An official announcement of the next Assassin’s Creed game is imminent. Its release will make it the twelve entry in the long-running franchise that has sold over 140 million copies, making it one of the most successful video game franchises of all time. The series has had its fair share of fails, but some outstanding gems deserve to be highlighted. Let’s look at the top five Assassin’s Creed games ever made.
5. Assassin’s Creed
When Assassin’s Creed released in 2007, it represented the possibility and scale of new generational hardware. The concept was outlandish. Desmond, a bartender, finds that his family are the descendants of an ancient assassins order. Kidnapped, Desmond is forced to relive the memories of his ancestor, Altaïr, who’s mission is to remove twelve high ranking individuals involved in the third crusade. That’s about it for the story. You’re little the wiser by the end of your task, but by god was it fun!
The cities of Damascus, Jerusalem and Acre, are recreated in stunning detail, within the limits of the generation’s tech. Climbing the world’s highest towers, surveying the land below couldn’t help but leave you struck, exhilarated by the inevitable leap of faith. As a spiritual successor to Prince of Persia, Assassin’s Creed welcomed us into a world of historically themed fun that, whether we like it or not, continues to this day. Not only was the concept a refreshing change from the shooters that began to saturate the market at the time. It was also a creative risk that paid off big time for Ubisoft and introduced millions of fans to this wonderful if sometimes slapdash, franchise.
4. Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate
Many ignored Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate. The preceding instalment released in an unplayable state and near destroyed any respect that the franchise had. Fans were wary of being burned again, so they kept their distance. Despite it passing most by, Syndicate is an underrated gem. Set in Victorian London (1886) a city in the unfeeling grip of the industrial revolution. Smog producing chimneys dominate the landscape. Labourers are forced by necessity to slave away in hellish factories, while the nouveau riche grow fat on the profits. As the franchise has taught us, behind every injustice is a Templar, and Assassins are never far away. The assassins in question are Evie and Jacob Fry, a sibling team out for revenge on Rupert Ferris, an evil industrialist.
There’s much to like about Syndicate. A compelling story of political intrigue, well-rounded characters with a personality (an issue with the franchise) not to mention a dazzlingly grim recreation of London. If anything, I hope you’ll give this game a chance, because it deserves more attention than it initially received.
3. Assassin’s Creed: Origins
Every so often a franchise needs a reboot, a change in perspective to preserve the franchise itself. Assassin’s Creed: Origins was a required cleanser to the middling instalments that preceded it (excluding AC: Syndicate). Taking place in Hellenistic Egypt, we get to witness the real beginnings of the Assassin’s order. As Bayek, a bereaved father looking for revenge, you’ll scour the entirety of the land of the Nile, searching for the shadowy figures behind his son’s death.
Helmed by Ashraf Ismail and his miracle team at Ubisoft Montreal, the action-adventure series transitioned into an RPG. Recreating a stalwart series is no simple task, but the developer pulled it off with aplomb. Combat and movement mechanics saw massive overhauls to suit different playstyles. The narrative was longer, more complex than previous games. Side missions littered the vibrant recreation of the land along the Nile. Cities like Alexandrea dominate the landscape when in view, but soon disappear when you enter the vastness of the desert (seriously, it’s massive!).
Offering a satisfying grind, with a rememberable story and lush open-world, among the franchise’s most impressively crafted. AC: Origins isn’t the best the series has to offer, but it’s damn close.
2. Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag
Whoever posed the idea of combining Assassin’s Creed and pirates deserves a chest of gold! Developed by Ubisoft Montreal, Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag mixes legend with reality in this 18th century, swashbuckling adventure that placed the heavy “end of the world” plotline to one side. Instead, Ubisoft created the best pirate simulator ever made. A Caribbean odyssey with a world ripe for exploration and plunder. Sailing the waves, while listening to your crew sing sea shanties is one of the most unforgettable gaming moments of the last decade.
You play Edward Kenway, a privateer who is introduced to the endless war between Templars and Assassins through a case of stolen identity. As a ruffian and womanizer Kenway spends much of the game befriending (or punching) some of the most infamous cutthroats of the time, including Blackbeard, Black Bart and Mary Read. It’s challenging to return to the simplistic gameplay of Black Flags (or any before its RPG rebirth) but, if you can get past the aged mechanics, this is amongst the best and deserves second-place on this list.
1. Assassin’s Creed: The Ezio Trilogy
Assassin’s Creed 2 and its sequels, Brotherhood and Revelations, are among the best games Ubisoft has ever made. Not only is Ezio Auditore the best protagonist of the franchise, but he has also become a modern gaming icon. His story of love, war and revenge spans an entire life, from birth to old age, set against the backdrop of renascence Europe is an epic in every sense of the word. The cities of Venice, Rome and Constantinople are recreated in meticulous detail, showing off the grandeur of late medieval Italy and Turkey while hinting at the empire that preceded, its ruins already dilapidated through centuries of neglect.
The graphics haven’t aged well, and Hunting feathers is annoying. The franchise has made leaps in visual and audio quality, but they have yet to top Ezio or his outstanding three games long narrative, without parodying itself. With the future of the series firmly in the RPG genre and improving with every entry, perhaps we won’t have to wait long for the next great Assassin’s Creed game.