I've been playing AC:O as part of Google's Project Stream beta, and this is yet another large, open world game from Ubisoft. There's so much going on and so much to see and do that initially I felt lost! As I found my way, I discovered quite a few gameplay mechanics that are very different from previous AC games. Here is my "things I wish I knew before I started" guide to Assassins Creed: Odyssey!
AC: Odyssey has quite a few "important choice" moments. Some of these choices are actually impactful, and there are indeed multiple endings depending on what you choose.
Pro Tip Most of the "ending impacting" choices concern decisions made around people "close" to you. For the most part, you don't want to murder them. Hopefully that was obvious, but since AC games don't normally have "ending changing" decisions, consider that a heads up. If you don't mind some spoilers, here's a decent 'best ending' guide
I will highlight a couple of other early-game decisions that may have you scratching your head:
- Before the game even starts, you're asked to pick "Guided" or "Exploration" - there's really not THAT much difference between the two, and you can change your mind in the options menu at any time. The biggest thing I notice is that you're not given as many waypoints in Exploration, and you're expected to read a bit more.
- Which horse to pick - the answer is "it doesn't matter". They're all the same except for cosmetics, and you'll find various outfits for your horse over the course of the game, so throw caution to the wind!
- Before leaving the "Tutorial Island," you may run into a quest about sparing or killing some sick people in a town that was burned to the ground. If you spare them, the plague spreads and makes a lot of people sick, but doesn't really seem to have any significant gameplay impact. I killed those people all the same.
There's a pretty good minimal-spoiler guide to the decisions in the game here. Each set of consequences is hidden until you click on them, and they're all identified by vague terms or quest names.
I find that the game tends to auto-save often, so if you don't like the immediate results of a minor decision (ie, you say something and it leads to a fight) you can re-load an auto save and try again. Most of the time, the effects of the decisions you make in side quests don't end up mattering much.
Things to Prioritize
If you have Helix credits (ie, you got some for free through Project Stream), spend them on an XP booster ASAP. The progression feels a lot better with bonus XP, in my opinion.
Play the main quest up until the point that you unlock the "Cultists" menu and the spear upgrade quest. At this point, it becomes very profitable to hunt the cultists for as long as you can. This will allow you to upgrade your spear, which unlocks higher level skills and more adrenaline bars.
Each "branch" of the cultist tree also unlocks a unique set of armor with a set bonus, so it pays to hunt an entire branch if you can.
Sidequests in each region will usually culminate in finding a cultist or having some mythical beast. Many of the sidequests are actually quite interesting, so I find myself playing them in every region when I first arrive.
AC:Odyssey is polyamorous and bisexual. There's no "girlfriend/boyfriend" romance type quest where you have to pick just one person. Look for the "heart" icon on dialog options, and screw whoever you want! Wooo!
The Skill Tree in AC:O gives you a lot of options, but some of them are real duds. My suggestions are:
The Hunter abilities are a bit underpowered, IMHO. I haven't found much value in investing deeply. When you're in stealth, arrows don't seem to have enough impact, especially since there are "ranged stealth" options in the Assassin tree that are better. When you're in combat, you often don't have time or focus enough to pull off a shot that is better than just slashing a melee weapon instead.
- Sixth Sense is decent, as it gives you more time to react if you're discovered. Sometimes this can lead to a quick and dirty last minute assassination when otherwise you wouldn't be able to.
- Arrow Master rank 1 unlocks Paralyzing Arrows, which knock out rather than kill. This is probably worth it, as in the early game it can be difficult to knock out enemies otherwise. Once you have multiple weapon slots, you can leave one empty so that you can whittle an enemy down with powerful weapon blows and then quick switch to knock them out with your fists.
Unlike many AC games, in Odyssey, you'll be in open combat more often than not. Some quests dump you right into combat with no chance for stealth whatsoever. Having a strong Warrior loadout is therefore quite useful.
- Second Wind is essential. Get it as soon as you can!
- Weapons Master and Gear Master can help quite a bit, as you're level locked in terms of your gear. Since a lot of the quests are tied to your level, having a flat percentage boost to your equipment can make a big difference.
- Shield Breaker is pretty situational, but it can make fights a lot less annoying if you have it when you need it. This one I will sometimes "bump" from my active skills list when I don't need it, to make room for something else.
- Fire in this tree is OK, although IMHO poison is better. Both have their uses, and in the late game you might opt for both.
- The Spartan Kick in this tree is pretty hilarious. Sometimes, I make enemies chase me someplace high up just so I can kick them off. Falling damage to enemies is pretty severe, so it can KO a lot of guys if it is used properly. However, getting the targeting right can be tricky, and honestly, Hero Strike is a more reliable DPS skill. Choose this one for the lulz factor once you're a bit higher in levels.
Unlike most other AC enemies, you will find very quickly that enemies in Odyssey can resist being assassinated! This tree has many skills for boosting your damage so that you can actually take care of business stealthily. Expect that, in the early game at least, you will end up in combat pretty often.
- Revelation is super useful for exploration. Take it ASAP. The only downside is the small radius at early levels.
- Shadow Assassin will boost assassin damage, which means you'll take down heavier enemies with less effort.
- Critical Assassination further boosts assassin damage, but consumes Adrenaline. Against truly strong foes, it can give you an edge before combat starts.
- Venomous Attacks is good, if you didn't already grab the Fire skill from Warrior. It makes your enemy weaker, plus doesn't cost Adrenaline!
- Rush Assassination basically keeps the whole Hunter tree from mattering much during stealth. Teleport to an enemy, assassinate, and chain - who needs arrows?!
- Hero Strike is a solid DPS ability. It lets you attack with your Assassin damage during combat, which is usually many times higher than your normal Warrior damage.
Combat in previous AC games generally boiled down to "Wait for the enemy to strike, then parry and hit them a few times." In Odyssey, combat isn't quite as simple.
You can't stunlock enemies by attacking them. Generally, after 2 or 3 hits, they will attempt to attack you back. When they do, they will either flash red, or they will blink white. Red attacks must be dodged, while white attacks can either be dodged or blocked. The button combo for blocking is a bit unusual, so it will probably take some time getting used to it. Also, blocking and dodging doesn't seem to interrupt a pending weapon swing, which means you need to be careful.
Pro Tip One "cheap" tactic that works against some enemies (especially animals) is to mash the "attack" and "dodge" buttons as fast as you can.
On the subject of dodging, if an enemy winds up a "red" attack, I suggest dodging twice rather than once - a lot of enemies tend to take two swings, or they chase you a bit (even turning completely around...) before attacking, so often the first dodge isn't enough to fully evade them.
Each of the weapon types has a different swing speed and damage output. You won't always have your choice of weapon if you want to maximize DPS, so get used to fighting with at least a few.
If you fight bare-handed, or you choose "knockout" instead of assassinate from stealth, or you use paralyzing arrows, you can "recruit" enemies to join your crew (once you've unlocked the ship). There are enough enemies in the world that you don't really have to recruit everyone, or even a significant portion of the enemies you fight. The cap on "useful recruits" seems to be 4, and that's with maxed out hull upgrades on the ship.
Pro Tip Priority targets for recruiting are mercenaries and leaders. Both tend to be very high ranking and sport unique perks.
There's no requirement to go full-on non-lethal in order to recruit. The only requirement is that the finishing blow has to be non-lethal. So you can put a sword up that dude's ass for 5 solid minutes, and then wrap up with a quick punch or knockout arrow.
Do note that while an enemy is knocked out, they can still be killed. If you hit them or another enemy hits them, they will die. You can't recruit while in combat, but you can grab a person and run away. If someone you REALLY want to recruit goes down, take the fight away from them or take them away from the fight.
The ship combat in this game is OK. For some reason, I like it a little less than Black Flag, but it's still pretty good.
Upgrading your ship requires a ton of Ancient Tablets, which are often found in ruins. You can check the location objectives to see if there are any in a particular area. Ikaros (your eagle) can mark these to make them easy to find.
Pro Tip Note that Ancient Tablets are different from Ainigmata Ostraka, which are little puzzles to unlock engravings for your gear.
For the most part, ship combat boils down to shooting the enemy ship with arrows (hold the "aim" trigger and press the "shoot" trigger) and javelins (just press the "shoot" trigger, or hold it to aim) until its health is gone. Once you have the fire upgrade, you can basically build "ship adrenaline" and use it on your arrows (hold the "aim" trigger and press the right bumper) or on your javelins (press the right bumper, or hold to aim and release to shoot).
Focus on fighting one ship at a time, if you can. Eliminating an enemy ship gives you some health back.
Speaking of eliminating enemy ships, there are three ways. One is to just shoot it when it's at no health, in which case you get an "average" reward in salvage. If you ram it when it's at 0 health, then you get bonus crafting resources. Finally, you can board it and fight the enemy crew, after which you can open some chests to get some stuff and then the ship sinks and you can get more salvage.
Honestly, I don't really see that much of a difference between the three in the long run. I will sometimes board just to take out my anger at the enemy crew, but most of the time I just ram them to make things go a bit quicker.
As you upgrade your hull, you unlock Lieutenant slots, up to a max of 4. Lieutenants can be recruited by knocking out enemies, as I explained in the Combat section. Recruited enemies go into a pool from which you can hire Lieutenants. While this pool is arbitrarily large, and it doesn't matter how many you recruit, Ikaros can ID the skills and rarity of an enemy, if you want to be picky.
Hiring an Lieutenant from the pool costs a bit of cash, but once hired, they can be swapped in or out of the active Lieutenant slots at will. Lieutenants provide benefits to your ship in the form of skills. Higher level enemies have higher rank skills, and the rare-r the enemy, the more skills they provide.
- You can throw many objects (bodies, torches) using the same controls as shooting an arrow. Hold the "aim trigger," and then press the "shoot trigger" to throw.
- Knocking out and recruiting enemies means there's no body to be found, if that matters to you.
- You can upgrade any weapon or armor at the blacksmith, but be careful as it is very costly in terms of resources. I suggest reserving this for late game when you've got an entire set of legendary items that you want to level up.
- The blacksmith will also buy any "trade goods" and has a "sell all trade goods" button. There is one quest that requires 3 teeth (like a lion's tooth, a shark's tooth, and a lynx tooth, I think) but for the most part, there's no penalty to selling everything. Even in that quest, you'll be told where to look to find one of each tooth. Other than that, I've found no use for the trade goods.
- Upgrade your ship's hull first. It has the most benefit of any of the upgrades.
- Disassemble your gear when you don't need it, as this is a good source of upgrade materials. I tend to save purples and yellows, and break whites and blues.
- Your horse can auto-follow roads, and automatically take you to objectives (as long as they are road-accessible)
- The horse also is no slouch with rough terrain - he jumps off cliffs and climbs steep slopes like it's nothing.
- Your eagle (Ikaros) can show you where objectives are - while flying/hovering, there is a white ring that shrinks and becomes more bold to indicate that you are close to highlighting an objective.
- Ikaros won't lead you towards most normal enemy types, but moving the reticule slowly over an enemy camp will generally tag most of them.
- Having mercenaries after you isn't a bad thing - since you probably want to fight/recruit them, having a low amount of bounty just means that mercs around your level will seek you out. They don't do a great job of being stealthy, so you'll know when one approaches.
- Some quests have a little, light blue, patterned circle next to them. These reward Orachalcum, which can be traded for unique items.
- You're a mercenary, so unless you are trespassing, both the Spartans and the Athenians will generally ignore you. There's no way/reason to pick a faction, so if you want to fight Spartans in one region and Athenians in another, have at it!