please feel free to share in the comments below! I always enjoy reading and responding to your comments.