There are plenty of reasons to love Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed franchise; the series, which started as a game and has since ballooned out to comics, novels, and even a movie, is one of the most successful brands out there. A large part of the enduring nature of Assassin’s Creed is the Assassins themselves. Since almost every new story set in the Assassin’s Creed universe centers around at least one new Assassin, it’s only natural to compare them. Not everyone who experiences the stories of Assassin’s Creed might understand the franchise’s more mystical elements which have been expanded upon in recent entries. Everyone, though, has opinions about the Assassins themselves.
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It’s impossible to offer a definitive take on the power of each of the series’ Assassins, but their skill, importance to the franchise, and influence over the series’ overarching narrative can be measured. From the order’s enigmatic beginnings to their continued operations in relatively-recent history, these are the best and worst Assassins in the Assassin’s Creed franchise.
Updated on March 23rd, 2022 by Tanner Fox: Publisher Ubisoft’s eternal cash cow, the Assassin’s Creed series is as massive today as it was in the early 2010s. With unbelievably massive open worlds in titles like Odyssey and Valhalla, there’s an incredible amount of content for fans new and old to dive into, and those looking to play through the series in its entirety would be embarking on a journey lasting hundreds of hours.
While the worlds in which the Assassin’s Creed games take place are often wonderfully fleshed-out, the same can’t quite be said of the principal characters in the series. For every Bayek of Siwa or Ezio Auditore de Firenze, there’s a Jacob Frye or Nikolai Orelov.
The Most Powerful Assassins In Assassin’s Creed
Adewale’s an important side character in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. However, for those who just played the main game, they’re probably unaware of how accomplished Edward Kenway’s first mate was among the Assassins. Adewale began life as a slave, but he escaped and become a pirate. Eventually, that led to him being put upon the crew of Black Flag’s main character, Edward Kenway. Adewale was instrumental in convincing the reluctant Edward to become an Assassin. Later, Adewale swore the creed himself.
Documented, partly, Black Flag’s expansion, Freedom Cry, Adewale flourished as an Assassin. He captained his own ship and sailed about the world trying to free those from slavery. A notorious freedom fighter, Adewale was a legend of his time. Sadly, he was cut down by his old friend’s son Haytham Kenway along with Assassin-turned-Templar Shay Cormac.
The granddaughter of Jacob Frye, Lydia is criminally underrepresented in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, the lone installment in which she appears. Due to a “glitch” in the Animus, players can be transported from Victorian England to England during WWI where the point of view switches from the Frye Twins to the Frye granddaughter.
Yet, just because she’s barely featured doesn’t mean that Lydia is unworthy of respect. Lydia pretty much single-handedly protected England from German spies and British templars during World War I. At least, that’s according to the weird alternate history of the franchise. While most Assassins were off fighting in the trenches, Lydia stayed at home. She worked closely with Winston Churchill and managed to keep England free and stable. Rosie the Riveter has nothing on Lydia.
Aveline de Grandpre
Aveline was the first playable female protagonist in the franchise. Thankfully she ended up being a character that both male and female gamers could admire and respect. Aveline is the protégée of Assassin Creed 3’s hero Connor Kenway, also known as Ratonhnhaké:ton. Luckily, she far proceeded the older Assassin in both skill and accomplishment.
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Aveline was inducted into the order at a very young age. Quickly, she rose through ranks and fought against injustice and oppression wherever she found it. This was particularly in New Orleans when it was under French control. Born into a position of privilege, Aveline used her power to help those in need. Aveline eventually discovered her own stepmother was a member of the Templars. She used that relationship to infiltrate their ranks and eliminate her enemies, freeing New Orleans from their control.
Desmond is the definition of a boring gaming protagonist. He’s about as bland and uninteresting as it’s possible to be, and that’s almost by design. Desmond is the gateway into the series, as it’s his DNA that allows the player to access the much more exciting lives of Altair, Ezio, and the Kenway family.
Even if Desmond is a bit of a wet blanket, he’s instrumental to the series as a whole. Due to the bleeding effect which allows Animus users to learn the skills and abilities of those whose memories they access, Desmond became a Master Assassin. Desmond wasn’t just the axis on which the first game spun; he became vital to saving the world. Additonally, in Assassin’s Creed 3, Desmond’s actions prevent the apocalypse; he sacrificed his life so that Juno, the powerful and deranged god-like figure from the First Civilization, wouldn’t enslave the world.
If this was the list of the most charismatic Assassins, Edward would easily top it. The hero of Black Flag, Edward is the perfect part-time pirate captain, part-time Assassin. He was expertly brought to life by his voice actor, Matt Ryan, who would eventually step into the role of DC hero John Constantine. Thankfully, Edward’s charm is backed up by some serious Assassin cred. Although Edward spends most of his main game more interested in his swashbuckling adventures than in his role as an Assassin, he does manage to do an awful lot of good in the long run.
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As captain of the Jackdaw, Edward commanded a loyal and fierce crew. While Edward and his crew helped both himself and many others as a pirate, his greatest asset to the Order was finding the Observatory. As a site belonging to the First Civilization, the Observatory can access the point of view of anyone. It is a vital tool for a global conspiratory brotherhood.
Bayek of Siwa
Founder of the Assassin’s Brotherhood, Bayek is one of the most impressive Assassins to ever live, and the series, according to the lore, would not exist without him. Yet, in actuality, he’s not quite the series’ most influential Assassin. Bayek is a charismatic and skilled leader in Assassin’s Creed: Origins. It’s due to his strong moral fiber and steadfast beliefs that the Assassins have been able to flourish for generations. He realized that the best way to fight those corrupt with power is in the shadows.
Yet, even with all of Bayek’s ideals, he’s still very easily influenced. Bayek’s strong faith in his fellows ends up repeatedly getting him into trouble during Origins. He’d also be hopelessly lost without his eagle, Senu.
Evie Frye ended up doing a lot more than protecting and saving her doofus brother, Jacob. Evie did guide Jacob on the right path as they took over London from Templar control during Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate. However, she also tirelessly searched for the Pieces of Eden.
This makes her unique among the Assassins. Many of their numbers—much like the gamers playing the franchise—ignored the weird and confusing First Civilization artifacts, but Evie refused. She honed her skills as an expert scholar and combatant. She freed London from Templar control, even if her brother did help. In addition, Evie managed to discover the identity of and take out one of the most notorious serial killers of all time, Jack the Ripper.
Ezio Auditore da Firenze
Ezio is the golden boy of the Assassin’s Creed franchise, having way more games than any other hero. Ezio’s popularity probably propelled the Assassin’s Creed series’ longevity and financial success. Yet, even inside the world of Assassin’s Creed, Ezio is one of the greatest who ever lived.
Ezio backed into his Assassin training, only learning of his heritage after the public execution of his father and brothers. Yet, once Ezio became an Assassin, he wasted no time dominating his enemies and protecting his homeland. Ezio managed to rid Rome of the rule of the powerful, influential, and corrupt Borgia family. He ensured that Christopher Columbus could travel back to the New World. He even helped the Renaissance movement spread across Italy and Europe. On top of it all, later in his life, Ezio recovered the lost history of the Order, reconnecting to the old with the new(ish).
Aya of Siwa
It’s hard to imagine the Asssasin’s Creed series topping Aya any time soon; as the wife of Bayek, Aya is just as important in founding the Order, if not more so. Bayek is the main hero in Origins, but Aya really drives the action being much more ruthless and dedicated to than her husband.
Aya managed to secure the throne for Cleopatra. Yet, when the Egyptian queen betrayed her, Aya was merciless in her vengeance. Aya took on the name Amunet and ended up assassinating Cleopatra’s lover, Julius Caesar. Once that was done, Aya eventually murdered Cleopatra herself. Aya, as Amunet, is responsible for two of the most famous successful assassinations in history.
The Most Worthless Assassins In Assassin’s Creed
As the protagonist of the very first game, Altair inadvertently instituted many of the game’s classic mechanics and tropes. Yet, in the context of the Brotherhood’s history, Altair is rather unremarkable… and a bit of an idiot. Altair did control the magical Apple of Eden for most of his life. This is important, as Altair has one of the longest lifespans for an Assassin, dying at age 92. However, most of Altair’s long life was spent being outmaneuvered and outmatched by opponents.
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He was easily tricked by his mentor, Al Mualim, who started working with the Templars to obtain the Apple of Eden. While Altair eventually defeated Al Mualim, he almost ran directly into a similar problem. After Al Malim’s death, Altair began a lengthy civil war with his former friend Abbas. The conflict wasn’t concluded until very late in his life.
Jacob’s one of the more likable playable characters in the Assassin’s Creed franchise. Sadly, likability and capability are mutually exclusive. Jacob is a doofus who was surrounded by characters infinitely more intelligent than himself.
As an Assassin, Jacob is a bit of an act-first-and-ask-questions-never sort. Throughout Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, it’s up to his twin sister, Evie to reign him and keep him focused on the task at hand. Jacob doesn’t have many long-term goals besides setting up a gang called The Rooks. In Assassin Creed: Syndicate’s expansion, Jack the Ripper, Jacob is a little older and wiser. However, he still needs to be rescued by his sister, Evie, proving that some things never change. Jacob is a fan favorite, and he certainly has redeeming qualities, but, in the grand scheme of things, he’s a pretty pitiful Assassin.
Notoriously monotone and self-serious, it could be argued that Assassin’s Creed III’s Connor is more stoic than an outright bland character. Regardless, most of Connor’s triumphs come as a result of incredible luck rather than incredible skill.
Connor did play a surprisingly huge—albeit illogical—part in the Revolutionary War; he gained the respect and trust of influential figures like Paul Revere and, of course, George Washington, and he even participated in the Boston Tea Party and several big battles. Still, his involvement in these huge events are more like bizarre coincidences than anything else. In a sense, Connor Kenway was the Forest Gump of the American Revolutionary War; he was present for plenty of historical moments, but he ultimately didn’t leave that much of an impact on history.
The side-scrolling Assassin’s Creed games, delineated by the Chronicles subtitle, are fun but ultimately disposable adventures. The spin-off trilogy’s most memorable aspects were likely its two heroes. Although not all that influential, Shao Jun and Arbaaz Mir are enjoyable. The third hero of the trilogy, Nikolai Orelov, is the sad exception. As a member of the Russian Brotherhood, Nikolai ended up doing far more harm than good. Granted, most of the problems he caused were accidental and unintentional, but that’s not particularly comforting.
While assassinating the Tsar, Nikolai accidentally crashed a train which resulted in the Borki train disaster, an infamous event in Russian history. Likewise, Nikolai failed to retrieve the First Civilization object, the Staff of Eden. This resulted in a massive explosion and another famous disaster, the Tunguska event. He’s also the great-grandfather of Daniel Cross, a man who nearly destroyed the Brotherhood altogether.
The release of Assassin’s Creed: Unity was a disaster for publisher Ubisoft. The game was riddled with bugs and ravaged by critics and fans due to its technical shortcomings. Unity has been patched and fixed since release, but there’s still no glossing over the fact that its hero, Arno Dorian, is the most worthless playable assassin in the series.
Arno’s story is a sad one; nearly everyone in Arno’s life, from his father to adoptive father to his best friend and lover, ends up being murdered. While most of those kills were outside his control, the last one he could’ve prevented. Elise, Arno’s greatest love, eventually turned out to be a Templar, but Arno managed to sway her to his side… only to bring her into a deadly fight, where she was killed by her Templar Grand Master. These tragedies, understandably, turned Arno into a cynical figure and a pretty poor assassin.
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About The Author
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Derek is a Philadelphia based writer and unabashed TV and comic book junkie. The time he doesn’t spend over analyzing all things nerdy he is working on his resume to be the liaison to the Justice League. You can follow him on Twitter @MrDerekStauffer
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