It’s fall, which means that it’s time for a new iteration in the Assassin’s Creed franchise. While Ubisoft’s open-world action games were beginning to grow stale up until a few years ago, last year’s excellent Assassin’s Creed Origins helped revitalize things and this year’s release, Odyssey, is somehow even better. It’s also an absolutely gigantic game, with a campaign mode that will take most players 50-60 hours to complete, with another 30 or so to see and do everything else the game has to offer. That’s a lot of time to be spending with one game and with all the various systems at play, it’s easy to take an inefficient route through the experience. Fortunately, there are some things I’ve learned while playing that would have saved me from some headaches early on, so here are some tips to help get the most out of playing Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.

Wait To Upgrade Your Favorite Weapons

Every weapon and armor piece in Odyssey has a corresponding level and even though you will start getting legendary and epic loot quite early on, it won’t be long until those items become essentially useless as your character level begins exceeding them. Fortunately, Assassin’s Creed Origins’ item upgrading makes a return but the difference is that it costs far more resources to bring loot up to your current level in Odyssey.

While it can be tempting to funnel resources into upgrading your legendary weapons and armor, it’s better to be patient and wait until you can do a big jump instead of wasting time bringing a sword you like from level 15 to 17. The way Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is structured, a level 22 blue spear is much more effective than a level 18 gold one so even though it’s not ideal, it’s not a bad idea to equip the best items that match your character level and worry about completing legendary sets until later. Speaking of which …

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Complete Legendary Armor Sets

Each piece of legendary (gold) gear you acquire in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is part of a set and wearing a complete set will reward you with additional perks. Of course, it pretty much goes without saying that you’ll want to complete these sets and most of them can be obtained by clearing out Cultist targets (a side quest that sounds tedious but is actually pretty fun and rewarding).

The problem is that it takes awhile to complete even the first set because Cultists’ levels vary wildly and there’s simply no way you’re going to take down a lvl 45 when you’re still hovering in the 20s. This means that by the time you complete a set, your different armor pieces will have wildly different levels attached to them. Fortunately, what the game doesn’t tell you is that once you complete a set, all corresponding pieces will automatically upgrade to your current level, thus sparing you from having to dump resources into doing it yourself.

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Invest In Assassination Skills Early

I discussed this a bit in my review, but one of the most unusual design decisions in Odyssey is that it’s much more difficult to assassinate enemies than in previous Assassin’s Creed games. Yes, standard enemies will go down in one hit but everyone else will brush aside your kill attempt, thus alerting everyone else around them to your presence and making a stealthy approach that much harder. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to alleviate this problem.

You should not only try and increase your Assassination damage stat as much as possible, but also put some points into the Critical Assassination upgrade and pretty much every other skill that will make your sneak attacks deadlier. There are also specific weapons you can find that will increase your damage from behind, but the most important thing is to invest points into those Assassination skills or risk having to fight a dozen enemies at once because some guard captain proved impervious to your blade.

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Farm Mercenaries For Gear

At first, I was a bit conflicted with Odyssey’s new mercenary system. Initially, I was annoyed by the fact that a powerful enemy was following me around the map, interrupting whatever I was doing much like the frustrating Orc Captains in Middle-Earth: Shadow of War (come to think of it, Odyssey’s mercenaries is basically another version Mordor’s Nemesis system). Then I realized that I could just pay my bounties off to get rid of my pesky pursuer and started doing that every time rather than risk running into a merc. However, while I think it’s fine to pay off bounties when you’re in the middle of a particularly difficult mission and don’t want to make things worse for yourself, I soon figured out that mercenaries could essentially be used to farm loot, as they almost always drop Epic or Legendary gear.

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Poison > Fire

Most weapons in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey don’t apply poison or fire damage; instead, there are abilities that allow you to apply either effect to your weapons for a brief period of time. While it’s tempting to use both interchangeably, there’s really no reason to ever choose fire over poison. Both apply damage over time to enemies but the difference is that fire is just chaotic; it may do more damage but chances are enemies who are set on fire will spread the flames to everything in the area, including you.

In contrast, poison doesn’t spread back to yourself and it also has the added benefit of reducing an enemy’s armor and damage output. If you really want to use fire, just take out your torch and hit your enemies with it to set them ablaze.

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Manual Saving Is Actually Really Important

Thanks to autosaving features, modern video games have trained us to never really have to worry about manual saving and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is no different. Additionally, Odyssey gives you both a quick save and manual save option and you should definitely try and use them as much as possible because the autosave function is spotty, to say the least.

If you die during a mission, the game could reload you seconds before the encounter that killed you, or way back in the town where you first got the quest to begin with. The checkpoints system in this game is simply broken and while the autosave will still keep pace with your important achievements, it’s a good idea to just take the time and manually save to alleviate any frustration.

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Upgrade Your Ship’s Hull Before Anything Else

There are a lot of different things you can upgrade on Alexios/Kassandra’s ship the Adrestia and they all cost a boatload (ha!) of resources, so it can be a bit overwhelming trying to figure out which ones to prioritize. While it’s tempting to upgrade your weapons in order to dish out as much damage as possible to enemy vessels, the best thing you can do is focus on boosting the Adrestia’s hull.

Not only will this keep you alive longer in combat, but each tier upgrade allows you to assign another lieutenant, which in turn boosts your ship’s stats. After that, you can pretty much go for any weapons you want, but the fire arrows and javelins are probably the best ones to focus on first.

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Side With Athens Or Sparta – It Really Doesn’t Matter

Odyssey is set during the Peloponnesian War, so it makes sense that the conflict between Athens and Sparta underscores a lot of the game’s narrative and action. Before long, you’re given the ability to participate in regional battles where you can choose to support either side. The problem is that Odyssey doesn’t really do a good job of telling you what impact (if any) siding with Athens or Sparta will have on the rest of the game; an issue that’s made all the more prominent by the fact that the main character is of Spartan descent. As it turns out, you can make any decision you want here, as these conquest battles are pretty much just a way to get loot and experience, and don’t have any real impact on the story.

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You Can Parry Arrows

Odyssey has a pretty effective parrying technique to use in melee combat, but there’s not much you can do when an enemy takes his or her bow out and tries to put an arrow through your face, right? Wrong! Just as you can dodge and parry melee attacks, you can also dodge and parry arrows.

Truth be told, it’s hard to make arrow parrying a regular part of your combat technique given how precise your timing has to be to pull it off, but if you’ve got the reflexes for it, it’s a cool way to make Assassin’s Creed Odyssey feel even more like a Wonder Woman game than it already is.

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Ring of Chaos > Spartan Kick

One of the coolest looking and just plain fun abilities in the game is Spartan Kick, which pretty much lets you do your best impression of Gerard Butler’s King Leonides and boot people off of ledges (shouting “THIS IS SPARTA!’ while you do so is strongly encouraged). While this move is great for cheesing powerful enemies, Ring of Chaos essentially does the same thing and then some.

Instead of targeting one single enemy, you can hit 4-5 simultaneously and once upgraded, it’s the best crowd-clearing move in the game (it’s especially great for knocking enemies overboard while boarding ships). Spartan Kick still has its uses but Ring of Chaos is definitely worth upgrading first.

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