Assassin’s Creed is a huge gaming franchise that began its development in 2004. The first game was released in 2007, and many more have followed over the next decade, as releases were made each year.
The franchise has expanded from video games and now includes comics, novels, board games, encyclopedias, and even a feature film.
Origins of Assassin’s Creed
The development of the Assassin’s Creed franchise began in 2004, after the release of the highly popular game, Prince of Persia. The game developers focused on the idea of an assassin who rescues royalty and kills to preserve peace in the kingdom. The series is set at the time of the crusades.
The first game in the franchise was released on November 12th, 2007. It introduced the main elements, which were kept for the following installments in the series. This game is set in a variety of locations. These include Jerusalem, Damascus, Acre, and Masyaf, the location of the Brotherhood of Assassins.
The main character is Desmond Miles, who is descended from a long line of assassins. Documented historical figures appear in Assassin’s Creed, and the time period is rare for a virtual game. The virtual Animus systems allow characters to climb, free run, stealth, do parkour, and engage in combat.
To complete this game, the player must kill nine targets in three different cities. A series of side quests must also be completed before the challenge of completing a perfect assassination is possible. The side quest concept was not used in subsequent Assassin’s Creed releases.
Assassin’s Creed II
The second release of the Assassin’s Creed franchise takes place in Renaissance Italy. Featured locations in the game include Florence, Venice, and Tuscany. Historical figures, such as Leonardo da Vinci, are included. The in-game menu also discusses historical facts and figures relating to the time period.
Assassin’s Creed II features a new protagonist, Ezio, who is on a quest to avenge his family. The player can complete both the main story missions as well as side missions, which can be done at any time. This structure has remained in place for all the subsequent games in the series.
This release was praised for many reasons. The natural progression of targets was favored over the previous repetitive nine missions. Armour could be upgraded and outfits were able to be customized. The locations were improved and the crowd scenes were more realistic.
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
During the development of this installment, the original creative director left before it was finished. Brotherhood was a spinoff of Assassin’s Creed II, however, it features a direct continuation of Ezio’s story.
New additions in this game included city districts to liberate and the inclusion of assassin recruits. This meant the player could find commoners and send them on missions or give them assassin tasks.
Brotherhood was also the first Assassin’s Creed game to feature a multiplayer mode that could be played by up to eight people at once.
After it was released, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood was the second most popular game in the franchise, close behind Assassin’s Creed II.
Assassin’s Creed: Revelations
This installment provided the conclusion to Ezio’s story. He is shown as an old man in Constantinople. In this game, it was possible to use characters from the original game as protagonists.
Assassin’s Creed: Revelations featured mobility upgrades from previous releases. It also included many new weapons and systems, including bomb crafting. This is where the player could create a variety of explosive devices, using materials that had been found on missions.
This release also saw the introduction of the hook blade, which aided the character while free running, and was also useful in combat. Eagle Vision was upgraded to Eagle Sense, allowing players to see where targets and enemies have been.
Assassin’s Creed III
This game was expected to be a big leap forward, compared to previous installments in the series. It contained better visual effects, a higher level of animation, and an improved reworking of the controls.
Assassin’s Creed III featured the last part of Desmond’s story. It was set during the American Revolution and introduced a new character named Connor. It also included missions in Rome, Manhattan, and Brazil.
This installment brought the introduction of naval warfare, and players were able to steer a ship and engage in combat with other ships.
However, this release was criticized for its unbalanced narrative and lengthy prologue. The player receives a lot of information about the revolution but much less about Connor’s quest. The parkour aspect was also far less effective in a frontier setting, as there were no large towers or buildings.
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
This installment was one of the most memorable in the Assassin’s Creed franchise. It was very different from previous games as it was set entirely at sea. It was essentially a pirate game within the Assassin’s Creed framework, and ship combat was the core focus.
The main character of the game is Connor’s grandfather, Edward Kenway. The player captains his own ship and engages in combat with other ships to pillage them. It is also possible in this game to hunt whales and find buried treasure on small islands.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag was launched for the PS4 and Xbox. It was the last release in the series to feature a competitive multiplayer function.
Assassin’s Creed: Rogue
This installment was released for PS3 and Xbox 360. It was the last game that was built using the same tools as Assassin’s Creed III. It was a well-made game and featured the character, Shay Cormac, as the assassin.
Assassin’s Creed: Unity
This release was certainly a low point in the Assassin’s Creed franchise and was the main reason for the negative reviews of the series overall. The game was glitchy and had many bugs.
Consumers were so unhappy that Ubisoft issued a public apology. Even though the game’s glitches were fixed, serious damage to the reputation of the franchise had been done.
Assassin’s Creed: Unity is set in Paris, and was praised for the quality of its renditions of the city as well as its crowd scenes. The characters are also able to climb in both upward and downward directions.
The developers for Black Flag were not used for this installment. This meant that it saw a return to the structure of the older Assassin’s Creed games, instead of continuing with the new developments made in Black Flag.
The downside to this was that the on-screen mini-map included many repetitive missions and towers to climb. This installment also included the introduction of micro-transactions. These were unpopular with users.
Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate
Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate is set in London during the Industrial Revolution. The protagonists in this game were the twins, Jacob and Evie Frye.
The player could swap between the two characters, and each of the characters had their preferences in regards to tactics on missions. Jacob was better at brawling and combat, while Evie was better at stealth missions.
This game featured a new rope launcher mechanism, which meant that buildings did not have to be scaled by hand.
Syndicate was a return to form for the Assassin’s Creed franchise; sales were down after Unity, but this installment was a success, overall.
2016 was the first year that there was no game released since the inception of the franchise. The developers decided to take a step back and re-examine the franchise and establish where improvements could be made.
Assassin’s Creed: Origins
This game was produced by the same developers as the very successful Black Flag installment. It is set in ancient Egypt, and the storyline takes place before all of the other games. It tells the story of the history of the Brotherhood, with an ambitious reworking of many features.
The mini-map on screen is removed, and a new AI system produced the most realistic Assassin’s Creed world to date. The animation quality has also improved.
Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey
The 2018 installment will be released on 5th October. It is set in ancient Greece and has received positive feedback from reviewers so far.
It has been praised for its reimagined combat. There is a new feature that allows players to see how wanted they are for the crimes that they have committed. There is also the option for characters to sail, and a selection of protagonists is available to choose from.
Assassin’s Creed Comics
An eight-page graphic novel was included with the limited edition of Assassin’s Creed. This displayed the backstories of Desmond Miles and Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad. It was narrated by both characters and its purpose was to serve as a prelude to the first video game.
The novel begins with both characters introducing themselves: Desmond as a prisoner and Altaïr as a hunter. It ends with them re-introduced as assassins.
There is also a graphic novel written in French by Eric Corbeyran. This novel was released in six volumes and sold in France, Belgium, Canada, Italy, and Poland.
Assassin’s Creed Volume One: Desmond was released on November 13, 2009, shortly before Assassin’s Creed 2 was released.
The series covers the storylines of Desmond and Jonathan Hawk. The volume titles are:
The final comic book series was produced by Ubisoft themselves and was released in November 2010. The three-part series was illustrated by Karl Kerschl and Cameron Stewart, both of whom had won numerous comic book awards.
The first two books in the series, The Fall, and The Chain are set in Russia between 1888 and 1908, and 1998 in the United States, respectively. The final installment, Brahman, is set in India during the 19th century.
Assassin’s Creed Novels
A series of novels are available, based on the Assassin’s Creed video games. These are written by Oliver Bowden and include:
Assassin’s Creed Board Games
A board game was released in February 2014. It was called Assassin’s Creed: Arena. It featured characters from Assassin’s Creed: Revelations such as Anacletos, Oksana Razin, Shahkulu, and Odai Dungas.
Assassin’s Creed Encyclopedias
In 2011, an encyclopedia of the Assassin’s Creed series was released by Ubiworkshop. It was originally meant to be an art book. However, it gained so much material that it was expanded into an encyclopedia.
A second edition of the encyclopedia was released in November 2012, containing an extra 120 pages of information. This happened at the same time as the release of Assassin’s Creed III.
In 2013, a third edition was released in hardcover form. This was a revised version of the previous year’s edition. The third encyclopedia contains information relating to Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and Assassin’s Creed: Brahman. It featured an additional 390 pages of new content.
Assassin’s Creed Films
Several short films have been made, including Lineage, Ascendance, and Embers.
A live-action feature film was released in December 2016. Called simply Assassin’s Creed, Michael Fassbender played the starring role. His character was called Callum Lynch, a descendant of Aguilar, who was a 15th-century assassin from Spain. The film received many negative reviews from critics but it performed fairly well at the box office.
As a franchise, Assassin’s Creed has received predominantly good reviews from players and critics alike. It is one of the most popular gaming series, and certainly one of the longest-running.
Assassin’s Creed as a game has received some criticism for its installments being released annually. This results in feelings of oversaturation and a lack of development in the games.
However, there is no doubt that the Assassin’s Creed franchise is one of the most popular worldwide. It is the best-selling series belonging to Ubisoft and, up to date, has sold more than 100 million copies throughout the world.