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Assassin’s Creed Odyssey guide: combat and fighting tips

Ubisoft via Polygon

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey continues the transition of the franchise toward a full-blown action RPG, and that means that there’s a lot new and different from the earliest Assassin’s Creed games. Odyssey is pretty good at teaching you the intricacies of its various mechanics … once. But if you don’t pay attention or forget, you’re going to find yourself struggling.

You’ll spend the majority of your time in Odyssey stabbing bad guys or getting into a position to stab bad guys. Since it’s such a big part of your game, you need to be comfortable with it. And we’re here to help with our combat tips.

Before you fight

Ubisoft via Polygon

Whenever you have the opportunity, take some time to plan before you start a fight. Start by using your bird, Ikaros, to tag your enemies. This will show you their level (so you can run away if you have to), and it’ll let you see their locations and plot a course through them. Generally, the best approach to clearing a large group of enemies is to start at the perimeter and work your way in toward the center.

What to fight with

With so many categories of weapons, and levels and rarity groups within each, choosing your weapon can be daunting. Across all types of weapon of a given level, the damage per second (DPS) will be roughly the same. The difference between weapons is reach and speed.

Reach just means how close you have to get before you can stab someone. Daggers require you to be really, really close. Spears, on the other hand, let you stab from a distance.

While the DPS is similar across all kinds of weapon, there’s a lot of variation in how that DPS stat is achieved. Dagger weapons deal a little damage often. Heavy bladed weapons deal a ton of damage after a long windup. Fast, light weapons require a lot of swings to take out an enemy. Slow, heavy weapons can take out enemies with fewer swings, but the long windup gives you enemies more time to interrupt you.

Three kinds of damage

There are three kinds of damage in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey hunter, warrior, and assassin — which basically translate to ranged, melee, and sneak. You deal hunter damage with your bow, warrior damage with your weapon, and assassin damage when your enemy hasn’t spotted you.

“Assassin” is right there in the game’s name, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that your assassin damage is a much, much bigger number than any the other two. That’s a huge hint about the easiest approach to the game — sneaky kills deal a lot more damage than head-on attacks.

Fight smart

Fighting in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey isn’t terribly difficult one-on-one, but it becomes exponentially more difficult when you’re surrounded by enemies. As different as Odyssey may feel, it’s still an Assassin’s Creed game — with an emphasis on assassin-ing.

Eventually, you may be able to build an unstoppable Spartan warrior, but the first many, many hours favor discretion. Look for opportunities to take your enemies down stealthily. And if you find yourself outnumbered while you’re fighting, consider running.

The basic moves

Ubisoft via Polygon

Stealth, assassination, and ranged murder will give you a lot of control over most fights, but there are still going to be times when it comes down to a face-to-face brawl. There are three things you need to learn to make these fights easier (and less deadly).

  1. Dodge. It’s the simplest way to not get stabbed, and that makes it the most useful. If you time it right, you’ll get a brief bullet-time window where you can outmaneuver your enemy and dish out a light attack combo.
  2. Parry. Parrying is subtly a very, very powerful move. First, and most obviously, it prevents an attack from landing. But it also drops your attacker’s defenses (shield) and knocks back/down other nearby enemies.
  3. Learn the cues. Pulling off a parry or a flank requires you to mash the buttons at the right moment. Luckily, the game tells you when that moment is with a shining glint that appears on the end of your enemies’ weapons — wait for that sparkle, then make your move. There are also times when your enemy will glow red — this is an unblockable attack, so you just need to get out of the way.

Abilities that help

All of the abilities you unlock as you level up will add some twist to your damage-dealing repertoire, so there’s no wrong answers here — just match the abilities you choose to your style of play. (And don’t forget that, at any point, you can just reset all of your ability points and start over.)

That said, there are still a few skills that we love.

Ubisoft via Polygon
  • Shield Breaker — Warrior skill, second row up, right side. When an enemy has a shield — and a lot of them do — you have to break through their defenses before you can deal any damage. You can do that with a heavy attack, but those are slow and open you to counterattacks. You can do that with a parry or flank, but that means waiting for them to attack first. These work, but they only create an opening in the defense. They don’t solve the shield problem. The other, better option is the shield breaker ability. All you have to do is trigger the ability, and you’ll wrench the shield out of your enemy’s hands, hit them and anyone nearby with it, then toss it out of reach. This is the way to turn the tide in a fight.
  • Sixth Sense — Hunter skill, bottom row left. This ability slows time for a few seconds whenever you’re spotted by an enemy. This bullet time gives you a chance to fire off a few arrows — and deal some extra hunter damage in the process — but it’s also a handy window for a last-second silent assassination.
  • Ring of Chaos — Warrior skill, top left. If you find yourself surrounded often (or are about to hop into a Conquest Battle), having this ability for crowd control can be a life saver.
  • Bull Rush — Warrior skill, bottom left. This ability has a few uses that come in handy — you knock down enemies, deal some extra damage, and quickly relocate yourself.