Which installment of the Assassin's Creed series is the best is a subject of debate. Many different opinions may arise, and to some extent, each side may have some merit. Subsequent titles introduced new elements that mostly aligned with the existing realities portrayed in the series. Only recently has the series shifted its direction. Today, I present to you my private ranking of games from Ubisoft's series about assassins. My list is entirely subjective, and you are welcome to agree or disagree with it (I encourage you to do so in the comment section below). Just have some mercy upon my poor soul.
Assassin's Creed: Valhalla
- Year of release: 2020
- Biggest pro: realistic and beautiful world of the Vikings
- Biggest con: the game is too large (and I don't mean the disk space)
The adventure in Assassin's Creed: Valhalla turned out to be so tiring for me that I didn't complete any of the season pass expansions, even though I bought the game in the collector's edition. I couldn't even find the time or willingness to finish the main storyline of the base game.
The atmosphere, where I enjoyed being a blade in the crowd and attacking from hiding, has somehow vanished for me. Eivor was a full-blooded warrior, craving an open fight for glory and Valhalla. The nimble parkour, tracking selected targets and stealth attacks didn't suit me at all, especially in full Viking equipment.
However, it's difficult to write off Valhalla due to its mechanics. This title is a great RPG, but a worse "Assassin." If you are looking for a massive game with plenty of typical Ubisoft content, featuring breathtaking views and RPG elements, you'll be delighted. But those demanding from this title elements characteristic of assassins lurking in hiding will be strongly misled.
Assassin's Creed: Mirage
- Year of release: 2023
- Biggest pro: an attempt to return to the roots of the series
- Biggest con: a technological step back
Assassin's Creed: Mirage is a multidimensional disappointment. The technicalities of the latest installment of "Assassin" are decent. However, the gameplay is a significant step back, especially when it comes to the quality of different mechanics.
The protagonist's behavior in crowds, parkour, or assassinating specific targets is designed much worse compared to Assassin's Creed: Unity from 2014. Cons also include a boring campaign, not particularly exciting side quests, and dull supporting characters. Even the main protagonist's storyline seems not to have reached its full potential. Perhaps this situation will be changed by the expansions, which weren't initially planned, but the main menu reveals that the French giant wants to squeeze even more out of this installment.
At every step you can see that Mirage was intended to be a DLC to Valhalla. Considering the amount demanded by the publisher, the quality of the game may hurt – even more so when we compare it with the gameplay of Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty, an expansion to the game by CD Projekt RED, which, at a lower price on the day of release, was able to guarantee at least twice as much fun and emotions.
Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate
- Year of release: 2015
- Biggest pro: a beautifully recreated London from the Victorian era
- Biggest con: unfulfilled potential of the plot
Assassin's Creed: Syndicate received mixed reviews. Some found the plotline unattractive, while others were fascinated by the virtual London and the Victorian style. The world in this installment of the series looks beautiful, and there are a couple of improvements – like new gadgets, including a rope – that have made significant changes to the parkour.
It's a shame that the people responsible for the story and characters didn't put as much effort into their task as the virtual architects did. The characters in Syndicate neither delight nor knock down. There is a great deal of untapped potential because the main characters (for the first time in the series, there are two of them) are the founders of a London gang whose paths intersect with those of the assassins (the associations to Peaky Blinders aren't unfounded).
Other attractions also add charm, such as a mobile train base or atmospheric DLC. It's a decent game and it's worth giving it a chance, especially for players who focus more on the gameplay than the story in the Assassin's Creed series. However, if the storyline is important to you then letting go of Syndicate won't be life's greatest loss.
Assassin's Creed: Origins
- Year of release: 2017
- Biggest pro: introducing the eagle
- Biggest con: a shift towards an RPG (for some it won't be a flaw, but for me it is)
Assassin's Creed: Origins was a strange experiment that divided the community. Up to this point, the game has been an action game that, to a lesser or greater extent, has emphasized stealth. In Origins, the story of which is set in ancient Egypt, stealth is still in favor, but the entire gameplay has a dangerous romance with RPG patterns.
Like it or not, we need to develop the main protagonist and equipment (including the hidden blade) if we want to cope with the next missions. And thus, we are condemned to engage in a number of side activities, which, unfortunately, aren't very entertaining. Assuming that Assassin's Creed is about stealth, we need to consistently acquire new weapons or enhance the ones we already possess, in order to not fall behind our adversaries. I didn't like this change, but there are a lot of fans of the series who like it. The developers admitted that they were inspired by The Witcher 3, among others.
Assassin's Creed III
- Year of release: 2012
- Biggest pro: naval battles, which led to Black Flag
- Biggest con: ugly cities
According to many, Assassin's Creed III is considered dull and not very memorable. However, I did have quite a good time with this title, although I understand why such voices may appear. In the end, Ratonhnhake:ton – or simply Connor Kenway – is rather a goal-oriented individualist with Native American roots. And that's a fundamental change after the rebellious Ezio, whom the players have managed to get used to through as many as three installments.
Nevertheless, the gameplay was quite fresh for 2012. Perhaps the biggest novelty was the naval battles. The introduction of a crafting system and hunting, better-designed close combat (including the ability to use a living shield), and the option to escape not only over rooftops but also through open apartments – all of these proved to be a hit.
Even though some of these mechanics didn't appear particularly necessary, they seamlessly integrated into the world presented and added variety to the pursuit of the next story-related tasks. It's also worth mentioning that the third installment got a pretty good remaster. So maybe it's worth refreshing this title instead of overpaying for Mirage?
- Year of release: 2007
- Biggest pro: assassination planning as an integral element of the game
- Biggest con: obtaining information about targets
I fell madly in love with the first Assassin's Creed. I agree with the fact that the gameplay was quite repetitive, but back in 2007, it didn't bother me at all. Well, the life of an assassin in a nutshell. First, it was necessary to get the contract and necessary information about the target, then carry out the execution and escape from the murder site. I regret that just such a pattern, very much focused on stealthy planning of the perfect kill, didn't become the main axis of subsequent installments of the series.
The story had its moments and plot twists. The "from zero to hero" motif, resulting from the protagonist's pride, was a pleasant backdrop for the rebuilding of Altair's reputation within the Brotherhood. Similarly, the contemporary plot, very enigmatic, was thus building tension. However, the ability to move around in the virtual world through parkour, climbing, and escaping made this game incredibly refreshing. After the financial success of Mirage, the chance for a remake of the first installment has increased, and I'm not going to hide the fact that I'm probably waiting for the remake more than for the next RPG Assassin. Even set in Japan.
Assassin’s Creed: Rogue
- Year of release: 2014
- Biggest pro: the opportunity to experience the events of the game from the perspective of the other side in the conflict
- Biggest con: the main character's face
One of the two games about assassins released in 2014 was Assassin's Creed: Rogue. The biggest innovation in this title turned out to be not the gameplay – the gameplay looked very similar to what we saw in Black Flag – but the fact that the main character was allied with the Templars instead of the Assassins. It meant that we could look at the entire conflict from a slightly different perspective. And we didn't necessarily take the side of the bad guys – the perspective of the dispute was turned upside down.
The most emotional part of the whole story was infused by... the necessity of killing assassins – the former companions of the main protagonist. And even though I enjoyed playing this title, there's one thing I can't get over – the appearance of the main character. Shay Cormac may sound quite good (Steven Piovesan did a great job), but he looks very bad – and he might as well be called... Mose.
Assassin's Creed: Odyssey
- Year of release: 2018
- Biggest pro: combat
- Biggest con: grind
If you've played the Origins, Assassin's Creed: Odyssey is a must-play. Greece is even more colorful, visually diverse, and spiced up with a beautiful audio track. Fans of complex RPGs will enjoy the plot and side quests. And even though we meet famous figures known from history books and take part in historical battles (the battle of Thermopylae is impressive), it's still not perfect in the context of the story told on screen.
Quests are sometimes fun and engaging (like the one with the fake Minotaur), but sometimes they are dull and lack something in their dialogues (the romantic plots are tragic, seriously). Fortunately, combat has been significantly improved, although it's still limited by the RPG elements. Be prepared for a lot of grinding – Odyssey is a huge game in which you'll spend many hours, and the need to level up... well, you already know my opinion on this matter.
Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag
- Year of release: 2013
- Biggest pro: naval battles again
- Biggest con: pirating isn't necessarily good for the main plot
I have a special fondness for Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag because of my love for the sea gameplay, not rum, to be clear. Sailing, though, was the main focus of this game and, at times, even outshined the genuinely decent plot. The story of the well-figured pirate, Edward Kenway, may therefore seem a bit boring. However, this doesn't change the fact that Black Flag is a good game with an emphasis on the exploration and development not only of the protagonist but also of the ship he commands, aptly named Jackdaw.
After the launch, Black Flag was criticized for its optimization issues and the relatively low level of complexity. However, it's hard to complain about the pirate vibe, which is engaging in the context of the main storyline and the optional activities. If you aren't deterred by the open structure of virtual worlds in the latest "Assassins," and you want to sail with huge ships cruising the eighteenth-century Caribbean then this game is a must-play.
Assassin's Creed: Unity
- Year of release: 2014
- Biggest pro: crowds of NPCs
- Biggest con: game's technical condition at launch
It can be said that today's Assassin's Creed: Unity and Assassin's Creed: Unity at the time of its premiere are two completely different games. This title was plagued by significant technical problems in 2014, the hallmark of which was... the main protagonist's face rendered with only eyeballs and a jaw. Alongside these types of glitches and bugs, there were an avalanche of negative comments discouraging the purchase of the product in such a state.
The consumer boycott (likely on a small scale, but quite vocal on the Internet) turned out to be beneficial for the game. Today, after many patches, I can recommend Unity as one of the better installments of the series, whose parkour and realistic crowds on the streets should be envied by the latest installments, with Mirage at the forefront. The protagonist leaped over the walls and rooftops, executing additional tricks. The same held true for the silent assassinations, which were both cruelly spectacular and highly effective. The backdrop of the action is the French Revolution, which gives a sense of real impact on well-known historical events.
Assassin's Creed: The Ezio Collection
- Year of release: 2016
- Biggest pro: best games of the series in one collection
- Biggest con: few visual changes and old bugs left behind
It's hard to say whether the better part of the series is the original "2," in which we take control of an amorous young man, or Revelations, where the same protagonist, a bit older, directs the activities of the assassin brotherhood. Nonetheless, the entire trilogy dedicated to Ezio Auditore da Firenze is a masterpiece. The protagonist is the most charismatic assassin in the entire series, and over the course of three games we accompany him on an adventure fueled by a private vendetta.
And just as I consider individual installments to be the best in the series, The Ezio Collection as a whole isn't a perfect product. The collection is essentially a gentle improvement on those games, albeit without support for 60 fps or enhanced visuals. But there wasn't much happening in the assassin universe in 2016, so if you haven't played these titles before, The Ezio Collection is an excellent choice. Because you should be familiar with the entire trilogy, especially if you began your journey with Assassin's Creed through the more recent releases.
Michael Pajda | Gamepressure.com