The competition was razor sharp, but we’ve sussed the best Assassin’s Creed games.
The Assassin’s Creed series has been around for a long time, and due to its persistent popularity, there is no end in sight to its rampant success. With new series entries such as Assassin’s Creed Mirage on their way, each new installment tries to do things a little differently.
Assassin’s Creed has some soaring peaks and desolate troughs, but at its core, it’s always been good at making stealth assassinations and parkouring around real-life buildings uniquely fun. These days, Ubisoft makes an effort to enrich newer games with actual historical context – so you’re technically learning something new whilst playing a video game. Now bad, right?
Naturally, some Assassin’s Creed games are more popular than others. In our ranking, our team has picked out their favorites to duke it out in a battle of popularity. To see how our tastes stack up against your own, or to find out which titles you should pick up first, we’ve got you covered.
Best Assassin’s Creed games
Alas, poor Rogue. There was plenty of potential in this much-maligned Assassin’s Creed game, because it finally put the player in the shoes of an enemy Templar instead of a member of the Assassin’s guild. Expansion of the naval warfare from Black Flag was also hugely welcome, but some obstacles simply got in the way – namely, game-breaking bugs.
Rogue was truly the game Ubisoft’s annual release schedule got the better of of, leading to a rushed game that launched with a huge amount of bugs and glitches, ruining immersion and leading plenty of players to ditch the story before it had really got underway (the campaign wasn’t overly long, anyway).
Set during the French Revolution, with the story largely taking place in Paris, the game brought AC firmly back to Europe after many a year in the American colonies or on the Caribbean seas.
Like Rogue – which launched the same year – Unity was plagued by bugs, which was particularly disappointing at the time as it launched with the then-new generation of consoles. It deserves some marks for its introduction of cooperative gameplay, though, allowing up to four players to complete missions together. Now that’s unity.
Released just one year after 2010’s Brotherhood, Revelations was the first time Ubisoft appeared to be rushing things. It certainly felt familiar, with players filling the shoes of 21st-century protagonist Desmond, the original game’s Altaïr avatar, and Ezio from Assassin’s Creed II and Brotherhood – and it showed the franchise was in need of a refresh.
One notable addition, though, was the ‘hookblade’ – a grappling hook attachment to your iconic assassin’s blade – that helped elevate the game’s verticality and roof-jumping to a whole new (roof) level. It could also be thrown into enemies to pull them in for some good ol’ assassinating.
Ubisoft needed a new setting for the AC game after Revelations, and it certainly made one. Assassin’s Creed 3 jumps in time to the American Revolution in the 18th century. Players take on the mantle of Connor, as a half-English, half-Mohawk character navigating colonial America.
With a new Anvil engine, the graphics really got an upgrade, while the American Frontier was a wonderful change from the largely European settings of the previous games that pushed the limits of the open-world franchise even further – with an increase in the use of natural foliage for sneaking and hiding, rather than the largely urban structures we’d grown used to.
Some less-than-inspiring mission design, though, let down what could have been one of the best Assassin’s Creed games.
An Assassin’s Creed game set in Old Blighty? Count us in! Syndicate took the action to Victorian London, with all of the cockney accents, wood-paneled pubs, and silly hats you’d hope for. Syndicate also, for the first time, allowed players to pick their avatar’s gender, playing as either Jacob or Evie Frye (twin assassins) as they sought to free London from the cruel grip of the Templars – a welcome addition after half-hearted protestations from one Ubisoft developer who offered the brave hypothesis that women were too costly to animate.
Players also got to use a dedicated grappling hook for quickly speeding up multi-story buildings, brass knuckles for brawling in the city’s cobbled streets, and horse-drawn carriages for navigating the Victorian-era world. A brilliant and imaginative setting, in a game that – despite its historical nature – showed that Ubisoft was catching up with modern day. As ever, though, some technical glitches held it back from greatness.
The game that started it all. The original Assassin’s Creed was truly impressive when it was first released, we hadn’t quite seen scope or ambition like it in a video game before. And while the graphics and combat may not hold up today – enemies being incredibly easy to defeat simply by running around them until your health regenerated – it’s certainly worthy of its place on this list.
The first Assassin’s Creed set up the curious sci-fi framing device of the Animus: a machine for hacking into genetic memories held in the protagonist’s (a kidnapped bartender named Desmond) DNA. Its open-world setting in the 12th century Holy Land, with the action jumping between Jerusalem, Acre, and Damascus during the Third Crusade.
Players take on the mantle of Altaïr, an assassin tasked with furthering the cause of their secret order, while gradually learning more about a mysterious artifact called the Apple of Eden, that recurs throughout the franchise.
Other games refined its formula, and others broke it, but 2007’s Assassin’s Creed is what began our collective fixation with a pickpocketing, parkour, shadow-slinking assassin, and is one of the best Assassin’s Creed games for it.
Much like Origins and Odyssey, 2020’s Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla saw Ubisoft taking a step away from the explicitly stealthy nature of the earlier games in the series, instead putting you in the well-trodden shoes of a Viking raider intent on pillaging their way through England.
Like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Valhalla sees you picking between two protagonists, but it’s difficult to have a distinct favorite this time around. The open world leaves a strong impression, however, and you’ve likely never seen the British isles look quite this beautiful.
Unfortunately, while Valhalla made use of a longer development period than the previous Assassin’s Creed games, it did not revolutionize the series. Due to a somewhat lackluster story, it wasn’t able to keep up with the very best Assassin’s Creed games, despite balancing the line between familiar and innovative new features well. However, it spent a long time on our best PS5 games and best Xbox Series X games lists.
After a sensible year off from releasing games – one of Ubisoft’s favorite hobbies – players were treated to Assassin’s Creed: Origins in 2017.
Playing as a desert nomad in ancient Egypt, under the reign of Pharaoh Ptolemy XIII, you’re tasked with pursuing peace and safety for the population around you as its kingdom crumbles – with a truly epic origin story for the first-ever assassins (so don’t expect to see any AC entries set before this).
With Cleopatra and Julius Caesar appearing, and lots of historical easter eggs to satisfy anthropological hobbyists, Origins was a brilliant entry that got the AC formula down pat.
Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood was a direct sequel to Assassin’s Creed 2, set in the same Renaissance era in Italy, but it felt considerably less fresh than the previous entry – hence we’re not ranking quite as highly. However, the way Brotherhood picked up the baton and sprinted with it still makes it one of the best Assassin’s Creed games in the series.
The name Brotherhood reveals this game’s main selling point: the ability to recruit other assassins and send them on missions to further the Assassins’ cause – or summon them into battle to fight alongside you. Who said assassination had to be lonely?
Notably, Brotherhood also introduced the first online multiplayer mode for the series, seeing players sprint and parkour their way across rooftops to try and take each other out.
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood was a first glimpse at the tempo at which Ubisoft could produce great games, but revisiting the same world so soon after seeing it the first time only made sense if you were an Ezio fan through and through. Team Techradar is Team Ezio for good reason, so we say on the whole you shouldn’t miss it.
Pirates! Assassins! Pirate assassins! Black Flag was a hugely exciting departure for the series, taking the action onto the high seas in the 18th century – playing the grandfather of the protagonist in Assassin’s Creed 3.
As a swarthy pirate, you end up sailing as much as you do sneaking, but there’s still plenty of land-based action that the series is known for – along with ship-based warfare, whale harpooning, and even encounters with Blackbeard himself. Truly one of the best Assassin’s Creed games, not least thanks to the charming Edward Kenway.
Taking the action to Ancient Greece, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey offered a massive open world, bringing together some of the best aspects of the series while hewing closer to a full-on action RPG.
As a mercenary caught up in a war between Athens and Sparta, you end up traveling to some of the world’s most iconic landmarks – while an emphasis on story, branching dialogue options, and multiple endings make this one of the most engaging AC games of the franchise. You get to fight some mythological creatures like the Minotaur, too.
The combat in this action-heavy entry isn’t necessarily what AC does best, but the scope of this game was huge, and the gorgeous open-world environment provides endless hours of joyful exploration. It’s a big AC game, and some may find it too big to finish, but it offers freedom suitable for any assassin – which is why was featured on our best PS4 games and best Xbox One games lists for a long time.
The second game in the Assassin’s Creed series is also, it turns out, the Assassin’s Creed game the closest to the team’s hearts. Launched two years after the first game, it amped up the action and intrigue with a move to Renaissance Italy, and a suave protagonist known as Ezio Auditore da Firenze.
Assassin’s Creed 2 made the first one look like a proof of concept, so dramatic is the shift. Stealth assassinations would become one of the most popular ways to dispatch foes, and the alternate-history world of assassins and templars really came into its own with Ezio Auditore’s story of revenge.
There’s plenty of brilliant nonsense here too, including an in-game Leonardo da Vinci who builds the player new weapons and items, including a flying machine (which the real Leonardo da Vinci actually designed). But other gameplay developments are what make this game shine, with dual hidden blades and a new disarm mechanic.
More than anything else, Assassin’s Creed 2 showed how easy it was to continue the AC franchise in a whole new setting, and paved the template for the globetrotting, century-jumping entries to come. even many years after its release, it should still sit on top of every list of the best Assassin’s Creed games.