Assassin's Creed (Main Series)

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Assassin's Creed
Genre Action-Adventure,Stealth
Gamming Style Third-Person
Platform Playstation 3, XBox 360, Playstation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft PC, Mac OSX
Release Date 2007-Present
Developer Ubisoft
Publisher Ubisoft
Website Assassin's Creed-Ubisoft
ssassin's Creed
is a franchise revolving around Action-Adventure video games developed by Ubisoft. [1] The primary storyline covered in Assassin's Creed, Assassin's Creed II, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, Assassin's Creed: Revelations, and Assassin's Creed III, revolve around central protagonist Desmond Miles and his modern-day battle as an Assassin fighting against the current Templar regime under the guise of a pharmaceutical company named Abstergo. The central theme across all installments is the ongoing battle between the Assassins, the group most protagonists in the series belong to, and the Templars. The series thus far has grown out of just video games and into books, graphic novels, and its own live-action film.

Since launching Assassin's Creed, the first installment in the primary storyline, the main continuity of games has been developed for consoles such as PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U, Microsoft Windows, and OS X. Across all the games in the main series and spinoffs, the Assassin's Creed franchise has sold over 93 million copies worldwide. The main series has been developed by Ubisoft Montreal, for the single-player campaign and story, and Ubisoft Annecy, for multiplayer aspects included since Assassin's Creed: Revelations.


Much of the gameplay across all installments are similar, revolving around free runner platforming, free-flow combat, and stealth gameplay. While the plot revolves around Desmond Miles, the majority of gameplay is through his historical ancestors spread out across various eras. The user controls each ancestor through a device called the Animus, a machine that allows the user to access the memories of ancestors and relive them. Almost all of each game is played with a third-person perspective, the player going through missions to complete "sequences", or chapters in the main storyline. Players also have the option of completing side missions outside of the game's main story to receive money, equipment, or trinkets to sell at the in-game vendor.

Players are also given control of Desmond himself outside of the Animus. Over the course of each game, Desmond gains new Assassin skills and abilities because of the Bleeding Effect, a side effect of the Animus where the ancestor's memories are "bled" into the user's.

As of Assassin's Creed 3, a naval warfare gameplay element was included where the player takes command of a ship to either travel or destroy enemy vessels.


Desmond Miles

Desmond Miles, the main protagonist of the Assassin's Creed Series

Assassins Creed

Desmond Miles [2] is the main protagonist through which all the sequences of the main story is played through. Born and raised by his father, William Miles [3] in an Assassin's community simply known as The Farm. After being pushed too far in his Assassin training, Desmond eventually leaves The Farm and becomes a bartender until he is captured by Abstergo, later to be revealed as the Templars. The majority of the playable content of the series is through Desmond in the Animus reliving the memories of his ancestors. In Assassin's Creed, Desmond is introduced as a mild-mannered bartender, trying to live his life in hiding after leaving the Assassin Order. On 1 September 2012, he was kidnapped by Abstergo agents and forced to help the Templars being threatened with death. He is then inserted into the Animus 1.28, reliving the memories of his ancestor, Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad, to find what the Templars called the Pieces of Eden, an ancient piece of technology developed by the First Civilization. Throughout Assassin Creed, Desmond learns more and more about the Templars plans and about Subject 16, the person that Abstergo kidnapped to find the Pieces of Eden before him. Eventually, with repeated exposure to the Animus, Desmond begins to experience a side-effect of the device, the Bleeding Effect. Desmond begins to experience hallucinations and gains the ability of Eagle Vision, a special skill of his ancestor Altaïr. It is revealed that one of the Abstergo assistants, Lucy Stillman, is an undercover member of the Assassins, and she and Desmond escape Abstergo.

Assassins Creed II

Following his escape, Desmond meets Rebecca Crane and Shaun Hastings and also gains access to the memories of another ancestor, Ezio Auditore da Firenze. Now using an upgraded version of the Animus, the Animus 2.0, Desmond began to learn and master various Assassin skills via the Animus 2.0 leveraging the Bleeding Effect. However, as mentioned earlier, the Bleeding Effect caused Desmond to have now extreme hallucinations and regular blackouts. Desmond is tasked to relive the memories of Ezio in order to locate the remaining Pieces of Eden before the Templars can. Throughout Ezio's memories, Desmond finds various glyphs left by Subject 16 that when decoded reveal a video about the First Civilization. At the end of Assassin's Creed II, Desmond meets Minerva, a member of the First Civilization, through Ezio in a secret room known as Vatican Vault underneath the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. He learns about the impending cataclysmic event the world is about to experience. Desmond then awakens from the Animus with their safe house being attacked by the Templars. The four assassins pack up all their gear and barely escape from capture by Abstergo. They journey off to a location Lucy claims will keep them safe for a little while.

Assassins Creed: Brotherhood

The team arrives at the modern day Villa Auditore in Monteriggioni the last Assassin safehouse in Italy. Still on the search for the Apple of Eden, Desmond and the Assassin team set up shop in the underground sanctuary of the Villa. Desmond then re-enters the Animus to continue searching through Ezio's memories in hope of finding more information about the Apple. After spending an extended period of time in the Animus, Desmond and the rest of the Assassins ponder ways of entering another Vault under the Santa Maria Aracoeli, where the Apple was located (discovered through Ezio's memories). The team drives to the Colosseo in Rome and Desmond is separated from the team in trying to find a way into the underground Vault. While traveling underground, Desmond encounters another member Those Who Came Before, Juno, who speaks to him about the end of humanity. Desmond finds a secret lever to open the main passage for his teammates and sees a vision of Ezio free running on specific levers to open the door into the inner sanctum. Following his ancestor's footsteps, he opens the door into the Vault and finds the Apple of Eden sitting upon a large platform in the middle of the room. Desmond and the Assassins step onto the platform, however, when Desmond picks up the Apple, time seems to stop all around him. He encounters Juno once again, this time, forcing him to stab Lucy in the abdomen and he falls into a coma.

Assassins Creed: Revelations

Desmond wakes up from his coma inside the Animus and meets a digital version of Subject 16. He and 16, whose real name is Clay Kaczmarek, talk about where they are, the root program of the Animus, the Black Room, or Animus Island as the setting is portrayed as a deserted island. Clay explains to Desmond that the only way for him to regain consciousness is for Desmond to relive the last few memories of his ancestor Ezio until a Synch Nexus is triggered. Desmond then enters a portal within the Black Room and proceeds to relive the memories of Ezio in his last years as an Assassin at around age 50. Throughout his reliving of Ezio's memories, Desmond also is able to relive some memories of his other major ancestor of the series, Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad, via disc-shaped "keys" that are a similar technology as the Apple of Eden. Desmond is periodically returned to Animus Island and interacts with Subject 16. Once Desmond finishes reliving the last of Ezio's memories inside the Animus, the Black Room begins to self-destruct, deleting itself and Subject 16. After the destruction of Animus Island, Desmond meets another Those Who Came Before, Jupiter, revealing the purpose of the various Vaults scattered around the world, each to provide a new form of salvation from the apocalyptic event that killed off a majority of the First Civilization. Desmond then awakens from his coma, and he finds Shaun, Rebecca, his father, Warren, and Harlan T. Cunningham, standing over him. The group traveled to New York while Desmond was still comatose, now conscious, Desmond exits the van with the team with the Apple of Eden, assuring them of what he needed to do and they make their way to the Grand Temple, the central Vault of the First Civilization located in modern day New York.

Assassins Creed III

Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad

Altaïr, historical protagonist of the original Assassin's Creed

Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad [4] is the main protagonist/playable character of Assassins Creed and the deuteragonist of Assasin's Creed: Revelations. Born into the Assassin's Order during the Third Crusade, Altaïr rose up quickly through the Assassin ranks eventually becoming a Master Assassin by his late 20s. The first Assassin's Creed revolves around Altaïr's journey to recover his Master Assassin status after a mishap in a mission that results in the stripping of his rank and skills.

Ezio Auditore da Firenze

Ezio Auditore da Firenze, Italian nobleman turned Master Assassin

Ezio Auditore da Firenze [5] is the main protagonist/playable character in Assassin's Creed II, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, and the deuteragonist of Assassin's Creed: Revelations. Born into a Florentine noble family, Ezio was oblivious to his assassin heritage until he was 17 and witnessed the murder of his father and brother. Exiled with his sister and mother because of the accusations against his family, Ezio takes refuge at his uncle's estate where he discovers his about his family's ties to the Assassin order. Over AC II, AC: Brotherhood, and AC: Revelations, Ezio grows from an arrogant, novice assassin to the Mentor Assassin of the Assassin Brotherhood of Italy.


Ratonhnhaké:ton, also known as Connor, the leader of the resurgence of colonial Assassins

Ratonhnhaké:ton, or Connor as he is referred to by during most of Assassin's Creed III, [6] was an Assassin during the American Revolution. Born into the Tomahawk tribe by a Native American mother and Haytham Kenway, his Templar father, Connor was taken into the Assassin order after his village was burned down in 1770. His adventures take place simultaneously with many major events throughout the birth of America as a nation such as the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the betrayal of Benedict Arnold.

Historical Eras

Modern era

Set in the 21st century, most of the gameplay during this era is done through Desmond Miles and his ongoing battle against the Templars and to discover the nature of the First Civilization.

The Crusades

Occurring over the Third Crusade (1189-1192) [7], the main playable character of this era is Altaïr, represented in the original Assassin's Creed.

The Renaissance

The period in which a majority of the games in this series take place. Ezio Auditore is the in-game protagonist during this era, other major historical figures that appear in this era are Leonardo Da Vinci [8], Michelangelo [9], Rodrigo de Borgia, also known as Pope Alexander VI [10], represented in Assassin's Creed II, Brotherhood, and Revelations

The Colonial Era

The time period which the plot of Assassin's Creed III overviews beginning a few decades prior to the American Revolution and then following a few years after. Some major historical figures that appear are: George Washington [11], Benjamin Franklin [12], and John Hancock [13], represented in Assassin's Creed III, Liberation, IV, and Rogue

French Revolution

The time period of Assassin's Creed Unity [14]

Victorian Era

The time period of Assassin's Creed Syndicate [15]

Major themes

Assassins and Templars

The largest over-arching storyline across all the Assassin's Creed series. The Assassin-Templar battle spanning across history and into the modern age the main focus of the feud revolving around differing ideologies on peace as well as the protection and hunt of the Pieces of Eden[16].

The Animus

The main piece of equipment to access genetic memories throughout the Assassin's Creed mythos. Developed by Abstergo Industries, the Animus is a virtual reality device that accesses the user's genetic memories and to experience them firsthand. A major side effect of the Animus, known as the bleeding effect, is a large element of the plot and the training of Desmond as an Assassin. This side effect "bleeds" the memories of genetic ancestors with those of the user causing hallucinations, blackouts, but also the acquisition of the skills of ancestors.

Ethical Issues


Game Addiction

Game Addiction refers to the psychological (and sometimes physical) addiction to playing video games. The utility derived from playing video games ranges from dopamine release (a "feel-good" neurotransmitter in the brain), to monetary gain in real life, to feeling accepted into an online and/or real-world community. In certain situations, playing video games can be a positive influence for children in controlled quantities. However, when gaming schedules are left unchecked by parents, addiction and uncharacteristic personalities can result. These can range from unhealthy amounts of sleeping and eating to violent outbursts and even murder.[17]

Addiction is defined as :

compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (such as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal; broadly : persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful [18]

You might be saying to yourself: "But playing video games isn't real life! It's just a hobby, and there's no way that it can be compared to heroin!" Perhaps it doesn't have the same immediate physical effects like teeth falling out, but the psychological effects can quickly manifest themselves into physical disorders.

In a classical study, a student was monitored playing a video game over a period of time, and quickly signs of behavioral addiction were observed. Quoted from the study (and a conclusion that is relatable to many gamers): "Winning pumps his adrenaline and makes him want to go again. Losing not only makes him angry but also makes him want to redeem his loss, thus making him wa[nt] to go again." Clearly, the designers of the game achieved an effective strategy for keeping their audience playing: win or lose - you want to play more.[17]

Back to Assassin's Creed, there are plenty of aspects of the game that lend themselves to the development of addiction. Long campaigns, side-quests, collectibles, and even DLC (Downloadable Content) all contribute to extending the life-span of a game. On one hand, this is a good thing for both Ubisoft (contributes to AC being labeled a great game, which leads to more sales) and the gamer ("more bang for your buck"). However, what masquerades as a diverse and immersive game on top, is truly an addictive trap below. What begins as completing the game, turns into trying to finish all the side missions, which results in the unshakable urge to 100% the game (finish the campaign, all side quests, collect all trinkets - varies from game to game). 100%'ing a game can take as long as over 100 hours in the game, not even taking into account online play.

This obsession with chasing a fully completed game, better player stats, or just one more online victory is - unfortunately - analogous to "chasing the dragon".[19]


One of the ethically frustrating components about the Assassin's Creed franchise is the illusion of choice in killing. While this done better in some games in the franchise than in others, there is really no option to choose to be a pacifist assassin. Albeit it an oxymoron, pacifist assassins are not a playable option for the audience. In reality, the only way to progress the plot is by continually murdering politicians and high-ranking officials in order to discover your next target. Over the course of the series, certain protagonists have stronger moral compasses, however these just red herrings. As much as a certain assassin wavers on their decision to murder an evil villain, in the end, the bad guy always gets stabbed.[20]

What does this say about the game?

Well, it kind of quarantines the actions of the audience into a corner of murder and aggression. Sure there is the option of how much murder you want to commit. But is allowing the gamer decide between "kill only the ten targets in the game" vs "become a serial murderer cutting down every British soldier in the world" a real choice?

Furthermore, what does this say about the protagonist?

Can you really justify yourself as better than the targets you are killing yourself? Some of the earlier games in the series do a better job at turning the ethical magnifying glass back on yourself. In many of the games, you can argue that all the assassinations that you commit (kings, soldiers, henchmen, etc) might make you even worse of a criminal than the officials you are hunting.

Bleeding Effect

In the game, the main protagonist experiences the bleeding effect while he is hooked up to the animus. The memories of events that his ancestors experienced start to feel like his own reality. This term got recoined by the gaming fanbase to signify the way some felt after playing a game and imitating it. For some, it was innocent such as copying the running style of a character or visualizing the world around you a bunch of things to climb on, like in Assassin's Creed. There are accounts of others, true or not, where these gamers would say that the game made them feel a little more willing to try the negative aspects associated with an assassin, such as murder or theft. It would seem as if the experiences they were having while playing the video game were bleeding into their normal lives.

Notre Dame Fire

In light of the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral on April 15, 2019, video game creators at Ubisoft Montréal – the development studio that rebuilt 18th-century Paris in its 2014 historical action game Assassin’s Creed Unity – have pledged to donate €500,000 to help with restoration efforts. On top of that, they are also making Assassin’s Creed Unity available free on PC for a week, “giving everyone the chance to experience the majesty and beauty of Notre Dame the best way we know how”, said a studio spokesperson. “We hope, with this small gesture, we can provide everyone an opportunity to appreciate our virtual homage to this monumental piece of architecture.” [21]


  1. "Official Ubisoft Website - Assassin's Creed"
  2. "IGN Description on Assassin's Creed's Character, Desmond Miles"
  3. "IGN Description on Assassin's Creed's character, William Miles"
  4. " Description on Assassin Creed's Character, Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad "
  5. " Description on Assassin's Creed's Character, Ezio Auditore da Firenze"
  6. " Description on Assassin's Creed's Character, Ratonhnhaké:ton Connor"
  7. " Crusades Article"
  8. "Wikipedia Page on Leonardo Da Vinci"
  9. "Wikipedia Page on Michelangelo"
  10. "Wikipedia Page on Pope Alexander VI"
  11. "Wikipedia Page on George Washington"
  12. "Wikipedia Page on Benjamin Franklin"
  13. "Wikipedia Page on John Hancock"
  14. "Wikipedia Page on Assassin's Creed"
  15. "Wikipedia Page on Assassin's Creed"
  16. "Assassin's Creed Wikia page on Pieces of Eden, the major theme of Assassin's Creed series"
  17. 17.0 17.1
  18. "Merriam-Webster Dictionary page on Addiction"
  19. "Urban Dictionary definition on Chasing the Dragon"
  20. "Harvard Blogpost on Moral Issue"
  21. MacDonald, K. (2019, April 17). Assassin's Creed creators pledge €500,000 to Notre Dame. Retrieved from