12. Imperial China- Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China
One of the most wanted settings for fans of the Assassin’s Creed series has been ancient China or Japan. With all of the mystery, war, and violence in those eras it seems like a perfect fit. Unfortunately, our first trip with the series into China wasn’t exactly what was expected. This first entry of the Chronicles trilogy took place in 1526 China, and focused on the female assassin Shao Jun, who was actually trained by Ezio Auditore.
China does take you to some iconic locations like The Forbidden Palace and Great Wall, but unfortunately there wasn’t a whole lot to be seen otherwise. The interaction with the country’s history was minimal, and the 2D platformer was focused more on its gameplay rather than taking full advantage of the intriguing setting.
11. India and the Sikh Empire – Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India
Much like Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China, India is a smaller experience that takes you to a few interesting locations. You play as the legendary assassin Arbaaz Mir in 1841 India, as the Sikh Empire was at war with the East India Company. The strongest aspect of this Chronicles entry is its gorgeous and unique art style that really fits the setting you’re playing in. Unfortunately, also like China, this entry in the series feels a bit lackluster both in terms of the overall experience and how it uses its setting.
10. North Atlantic and the French and Indian War – Assassin’s Creed Rogue
Assassin’s Creed Rogue takes place directly after Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, and tells the story of Shay Patrick Cormac, an Assassin-turned-Templar. Most of the game is set in the North-Eastern U.S. as well as the Atlantic ocean, during the height of the French and Indian War. Shay manages to be a fairly interesting character, and he does play a pretty significant role in the series, but Rogue doesn’t make full use of its setting.
Most of your objectives involve Shay’s seeking of revenge for himself, rather than playing into the overall Assassin and Templar war. The French and Indian war also feels like more of an afterthought, rather than something that plays into the plot. It was a nice change of pace to see this section of the world, but Rogue felt a bit too much like the games we’d already seen in the series.
8. The October Revolution, Early 20th Century Russia – Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: Russia
The third Chronicles entry is interesting, because it’s the farthest we’ve seen the series go in history, besides of course the modern segments. Russia takes place in 1918 following the aftermath of the October Revolution, a massive seizure of power. Nikolai Orelov is the protagonist, who really just wants to leave the country with his family, but is forced to complete one final mission for the Assassin Order.
The setting was a fascinating era for the series to touch on, unlike anything we’d seen before. Not to mention, the red and grayscale color scheme fit the game incredibly well.
8. 18th Century New Orleans – Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation
Liberation came out around the same time as Assassin’s Creed III, and was also set in the same era around the time of the American Revolution. You play as an African-French assassin named Aveline De Granpre between the years of 1765 and 1777, in New Orleans and the Bayou.
Although Liberation felt a bit constrained by being a handheld title, the game actually made some interesting uses of its time and setting. Aveline had the ability to switch between different outfits including a wealthy Lady, an Assassin, and a Slave. Characters and guards would react to you differently depending on which outfit you were wearing, and you’d have to use each one differently throughout the game. These uses did feel a bit too video gamey at times, but Liberation still had some smart uses of its time period and how the main character lived in it.
7. Constantinople – Assassin’s Creed Revelations
As Ezio Auditore grew older, his journeys took him out of Italy and to other places in the world. One of those places is the magnificent city of Constantinople, which we now know as Istanbul. The vibrant bazaars and winding street of Constantinople in 1511 AD made for a nice change of scenery, especially for Ezio.
The city had a distinctly different feel from where the Assassin had been before, and new tools like bombs and the hookblade made it easier than ever to take on any challenge, or climb any tower. Of course, Revelations had even more in store as well, as certain flashback segments put you even farther back in history and in the shoes of the original Assassin, Altair.
6. Paris and the French Revolution – Assassin’s Creed Unity
Assassin’s Creed Unity put a huge emphasis on co-op gameplay, and took things to the violent and brutal time period of The French Revolution. Arno Dorian is a roguish young man who ends up falling in with the Assassin order, after he’s wrongly accused of killing his adopted father. The game begins at the start of the revolution in 1789 and continues up until 1794. During that time you slowly see the city devolve into a more hellish setting.
Unity may have been plagued by a host of problems, but the crowds that the game can display are truly impressive, and Paris looks drop dead gorgeous on top of that. The French Revolution was a time period bathed in conspiracy and violence, a sure fit for the Assassin’s Creed series, and Unity uses the historical figures and events of the time well. The game also had a series of missions called “Paris Stories,” that were short ordeals focused on specific citizens living in Paris during the revolution. It just helped round out a setting that already felt like a huge city locked in the claws of revolution.
5. Jerusalem and the Third Crusade – Assassin’s Creed
The first Assassin’s Creed game still remains one of the most memorable settings of the series, dropping us into the heart of The Third Crusade in 1191. The title built a fascinating story set during the tumultuous period as two organizations, the Assassins and the Templars, waged a secret war in Jerusalem and the Holy Land.
Assassin’s Creed made full use of its historical setting, showing cities overrun by knights and areas that you’d find more recognizable. The Holy Land was a huge area to explore either on horseback or by foot, and the assassination contracts made sense, as you systematically brought down the Templar organization. A few key events helped ground the game even more, like seeing the legendary Richard the Lionheart parade through a city.
4. Colonial America, The American Revolution – Assassin’s Creed III
Assassin’s Creed III brought the series to the Americas for the first time ever, even placing events in the heart of the American Revolution. You play as Connor, a Native American Assassin and the son of a Templar, in a story that spans from 1760 to 1783. Along the way you’ll meet many key figures in the founding of America, including George Washington and Benjamin Franklin. The story takes some interesting twists and turns as it weaves historical characters into its plot. On top of that, the game featured some truly breathtaking moments, as Connor gets trapped right in the middle of some of the biggest battles from the war.
Even past that, Assassin’s Creed III had an entire DLC campaign that put an alternate spin on history, showing George Washington become the tyrannical king of the United States.
3. Renaissance Italy – Assassin’s Creed II and Brotherhood
Assassin’s Cred II was a far cry from the first game, taking things from the drab brown streets of Jerusalem to the lavish decoration of Renaissance Italy. It also featured a much more likable protagonist with Ezio Auditore da Firenze, an Italian nobleman seeking revenge after his entire family is killed in the late 15th century. Both Assassin’s Creed II and Brotherhood make great use of their time periods, taking Ezio to Venice, Rome, Florence and more. Each location felt varied, and the street were alive with parties, performances, workers, and markets.
Ezio would run into tons of historical figures along the way like Niccollo Machiavelli and Rodrigo Borgia, and even the Borgia family serving as major villains. Of course, where would Ezio be without the help of his closest friend and one of the most brilliant inventors of all time, Leonardo da Vinci?
2. London and the Victorian Era – Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
The Victorian Era in London was a time of great innovation and technology as the Industrial Revolution took hold of the city. Syndicate starts in 1868, at the height of the revolution, and a time where almost all Assassins have been eradicated from the city of London. Twin siblings Jacob and Evie Frye have to take the city back one district at a time, from the Templar forces that now control it, by using gang warfare and guerrilla tactics.
Syndicate’s version of London is a fascinating one, with bustling streets, towering chimneys, and a city that feels like it’s in constant production. The Fryes run into some of the most notable figures of the modern era like Charles Dickens, Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, Alexander Graham Bell, and Queen Victoria. Each person plays an important role, and there’s even a set of fantastic missions with Dickens that has the Fryes investigating crime scenes in a Sherlock Holmes kind of style. Syndicate is one of the best examples that shows what the series can really do with history, and how it can use settings to strengthen the story and experience of a game.
1. The Caribbean and The Golden Age of Piracy – Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is the pirate game we’ve always wanted, letting you live out your swashbuckling fantasies while simultaneously telling an interesting story. Edward Kenway is the protagonist this time around, one in a line of many Assassin’s that also includes Connor from AC III. During the 18th century, the British and Spanish empires tried to clean up piracy plaguing the seas. In Black Flag, these empires are the Templars trying to track someone down known as a Sage.
Where the game really shines though, is with its setting. Black Flag’s world is chock full of things to do – treasure hunts, naval battles, islands to explore, ports to take over. In addition to a rollicking pirate tale that involves multiple renowned villains, including the feared Blackbeard, Assassin’s Creed IV just makes you feel like a pirate. Sailing the high seas while your crew sings a shanty gets your spirits high, before you stumble upon a hapless British Empire vessel to pillage and take for supplies. The Pirate’s Life easily makes for the best setting of the entire series.
Which Assassin’s Creed setting is your favorite? Let us know down in the comments below.