As many of you are already well aware, I’m a big fan of the Assassin’s Creed franchise. I love how Ubisoft is able to take history, create a fictional narrative, then weave them together like all this stuff actually happened. Being able to run around exotic locations is a huge draw for me. Where else do you get to experience places like 1191 Jerusalem, Renaissance Italy, and Revolutionary France?
Even being a big fan of the franchise, I can admit when something doesn’t work. As we know, not every game in the franchise panned out like we hoped. I was happy to see the franchise take a break after the breakneck annual pace it set out on after Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood. Though I felt Assassin’s Creed Syndicate was a fantastic addition to the series, I was hopeful the extra time would do the series good in the long run.
We’re still a couple months from release, but I’m really liking what I’m seeing out of Assassin’s Creed Origins so far. The newest game takes a lot of those well-known core concepts and either tweaks them or outright dumps them. While I won’t get into specifics here, combat and world exploration are two areas that aim to revamp the franchise along with a new RPG progression system.
So in honor of the upcoming Assassin’s Creed Origins, I’ve put together a list of my five favorite moments from the series. These are specific events that occur within each of the games, so even though I loved exploring the open seas of the Carribean or was wowed when I ran across Venetian rooftops for the first time, those broad experiences don’t actually count.
Also, I’d like to point out that there are plenty of spoilers for a bunch of the games below, so reader beware. In no particular order…
Lydia Frye – Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
AC: Syndicate is a fantastic entry into the series, but likely a game many may have passed on due to franchise fatigue at that point. The game introduced players to the Frye twins, a pair of Assassins featuring complementary skills and personalities. One of the biggest surprises in the game is the fact that players can find an area on the map, an Animus glitch as the game calls it, which advances time to future during the events of World War I.
Instead of playing as the twins (who are pretty old by this point in time), players take control of Jacob’s granddaughter, Lydia. The map is considerably reduced in size, but this segment gives players multiple missions and collectables to find, so it was never intended to be just a simple throw in.
I found these missions to be a fantastic palette cleanser as well. Instead of Industrial Revolution Era thugs, players worked with figures like Winston Churchill to turn back the tide and eliminate a hidden network of Templar spies. I also found Lydia to be a pretty compelling character and was a bit disappointed that I couldn’t continue her story once her gameplay segments were over.
Ezio and Altair Meet – Assassin’s Creed Revelations
I know what you’re thinking: “Ezio and Altair were born centuries apart, how can this happen?!”
Revelations was an Ezio focused story, but it also brought Altair back into the fold through flashbacks as well. Towards the end of the game, an older Ezio finally arrives at the old Masyaf Assassin Stronghold, to open Altair’s secret library and discover extremely valuable knowledge. After obtaining the special keys and opening the large doors. Ezio found the library was entirely devoid of books. Instead, the skeletal remains of Altair were seated behind the table after locking himself in there and eventually dying at age 92.
Before heading back to Italy, Ezio made the decision to finally retire. At this point, the nearby Apple of Eden lit up, allowing Ezio to essentially break the fourth wall to speak to Desmond, telling him to make the bloodshed in his life mean something.
What I loved about this sequence is that this final sequence seemed to unite everyone, Altair from the first game, Ezio from the past three, and Desmond, the modern day character. It was unexpected but very cool at that point.
A Twist Ending – Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood
I know the “modern day” aspects of this series aren’t universally loved. In fact, I feel like most people would rather have Ubisoft focus on the historical elements. Still, when the first few games focused on Desmond Miles, there were some really great moments.
I great example comes towards the end of Brotherhood as the team makes substantial discoveries regarding the Pieces of Eden and “Those Who Came Before.” After locating the Apple of Eden and placing his hand on it, time froze and Desmond found himself controlled by one of the former gods, Juno.
Juno then forces Desmond to stab one of his partners, Lucy Stillman, with his hidden blade. With Desmond clearly trying to stop himself, Juno then drops the bombshell that she would actually betray the team due to being a member of the Templar Order.
At the time, this was a massive surprise because Lucy was there right from the start of the franchise, working with Desmond and being one of, if not his biggest ally.
As it turns out, not everything is as it seems.
Templar Vs Assassin Vs Templar – Assassin’s Creed Unity
Looking back, I feel that Assassin’s Creed Unity never got a fair shake from gamers. Granted, things started off beyond rough for the French Revolution inspired game. I’m sure you’ve seen the memes of the floating eyes and teeth or heard about the overwhelming performance and server issues. Ubisoft eventually fixed the game, but by then, the time had passed.
Still, Unity tells a great story and has a great setting for the series. One of the more underrated parts of the game is Arno Dorian’s romance with Elise de la Serre. Not only is she a badass fighter, Elise is also a Templar and natural enemy of Arno. Still, the two don’t let that fact stop them from being together. Things naturally get complicated as her father who is the Grand Master of the Order is assassinated by the leader of a Templar splinter group.
Long story short, the final fight in the game pairs Elise and Arno against the rival Templar leader, Francois-Thomas Germain. Germain held the Sword of Eden, a powerful relic that could blast electricity. After a challenging battle and Arno in danger, Elise came to the rescue by destabilizing the sword and causing an explosion. The blast critically wounded Germain, and sadly, mortally wounded Elise as well.
The game did a superb job laying the foundation of Arno and Elise’s relationship that I generally felt sadness when she essentially died in Arno’s arms.
A Tale of Revenge – Assassin’s Creed II
Something I feel Assassin’s Creed II does so well is showing Ezio growing up and how he becomes who he becomes. Obviously, his tale becomes a tragic one, but I loved the revenge tale angle Ubisoft takes us on. Ezio never intended to be an Assassin, he just kind of stumbled into it, using it as a way to get back at Rodrigo Borgia for his role in killing his family. What’s great is that the player sees Ezio’s evolution throughout the game, eventually accepting his family’s legacy.
What’s great is that the ending doesn’t exactly turn out to be what the player would have expected to see at the start of the game. After finally getting to Rodrigo Borgia, now known as Pope Alexander VI, the two do battle in the Vatican catacombs. After emerging victorious, Ezio decides to spare Borgia, claiming that he’s seen enough death in his life and killing him won’t change his family’s fate. Unfortunately for him, Borgia escapes which leads directly into the events of Assassin’sBrotherhoodherhood.
This moment makes it clear that Ezio has grown and evolved on his journey as well as his mission and viewpoints. Ubisoft could have easily just made him one dimensional as he only seeks revenge. I’m glad they didn’t and it speaks volumes as to why he’s the only character to star in three consecutive games.