Assassin's Creed Valhalla is officially real, and we can't wait to see what Eivor's adventure looks like. That said, we've got some time before the game hits, as its currently slated for this holiday season. So, with that in mind, you might be feeling the itch to go back and check out one of the other Assassin's Creed games to get ready for it, and with a franchise this big and with this many entries, it can be a little intimidating at first glance. That's why we're here to break down which games are the best ones to start with if you're new to the franchise, and regardless of where you start, you've got quite a bit of adventuring ahead of you.
First up we polled Assassin's Creed fans on which ones they would start with from the following options. The choices were Assassin's Creed Odyssey, Assassin's Creed II, Assassin's Creed Black Flag, and other, which was a submit your own choice slot. As you can see, Assassins' Creed II won by a significant margin with 46.5%, but next up was Black Flag with 25.8%. Odyssey came in third at 15.9%, while other made up 11.9% of choices.
There were a few games mentioned in that other category, but one of the most prevalent was actually Assasin's Creed Origins, the first in the relaunched franchise era. That's actually kind of surprising, as Origins was hailed as a really good game and relaunch of the franchise, but it seemed to quickly fade from conversation after it released, and doubly so once Odyssey started being talked about.
Calling all #AssassinsCreed fans, got a question for you for an upcoming thing I'm writing. Which of these games would you recommend to someone starting out with the franchise?— KnightofOA (@MattAguilarCB) April 29, 2020
So that's what fans picked from the choice, and it's hard to go wrong with any of those picks. As for us, here are our picks for where you should start.
ASSASSIN'S CREED II
So, as we said, hard to argue with those choices, and Assassin's Creed II is truly an excellent place to start. You'll meet one of if not the greatest Assassin in the franchise Ezio Auditore, and the setting of Renaissance-era Italy is one that simply lends itself to the premise of Assassins vs Templars. At this point, the modern-day aspect of the games with Desmond and Lucy was also still intriguing and without some of the messy plot threads and insane nonsense of later games.
Gameplay-wise the game received an injection of energy regarding the combat and story aspects, and many of the issues in the first game were ironed out, though the sequel still had a few quirks in the parkour-style movement across the world. There's also quite a bit of content to work your way through, as Ezio's story continues in the even better (at least in my opinion) Assassin's Creed Brotherhood and ends in the not as good but still good entry Assassin's Creed Revelations.
I was close to recommending Brotherhood, as the game really is the perfect refinement of the combat in II, and its additions of a network of assassins really spices up the experience. That said, with Ezio, it is important to understand where he comes from and his backstory, and it's hard to capture all of that without having played II.
If you're going to start, hard not to start with the best, but that spot has a little competition.
ASSASSIN'S CREED ODYSSEY
If you're going to rank Assassins, it's hard to top Ezio. However, that doesn't mean he has no competition, and I will put Kassandra of Odyssey right there with him in terms of charisma, personality, and just pure badassness.
Kassandra is instantly likable and is every bit the killing machine that Ezio is, though she handles things with a bit more of a self-deprecating nature. Her story is also just as intriguing with its ties to Sparta and the Greek Gods, though it is the more grounded familial parts of her story and history that really endear her to players.
When it's time to throw down though she can do it with the best of them, and the combat in Odyssey (picking up and enhancing what Origins built) is like butter, allowing you to pull off devastating attacks with any weapon while still rewarding skill and patience to take advantage of enemy weak points.
As with Origins before it, there is a linked story here as well, though it's not as overt as the previous storyline with Desmond. This feels like a streamlined start, and so far it still has us hooked, so hopefully, this won't end up like the last one did (the less said about that the better). If you're looking for a way to get into the mythos of the current Creed games but don't have time to hit two games, start with Odyssey because you don't really need that much backstory regarding the Animus, the Templars, and the Assassins that Odyssey doesn't expertly provide throughout the course of its adventure.
ASSASSIN'S CREED BLACK FLAG
One of the biggest gameplay changes in the series occurred in Assassin's Creed 3 thanks to the addition of naval combat. You were allowed to take your own ship, get a crew, and sail the seas, and it was absolutely addicting. In fact, it was one of the best elements of the rather disappointing on the whole third official sequel, and Ubisoft decided to take that and run with it in Assassin's Creed Black Flag.
Instead of the brooding, Connor fans got to a roguish and far more charismatic lead Edward Kenway, a perfect fit for the pirate-based adventure, and it all made for a much more entertaining and fun experience. Now, Kenway isn't exactly my favorite Assassin's Creed lead, and honestly, I would pick Adewale in the DLC content over Kenway in a heartbeat. That said, he's perfectly fine as a vessel to enjoy the crisp combat and naval battles, and seeing some of those characters in the mix is insanely cool
The combat is a further refined version of Assassin's Creed 3, but it isn't the overhauled system featured in Origins, which would hit as a few years later. That said, it is one of the more refined systems in the games, so if want something that focuses on the stabby stabby parts without some of the finesse, this is your jam.
ASSASSIN'S CREED ORIGINS
While Odyssey gets much of the praise, Origins deserves a lot of the credit as well for shaping up the franchise. Origins is set in 49 B.C., and follows a Medjay named Bayek. Bayek doesn't feel like any Assassin that's come before and is refreshing in the way he breaks some of the past character tropes. Outside of that, his supporting cast is equally endearing but in more subtle ways than past games, and that's before you get into the completely reworked battle system.
Fighting in Origins feels great, and while it doesn't feel quite as smooth as Odyssey, you'll still appreciate the strategy needed in battles and the additional complexity in combat. Also, this game lets you wield a sword and shield, so if you like that style you'll be quite happy.1comments
On the narrative front, the game takes place before other games in the franchise and allows players to see how the Assassins first began. That said, the story does take a bit to pick up, and the first hour or two is really slow compared to Odyssey, so if you want thrills from the get-go, Odyssey is still your best bet.
Alright, that's our pitch, but let us. know which Assassin's Creed is the one you recommend and why, either in the comments or by hitting me up on Twitter @MattAguilarCB!