PC Gamer Ranked are our ridiculously comprehensive lists of the best, worst, and everything in-between from every corner of PC gaming.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla is almost here, so it’s time to look back over the entire series. You don’t have time to play them all, which is why we’ve sorted the best for you.
From humble beginnings as a follow-up to Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time—for part of its preproduction the first game was even called Prince of Persia: Assassin—the Assassin’s Creed games have come a long way. They’ve gone from a series of earnest attempts to depict underutilized historical settings, to ridiculous romps through theme park versions of settings as well-trod as Victorian London and Ancient Greece. Along the way they’ve experimented with multiplayer modes, 2.5-dimensional spin-offs, and just straight-up turning into RPGs. They’ve defined a style of open world game, with maps full of icons representing repeated tasks, and experimented with different ways of traversing those open worlds, with evolving systems of parkour free running and additions like sailing ships.
We’ve ranked the series from worst to best as a team. If you disagree on the individual placements of certain games, take heart in the fact that so did we. A lot.
Number of entries: 15
What’s included: All of the mainline games, as well as the Chronicles trilogy, Assassin’s Creed 3 spin-off Liberation, and both of the Assassin’s Creed 2 continuations—Brotherhood and Revelations. DLC is considered alongside the games it comes from, even in the case of DLC that was also released standalone like Freedom’s Cry and the Discovery Tours.
What’s not included: The various handheld and mobile exclusives that were not ported to PC. The movie, the comics, the books, and the rest of the transmedia behemoth that is any Ubisoft property.
And now: Every Assassin’s Creed game, ranked from worst to best.
15. Assassin’s Creed (2007)
Samuel Roberts: There are so many Assassin’s Creed games that iterate upon the barebones original that I would never recommend anyone playing it under any circumstances. By the time you’ve finished one Assassin’s Creed game, another one will be right around the corner. This entry hinted at the potential of an open world assassination game that’s about one quarter as intricate as Hitman, but the second game was the one that nailed the formula.
Jarred Walton: I played the original back when it was the only option and found plenty to like, but also way too much repetition. The first tower you climb is an awesome experience. Thirty towers later, not so much. Over 10 years later, things have changed, and going back would only ruin any good memories I have of the game. Even at the outset, the open world was extremely repetitive. If you missed this one, at this point it’s best left alone.
Tom Senior: Time has not been kind to the original Assassin’s Creed. At the time it was technically impressive, and the idea of a time-hopping historical action game was really novel. Now the series is well and truly established, the first game is more of a curio than something you would install expecting a good time.
14. Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India (2016)
Jody Macgregor: The 2D spin-offs each explored a different setting with a different art style. Here it was the Sikh Empire in 1841, with visuals inspired by lithographs of the era framed by henna patterns. As neat as it looked, like the other Chronicles it was just a pretty reskin of Mark of the Ninja, this time with a protagonist whose limited toolset emphasized the big problem all these spin-offs had—they were essentially puzzle games, each checkpointed section needing to be completed perfectly, with controls that weren’t precise enough to make perfection possible. You die a bunch trying to figure out how it wants you to complete a section, and then you die a bunch more fumbling with the controller trying to convince the contextual controls to do what you want.
13. Assassin’s Creed Liberation (2012)
Tom: This port of the 2012 Vita game explored stealth in more interesting ways than any of the other games on the list. As Aveline you can change clothes to present yourself as a slave or a wealthy lady, manipulating NPC’s assumptions to access restricted areas and get closer to targets. A lack of changing stations means changing appearance is a bit of a faff, but the main problem is the game’s origins on a handheld system. Spectacle is an important part of Assassin’s Creed’s appeal, and Liberation struggles to deliver on a modern PC monitor.
12. Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: Russia (2016)
Jody: The stark blocky shapes and red skies of propaganda posters informed the look of the 2D spin-off set in 1918 Russia. Like Syndicate a year earlier it features two protagonists: Assassin Nikolai, and Grand Duchess Anastasia, who appears to be possessed by Shao Jun from Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China. The variety it gained thanks to Nikolai, with a rifle he can use in sniper sections, and Anastasia, who gains Helix powers that let her stealth through glitches, elevated it above India, but it was still let down by unresponsive controls and saves too far apart.
11. Assassin’s Creed 3 (2012)
Samuel: The third game brought us a beautiful world, but one that felt so devoid of interactivity that you might as well have not been there at all. It’s a criticism I’d level at the combat, too. I remember Assassin’s Creed 3 as a game that plays itself against a beautiful backdrop. But hey, it did debut the boat combat systems that would be built upon in Black Flag (then turned into its own game with Skull and Bones), where the idea of fighting other ships actually made sense. 3 also loses points for having a deeply boring protagonist.
Tom: Assassin’s Creed 3 has some of the worst missions in the whole series, full restrictive invisible walls, unclear instructions and boring tasks. The game implies that you can hunt redcoats for supplies in wild, wintry forests, but the reality is far more bland, and the towns aren’t as exciting to explore as London, Paris, Venice, or Rome. It’s a shame, because few games tell stories about colonialism, but AC3 manages to make it boring. It’s quite buggy, too.
James Davenport: Love how it introduced those perfect, perchable V-shaped trees to the series though.
10. Assassin’s Creed Rogue (2014)
Tom: An average retread of Black Flag in dull wintry tones. The ship combat is still fun, but it’s impossible to escape the de ja vu if you’ve played and enjoyed Assassin’s Creed 4 already.
Jody: It’s surprising that the big twist—you play a templar rather than an assassin for much of Rogue—has so little effect on what you’re actually doing. It’s like one of those villain monologues, “We’re not so different, you and I,” only the conclusion you come to isn’t “the assassins are no better than their enemies”, it’s “both sides are just doing variations on the same mission types”. Rogue does steal from the greats though, and if you want more Black Flag, here it is.
9. Assassin’s Creed Unity (2014)
Tom: Paris is my favourite Assassin’s Creed city. It’s absolutely gorgeous, even in the slum areas. Sadly it was an overambitious project and the game suffered from a ton of technical problems. The involved loot system hinted that the series might move into RPG territory long before Origins arrived, but it wasn’t particularly interesting. Arno was a complete nobody and the story is chronically dull. A real missed opportunity given the beautiful setting.
Jody: The bugs have mostly been fixed and a modern rig can run it smoothly at last. Plus, the ridiculous mobile app tie-in that wouldn’t let you open certain chests unless you’d progressed in its minigame is long dead and you’ll have access to all that stuff immediately. Unity today is much closer to the game it should have been at launch, and just quietly it’s pretty good. The time-hopping Animus glitches that let you experience France in WWII, the Middle Ages, and La Belle Époque are fun diversions (in one you climb the Eiffel Tower while being shot at by a fighter plane), and there’s a mission where you have to chase a hot-air balloon across the rooftops. I don’t even mind Arno.
8. Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China (2015)
Robin Valentine: This game holds a special place in my heart—it was one of the first games I ever reviewed for a proper games publication. At the time I called it “the most exciting thing to happen to Assassin’s Creed in years” which in retrospect is perhaps a little strong, but I did find its 2D side-scroller take on the formula really refreshing. While the main series was already firmly on the path of action-adventure and explosive setpieces, China was an actual stealth game, something like a cross between Mark of the Ninja and the original 2D Prince of Persia games. The story sucks—all self-serious brooding and boring MacGuffins—but the setting, 18th century China, is wonderfully evocative, and brought to life with a lovely painterly art style.
I never got around to the two sequels, but from what I heard the quality quickly nosedived after this first instalment. Which is a real shame—I think it was a totally worthy experiment, and if the series had continued it would’ve been a fun way of keeping some of AC’s original stealthy roots going alongside the main series’ open-world epics. But alas.
7. Assassin’s Creed Revelations (2011)
Tom: I’d be tempted to argue this should be higher, though I think if you were going to play an AC game right now Revelations, the third part of the Ezio trilogy, would be a tough recommendation. This game is crowded with unnecessary features and tedious distractions. The tower defence minigames were rubbish, for example, and the crafting system was laboured.
The big gimmick in this one was a hookblade that let you scoot down ziplines that someone spread across the rooftops of Constantinople. Those are quite fun, and you get to hang around with Leonardo Da Vinci, and Revelations features some of the craziest action sequences in the series. Overall, however, it’s a bit of a muddle.
6. Assassin’s Creed Syndicate (2015)
Samuel: London is a dazzling setting, and the idea of two main characters works well, as does the rope launcher that lets you reach high locations easily. Origins has since refined the series’ ancient combat, though, which was getting a bit creaky in this entry.
Tom: After the letdown of Assassin’s Creed Unity, the series was getting wearying at this point. The sibling assassins at the heart of it were a fun pair, but I didn’t find London to be as fun to clamber over compared to other cities. Syndicate did so little to advance the formula and distinguish itself from the rest of the games it ended up being oddly forgettable. Yet again there were problems with bugs in certain missions. It had more flair than Rogue, though, and was less wonky than AC3.
Jody: Syndicate’s an interesting turning point. It’s similar to Unity in that it’s focused on a single city, and it borrows Unity’s hops to different time periods with a more significant jaunt to WWI. It also expands on the RPG mechanics that Origins would push further.
It’s also one of the silliest games in the series. It’s got carriage chases where horses somehow drift and sideslam, a mission where Charles Darwin sends you to an asylum to assassinate an evil doctor, a straight-up fight club, and sidequests where Charles Dickens sends you after evidence of ghosts. You save the life of Karl Marx one minute and Queen Victoria the next. You unlock an outfit called “Maximum Dracula”. It’s gloriously daft, an action movie wearing Assassin’s Creed clothes. It also has the best song.
The Top 5
5. Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood (2010)
Samuel: Brotherhood depicts Rome really well, but I prefer having multiple cities to explore in Assassin’s Creed rather than just one, putting the second game ahead for me. Calling in assassins with a single button press to do your dirty work feels empowering as heck, though.
Tom: I became obsessed with building Rome, building up my assassin school and finding the little tombs hidden around the city. I wish more games would steal the command that summons an assassin from a nearby bin. It feels badass, and I like seeing how the game will figure out where the assassin leaps out from. Sorry, guard, it turns out an assassin has been waiting in that trough since daybreak waiting for me to turn up and whistle.
James: I don’t remember much about Brotherhood except that I left my Xbox running to complete those passive delivery and assassination tasks, and my electric bill actually ending up killing me, the ultimate AC irony.
4. Assassin’s Creed Origins (2017)
Chris Livingston: It’s just great that we can still be completely blown away by a game world. Just floored by it. Considering how far games have come, and how many we’ve played, and all the different sights we see on a regular basis, to just be rocked back on our heels, stunned by the beauty and detail and scope of a location like we are in Origins.
Tom: I couldn’t get on with the combat or the level-gating of enemies but visually Origins sets a new standard for Assassin’s Creed. None of the other games capture the bustling ambience of a marketplace quite as well, and I love the ability to hop from dusty ground level to an eagle-eye view of Egypt.
James: Origins showed that I could totally dismiss the meta-plot of AC and give a damn about the characters. Bayek and Aya were some of the series’ best. Their pain felt real, and I appreciated the nuanced view of a relationship, not only after the death of a child but after the passage of time. It’s not so easy as linear, perfect love, and Origins’ writers did great here.
3. Assassin’s Creed 2 (2009)
Samuel: A consistent and engaging action-adventure with a lively setting, a likeable protagonist and a decade-long revenge tale.
Tom: Venice is a beautiful setting for a game, and it’s a pleasure to explore it as the jovial Ezio. Personally I prefer Brotherhood because I enjoyed collecting assassins like Pokemon, but 2 has the better story, and it’s the point where the series really gains some personality. The first game could feel like a tech demo waiting to become a game, 2 lives up to the promise.
2. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (2018)
Andy Kelly: In many ways, this is the peak of what Ubisoft has achieved with Assassin’s Creed. It’s clear RPGs such as The Witcher 3 and Mass Effect have been a great influence on the direction of the series, with richer, freer quests, a bigger, more interconnected world, accessible character customisation, and dialogue options.
Odyssey is probably slightly too long, but it’s a big, beautiful, sweeping adventure set in a vivid, mythical vision of ancient Greece. It feels like the least historically accurate Creed yet, to the point where Greece and its scattered islands might as well be a fantasy setting in places. But that works in its favour, making for a gorgeous world to journey across.
Throw in that brilliant Exploration Mode, which gives you geographical clues to where an objective is rather than pointing a marker at it, and you have an incredibly fun, rewarding open world. But Black Flag just beats it for me, purely because the piratical theme and Caribbean setting are a touch more compelling and well-realised. It’s a close call, though.
James: Odyssey is way too long with the DLC factored in. I’ve been ‘playing’ it for a few years, and I’m still not done. As of writing this Valhalla is right around the corner. But even so, it shows off Ubisoft’s strengths when using every studio in its massive earth-sized pocket. The result is a compartmentalized checklisty thing, but nearly every compartmentalized checklisty thing in Odyssey is good. The characters and questing is good. The boat combat is good. The open world looks good—scratch that, amazing. I loved eliminating the massive cult and climbing the merc ladder. The pieces don’t all align perfectly, but the pieces are great in the hands.
1. Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag (2013)
Jody: Each Assassin’s Creed game can explore a vastly different time period, but the series’ formula has a flattening effect on that. Sometimes they feel samey no matter how unusual the setting. Black Flag’s an exception because the Golden Age of Piracy isn’t just a backdrop to parkour over, performing air-assassinations off the top of Blackbeard’s hat. Once you’ve done a bit of the assassins vs. templars stuff at the start it goes whole hog on just letting you be a pirate captain, like you’ve eaten your vegetables and now here’s your rum-flavored dessert.
Chris: When we played Assassin’s Creed 3, we all had the same thought: this ship stuff is awesome. Why don’t they make a whole game out of it? Dreams come true.
Tom: Collectible sea shanties! Too many games overlook the value of a good shanty, but not Black Flag. You can also wear four pistols on your chest and use them in hand-to-hand combat! And you can hunt ghost ships on the high seas! I agree that the story is a slog, but at least Kenway has some vigour, and the game gives you so many ways to sail off into adventure. Black Flag makes me crave a dedicated pirate series with these production values, one that doesn’t have to worry about all that assassin vs. templar silliness. It’s odd that the Assassin’s Creed game we love the most is the one that cares least about assassins, but there you go.
Robin: The Freedom Cry expansion was an interesting experiment. I’m not sure Ubisoft was entirely equipped for the seriousness of the story it was telling—it centered around liberating captured Africans from the slave trade—but it made a damn good go of it, and I think its story beats landed more often than not. Gameplay-wise it was basically just more Black Flag—but considering what a revelation (ahem) that game was at the time, a self-contained, bite-size follow-up was very welcome.