Fair warning, folks! If you haven’t played the recent AC games like Rogue, Unity, or China, you’ll be spoiled!
10) Desmond Miles
To some, Desmond probably doesn’t even count as an Assassin. Sure, he wears the hood and has the special Eagle Vision, but he’s not doing any of this in pursuit of vengeance, justice, or even just for the hell of it. Desmond just happens to be in Assassin’s Creed by virtue of being around. And dude, he… he just sucks, okay?
Unfortunately for him and the series, he’s also tying everything together, since most of these characters are his ancestors. With each game, he’s also had to grow along with the story, but that just doesn’t entirely work the way the writers want it to. So much of the games are set in the past, and when the player is given room to breathe and take a chill pill, there isn’t much to do in the present day besides walk around and see some freaky stuff on the walls. You’re never really given the chance to go out into a present day city and test your skills on some unsuspecting Templars. Plus, he just up and stabs his friends. Dick move, dude.
9) Shay Patrick Cormac
For years, Assassin’s Creed fans begged to play as a Templar. Ubisoft let us see the flip side with Rogue last year, but probably not in the way that we were expecting. Shay is an Assassin turned Templar after learning his old friends were crazy about the Pieces of Eden. And that’s not a bad route to go, admittedly, since it makes sense for longtime fans to go into the Templars with their own preconceived notions of the Assassins along with Shay.
As “assassin” is in the series name, Shay eventually has to go up against those he once called brothers, and therein lies the problem. While there aren’t a bunch of familiar faces that end up in Shay’s kill sights, he does end up killing Adéwalé from Black Flag. If that weren’t enough to make you dislike him, Shay also ends up being worse for the world than either faction; he causes an earthquake in Lisbon that kicks off his defection, then inadvertently another earthquake in the Arctic during the end of the game. Maybe he should be locked away before he destroys us all.
8) Arno Dorian
Arno was the son of an Assassin whose father was murdered by Chief Asshole Shay. He ended up being adopted by Templar De La Serre, despite his Assassin heritage, which was sweet… until De La Serre ended up murdered and Arno was framed. In prison, Arno learned of his true upbringing from Bellec and decided to join the Brotherhood to atone for past mistakes.
But it doesn’t make sense why Arno switches over to the Assassins. He doesn’t know any of them, this is the first time they’ve ever met. For all he knows, they could just be lying to get him to do what they want. Even not counting that, Arno just feels like the least interesting parts of Altair and Ezio fused together; an arrogant womanizer who acts mostly based on impulse and rash decisions, giving up on the whole Assassin thing after his crush Elisa rejects him for not doing the only thing in the job description. He’s not the weakest lead in the series, but he definitely comes close.
7) Altaïr Ibn-La’Ahad
Look, credit to Altair for kicking off the entire Assassin’s Creed franchise. If nothing else, he certainly looks the part and creates an air of dangerous mystery around him, from the way he walks and moves to just when he stands among the common folk. But man, he is just really, really…kinda dull.
This problem is rectified during his flashback sequences in Revelations, but in the original game, he really is just kinda one note and a bit of a prick. He sounds like an American community college student auditioning for a play, and the lack of insight into his past or true motives make him hard to give a damn about. Why is he with the Assassins? He brings an air of mystery about him, but that also ends up being his big problem.
6) Connor Kenway
Connor Kenway isn’t a bad character, he’s just got two big problems he can’t avoid: he’s in one the most divisive Assassin’s Creeds ever, and he’s coming immediately off the heels of Ezio’s arc wrapping up from birth to death. Whoever followed up after Signore Auditore wasn’t going to be favored well, the young Kenway just drew the short end of the stick.
Throughout his whole life Connor is just a good guy caught in increasingly bad situations that he can’t find himself to get out of. His family taken from him at a young age by Charles Lee fueled his desire for revenge and justice, making him the closest to Batman the series can get without a lawsuit on Ubisoft’s hands. The world conspires to break him by having his Mohawk friends ally with Lee and his father turn out to be a massive dick, but Connor keeps on trucking. He’s dickish himself, but it’s more than earned with his life constantly falling apart around him. Connor is a survivor, and he’s just doing the best he can.
5) Shao Jun
If the name doesn’t sound familiar to you, don’t worry. Shao Jun is the first of three protagonists in the episodic Assassin’s Creed: Chronicles downloadable games. She was a concubine in the Forbidden City during China’s Ming dynasty who hoped to become Empress. At the age of 16, she was saved by the Assassins and declared herself loyal to the Brotherhood that saved her.
Jun was personally mentored by Ezio, but her awesomeness doesn’t just stop there. While other Assassins have joined the trade for revenge, Jun embraces and rises above her darkness to recreate the Chinese Brotherhood single-handedly. Her legacy lives on in both the Brotherhood and the rope dart that Assassins in future generations used. She sure as hell undoes all the Templars have done and builds a better future for the people of China. Like Connor, she’s a survivor who doesn’t believe in leaving anyone behind.
Even though he’s only given the spotlight for a short time in Assassin’s Creed IV Freedom Cry DLC, Adéwalé ends up being memorable in his own right. Given the time that you and Edward spend with him in the base game, it makes more than enough sense to give him his own adventures.
Unlike Edward, who donned the hood to get back to human civilization, Adéwalé is in the assassin business in the name of justice. During his time as an Assassin, Adéwalé saves countless slaves from their masters and personally kills a governor with the branding iron he used on his own slaves. Even as he got older, Adéwalé did what he could for those who couldn’t help themselves. He may have gone down with a knife in his back, but he faced evil head on.
3) Aveline de Grandpré
The daughter of a wealthy French merchant and African slave, Aveline made her debut in the portable Assassin’s Creed: Liberation game for the Vita. At the age of 12, Aveline managed to draw the attention of an Assassin who took her under his wing until she was old enough to fight for the oppressed slaves of New Orleans when she was 18. Most of the Assassins on this list are easily in their early 20s or 30s when we meet them, but an 18 year old Assassin? Pretty baller.
As a woman born into a life that many felt she was undeserving of, Aveline was able to switch between the three disguises–Assassin, Slave, and Lady-to help get around. She was fully aware of the contradictions of freedom and slavery in society while also recognizing the privilege she carried because of her father. She was reckless, but her actions were defined by a desire to bring genuine equality to everyone in New Orleans, and it’s hard to argue with that.
2) Edward Kenway
Deep down, we all play video games to kick back and have some fun. Sure, slicing necks is all well and good, but sometimes, you just wanna tour the Seven Seas and listen to your crew sing jaunty shanties. Assassin’s Creed IV is all about that life, fusing pirates and Assassins for an excellent combination, most of which can be put on its protagonist Edward Kenway.
For a lot of the game, Edward wasn’t even really an Assassin, he just stole a dude’s clothes to hitch a ride. After years of dudes going on about honor and justice, it was refreshing to play as a Han Solo or Star-Lord equivalent who’s in this to have some fun. All Eddie wants is to live life as a pirate, and the Assassins offer him the freedom he desires. If you can get past him having all the abilities of an Assassin before he actually gets the title, you’ll certainly be charmed by this rogue.
1) Ezio Auditore da Firenze
Please, contain your surprise.
Assassin’s Creed II remains the series’ high point, and Ezio is part of the reason why. From the moment he’s born, players form an instant connection to him that the game keeps on milking for all its worth. Equally arrogant, noble, and badass, Ezio’s rise from womanizer to Assassin Master is like going through your own life. Whether he’s free running about the city, buying new property, or chilling with da Vinci and his family, Ezio is a guy that you just love playing and being around at all times. He was already a great character in his debut game, but Brotherhood and Revelations elevated him to one of the best characters in all of gaming, and after all he’s been through, he’s more than earned some R&R.
Who’s your favorite Assassin? Let us know in the comments below.