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Despite the fact that Assassin's Creed still feels like a brand-new IP to these old bones, the massively popular stabby-stab murder simulator has been around for over a decade now. In that time we've had a whole host of leading men and women, that range from the actively irritating to well-rounded and deeply lovable.
With Assassin's Creed Valhalla just around the corner, there's no better time to rank every main series protagonist (minus DLC). Where will our new Viking hero rank when all is said and done? I couldn't possibly say, but I can say this for sure: nobody will ever be worse than Connor Kenway.
Which leads us nicely into our first (and worst) contender. Connor Kenway sucks. Boy, does he suck. He stars in quite possibly the worst game in the series, and has seemingly had his personality replaced by a giant, whinging, sulking void of dullness. Being the son of a Native American woman and an English man during the American Revolution, he could have been a super interesting character.
He's not though, is he?
I would never understate the importance of Altair. As the original Assassin and star of the first game, the franchise as we know it today wouldn't exist without him. It's just... well, he's a bit dull, isn't he? To be fair, Ubisoft took note of complaints that this hero was a bit one-note which resulted in the birth of one of the most popular video game characters of the last few decades. But more on him, later.
Let's not skirt around it: Assassin's Creed Unity is not a good game. It could have been, but it was quite clearly unfinished on release. Perhaps that's why Arno Dorian starts off as a likeable and fascinating hero with an interesting backstory before every last trace of his personality effectively vanishes the further through the game you get. Shame.
Technically an ex-Assassin turned Templar, Shay is a pretty great character, thus proving that Connor is the only Assassin to date that is straight-up boring. Brutal yet conflicted, and always willing to be kind when he can, I certainly wouldn't be against another full game starring this rogue.
The only reason Aya doesn't get a higher spot on this list is because she doesn't get as many chances to shine as her husband Bayek - isn't that always the way? The second playable character in the excellent Origins doesn't come close to getting as much screen time as her spouse, but she's an interesting addition whenever she's around, and her dynamic with Bayek makes for engaging viewing.
Evie has the unfortunate task of being the more grown-up and "serious" one out of her and her brother Jacob, but she's nowhere near as one-note or dull as this could have made her to be. While tough on the outside, she's clearly a decent person at heart who cares and fights for what she believes in. A compelling female lead - the kind I'd like to see more of in Assassin's Creed.
It's not Evie's fault, but Jacob gets a slightly higher spot on this list solely because he's more entertaining. He's a reckless, cocky arsehole who gets some great one-liners and witty comebacks... but that's precisely because his sister is always looking out for him and enabling him to be said arsehole.
Aveline has the distinction of being the first playable female lead in Ubisoft's juggernaut franchise, and she comes out of the gate swinging. Using her inherent badassery, Aveline fully manages to exploit the people of 18th century New Orleans and their expectations of her race and gender to wipe out her targets and fight oppression with ease.
Alexios is fine enough. He's funny, well-written, and kind while being a straight badass (depending on your choices at least). The problem is that his female counterpart Kassandra gets exactly the same dialogue if you've chosen to play as her instead, and well... she's infinitely more interesting. We'll get to her soon.
Ranking the star of Assassin's Creed Valhalla is a little tricky right now. On the one hand I haven't really spent as much time with her* (or him) as I have many of the other Assassins on this list. On the other hand? Well, she's kind of a badass, isn't she? One of the few survivors of a bloody raid, Eivor's quest for revenge turns into something more as her focus shifts to finding a home and a better life for her people. A welcome reminder that communities can be forged regardless of background, our viking hero gets the job done and still finds the time to get absolutely ratted with her mates. I love to see it.
Add in the fact that the male and female incarnations of the character have bags more attitude and wit than a lot of the other Assassin's, and I think it's fair to place Eivor in this fairly respectable spot. I'm sure others will disagree.
*Obviously Eivor can also be a male, but I chose female for my playthrough.
I've only just picked up Origins for the first time, but I'm absolutely loving Bayek. This is a hero who has such a swagger and easy charm. A man who is clearly haunted by his past, and carries a seriously brutal dark side... but will drop everything at the first sign of a crying child.
Every Assassin is on some kind of quest for revenge or redemption, but Bayek's arc might be the most compelling of all.
Ubisoft could have made the star of Assassin's Creed IV a plank of wood after Connor and I would have still considered it an improvement, but I'm so glad we got Edward Kenway.
From the moment he accidentally stumbled into somebody else's identity and adventure and just kind of went with it, I was taken with Edward Kenway. Despite gradually becoming less of a drunken, gold-obsessed lout, he never loses that charisma or sense of adventure that makes him such an enjoyable character to spend time with.
As mentioned above, Kassandra has exactly the same lines, choices, story beats, and character progression as her male counterpart Alexios. The key difference really comes down actor Melissanthi Mahut's excellent performance. The way she imbues every line with a sense of playfulness and dry humour immediately helps her to stand out as one of the definitive Assassins of the series (not that she is technically an Assassin, but you get me).
It wasn't exactly gonna be anyone else, was it? Despite being the second-oldest Assassin in the franchise, Ezio Auditore has easily remained the most interesting of the bunch... and the most popular among fans of the franchise by far.
An excellent course correction from Ubisoft after the decidedly vanilla Altair, Ezio's arc is a fascinating one that spans decades and multiple games. From a cocky and reckless young man out to avenge his father, to a wise and noble elder who gets the distinction of being one of the few of his kind to retire. Watching Ezio grow and evolve is one of the clear highlights of the entire Assassin's Creed franchise.
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