With over 20 games released on everything from the Wii U to the Xbox One, Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed series is maybe one of the most prolific franchises in gaming. The games are set in various eras of history and chronicle the age-old conflict between two ancient secret societies, the Assassins and the Templars. With such a huge list of titles to choose from, where should new players jump in? Fear not: we’ve compiled a list of the five games essential for players who are new to the series.
1. Assassin’s Creed II
The second title in the series introduces players to Ezio Auditore da Firenze, an Assassin during the Italian Renaissance and perhaps one of the game’s most beloved characters. A marked improvement on the first Assassin’s Creed, this is a perfect introduction to the franchise, and perhaps one of its strongest entries. Players can explore gorgeously rendered Italian cities such as Venice and Florence while familiarizing themselves with the game’s trademark stealth mechanics, pulling off spectacular assassinations, and meeting up with historical icons like Leonardo Da Vinci.
2. Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
Brotherhood is an immediate follow-up to Assassin’s Creed II, and the first game in the series to feature a multiplayer mode. In the main story, players again return as Ezio as he begins building the Assassins into a truly powerful organization. Familiar characters from the second game return, endowing Ezio with new equipment and abilities. Players can also command teams of Assassin recruits, using them to achieve an edge in combat or sending them on missions across the globe to find new weapons, armor, and treasures for Ezio to use.
3. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
Black Flag is set during the Golden Age of Piracy. This time, players take control of Edward Kenway, a pirate and reluctant Assassin. Players can explore an absolutely massive map of the Caribbean, sailing from island to island as they customize their own ship and build up their pirate hideout. The ship combat is easily one of the best parts of this game. Players can attack small merchant vessels for supplies or go after larger warships to add to their fleet, and can either attack from a distance or jump aboard disabled ships for some tense swordfights worthy of “Pirates of the Caribbean.”
4. Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
Industrial Revolution-era London is the backdrop for the story of brother-and-sister Assassins Jacob and Evie Frie. Players can swap back and forth between these two characters at pretty much any time, and each offers their own unique character and play style. Being one of the most modern games in the series, some distinctly-steampunk gadgets such as a grappling hook offer fun new assassination opportunities. The highlight of this game, though, is London itself. Though previous games in the series have been set in the tense confines of large cities, this game perfects that atmosphere. Exploring the city’s dark streets and beautiful architecture is one of the most memorable aspects of this entry, and nothing makes you feel more like an Assassin that pulling off a perfect silent assassination in a foggy, cobblestoned London back alley.
5. Assassin’s Creed Origins
The latest game in the series is also one of the best. Like the name implies, this game lets players explore the origins of the feud between the Assassins and Templars against the backdrop of ancient Egypt. The combat system received a total overhaul for this title, allowing for much more fluid fights. The addition of a shield means players will have to play defensively just as much as offensively. An addition of a standalone arena mode allows this new combat system to really shine, and offers hours of additional fun while letting players fight unique and spectacular bosses and unlock equipment for use in the main story.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, the latest game in the series, is slated for an October release. This means there’s still plenty of time to catch up and embrace your inner assassin. Just remember: nothing is true; everything is permitted.