The best Assassin’s Creed games, ranked from worst to best
A definitive look at the hood, the bad, and the ugly
Ranking the best Assassin’s Creed games is a bit like sneaking into a castle of Templars with a set of poison darts and a hidden blade; you’re always going to upset someone. But that’s not going to stop us. The hooded franchise has evolved massively over the last decade, delivering yearly sprawling playgrounds so big that it was a relief when Ubisoft decided to take a year break after Odyssey. But who reigns supreme? Ezio? Kassandra? Arno? Connor? Ahem…
It’s important to note that this list only includes the main entries in the series. The side-scrolling AC Chronicles trilogy, PSP-only Bloodlines, and Assassin’s Creed: Freedom Cry are all incognito delights in their own ways, but this ranking is for the heavy hitters only. So pop your hood up, whistle your horse, or just settle into your closest flowerbed as we run down the best Assassin’s Creed games.
12. Assassin’s Creed 3: Liberation
On paper – or, well, website – Assassin’s Creed Liberation has it all. 18th century New Orleans.... The same tree running and crunchy dual wield combat as AC3…. The French-African Aveline de Grandpré as our first playable female Assassin… So why is it sitting at the bottom of the haypile? Well, Liberation’s setting is a treat but little else is. The story limps along and a frustrating wardrobe change mechanic forces Aveline out of her stabby roof running clothes and into other guises. One of which, complete with a restrictive corset and floor length skirt, means she can’t run or climb. Y’know, just the central conceits that make the series so much fun in the first place. Sorry Aveline, we love your machete and blow pipe though.
11. Assassin’s Creed
Ah, where it all began. Patrice Désilets and Jade Raymond’s 2008 original hooded baby is the template for everything that came after. Yes, that was a terrible ‘Those Who Came Before’ pun. The first AC introduced the lore, the hidden blade, sprawling cities, and plenty of absurdly tall things to clamber up with the glum Altair. And, yet, while all of those things are present, look back now and this is a mere testing ground for the rest of the series. Like the murder-y iconic White Room you take your assassination targets when it’s time to wave goodbye, this open world feels like a minimalist AC experience. Throw in the unlikeable protagonist and all those flags to collect and it’s a good thing it only went up from here.
10. Assassin’s Creed 3
Poor Assassin’s Creed 3 was always going to have a fight on its hands back in 2012. It was the first Ezio-free entry in the series after Mr. Auditore da Firenze’s three part swan song. No pressure then. Unfortunately, Ratonhaké:ton, also known as Connor, is an uncharismatic grump as he battles his way through the American Revolutionary War. But all isn’t lost. The step away from the Ezio Trilogy added a slew of features still lurking in the shadows of the series today. AC3 was the first to have ships and naval combat, wildlife to hunt, running through trees, crafting, and even the building of a settlement. A narrative bait and switch at the start of the game stings as you spend six hours actually just becoming an Assassin but ignore Connor’s mood swings and this is actually the teenage stage of the franchise itself. With really satisfying combat animations.
9. Assassin’s Creed Unity
There’s no denying it. You’re already thinking about the endless flowing hair worthy of a L'Oréal ad and floating eyeballs. Despite quickly patching out some catastrophic Day One bugs, Unity has gone down in history as a glitch in the franchise. But, and you knew a but was coming, there’s still plenty to enjoy in Revolutionary Paris with Arno Dorian. Ignore the brave but misguided addition of co-op and the streets of Paris are truly beautiful. Plus, Unity was the first in the series to approach assassination missions with what it called ‘black boxes.’ These are innovative Hitman-style closed missions where you can choose between multiple distraction options in pursuit of your deadly goal. And hey – or hay – building a theatre as a home base is actually quite a lot of fun.
8. Assassin’s Creed Rogue
Probably the least-played of all the Creeds, Rogue was initially released as a PS3 and Xbox 360 exclusive as the next generation got to go on holiday to the home of the guillotine. But there are plenty of reasons to give its remastered version a shot. For one, it’s a chillier version of Black Flag, full of icebergs and creaking ships as Shay Cormac sails AC3’s Hudson River Valley and the chilly North Atlantic under the Northern Lights. Rogue’s story is short but it’s actually one of the boldest in the series to date as Shay switches his allegiance from Assassin to Templar. This means the tense addition of those hooded monsters constantly trying to murderise you and leads to one of the best crossover endings the franchise has ever seen.
7. Assassin’s Creed: Revelations
Aha, the first of the Ezio Trilogy to arrive on this list. Everyone’s favourite Master Assassin’s final outing is a trip to Constantinople on a quest to find the keys to Altair’s Assassin library. Older and wiser than the impudent young man we first met in Florence, Ezio proves that you can teach an old dog new tricks as he gets a hookblade for speeding across ziplines and a whole new set of bombs that really upset Byzantine guards. Revelations didn’t reinvent the AC wheel and we’ll ignore the tacked on tower defence section to Assassin dens, but Ezio’s story remains magical. Jesper Kyd’s final AC score as he passed the baton to Lorne Balfe is an atmospheric treat that makes a perfect companion to the beautiful streets and rooftops of Constantinople. Oh, and the ending is an absolute kick in the feels.
6. Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
The second in Ezio’s trilogy, should, by rights, never have been this satisfying. Moving the action to an enormous Rome, Brotherhood doesn’t change much from Assassin’s Creed 2’s formula but just delivers more of what everyone loved the first time around. The addition of Borgia Towers to (which you can satisfyingly explode) adds even more variety to the already pleasant pick-and-mix of side quests, and even riding through the city streets is a perfect way to take in the sights and irritate guards. Further proof that Rome wasn’t built in a day, the constant rebuilding of landmarks with cold hard cash is a perfect replacement for those who miss Monteriggioni. The story, too, is constantly entertaining, with the Borgias making brilliantly camp true villains. Eagle dive back in and you won’t be disappointed.
5. Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
Before everyone donned their horny hats and beards, Victorian London was top of every AC fans wishlist, meaning that Syndicate had a lot to live up to. Thankfully Jacob and Evie Frye, gang leaders and master Assassins to boot, make for entertaining bloodthirsty guides through the grimy workhouse-packed world of Charles Dickens and Queen Victoria. Somehow Alexander Graham Bell found time around inventing the telephone to craft the ludicrously satisfying rope launcher for the twins, making the climbing of the London skyline considerably more Spidey-esque. Exploring the capital with Austin Wintory’s score is a delight as you steal carriages and hurtle through the streets with police on your tail, and there’s nothing quite like annihilating London’s goons with the iconic cane sword. Syndicate also gets points alone for having a moving steam train hideout constantly chugging around the map.
4. Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag
We all have our guilty pleasure combo movies. Freddy vs Jason. Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus. But when it comes to Pirates vs Assassin’s Creed, thankfully Black Flag is far more than a guilty pleasure. This swashbuckling Caribbean journey with the roguish Edward Kenway is a glorious rum-soaked adventure. Endless pistols, swords, cannon, deserted lonely islands, and the famous pirates of the day mean that Edward’s birth as an Assassin feels like a brilliant dream. Ignore the campaign, set sail and see where the wind takes you. Adventures in a diving bell, whale hunting, buried treasure, getting drunk at bars, it’s all here for the taking. And annihilating ship after ship and claiming their crew and parts never feels less than a truly fist pumping achievement. A not so buried treasure.
3. Assassin’s Creed Origins
There’s something fascinating about Ancient Egypt. Whether you’re enthralled by the building of the pyramids or darkly obsessed with the removal of the brain with a hook via a nostril, this is a historical period seared into most of our minds since childhood. Origins had a lot to live up to, but our introduction to Bayek and the beginnings of the Assassins as a whole was the dawning of a new era for the franchise. There isn’t the choice of Odyssey but weapon upgrades, quests, a pet eagle to scout out the land, and a new combat style upgraded the entire AC experience. Ducking and rolling away from significantly more aggressive enemies is compelling, and climbing those aforementioned pyramids, complete with gold tips, is Assassin catnip. Bayek’s journey too is a heartfelt one – but yet again, it’s the world it’s wrapped up in that truly elevates Origins. Egypt is no mere sandy playground. Cities, deserts, lush grassland and the Nile itself means you can lose yourself for hours.
2. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
Your ranking of AC Odyssey depends on when you experienced the series for the first time. If you’ve been wearing a hidden blade since 2008, you’ll be happy with the current order, but if 2018 was your first AC experience, Kassandra and Alexios will be teetering on the pinnacle of open world adventures. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s Witcher-osity can’t be downplayed. This sprawling, full Ancient Greek RPG is a tour de force of violence, romance, and endless quests just waiting to be discovered. The hidden blade is dropped entirely in favour of the Broken Spear of Leonidas, a mystical maguffin using ancient Those Who Came Before tech to make Kass and Alexios miniature gods. Spartan kicks, rains of magical arrows and Hulk-style mega smashes make for thrilling conquest battles on sun-drenched beaches. But it’s the moments in between the shield shattering that makes Odyssey exceptional. Doing what AC games have always excelled at, reaching the top of every hill and viewpoint delivers yet another beautiful horizon waiting to be explored.
1. Assassin’s Creed 2
Of course it’s number one. We’re not complete monsters. Assassin’s Creed 2 still stands as not just the best AC game but goes down in history as one of the best open world games of all time. Ezio’s Renaissance Italy is a treat for the eyes and the ears as we’re thrust into the fiery battles of the Templars and Assassins during the 15th century. Whether you’re rubbing shoulders with Leonardo Da Vinci, using a flying machine, disturbing the pigeons of Venice with clinking tiles underfoot, or exploring the echoing depths of dank tombs, this is an open world that’s constantly evolving and alive. And Ezio is far more than just a charming lothario, growing up with him through his grim origins story is a perfect superhero narrative. That Kyd score and those heady synchronisation spins means AC2 is still a true masterpiece. To go a bit Lion King: everything the light touches is yours.