With over 25 games in the series timeline, including mainline titles and spin-offs, the Assassin's Creed franchise is daunting for both longtime gamers and newcomers alike. With Assassin's Creed: Syndicate hitting the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC later this year, here are the games you need to play, to get up to speed with the series.
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
Don't let the "IV" in the name put you off. Black Flag is perhaps the most accessible game in the entire series, and for the most part it just lets you enjoy the action as a pirate, without worrying overly about the order of the Assassins. The game has you sail the high seas, leading a crew of pirates as you pillage the murky waters of the Caribbean. There's more than enough in terms of stealth and assassinations to partake in, with varied missions and exotic locales.
The sea battles are an excellent diversion as well, and your crew sings pirate shanties while sailing, which adds a lot of character to the game. But the icing on the cake is Black Flag's cast of characters, including the legendary pirate Blackbeard. The game's protagonist Edward Kenway is also an interesting character who doesn't just follow orders, no matter who's giving them - neither listening to the Assassins, or the enemies the Templars.
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood
Many series fans swear by Assassin's Creed II, but we prefer the expanded scope of its follow up game, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood. It follows the same protagonist, Ezio Auditore, but now you get to do more than skulk around Rome, stabbing your foes from the shadows.
You'll also build your own legion of assassins and send them out on missions as well. If they die, you lose them permanently, making it a larger emotional investment than you'd expect. Plus, it's the first game in the series to feature multiplayer. While the community isn't as big as it was in its prime, it's still worth experiencing given that it's better than what its successors have churned out.
Assassin's Creed II
The Dark Knight of the Assassin's Creed universe, this was the first game in what's referred to as the Ezio trilogy - games starring fan favourite, Ezio Auditore. You'll traipse around Italy, and enjoy a fair bit of historical fiction by with people like Leonardo Da Vinci and Niccolo Machiavelli.
The missions in this game pioneered the entire cycle of tail, chase and eventually kill your targets. Throw in a narrative that keeps you intrigued and it's one of the more complete games the series, a template from which the first two games drew a lot of inspiration.
Assassin's Creed: Unity
It's no secret that Unity was subject to a rather mixed response. Nonetheless, in terms of scope, and sheer atmosphere, it's a technological marvel. After all, how often do you see the bustling Parisian streets in the throes of the French Revolution brought to life with such visual fidelity?
It's compounded by fantastic mission structure and a host of gadgets at your disposal, making it one of the more sprawling albeit technically flawed games in the series.
Assassin's Creed: Liberation
It's not a mainline entry in the series and it was a PlayStation Vita exclusive for a spell before coming to the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 as a HD remake. Liberation brings some interesting features to the series such as whips and blowpipe parasols for weapons. You play Aveline, a female assassin who can switch between disguises such as a socialite, slave or the usual garb of an assassin.
These let you access different parts of the city of New Orleans, where the game takes place. It's called the persona system, with Syndicate letting you play as a female protagonist, it would be nice to see this feature make its way into the game in some form.
What Assassin's Creed games do you think are must plays? Let us know in the comments.