Assassin’s Creed – The Best & Worst Thing About Each Game

I’ve played every single mainline Assassin’s Creed game, most of them more than once, and I can confidently say that none of them are outright bad. Some have aged poorly, others integrate bad mechanics, the more recent ones are too long, but each one serves up an interesting and (usually) engaging experience.

That being said, no game is perfect. I’ll go through all twelve mainline games, explaining what I love and hate most about each one. Potential spoilers and controversial opinions ahead!

Before we begin, you can check out some of my related blog posts below:

Assassin’s Creed

BEST: The Premise

It’s widely known that the original Assassin’s Creed had one of the most ingenious and ground-breaking scripts in all of gaming, and the premise alone is what made it so special.

Reliving ancestor’s memories through your own DNA, discovering historical places and people, a classic battle between good and evil secret societies … The original’s story is pretty perfect, so it’s no wonder it launched an entire series of games.

WORST: Mission Design

Despite the amazing premise, it’s very tricky to go back and play the original. Not only has technology made leaps and bounds since 2007, but mission design and gameplay have improved drastically too.

A lot of the missions feel confined and repetitive, assassination mechanics aren’t as fun as they are in later games, and the open world is very stale. To put a long story short, it aged poorly.

Assassin’s Creed 2

BEST: The Protagonist

There’s a lot of things going for AC2 – it improves upon its predecessor in every way imaginable, from gameplay to mission design, but the thing that most people will remember from this game is its protagonist.

Ezio Auditore di Firenze remains the most recognisable AC protagonist to this day, with his backstory and radiant charm connecting with gamers the world over. The fact that we got to spend two more games with Ezio makes his initial story all the more nostalgic.

WORST: Too Many Regions

A lot of fans point to the lack of mission replayability as the worst offender, and I certainly have my problems with the plot’s breakneck pace, but if I had to pinpoint one gripe from AC2 it would have to be the setting.

Florence is a great city, Venice is also a great city, everything in between is alright, but the content is spread so thin across every region that it becomes overwhelming. If they’d focussed on one or two cities instead of multiple, AC2’s depiction of Italy could have been the best of the Ezio trilogy.


BEST: The Side Activities

Certainly in the Ezio trilogy, I found Brotherhood’s selection of side activities to be the most engaging and memorable of the lot.

I love the Leonardo missions (despite popular opinion), the Romulus crypts are great, and the Cristina missions are heart-breaking. What’s more, you finally get to run your own brotherhood of assassins!

WORST: The Modern Day

Brotherhood’s story is a little thin, and I’d be lying to myself if I said the mission design and gameplay are perfect, but I can look past those gripes when the historical parts are so much fun.

What isn’t so much fun, however, are the modern day segments. Desmond and the contemporary assassins have a slightly more engaging plotline than usual, but every time it cuts away from the Ezio action to them I want to tear my hair out.


BEST: The Hook Blade

This might be a bit too niche for the “best” category, but on my replay of Revelations I was really impressed with the Hook Blade.

It makes the parkour within Revelations so much fun, with the long jumping, high-reaching and lamp vaulting all feeling like natural progressions of the gameplay.

… So yeah, I can’t really pick out too many great things that make Revelations unique.

WORST: It’s So Empty

When I first started playing Revelations, I wondered if it was the best in the Ezio trilogy. By the end, it was unequivocally the worst. Why? Because Constantinople is such a chore to explore.

Some of Brotherhood’s side content returns, but it feels worse and tacked-on. The rest of the side content is pretty mundane, the world feels repetitive to explore, and there isn’t enough to do. By the time I finished Revelations’ main story, I had no motivation to complete the rest of the meaningless quests and collectables.

Assassin’s Creed 3

BEST: The Gameplay Upgrades

People forget that, gameplay wise, AC3 was a huge step up from the Ezio trilogy when it first released.

The world is vibrant and lived-in, the combat and parkour feel ten times cleaner, and the new gameplay engine still feels fresh in 2023.

WORST: The Writing

Other than the fairly one-note open world, the thing holding AC3 back the most is its storytelling.

I had a tough time connecting to Connor as a protagonist, and his forays into Colonial America did nothing to win me over. The villain demises are anticlimactic, the mission design and side characters are unmemorable, and the modern day plot is at an all-time low.

Black Flag

BEST: Being A Pirate

A lot of AC fans moan about Black Flag being the first game in the series to stray from formula and feel too much like a different game, but I don’t care when the overall package is this damn fun.

Having your own pirate ship and crew is a dream come true, and the open world with multiple landmarks across the sea meant that there was never a dull moment. In all honesty, Black Flag is probably the most fun game in the franchise.

WORST: Tailing Missions

Assassin’s Creed has always been lambasted for some of its slower, less engaging tailing missions, but Black Flag was when these mission types started to become the butt of the joke.

Roughly 20% of all missions involve tailing / eavesdropping on a target to some extent, and that feels like half of the runtime in practice. If the missions had more variety, this would be the best game in the series bar none.


BEST: More Of Black Flag

The Ubisoft AC team split back in 2014, with half of the team working on the next-gen Unity whilst the others worked on the current-gen Rogue.

As a result, a lot of assets and world design of Black Flag are re-used and recycled, and as a fan of that entry I shouldn’t really have complained. That being said …

WORST: It Got Stale

The problem with re-using assets, however, is that it felt incredibly stale and repetitive.

Especially since I played Rogue straight after Black Flag, I had no intention of doing it all again in an inferior medium. I’m sure there’s an interesting story at Rogue’s core, but I couldn’t be bothered to follow it.


BEST: The Parkour

Unity was slammed on release for its bugs and glitches, so as a result its amazing gameplay flew under the radar.

It has the best parkour in the series, and it’s not even close. Jumping around and navigating through the rooftops had never been so responsive, and it looked hella cool too. If you look up “AC parkour compilation”, 90% of the time Unity is what shows up.

WORST: The Story

If you asked 2014 me what the worst aspect of Unity was, it would easily be the egregious game-breaking bugs. On my recent playthrough I luckily didn’t get as many, so my new least-favourite thing about Unity has to be its story.

I never really engaged with the plotline of Arno and his Templar girlfriend, as I felt the writers weren’t brave enough to delve deeper into the truly good stuff. Also, why bother setting your story in Revolutionary France and not even focus it on the revolution?


BEST: Blackbox Missions

Unity introduced the concept of “Blackbox Missions”, where you have multiple routes and methods of assassination available to you, but I felt it was Syndicate that really perfected the format.

I love how open-ended each major assassination is, and all of the cinematic assassinations felt so satisfying to plan and finally pull off.

WORST: Gang Territories

Syndicate was generally a downgrade in gameplay from Unity, but that’s not what I hate most about it – it’s the tedious, repetitive open-world filler that Ubisoft seems to specialise in.

Taking down one or two gang territories was fun at first, but I got bored out of my mind ticking every box in the checklist and participating in those dull gang fights. It’s a shame, as Victorian London is one of the coolest settings the devs have ever constructed.


BEST: The Story

As a soft reboot of the franchise, Origins does a lot of things right – not only does it mesh the AC formula with a staggering open world, but it integrates the familiar gameplay beats brilliantly (for the most part).

What I love most about it, however, is the story of Bayek and Aya – their vengeance for their son is both heart-breaking and utterly captivating, and their bloodthirsty motivations drive every scene and encounter.

WORST: The Mid-Game Grind

Some of Ubisoft’s worst traits as open world designers came to the forefront in Origins. It wouldn’t be as bad as in the next two entries, but the mid-game grind was a pain in the backside.

My problem with Origins’ level grind, though, is that I never found its side content to be particularly worthwhile. While Odyssey and Valhalla have some good side missions and world events at times, Origins is more of a “go here, kill that” sort of gameplay loop.


BEST: Ancient Greece

It’s no exaggeration to say that Odyssey might be my favourite game in the series for its open world alone.

Nobody had ever dared to revive Ancient Greece in so much detail, but Ubisoft did a perfect job across the board. It has both Origins’ beauty and Black Flag’s expansive oceans, and I couldn’t have asked for much more.

WORST: Enemy Sponges

As much as I enjoy playing through Kassandra’s story and exploring Ancient Greece time and time again, the grindy combat makes every subsequent playthrough an even bigger chore.

Each enemy has a health pool about ten times bigger than it needed to be, and assassinations don’t even do enough damage to one-shot anymore. I love Odyssey, but the devs got the balance and progression all wrong (probably so that the player would be forced to buy microtransactions …)


BEST: The Combat

Unity and Syndicate got a bit of slack for its simplistic combat, and Origins / Odyssey didn’t quite cut the mustard … But then along came Valhalla with its new and expanded combat system.

The visceral combat is befitting of the Viking era, and the introduction of a stamina bar meant that battles weren’t just mindless button-mashing anymore.

WORST: The Filler

Valhalla is a game that you can easily sink a hundred hours into, but it only really needed to be about thirty.

The countless regions and side activities and more regions and more side activities get stale quick, and the fact there’s hardly any variation between storylines means that most players lose interest after the first ten hours. A shame, really, as Valhalla had the potential to be the very best.

Aaand that’s my list! You can check out some of my latest blog posts below:

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