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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

How to Play the Assassin's Creed Games in Chronological Order

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Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed franchise has covered a lot of ground in its 16 years. The Assassin-Templar conflict has taken players across five continents, from Ancient Greece to Victorian London, spanning 2,300 years of history over the course of 13 mainline games.

With new AC games on the horizon, some of which were featured in the Ubisoft Forward showcase, we’ve put together this chronology of the Assassin’s Creed timeline so far. This chronology only includes mainline Assassin’s Creed games; spinoff games aren’t included on this list given their lack of importance to the ongoing Assassin’s Creed narrative.

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Mainline Assassin's Creed Games in Chronological Order

How Many Assassin's Creed Games Are There?

There are currently 12 Assasin's Creed games in the main series and 17 additinoal spinoff games. Outside of video games, there is also an Assassin's Creed board game and an Assassin's Creed TV series coming to Netflix at some point.

How to Play the Assassin’s Creed Game In Order

There are two ways to look at the Assassin’s Creed chronology. First: In the order of the games’ modern-day storylines. This option makes sense considering the connective narrative of each mainline game is told through the present day. The present-day story progresses chronologically with each release, so if you’d like to play the games this way, simply scroll down to the section how to play the Assassin’s Creed Games by release date. If you’re committed to playing through the entirety of the franchise, this is the order we recommend, as it’s the best way to follow the overarching story and experience the franchise’s evolution from stealth-action games to open-world RPGs.

The second option (detailed below) presents the games in order by their historic settings. These stories aren’t as intertwined as their modern-day counterparts, but they’re where you’ll spend the vast majority of your time in Assassin’s Creed. This is more useful as a matter of interest than a practical playing guide.

The Assassin’s Creed Games in Chronological Order

With series newcomers in mind, the brief plot synopses below contain only mild spoilers such as broad plot points, historical settings, and character introductions.

1. Assassin's Creed Odyssey (431 B.C.–422 B.C.)

  • Primary setting: Ancient Greece
  • Historic Protagonist: Cassandra or Alexios
  • Modern Protagonist: Layla Hassan

Set nearly 400 years earlier than any other mainline game, Assassin's Creed Odyssey expanded on the RPG elements introduced in Origins to complete its genre-turn from stealth-based action to open-world RPG.

You play as Cassandra or Alexios, the grandchildren of Sparta's King Leonidas I. Odyssey is set during the Peloponnesian War between Sparta and Athens, and features key historical figures from that period, including Hippocrates, Socrates, and Plato. It weaves the period's history with its mythology, introducing creatures such as the Sphinx, Cyclops, and Medusa.

Odyssey is set before the formation of the Assassin and Templar orders, though it does feature a key Piece of Eden* in the Spear of Leonidas.

*Pieces of Eden are powerful technological artifacts created by a precursor race of beings known as The First Civilization. The pieces of Eden and the First Civilization are constants throughout the mainline games that connect the past and modern storylines.

2. Assassin's Creed Origins (49 B.C.–44 B.C.)

  • Primary setting: Ancient Egypt
  • Historic Protagonist: Bayek of Siwa
  • Modern Protagonist: Layla Hassan

After releasing a new Assassin's Creed game each year from 2009-2015, Ubisoft took a year off and returned in 2017 with Assassin's Creed Origins, a soft reboot of the franchise and the series' first game to introduce RPG mechanics.

Origins is primarily set in Ancient Egypt during the reigns of Ptolemy XIII and Cleopatra, though its historic inspiration extends to Rome and the rule of Julius Caesar. Many Assassin's Creed stories kick off as tales of vengeance, only to unfurl into larger-scale tales of political conspiracy. Origins follows this pattern: The death of Bayek and Aya's son serves as the impetus for their journey, though as the story progresses, the duo uncover a proto-Templar organization called the Order of the Ancients and ultimately form the Hidden Ones, the first incarnation of the Assassins.

The modern story, meanwhile, introduces Layla Hassan, who serves as the present-day protagonist for Origins, Odyssey, and Valhalla.

3. Assassin's Creed Mirage (861–???)

  • Primary setting: 9th Century Baghdad
  • Historic Protagonist: Basim Ibn Ishaq
  • Modern Protagonist: N/A

Due out in 2023, Assassin's Creed Mirage is the series' next game. Rather than a full-priced open-world RPG, Mirage is a $50 USD stealth-focused adventure designed as "an homage to the first Assassin's Creed games." Ubisoft describes it as "a shorter, more narrative-driven game than recent entries in the series.”

Assassin's Creed Mirage stars a 17-year-old Basim Ibn Ishaq, a street thief with "nightmarish visions" who'd go on to play a critical role in Assassin's Creed Valhalla. Mirage will tell the story of Basim, with the guidance of his mentor Roshan, escaping Baghdad en route to the Hidden Ones' fortress of Alamut.

Unlike the other entries on this list, Mirage won't prominently feature the present-day storyline. New gameplay footage of Mirage was recently released at Ubisoft Forward 2023 that showcased the game's 'back to our roots' style.

4. Assassin's Creed Valhalla (872–878)

  • Primary setting: 9th Century England and Norway
  • Historic Protagonist: Eivor Varinsson/Varinsdottir
  • Modern Protagonist: Layla Hassan

Assassin's Creed's Valhalla is the series' venture into Norse history and mythology. It's easily the series' biggest game; the average time to complete its main story is 60 hours, according to How Long to Beat (15 hours longer than the next biggest, Odyssey). Like Odyssey, Valhalla integrates its setting's history with its mythology, introducing real-life characters — King Harald Fairhair, King Aelfred the Great, Rollo — and mythological figures such as Fenrir and Odin.

It continues the conflict between the Hidden Ones and the Order of the Ancients while balancing the more personal tale of Eivor and their clan's pilgrimage from a resource-barren Norway to the more fertile lands of England.

The modern-day story seemingly concludes the three-game arc of Layla Hassan.

5. Assassin's Creed (1191)

  • Primary setting: 12th Century Holy Land (Acre, Damascus, Jerusalem)
  • Historic Protagonist: Altair Ibn'La-Ahad
  • Modern Protagonist: Desmond Miles

The first Assassin's Creed takes place 300 years after Valhalla and introduces us to the series' original protagonist, Altair Ibn'La-Ahad. Assassin's Creed laid the groundwork for the franchise's next 15 years of success, introducing foundational gameplay elements like climbing and assassinations while also laying the groundwork for the time-hopping Assassin-Templar narrative.

It introduces key narrative concepts like the Pieces of Eden and the Animus, the in-universe device that allows each game's modern-day protagonist to relive the memories of their historic counterparts through DNA.

The past story sees Altair hunting down nine Templars during the Third Crusade, while the present-day story introduces Desmond Miles and the modern Assassin-Templar conflict that runs through AC III.

6. Assassin's Creed II (1476–1499)

  • Primary setting: 15th Century Italy
  • Historic Protagonist: Ezio Auditore da Firenze
  • Modern Protagonist: Desmond Miles

Assassin's Creed 2 introduced the series’ longest-lasting protagonist, Ezio Auditore da Firenze. A favorite among Assassin's Creed fans, Ezio's story ran from 2009's AC II through 2011's AC: Revelations.

Ezio seeks to avenge the death of his father and brother, though his hunt for vengeance leads him to uncover a bigger conspiracy and places him at the center of the fight between the Assassins and Templars. Assassin's Creed II takes players throughout Italy, from Florence to the Vatican, and introduces Ezio to historical figures like Leonardo Da Vinci, Niccolo Machiavelli, and Pope Alexander VI.

In the present day, Desmond begins his work with the Assassins.

7. Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood (1499–1507)

  • Primary setting: 15th-16th Century Italy
  • Historic Protagonist: Ezio Auditore da Firenze
  • Modern Protagonist: Desmond Miles

Assassin's Creed Brotherhood is a continuation of AC II in both the past and modern-day storylines. The fallout from AC II creates a new antagonist for Ezio, who embarks on another revenge quest while working to rebuild Rome's weakened Assassins Guild and retrieve the Apple of Eden.

In the present day, Desmond and the modern Assassins head to Italy in search of that same Apple of Eden, a Piece of Eden that may help them prevent the prophesized end of the world.

8. Assassin's Creed: Revelations (1511–1512)

  • Primary setting: 16th Century Constantinople
  • Historic Protagonist: Ezio Auditore da Firenze
  • Modern Protagonist: Desmond Miles

The conclusion of the Ezio trilogy unites the narrative of the Italian assassin with his predecessor, Altair. An older Ezio travels to Constantinople in search of Altair’s hidden library, which was thought to contain invaluable wisdom. In Constantinople, Ezio searches for the keys needed to open the library — each of which possesses a key memory in Altair’s life. Assassin's Creed Revelations ultimately reveals Ezio's role in the wider AC narrative.

In the present, a comatose Desmond is trapped in the Animus, where he works with a past Animus user to escape "the Black Room" and return to consciousness.

Revelations also features one of the series' best trailers (above) first shown at E3 2011.

9. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag (1715–1722)

  • Primary setting: 18th Century Caribbean Islands
  • Historic Protagonist: Edward Kenway
  • Modern Protagonist: Unnamed Abstergo Employee

Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag is best remembered for introducing the series' naval gameplay. It's set two centuries after Ezio's trilogy and roughly 40 years before the previously released Assassin's Creed III.

Black Flag stars Edward Kenway, an 18th-century pirate and the grandfather of AC III protagonist Connor Kenway. It features notorious real-life pirates of the era, such as Edward Thatch (Blackbeard), Benjamin Hornigold, and Mary Read. It also introduces Adéwalé, the protagonist of the DLC-turned-standalone-spinoff Freedom Cry. After unknowingly killing an Assassin, Edward finds himself embroiled in the Assassin-Templar conflict and on the hunt for a secret First Civilization site known as The Observatory.

The modern-day story stars an unnamed Abstergo employee tasked with reliving Connor’s life in order to create a film (though, unsurprisingly, Abstergo’s true intentions are more nefarious).

10. Assassin's Creed Rogue (1752–1760)

  • Primary setting: 18th Century American Northeast
  • Historic Protagonist: Shay Patrick Cormac
  • Modern Protagonist: Abstergo Employee "Numbskull"

Assassin's Creed Rogue serves as a narrative bridge between AC III and AC IV. It stars Shay Patrick Cormac, an Irish-American Assassin turned Templar hunting down a Piece of Eden. Templar Grand Master Haytham Kenway, the son of AC 4 protagonist Edward and father of AC III protagonist Connor, appears throughout the story.

In the present, you play as another Abstergo employee, referred to as "Numbskull," doing the bidding of the modern-day Templars.

11. Assassin's Creed III (1754–1783)

  • Primary setting: 18th Century Colonial America
  • Historic Protagonist: Ratonhnhaké "Connor" Kenway
  • Modern Protagonist: Desmond Miles

Following a 1754-set sequence during which you play as Haythem Kenway, Assassin's Creed 3 begins in earnest with Haythem's son Ratonhnhaké:ton, a.k.a Connor. Set largely during the American Revolution, Connor seeks to protect his tribe from the war and the First Civilization's Grand Temple from the Templars.

AC III is loaded with historical figures, including George Washington, Sam Adams, Charles Lee, and Benjamin Franklin.

The present-day story concludes Desmond's arc, as he and the other modern-day Assassins gather in the aforementioned Grand Temple to prevent the prophesized end of the world on December 21, 2012.

12. Assassins Creed Unity (1789–1794)

  • Primary setting: 18th Century France
  • Historic Protagonist: Shay Patrick Cormac
  • Modern Protagonist: Unnamed Helix Player

While Assassin's Creed Unity features scenes that span from 1307 to the mid-1900s, it's primarily set during the height of the French Revolution from 1789 to 1794. It stars French Assassin Arno Dorian, who becomes involved in the Assassin-Templar conflict while embarking on yet another quest for vengeance.

Historical figures include Napoléon Bonaparte, Marquis de Sade, and King Louis XVI.

Unity's modern-day story is among the least memorable, as it removed gameplay entirely in favor of cutscenes and ultimately proved inconsequential to the ongoing narrative. You play as a gamer playing Helix, Abstergo's Animus-powered gaming software created to push Templar propaganda and collect unsuspecting users' DNA.

13. Assassin's Creed Syndicate (1868)

  • Primary setting: Victorian London
  • Historic Protagonists: Jacob and Evie Frye
  • Modern Protagonist: Unnamed Helix Player

Assassin's Creed Syndicate stars dual protagonists Jacob and Evie Frye, twin Assassins clearing London of Templar control while seeking a Piece of Eden. While a certain side mission extends the timeline to WWI, the majority of Syndicate is set in 1868. Notable historical figures include Alexander Graham Bell, Charles Darwin, and in the future sequence, Winston Churchill.

Syndicate stars the same modern-day character as Unity, who's working with the Assassins to locate another Piece of Eden in London.

How to Play The Assassin’s Creed Games By Release Date

  • Assassin's Creed (2007)
  • Assassin's Creed II (2009)
  • Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood (2010)
  • Assassin's Creed: Revelations (2011)
  • Assassin's Creed III / Liberation (2012)
  • Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag / Freedom Cry (2013)
  • Assassin's Creed Rogue (2014)
  • Assassin's Creed Unity (2014)
  • Assassin's Creed Syndicate (2015)
  • Assassin's Creed Origins (2017)
  • Assassin's Creed Odyssey (2018)
  • Assassin's Creed Valhalla (2020)
  • Assassin's Creed Mirage (2023)
  • Assassin's Creed Codename Jade (2023)
  • Assassin's Creed Nexus VR (2024)

Future of Assassin's Creed Games

Assassin's Creed Mirage is coming out later this year, but Ubisoft has a whole slate of Assassin's Creed projects in the works. Of course there's the previously mentioned Mirage, which will take place in Baghdad, but there's also an Assassin's Creed show that'll debut on Netflix soon and an upcoming VR title. Here are some of the Assassin's Creed projects you can look forward to:

Jordan covers games, shows, and movies as a freelance writer for IGN.

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