Why is Ezio Auditore considered the best Assassin’s Creed character?

[Originally posted on Quora. Not my preferred kind of answer out of those I’ve published there, but this one definitely is one of my favorites]

Once you start AC2, the first scene (after a brief recap of the previous game), is Lucy telling Desmond to get in the Animus for a moment.

In this, you see a woman in labour. The midwife is telling her to push, that’s it’s almost done. The baby finally is born and she holds it, looking with uncertainty at the other woman helping her.

The woman’s husband comes in, apologising for coming late. He sees his child and holds him in his arms. His wife faintly calls for him, as if apologising. The child isn’t moving or crying.

The man holds his son in his arms and says, “You’re an Auditore. You’re a fighter. So fight!”

The newborn squeals and then starts crying. The mother, nearly in tears and smiling with gratitude, asks her husband what name they should give to their child.

“Ezio,” The husband says, “Ezio Auditore da Firenze!”

Lucy pulls Desmond out of the Animus, tells him it’s time to go. He rushes with her out of the Abstergo building, together they fight some bad guys and finally leave. Then, they go to this warehouse somewhere, and Desmond meets Shaun and Rebecca.

Desmond gets back in the Animus.

Ezio has now grown up. He’s a 17 year-old guy who does nothing but spending his father’s money in wine and women. And occasionally helping out his family. Oh, he also gets into silly fights with other noblemen. Over women.

One of the first things you see Ezio doing? Having one of these petty fights. With the irritant Vieri de Pazzi. The guy is upset. Ezio asks him why he is upset since, well, Vieri’s sister was very pleased with the “handling” Ezio had given her. Ezio laughs with his men and they all get into a fight with Vieri and his guys. Vieri throws a stone at Ezio’s face, which leaves a scar on his upper lip.

Ezio’s brother, Federico, comes in to help. After knocking some guys down here and there, he and Federico loot them and go over to a doctor to treat Ezio’s gash. Then, Federico challenges his brother to climb up a church.

“It is a good life we lead, brother.”
“The best. May it never change.”
“And may it never change us.”

Ezio then goes over to Cristina, the girl he likes, to give her some handling. He comes back home the next morning and after being chased down by guards, has his father nearly laugh out at him. He helps his mother and meets Leonardo da Vinci. Helps out his sister by beating up her unfaithful fiancé (who we gladly have the opportunity to beat up more than once). Collects feathers for his little brother. Helps his father in delivering a letter.

He gets back home, his father and brothers have been arrested. His mother, probably raped. Mute. His sister in panic. He doesn’t understand what’s going on. He goes to the Signoria Palace. Climbs it up to speak to his father, who tells him to open a box in a secret room in his office and take everything that’s inside there. To deliver a letter to Uberto Alberti.

He does as he’s said to. He finds his father’s Assassin robes, and wears them, even though he doesn’t know what they’re for. He gives the letter to Uberto Alberti. Uberto says he’ll help him.

The very next day, Ezio sees his older brother, younger brother and father being hanged for betrayal. He screams and tries to help them. Only to be held back and chased by guards. He can do nothing but run. He’s seen the same man who had promised to help them killing half of his family.

He spends time in a brothel owned by Paola, sister of his housemaid. She has safely kept his sister and mother there. He must kill Uberto Alberti. He knows he has to do it.

He kills him. Tells the world that he is Ezio Auditore, that he is alive, and that he will avenge his family.

From there on, we see Ezio killing, one by one, all the people involved in his family’s murder. Eventually, he learns from his uncle -and later realises- that his family’s murder is only a small part of a bigger plot -controlling humanity.

Ezio does not live for women and wine anymore. He does not care. All he wants to do is avenge his family. Then he starts worrying about the bigger cause and works in re-modelling the Assassin order. Formally becomes an Assassin. Hunts for the Apple of Eden. Becomes Master Assassin. Hunts down the Borgias. Recruits other people into the order.

In this, Ezio sees his family and loved ones die over time. Cristina, the love of his life, dies, too. You see him going into a vault in the Vatican, and talking to an ancient God, who then refers to someone by the name of “Desmond”. He does not understand what’s going on. He wants an explanation and spends years fighting off enemies, still wondering who “Desmond” may be.

In Revelations, you see an Ezio in his 50s. Tired. Past his prime years. Wiser. He now wants to find the library in Masyaf, the one Altaïr, the Assassin he had grown up admiring, had built. He also helps re-establishing the Assassin order in Istanbul and kicking off the Templars.

By the end of the game, Ezio has finally found the library and its keys. He finds the skeleton of Altaïr, his idol, holding the last key. He also finds Altaïr’s Apple of Eden, but he’s had enough. He’s had one in his hands before. He knows what kind of harm it can do.

And then, he turns over and calls for Desmond.

We see him taking off his hidden blades and his sword,

“I have lived my life as best I could, not knowing its purpose, but drawn forward like a moth to a distant moon. And here, at last, I discover a strange truth. That I am only a conduit for a message that eludes my understanding. Who are we, who have been so blessed to share our stories like this? To speak across centuries? Maybe you will answer all the questions I have asked. Maybe you will be the one to make all this suffering worth something in the end.”

Ezio delivers his final message to Desmond. Gives up on his Assassin life, which he was forced to take after his family’s untimely death. He has now found comfort and love in Sofia Sartor. Settles down with her and they have two children, Flavia and Marcello.

Around 10 years later, you see Ezio tending to his vineyard, living in the countryside just outside Florence. Age has caught up to him and he’s developed a serious cough. He runs in panic to his daughter as he sees her hand in hand with a hooded figure. Panic, because he knows he can’t run like he used to anymore.

The hooded figure is revealed to be a fellow Assassin, Shao Jun. She becomes Ezio’s last apprentice. He teaches her the ways of the Assassins. Gets attacked in his own home and has to send his wife and children away for a while. Shao Jun leaves, and his family returns.

The last we see of Ezio is him going with his daughter and wife to a market in Florence. He sits down in a bench as his daughter drags his wife around. Feels a pain in his chest. A man next to him tells him to be brave. Ezio glances at his lovely daughter and wife and smiles.

And passes away peacefully. At age 65. In the city he calls home.

Ezio is not considered the best assassin (by most players) only because of his charisma and skills. He was a fun character. He was entertaining. Who didn’t laugh at his songs when he pretended to be a minstrel? To top it off, he was a true-bred Italian (laugh).

He was also relatable. We understood his pain, his rage. We all saw his family being hanged. We all wanted to be able to reach there and save them as much as he did.

But the main reason why he’s so loved is because we saw this man’s whole life. We first saw him the moment he came out of his mother’s womb. We saw him being scolded by his mother, being laughed at by his brother, getting into fights with other men because of girls. We helplessly saw how he lost half of his family heartlessly. The rage that consumed him as he proceeded with his revenge. How he eventually realised that it wasn’t all about his family, but also because of a bigger cause. How he kept his interests in women and wine, but that he realised what was important and what was futile. How he started valuing family and friendship in a way he never had. How serene he looked while staring at his child for the last time. The fact that all he wanted during his adulthood was to find peace and avenge his family; and that he died in peace, with his family.

Whether he’s or not a player’s favourite Assassin, well that is personal preference. But he is loved and considered the best by most by a reason.

We saw this man take his first and last breath. And all that happened in between.

“When I was a young man, I had liberty, but I did not see it. I had time, but I did not know it. And I had love, but I did not feel it. Many decades would pass before I understood the meaning of all three. And now, the twilight of my life, this understanding has passed into contentment.
Love, liberty, and time: once so disposable, are the fuels that drive me forward. And love, most especially, mio caro. For you, our children, our brothers and sisters. And for the vast and wonderful world that gave us life, and keeps us guessing. Endless affection, mia Sofia.
Forever yours,
Ezio Auditore.”