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The 5 things to know to enjoy the first 10 hours of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

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How to get started in a huge game

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey - Kassandra holding her sword Ubisoft Quebec/Ubisoft

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey has now been released, and holy heck, is it a huge game with a very lengthy ramp into all of its systems, quests and story.

This guide will tell you everything you need to know to get the most out of the game’s first 10 hours, as well as try to manage expectations about what those first 10 hours may be like. This is a very different take on the Assassin’s Creed franchise than you may be used to.

Get caught up on the story

Odyssey spends a good amount of time introducing you to the game’s historical characters and setting, but there’s almost no explanation of the modern characters or events that lead up to this particular story. If you haven’t played Assassin’s Creed Origins, you can get caught up with everything you need to know for Odyssey with our handy explainer.

Assassin’s Creed Origins - Layla Hassan at work Ubisoft Quebec/Ubisoft

Unlock the right abilities first

You’ll have a lot more freedom to explore the game’s skill tree and build the character you’d like later on — and in fact, you can always reset your abilities if you don’t like how things are going — but there are three abilities that are so powerful in the early hours of the game, you should prioritize unlocking them.

  1. Second Wind lets you regain percentage of your health by burning adrenaline at any time, even during battle. It will keep you alive while you come to grips with the rest of the game.
  2. Spartan Kick allows you to attack enemies and push them back, which gives you room to breathe during combat. But it can also be used to send enemies flying off cliffs and towers so they take falling damage. It’s a good way to end fights if the enemy is a few levels above you.
  3. Shield Breaker allows you to remove the shield of enemies close to your level and beat them with it, which also stuns nearby enemies. It’s a great way to even the odds in a fight.

That’s just where you should get started, however. We have a full list of our favorite abilities to keep you going as the game progresses.

Accept that this isn’t an open-world game ... yet

Odyssey keeps you on a rigid path for a while, and it can feel like it’s taking a long time to unlock the abilities that start to help the game feel like an Assassin’s Creed title. Don’t worry about it! You’re not playing the game “wrong,” and there’s nothing you’re missing. This is just a game that’s very particular about its pace, particularly in the early hours.

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey - ‘Equal Employment Opportunity Program’ quest Ubisoft Quebec/Ubisoft via Polygon

The level gates, lack of ship and very slow burn of the game’s story all work together to keep you on a very focused path at first. Some people are going to hate this, while others won’t mind, and some fans will love the more relaxed pace. Wherever you fall on that spectrum, however, there’s not much you can do to speed things up — unless you’re willing to spend some money.

Use your hawk for everything

Ikaros, your pet hawk, is going to be familiar to anyone who played Origins, and knows how important it is to use your companion early and often to scout things out. If you skipped that game, however, you may underestimate everything your hawk can do.

Hit the up button on the directional pad to take control of Ikaros, and then hold the left trigger to freeze the hawk in place so you can scan your targets. Ikaros will highlight enemies, treasure, supplies you need to burn and mercenaries who may be hunting you down. There’s never a reason to go into a situation without everything in the area mapped out and highlighted, so get into the habit of taking full advantage of Ikaros from the very first hours of the game.

Why does everyone keep calling me that?

The characters you meet on your journey — your odyssey, if you will — will often refer to you as “misthios.” It’s a general term that means you’re someone for hire, which makes sense, considering how many people try to give you some kind of task to accomplish.

Another word you’re going to hear often is “malakas,” which may not have a direct literal translation, but basically means someone who’s stupid or an asshole. It’s the go-to insult of the game, which means you’re going to hear it often.