Assassin’s Creed: An Overview

There are 12 Assassin Creed games and I own 11 of them (+ Liberation as it was bundled with III). I don’t own Unity because I read so many comments about it being ‘buggy’ that it put me off. I didn’t feel any particular draw to the location either. If it had been super cheap like the earlier games I might have decided to try it, but even with the Steam sale it wasn’t quite cheap enough so I decided to skip it.

Anyway, I’ve talked a couple of times about reducing my backlog of games so this weekend I booted the games that I’d not even touched. I’ve now at least loaded all of the Assassin’s Creed games. Breaking it down game by game, this is what I thought:

Assassin’s Creed (Original / 1)
I looked at this a while back now. It crashed a few times and didn’t work at all really with the controller. I get that it wasn’t designed for that but it was annoying. It’s a little scary really that this only came out in 2007 (so 14 years ago) and yet it looks so incredibly dated. The graphics, the gameplay, it’s just so old but it wasn’t that long ago. Anyway I struck this off the list. I think ‘technical issues’ is a good enough reason. I don’t need the aggravation.

Assassin’s Creed II
Loaded this on Friday night. It responded better, but not brilliantly, with the controller. However, I swiftly lost the will to live. I have to say the company have got so much better about how they start the games. Doing a looooong walk and talk was not a good intro. The graphics are the same/not much better than what I remembered from the first game. Adding on the controller annoyances and I decided to strike this one off too. Given how beloved it is as a game it might well improve if I stuck with it, but ehhh I have enough to play I don’t need to waste my time. Maybe one day I’ll get in the mood to go back to it.

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
Also loaded this Friday night. This actually worked fine with the controller but bloody hell it was boring. Started off with just running through a city and then it moved to the countryside. Again so much walk and talk. I appreciate that it was setting the scene or something but I expected more. I felt a little bad about ditching this one as in technical terms it was fine, but ugh not a good way to begin a game. The parkour isn’t as ‘open’ as later games either. I’d run to a wall that I’d be able to climb in other games and Ezio would just hover a foot off the ground, arms would stutter and then fall back down. I’d be more open about coming back to this one if it wasn’t the only game in the trilogy that worked. Just being able to play #2 (and not 1 or 3) really isn’t all that interesting.

Assassin’s Creed: Revelations
The third/final instalment of the “Ezio Trilogy” and I’d love to say that again there was an improvement. Brotherhood worked better than II etc. However, this wouldn’t even load. The game got to the opening screen of “press enter to start” and nothing. With controller, without controller, in big picture, booted separately – nothing I tried would make it even open. So very firm strikethrough on this one. I suppose I should contact Steam/Ubisoft support but ehhh not worth my time.

Assassin’s Creed III
Loaded this Friday night and finally the graphics have reached a point where they aren’t glaringly old. What a difference 5 years makes. Anyway, this works with the controller but SO MANY CUTSCENES! Seriously. Steam says the game was running for 90 minutes and I swear almost all of that was “walk from A to B and watch a video”. Again not compelling gameplay. I got past the intro “Ubisoft Presents” with this one and comparing this opening to say Odyssey – no comparison. The studio has improved 110%.

I’ve since realised I didn’t make it far enough into the game to be playing the actual character, I only saw Haytham Kenway (I recognised his last name from Black Flag so assumed he was the MC). Apparently it’s his son so maybe the game picks up when it starts ‘properly’. Anyway, right now I’m anticipating it’ll be a slog to finish. I’ll probably pick it up again at some point though.

Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation
Not bad. It started off with more of a bang than the actual AC: III did. However, the persona gimmick (lady / slave/ assassin) is not something I’m keen on. It would be fine if it was just an outfit and I got to keep all my abilities but not being able to climb? Not being able to assassinate? I get that it’s more subtle spy stuff, changing a look/identity means having to kill less but that’s not really what I’m playing this game for – I don’t have the patience for that. Anyway, there’s nothing wrong with this game. In fact I think the storyline is quite good. I think I’m just being picky now. Definitely not topping any list but I might go back to it one day.

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
I loaded this for the first time a while back. I remember being struck by how much was familiar about it. This is the earliest game in the series that I’ve noticed the ‘synchronisation’ fast travel points. My memory is a bit fuzzy but Steam says I’ve played it for 2 hours. I think I liked it well enough. I’m pretty sure I likened it to Syndicate which I’d played a bit of previously. I’m guessing that Black Flag was the starting point of many things the later games built on. I have a vague memory of a similar confusion that I felt with Syndicate about the progression/gearing systems.

It also has the separate memory ‘levels’ with optional objectives that I think all the games had pre-Origins. I do prefer the post-Origins system but then I have an issue as I don’t like not getting 100% completion and I also have a hatred of having to redo what I’ve already done. (Side note: given the latter why do I raid in Warcraft? that’s endless repetition. I suppose that’s with the guild so it’s a bit different).

My problem with this game is I don’t enjoy ship combat. It’s not so bad now I’ve switched controllers and I can actually aim but it’s still not my favourite thing to do. Of course this game is entirely about pirates and ships so there’s a lot of it. It also gave the franchise the legacy of ship combat which shows up in probably almost every game after this one. Anyway, it’s a cool enough setting that this is a game where I will endeavour to finish the campaign but I won’t 100% it.

Assassin’s Creed: Rogue
Odd opening as the voiceover doesn’t match the time. I was very confused until I realised what was on screen was technically a flashback from what was said. This game has so many of the things I recognise from Syndicate with the collectibles and chests etc. I might have played this a little bit more but the ‘modern day Abstergo’ is done in first person *vomits* (the fastest way to make me feel sick is stick me in front of an FPS game). I wanted to fix the computers and find the cool stuff but I couldn’t stomach moving around.

The controls are really smooth. I’ve been playing with my PS5 controller rather than my Steam controller and it’s so much better for camera control and targeting for shooting. So long as the modern day stuff is limited I see no reason why I won’t play this one. I also hope the ship stuff is limited.

Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate
This was one of the first AC games I went for after Origins. Victorian/kinda steampunk London? The setting of Warehouse 12? Sign me the hell up! I’ve rambled about it before. As I said with Black Flag the gearing/progression system confuses me. However, I liked the combat system. In some ways I remember thinking it was better than the Origins style as it gave me more hints about how to parry, whereas I usually just flail around in Origins and hope to kill the enemy before they kill me. Despite not really understanding the systems this was a good game and it’s definitely one I’ll finish. Again I probably won’t 100% it but the grappler alone is worth the price of admission.

Assassin’s Creed: Origins
I’ve finished the main campaign of this one! Apparently (according to google) it should have taken 29 hours and it took me 41. I still have the DLC and the achievements to do. I actually want to 100% this game. I love the setting, the graphics are gorgeous, the systems are easy to understand. Just everything is *chefs kiss* perfect. I actually started loading the other AC games initially because I like this game so much, I was hesitant about finishing it and leaving the other ‘lesser’ games still to do. I thought I should draw this one out and savour it, and finish the other games in between.

Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey
Beautiful game. Slightly more complicated/don’t understand stuff like the ship but overall it’s in the same mould as Origins. According to Steam I’ve played this 7 hours so far. I definitely intend to play this all the way through and probably 100% it as well. Origins has the edge with the setting (and it was the first one I played so set the ‘standard’ in my mind) but I do like this one. I picked Kassandra as was recommended and yeah it’s damn good.

Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla
Ah yeah this one. Solid graphics, solid combat. What the hell is up with the settlement system? That sort of reminded me a bit of the Syndicate train thing (which I still don’t get). Why do the game people think adding these things is necessary? Just buying this game was an ‘experience’ as it took about half a dozen emails with Ubisoft support before the transaction went through. They decided not to sell it through Steam – so annoying! Anyway, I’ve played 6 hours and I’m sure I’ll finish the campaign one day. I don’t know if I’ll 100% it because it’s nowhere near as compelling as Origins or Odyssey. It’s ok but not great.

I have at least reached England now (which is how I know about the weird settlement system). I started off with a female Eivor and it was much better when I switched to the male version which I wasn’t expecting. I’m not a fan of the ‘raids’ Eivor can do with the crew. Unfortunately I think those are necessary. I’ve always liked the sneaking around, assassinating people part of the game. I’m not very good at it and often get discovered and have to fight (and then I’m not very good at the fighting part either). But yeah I like the hiding and assassinating and this game seems to mostly forget that. Why is it an Assassin’s Creed game? I might be getting God of War for Christmas and so Viking berserkers isn’t something I mind, it’s just not something I’m all that keen on in my Assassin’s Creed game.

In Conclusion
If anyone is interested in getting into the Assassin’s Creed franchise I would recommend skipping the first 5 games. They are plagued with technical issues on more modern machines (I’m playing on PC, just realised I forgot to say). They also show their age in gameplay/storytelling ways.

I do realise that I’m being judgemental. I mean the technical issues in the first few games are fairly objective but apart from the original game and Revelations, those technical issues aren’t game-breaking. I could play AC: 2 and Brotherhood if I wanted and I know I’ve rushed to judgement. I guess it goes back to when I originally got Netflix to watch Daredevil/the Marvel shows. I really did not like Daredevil but I made myself watch it because “it was marvel” until I realised how dumb that was. Life is too short to watch something (or play something) just because it belongs a franchise that I otherwise like. Maybe those earlier games improve and I’m missing out, or maybe they just aren’t to my taste. Either way, I don’t have to spend my time on them if I don’t want to and right now I don’t.

I’d rank the remaining games:
1) Origins
2) Odyssey
3) Syndicate
4) Valhalla
5) Black Flag
6) Rogue

But of course YMMV as I am influenced by my love of certain settings. Also it’s not entirely fair because I’ve played the entire main campaign of Origins but with the others I’ve just started (with Rogue I haven’t even defected yet). So I don’t really have an accurate flavour of them. Still I don’t anticipate the order changing much. My love of Warehouse 12 (and that grappler) will undoubtedly keep Syndicate #3 otherwise Valhalla probably would have taken that spot purely because of improved systems.

I definitely approve of the shift Ubisoft made introducing the RPG elements and making it completely open world (none of those separate memory levels). Although if I’d started with the franchise earlier (Origins was the first I picked up) and therefore played the original system first, then I might well have felt the opposite. Also newer does tend to be shinier which makes it easier to like them more. New doesn’t always mean improved (look at Valhalla) but it does have an innate advantage.

I’ve heard that the next game (codenamed Infinity) isn’t going to be out until 2024. I still have a lot to play so that’s fine. What concerns me is the ‘live service’ part as does that make it an MMO? I play all the games on easy because my skills aren’t great, but if it’s online then they’ll surely have to be some kind of default skill level (which presumably will be higher than easy). I’m hoping I’m completely misunderstanding but we’ll see I guess.