I hope this doesn’t die in new, the whole process took about seven/eight months!! Quick disclaimer: I did not make this to circlejerk around and say “old game good new game bad.” Every single Assassin’s Creed game has strengths and weaknesses. In addition, I made this as a concerned but diehard fan who wants to document where I see the series going and mistakes and accomplishments that have come up along the way.
I will first state that I am obviously not objective. I have a few biases. These will be explained shortly. In addition, I am not a professional game reviewer, nor do my opinions hold any real weight. I am a longtime fan of the series who wanted to play every single game in the series and document what I think worked, and what I think didn’t, so that we could all better understand why Assassin’s Creed games nowadays don’t evoke the same “feeling” as old games. There may be some opinions here that are controversial, and may even go against traditional views about the series. I tried to keep my opinions factual and not just stuff like “Lucy Thorne wears a stupid hat so Syndicate is a bad game!” (Just to be clear, she does wear a stupid hat). In addition, there will be some “fucks” here and there when I was really annoyed at a certain feature, but I’ll try to go easy on the adult language.
First, my biases. There are three aspects I really value in games, and at its best, Assassin’s Creed exemplifies all of them. The first is story. If a game does not have a good story, with well rounded characters, I won’t connect with it. You’ll see, towards the bottom of the rankings, there are multiple games with great gameplay that fall apart where the story is concerned. This takes me out of the game to a point where I don’t care what’s happening. The second is stealth. If a game allows me to get from point a to b without killing every single enemy, and without engaging in combat, I love that. I play every game stealthily if there’s an option. It’s definitely the wrong way to play certain games, such as Wolfenstein, but I do it anyway, because that’s how much I love stealth. The last is strategy (I like alliterations). It goes along with stealth, but I appreciate when a game gives me multiple options to complete my objective, or when completing my objective is not just “go here, do this, kill enemies.” I will admit that strategy can get annoying when it is implemented poorly and haphazardly, as well as excessively (more on that with game number 9), but overall it’s one of the things I love about a game. Assassin’s Creed showed off their strategy in everything from optional objectives for perfect sync, to puzzle rooms, to climbs that were not even close to straight forward.
Some other random biases and observations will be in comment form, as my initial post was too long.
Obviously there will be spoilers for basically every game, and I don’t wanna do the due diligence of blocking out every single spoiler. I assume if you are reading this and if it means something to you, that means you have at least played every game at SOME point. So, here we go:
- Assassin’s Creed Liberation Pros:
Personas is a very intriguing concept and really adds to the idea of social stealth
Very creative and unique setting
The whip is a really interesting tool for use in combat
Overall the stealth is handled really well in this game
Citizen E: Great mechanic, implemented really lazily
I wanted to burn something when I got to the canoe river mission
Then they follow up the canoe mission with a stupidly hard underwater level? Did anyone sit down and play this game?
Characterization doesn’t exist in this game for some reason
The majority of exposition pops up in random cards during loading screens
Minor one, but Agate’s hideout is really hard to get into and you have to go there SO MUCH
Overall, I wanted to like this game. There’s so much to like. The gameplay, the setting, the implementation of social stealth, so much in this game just feels like classic Assassin’s Creed. But the story, if you can call it that, is just so, random. Things just happen for no rhyme or reason. No one has a motivation to do anything, they just do whatever. This really takes you out of the game, and made my playthrough not enjoyable.
- Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (CONTROVERSIAL) Pros:
The game, and the atmosphere, are just beautiful
Alcibiades is just a great side character
Transmogrification allows me to pick whatever gear I want and avoid looking like a dumbass
The family dynamic is a good motivation for story, even if it’s been done before
Combat is much smoother than Origins and Valhalla
The most fun I had in the game was hunting cultists
This game is… a lot. Even on New Game Plus, it still took two months to finish. My first playthrough took me four months to complete.
No fall damage makes me feel more like a god than well… a person.
There is literally no nuance to climbing… except when you get to the Fates of Atlantis
Assassinations should always be a one hit kill, thank you for coming to my TED talk
Not everything needs a dialogue choice
(This is my angriest point sorry) WHAT THE FUCK IS THE MODERN DAY STORY??????? WHY DO THE ASSASSINS GET MAD AT LAYLA FOR KILLING TEMPLAR GUARDS WHO WERE ATTACKING HER WHAT THE FUCK DO THEY THINK ASSASSIN MEANS???? WAS THIS GAME LITERALLY WRITTEN BY BARNEY THE PURPLE FUCKING DINOSAUR????
I’m out of cons I just wanted to apologize for the rant
I didn’t want to do this, especially because I know a lot of people will discount Liberation as a real game and take this to mean that Odyssey is the worst game. And Odyssey isn’t a terrible game. But even on New Game Plus, it took me over a month and a half to complete. It’s a really big game, and sometimes that isn’t a good thing. If the game could tell a more cohesive and thematically rich story, then the length would be forgiven. But when you combine the lengthy game with an okay, at best, story about a non-assassin, and then tack on some dumb mechanics and a tedious DLC story that is necessary for advancing the frame narrative, then you end up with the worst, “legitimate” Assassin’s Creed game ever made.
- Assassin’s Creed Revelations Pros:
The hookblade has two parts, a hook and a blade
Huge graphical upgrade from Brotherhood
Ezio’s best costume. Deal with it nerds
Executions are some of the most brutal in Assassin’s Creed
Automatic Following makes things so much easier
Great attention to detail
The connection between Altair/Ezio/Desmond is really well handled and ties up a lot of arcs before the inevitable conclusion in Assassin’s Creed III
A great potential story was turned into a wild MacGuffin chase with a bunch of 16th century Ottoman Politics for good measure
Abbas, as a character, does not hold the narrative weight that the developers think he does
I never messed with bomb crafting or den defense, they didn’t need to be there
It’s really easy to gain notoriety and really hard to get rid of, making the game super annoying
Eagle Vision Eagle Sense is really hard to activate unless you’re standing still, at which point stalkers attack you
Ezio’s parachute is dumb, just dumb
The fog sits weirdly on the ground. Pay attention to it the next time you play Revelations
Ezio deserved better. As the breakout star of the series, and still the most popular Assassin, his game deserved more. This game was confusing, causing Ezio to take a backseat role and be a passive character in a political theater. In addition, the game is a glorified fetch quest. There are no overarching themes or story beats, just things happening. In addition, the game changed a lot that didn’t need to be changed. Eagle Vision didn’t need to be renamed, bombs and tower defense didn’t need to be introduced, and slow motion didn’t need to be thrown in there.
- Assassin’s Creed Syndicate Pros:
The WWI Section is the best section of the game
Combat is a great mix of timing and brute force
First Assassin’s Creed game where you don’t look like a very obvious Assassin
Evie is a good character who gets a bum rap, don’t @ me
Sequences feel a bunch of disjointed, sitcom misadventures
Sequence 8 should have been a DLC
The Carriage Theft Auto aspects seem shoved in
Trains are nowhere near as cool as the game wants you to think they are
Doesn’t really give the player any reason to care about the Assassins other than just saying that they are good guys
It doesn’t line up with themes of Assassin’s Creed as a whole
I’m not gonna lie; it took me forever to not hate this game. Even now, I still have a rocky relationship with it. If you put these mechanics into a game with the story of Assassin’s Creed II (minor spoiler for later in the list, but you knew I’d rank that game high), then I would eat it up. But, alas, the mechanics are in a game that was completely disconnected from the themes of an Assassin’s Creed game. Yes, Crawford Starrick is evil, but why? What connection does this game have to history as a whole, and what themes does it display? All I see when playing this game is a bunch of disconnected episodes, with some historical figures here and there. Victorian England was the setting, yes, but it also became a gimmick, and ultimately was not strong enough to hold up the story on its own.
P.S. I am very very very very very very very very mixed on the grappling hook. I didn’t mention it so that I could avoid starting a fight.
- Assassin’s Creed Valhalla (CONTROVERSIAL) Pros:
I kind of feel like an assassin again
The story is redeemed in the large, and iconic Assault of Portcestre mission, and is improved greatly from there out
I didn’t realize how much I missed the whole “badguys being Christians trope” until Fulke fought me using a cross
The exploration is so frustrating I wanted to drive to Montreal and slap the person responsible
Tailing and gender swapping were done so little that they may as well have not been in the game
The ending did not really stick the landing… Why did they trust Basim so easily? And why were they in Canada to begin with? If the vault was in Norway, and they were in Canada, why did Sean say he would start up the van? These questions aren’t enough to make me want to learn more, just enough to annoy me
Sigurd is the great value version of Dutch Van der Linde, since your relationship with him is never really established beyond “brothers”
Social stealth doesn’t work very well, and the fact that walking is NOT the default movement speed makes it worse
The story for the first half, and a bit in the second half, is so disjointed and bogged down that you just wanna finish the game by the time it gets good
Oh my god Eivor’s parents die? What a shocking twist, I could never have seen this coming…
I wanted so badly to like this game. Real assassin’s walking around, Hidden blade with guaranteed Assassinations, it seemed like it was gonna be good. And then I went to a new territory, did a few missions with characters whose names I’ll never remember, and then finished it with a big raid. And then I did it again. And again. And again. And none of these missions could REALLY be done quickly, since every single door had some weird and new puzzle to open it. By the time I got to the Isu vault, I never wanted to play an Assassin’s Creed game again. I could see a ton of inspiration from RDR2 (one of my favorite, if not my favorite, open world games ever) in this game. From the mentor figure whose relationship with you strains to the moral decision making that you have to make over whether or not to kill people, this game tries to paint itself as a lengthy RPG with themes about the human condition, and whether a person can really change in a new environment. The problem is, where RDR2 is intentionally slow paced, this game draws itself out, but crams you with repetitive story mission after repetitive story mission. The heightened survival elements and puzzle aspects of this game feel like cruel jokes, and not earned difficulty in a story with such grandeur as Red Dead. Overall, if this is the direction Assassin’s Creed goes in for even one more game, I think I will have to quit my favorite franchise for good.
- Assassin’s Creed Unity Pros:
Perhaps the most beautiful game I have ever played in my entire life
Crouching and “last known location” give huge improvements to stealth
Paris feels more alive than any other Assassin’s Creed location
The final battle is more creative than usual
Traveling to other time periods is very unique
Thematically, the game tries to paint Arno’s actions as wrong, and the brotherhood as good, where Arno eventually learns his lesson (parallels to Black Flag much?) but Arno’s actions don’t have huge consequences OUTSIDE the brotherhood. The brotherhood acts as more of a nuisance the whole time
Story loses its substance and becomes very stabby stabby after sequence seven
The combat is surprisingly difficult hot garbage, and makes this game a slog to get through sometimes
Sometimes climbing decides not to work in certain sections of Paris
The length of this game does not come close to more… sluggish… games like Odyssey and Valhalla, but this game always takes me exactly a week to get through. Exactly. This is because I start strong and lose interest. Either the added difficulty of combat or climbing just not working as it should, or the story losing its creative edge, push me to want to play something else every time I try to get through this. And that sucks. This game is really beautiful, very well scored, and it is so easy to get sucked into the world of this game, especially when I’m transported to another time period, like Vichy France. Overall, this game gets way more crap than it deserves, but the end result is a great experience, masked in a problematic game.
Combat is unforgivingly realistic
Iconic missions, especially boss fights
Amazing launching pad for the series going forward
Sets up every arcing storyline perfectly
Gameplay is repetitive as hell
Towns aren’t very interesting
Overall, the game can be hard to really get into until the end
For all it’s problems, you can’t hate Assassin’s Creed. In fact, it is probably the opposite of many games on the lower end of my list, as the story is good but the gameplay just can’t keep up. Overall, this was nowhere near the best that the series can produce, but it is very inoffensive and passable, if a bit bland.
- Assassin’s Creed III Pros:
Haytham is the best villain, maybe even the best character in Assassin's Creed
Most well rounded and fleshed out modern day… but I don’t think Ubi understands how guns work
Freerunning gets a major overhaul from the last game to this one
Very good at greying the conflict between Assassins and Templars to not just be good or evil
The “may the father of understanding guide us” twist is perhaps the most iconic in the series
Large sections of the story are just straight exposition
Frontier is pretty boring
Shooting, freerunning, nautical missions aren’t fleshed out yet
Homestead mechanics, like trading, are way too complicated to be useful
Combat is way too easy
On the contrary, stealth is way too hard
Conner looks bad compared to Haytham, and the Forrest Gump-ness of the story doesn’t help
The button to exit and enter a store should not be the same button
Lockpicking sucks, sorry not sorry
Everything about those god damn eavesdropping missions
This is the most divisive game for me, so it makes sense that it would be in the middle. The first time I played it, in 2012, I loved it. Since then, I’ve come to realize its many faults. So much of this game is ambitious, adding wildly new mechanics that don’t fully pan out. Also, it seems like so much creative energy was spent on crafting Haytham as the perfect character and creating a satisfying “ending” to the modern day story that a lot of storytelling surrounding Conner and the revolutionary story was thrown aside. However, thematically, this game definitely hits hard, pointing out that revolutionary heroes, like George Washington and Sam Adams, were still slave owners, and still participated in the genocide of Indigenous people. While this game is far from perfect, it is a good launching point for “good” Assassin’s Creeds going forward.
- Assassin’s Creed Rogue Pros:
Massive world, with a large variety of locations, accessible through unique “hidden” ways like taking boats
Amazing bridge connecting AC3, AC4, Liberation, and Unity… perfect tie up of the American subseries of games
Combines urban, frontier, and naval gameplay perfectly
Wide variety of fun and interesting activities
Does a great job greying the conflict between good and evil, again
New York is relatively boring compared to other locations, and we have seen it before
The story is too short compared to how massive the map is
The game does not stand on its own super well
From here to the end of the list, I will only be talking about games that I love. Assassin’s Creed Rogue is a great example. Really, the only issue with the game is that it is too short. The developers went all out with designing this game and putting in an insane amount of locations and activities and just all around fun. This game would be perfect if it’s story were slightly longer, allowing us to explore much more of the well crafted world. Despite these shortcomings, this game enhances every piece of the main series, and your overall Assassin’s Creed experience
- Assassin’s Creed Origins Pros:
Story has no dull moments
Some of the best music in Assassin’s Creed
The final chapter in Rome is iconic, classic Assassin’s Creed
Isu portion of the game allows real historical events to be weaved in perfectly
Two well written protagonists, and fully realized side characters, like Cleopatra
The land of the dead is a great in-game explanation for confessions
Controls and character movement changes suck at first if you are a returning player
For all the times you play as Aya, you should be allowed to customize her weapons
The game kinda rushes the ending once you start the mission “Aya: Blade of the Goddess”
Map is a bit bloated
New sailing controls suck
This game is the near perfect example of what “new” Assassin’s Creeds can be. The story is incredible and engaging, and the gameplay does grow on you eventually. In my first playthrough, I found some RPG elements of the game to be annoying, but during New Game Plus, I could ignore most of those and just focus on the game. The only real problem with the game is that, once you start “Aya: Blade of the Goddess”, your only real option is to play through to the end of the game, since most missions just come up automatically. If this is what Assassin’s Creeds are like going forward, I won’t complain, too much.
- Assassin’s Creed II Pros:
Incredible story and character development
Combat is difficult but fair
Historical connections are impressive
Modern day story is well fleshed out and gives the story a reason to happen
Sequences 12 and 13 are not fleshed out, but also unskippable
No kill streaks is a minor annoyance
Money is stupid easy to make
My top 3 games are some of the best open world stealth games to ever exist. This list starts, of course, with Assassin’s Creed II. Assassin’s Creed II reinvented Assassin’s Creed as a franchise, and took it to higher peaks than ever thought possible. The game had a huge variety of locations, all with unique perks, the story was now deeply entrenched in actual historical events, and the characters were all likeable and three dimensional. The only downside is that the DLC is unskippable, and fairly boring. The base game, however, is one of the best ever made.
- Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag Pros:
A large cast of three dimensional characters
Way more missions have large, beautifully designed set pieces
Pretty much every mission is iconic
One of the most challenging games combat wise, but just enough to keep you on your toes without being annoying
The number 2 game, but it has the number one best ending in Assassin’s Creed
The first game to make viewpoints also fast travel points, which is huge
The game introduces whistling, significantly improving stealth
The “frogger” hacking minigame is annoyingly not fun
Those beautifully designed set pieces fall apart if you miss even a single jump
Oh right Kenway’s fleet exists
Edward gets trapped in a lot of situations that could be easily avoided by a man of his immense skill
It took me multiple tries to like this game. First playthrough, I got bored and didn't finish. Second time, I completed it, but didn’t enjoy it. Third playthrough, I really started to like it. Now, on my fourth time, I loved the game. It is smart, it is iconic, and most of all, it is fun. Not only is the story amazing, the game is just a lot of fun to play. That alone is the aspect I miss most in modern AC games. Not only is the story engaging, but the locale draws you in, and no activities seem like a chore. Edward is redeemed in the end of the game, and, even if the ending comes across as bittersweet, due to the large amount of death beforehand, and the knowledge we have of the fates of Edward’s offspring, the ending is endearing, and makes the game feel like an experience, not just a game.
Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood
Every single mission is iconic, and doesn’t feel like filler
Lets you wield an Apple of Eden, but still makes it fun
Rome is very balanced, in terms of activities per area
Calling in your assassin army to kill someone is incredibly satisfying
Best exploration missions
Great balance for making money
Amazing story, with well rounded heroes, villains, and side characters
If you are a returning player, the beginning is really easy
The gear you use doesn’t matter much (could be a pro or con)
It's hard to tell how much notoriety you have at any given time (could be a colorblindness issue)
Brotherhood is the perfect template for Assassin’s Creed. Every single mission is fun and iconic. In addition, there is never a dull moment while playing it. On my most recent playthrough, my third, I beat the game in three days. This is not a knock on the game’s length, just a testament to how fun and addictive the game is. Even if I had stretched it out, the game is perfect from start to finish. This is the standard by which I judge all other games, Assassin’s Creed or otherwise.
I didn’t make this list to complain, or to circlejerk around and say “new games bad.” I made this list because I love the franchise, and there are aspects I like and dislike about every game. At its best, Assassin’s Creed is a treatise about the dangers of putting our authority in any higher power, whether it be religion, the government, or large corporations. At its best, Assassin’s Creed combines stealth, open world, and puzzle gameplay. At its best, Assassin’s Creed is about prioritizing care for those around you equally rather than for the service of any one person or group of persons. Assassin’s Creed, as an ideology, is timeless. The games however, aren’t. You can see from my review how Assassin’s Creed is going down the wrong path. I don’t claim to be the final arbiter on what is and isn’t acceptable to the AC community at large, but Ubisoft, I beg you, fix your games. Remember your original vision. Take some pride in story writing. And, most importantly, listen to the community.
- Black Flag
- My ideal Assassin’s Creed game will probably never be made
- This Is A Stealth Series, I miss the Gameplay and feel of being a Assassin and taking down my target, I really Hope Ubisoft make Assassin Creed more like Hitman and Splinter Cell next Game.
More about Assassin's CreedPost: "My definitive ranking of every AC game" specifically for the game Assassin's Creed. Other useful information about this game:
- Decline in character quality surrounding dialogue throughout the series
- After loving Origins and Odyssey so much, Valhalla DID disappoint me
- I think the franchise needs to reinvent itself with literally every single new installment.
- Black Flag’s “dense” ending
- I just finished AC Unity + Dead Kings DLC and omg it was amazing!
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