The Assassin’s Creed series debuted in 2007, and since then, the series has become a fixture in the gaming landscape. It received reliable annual installments (or more!) for several years; that cadence has relented a bit now, but the franchise’s long history has certainly left us with no shortage of Assassin’s Creed games to enjoy. But how do they stack up against each other?
We originally published a version of this list back in 2015, but more Assassin’s Creed games have released now, and some of our perspectives have shifted. So we are taking another look at the titles in the whole main series (no spin-offs or side-stories) and ranking them, highlighting the best moments and acknowledging the weaknesses in each.
Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation (2012)
Even as the lowest entry on our list, we can’t say Liberation is a “bad” game. However, it was originally created for Vita (though an HD port was eventually made), and the system’s limitations are apparent in the design and gameplay. Apart from its gimmicky features and restricted scope, Liberation still feels like an AC game at its core. The combat is a fun balance of offense and defense, and the story does a good job exploring the gray area between Assassins and Templars. Heroine Aveline’s ability to use different personas to navigate New Orleans doesn’t pay off, but Liberation delivers solid action even if it doesn’t take the series into exciting new territory.
Assassin’s Creed III (2012)
Ezio would be a hard act for any hero to follow, and AC III’s Connor struggles to live up to his predecessor’s legacy. Without much initiative of his own, he mainly does chores for important historical figures – and is coincidentally at the heart of every noteworthy event of the American Revolution. Narrative plausibility aside, this entry introduces some important and interesting elements, like naval combat and homestead-building. The colonial cities and vast wilderness aren’t as fun to explore as Renaissance Europe, but this ambitious installment tries to provide a wealth of content and and tell a complex, generation-spanning story. It may not succeed at every turn, but you can’t accuse AC III of not trying.
Assassin’s Creed Revelations (2011)
Up to this point in AC’s lineage, each entry in the series felt like a significant step forward. However, Revelations isn’t much different from Ezio’s other adventures; it has fun gameplay, cool missions, and a cinematic presentation. On one hand, it’s hard to complain about more of a good thing. On the other, that’s how franchise fatigue settles in. A tower-defense minigame is the only noteworthy addition – but it’s terrible and interferes with your enjoyment of the rest of the game, which makes the whole experience feel like a step down. Plus, even though Revelations brings closure to the Ezio/Altair storyline, Desmond’s modern-day arc stalls completely, so it doesn’t convey a larger sense of progress.
Assassin’s Creed Rogue (2014)
Did you like Black Flag? Then you’ll probably like Rogue, because it is basically the exact same game with different characters and cutscenes. The biggest improvements are removals, not additions; the aggravating tailing and eavesdropping missions from Black Flag are nowhere to be found. Otherwise, the experience is a familiar one – except this time you’re a Templar hunting Assassins, a story twist that doesn’t fully realize its potential. Rogue leans heavily on proven parts of the AC formula. You sail around on a ship, deploy your fleet, capture territory, hunt for collectibles, and (of course) perform assassinations. While this stuff is always fun, Rogue’s gameplay is too reiterative to be truly impressive.
Assassin’s Creed Unity (2014)
You’ve probably heard the horror stories about Unity, or even experienced them yourself. There’s no diplomatic way to say it: This game was a disaster at launch. Fans playing in the first few weeks encountered so many problems that Ubisoft issued a formal apology. The damage was already done in terms of public perception, but here’s the surprising part: Unity actually got pretty good once the holes were patched up. Today, players can absorb a relatively hassle-free vision of the French Revolution, with fun co-op missions, an interesting levelling mechanic, and an uncharacteristically challenging approach to combat. Plus, the relationship between Arno and Elise is well done, adding a personal touch to the story.
Assassin’s Creed (2007)
The original Assassin’s Creed may not have all of the expanded systems of later entries, but it has a clarity of vision and purpose that is masterfully executed. Most of AC’s open-world peers were about destruction in contemporary cities, but Ubisoft broke the mold by immersing players in a vast and mysterious ancient world that is still compelling today. The mix of stealth and action encourages you explore while being mindful of your surroundings, the combat is deliberate and unique, and the key assassinations have an almost puzzle-like quality. The missions preceding those assassinations are repetitive, but the hints of the larger narrative thread give players just enough to make them come back for more.
Assassin’s Creed Origins (2017)
Every installment in this series makes changes to the formula, but Origins represents the biggest shift from one entry to the next. By reimagining combat and progression, Origins takes steps into the RPG genre with elements like tiered gear, player levels, and an expanded skill tree. Despite those changes, Origins still has many series hallmarks, like the fascinating Egyptian setting and the struggle between factions vying for power. While this game boldly tries new things, that experimentation comes with mixed success. Though Origins’ risks are exciting, their rough-around-the-edges quality makes this experience feel like a first step in a larger evolution.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla (2020)
Valhalla’s map might seem scaled-down compared to the massive size of Odyssey and Black Flag, but it arguably features more content than any Assassin’s Creed game to date. Spanning the entirety of England and two mythological realms (soon to be three, thanks to a massive 40-hour expansion coming in 2022), as well as Ireland courtesy of the Wrath of the Druids DLC, simply put, there’s no shortage of things to do in Valhalla. Be it sailing around English riverbanks, looting and plundering like the Viking king or queen Eivor is, assassinating Order of the Ancient members across the countryside, or laying waste to furry predators in Norway, you’re going to be busy having a bloody (literally) good time. Like its open-world RPG predecessors, it features morsels of lore for those interested in the larger Assassins vs. Templar conflict and features significant reveals that could shape future Assassin’s Creed games. But at the heart of Valhalla is a story of family, sacrifice, and revenge. If you need hundreds of hours of Assassin’s Creed gameplay, Valhalla has you covered.
Assassin’s Creed II (2009)
Fully embracing its open-world destiny, Assassin’s Creed II gives players denser cities to explore, more activities to undertake, and a more engaging combat system. The introduction of Ezio, who is remains the series’ most recognizable hero to date, is just one of AC II’s pivotal moves. It also establishes other key elements, like building and upgrading a headquarters, finding neat collectibles (like “the Truth”), and earning income over time. This entry is also a visual treat, recreating the splendor of Renaissance Italy in full effect, from the towering cathedrals to the winding waterways. With so much to do and see, getting lost in Assassin’s Creed II is inevitable.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag (2013)
In many ways, Black Flag is a deviation from the Assassin’s Creed titles that came before it – but it’s still a ton fun. As a treasure-hunting pirate, you trade the tall buildings and political conspiracies of previous games for the danger of the high seas. A pirate’s life is exciting, from the thrill of exploration to the chaos of naval battles – not to mention the sound of your crew singing sea shanties. The story feels underwhelming and fragmented, but you’re so caught up in conquering islands that you barely notice. If you approach Black Flag as a pirate fantasy rather than a traditional Assassin’s Creed game, you won’t be disappointed.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (2018)
Continuing the exploration of RPG territory started by Origins, Odyssey fully incorporates the new genre elements into the Assassin’s Creed structure. As a mercenary in Ancient Greece, players have a satisfying level of ownership over all of their exploits. Whether you’re making choices in dialogue or sailing across the huge map in your customized ship, the expansive sense of freedom in Odyssey is exhilarating. The skill tree gives you access to an array of exciting combat abilities, making you feel like an all-powerful force on the battlefield. The sheer volume of quests and activities mean that the tasks can get repetitive, but Odyssey’s exceptional post-launch support (via free updates and paid DLC) help inject variety into the adventure.
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate (2015)
A series can acquire a lot of baggage over multiple installments, implementing more features across several different games than could ever fit in a single entry. Syndicate sifts through the possibilities and assembles an almost perfect representation of the “classic style” Assassin’s Creed experience. The carefully crafted assassination missions (with great unique kills) and the compelling Victorian setting are the highlights fans would expect. However, the adventure still holds surprises; the new zipline reinvigorates traversal, and the upgrade system gives you a satisfying way to expand the abilities of the twin protagonists Jacob and Evie Frye.
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood (2010)
Brotherhood strikes an almost perfect balance between judiciously refining the best parts of its predecessor and making its own mark on the series. While many elements return from AC II, the new mechanics Brotherhood contributes to the formula make it a deeper and more rewarding experience – but just by a hair. You are able to be more aggressive in combat, performing chain kills rather than waiting around for attacks to counter. Instead of upgrading a single base, Ezio renovates the entire city of Rome, claiming territory and improving shops to build Assassin influence. He also recruits his own initiates, calling on them in combat and sending them on missions that complete automatically in real-time. This layer of management makes players feel like more than a single blade in the crowd; it conveys a sense of overseeing and steering the fate of the Assassin order as a whole. Add in a clever competitive multiplayer mode, and Brotherhood becomes the ultimate Assassin’s Creed experience against which all others are measured.