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Assassin’s Creed Odyssey guide: Upgrading and improving your weapons and armor

And also engraving

Ubisoft

As Assassin’s Creed Odyssey continues the franchise’s transition into a full action role-playing game, a lot has changed. One of the most notable differences is the gear system for upgrading armor and weapons. You’ve got a primary weapon, a ranged weapon, and five armor slots to fill and then manage.

You’ll never want for gear. Between looting bodies, discovering treasure, and earning rewards, you will have just so much gear. At the most simple, managing all that gear — specifically, picking which gear to equip and use — just means picking the gear with the highest numbers. Bigger numbers mean better gear. But that ignores a lot of nuance — and when you add in the options of upgrading and engraving, it’s not a simple question at all.

This guide is here to help you wrap your brain around it all.

Gear basics

Every piece of gear, both weapons and armor, has three pieces of information you care about — level, rarity, and at least one stat.

Ubisoft via Polygon
  • Level. Gear has a level just like Alexios and Kassandra do. It’s a numeric representation of how basic or advanced an item is. Generally, the higher the number, the higher the DPS (damage per second) stat is.
  • Rarity. There are four levels of rarity — common, rare, epic, and legendary. There’s a lot going on with rarity (and we’ll discuss it more below), but generally rarer items are better items.
  • Stat. For weapons, this is shown as damage per second (DPS). For gear, this stat represents armor. An item’s stat is largely dependent on its level.

Any time your character levels up, you can go to a blacksmith and level up your gear to match your character’s level. This will cost you resources and drachmae, and the item’s rarity broadly determines how much of each it’ll cost.

The not-so-basics

For the most part, you can get away with picking the gear with the biggest number and calling it good, but there are a couple things that make it slightly more complicated than that.

  • DPS isn’t the whole story. Weapons have two other aspects that matter — reach and speed. Reach is about how close you have to be to deal damage. Speed is how often you can swing — for example, daggers deal a little damage often, whereas axes deal a lot of damage slowly. A weapon with a high DPS isn’t going to help you if it doesn’t match your play style.
This torso armor has a base stat of 72 armor, but the engraving adds 6 percent to that, bringing the actual total to 77 (rounding up).
Ubisoft via Polygon
  • Engravings add up. Engravings (which we’ll go into more below) further complicate the calculations here. Engravings are all the “+6% Hunter Damage” and “+3% Damage with Swords” badges under your gear’s main stat. Instead of doing the math, you can just watch the total stats along the bottom of the Inventory tab.

Rarity

How rare an item is determines three things:

  • Stats. Rarer items get a stat boost — a legendary sword deals more damage than a common sword.
  • Engraving slots. Rarer items have more engraving slots.
  • Upgrade cost. It costs a lot more (both in drachmae and in resources) to upgrade a legendary item than it costs to upgrade a common item.

Engraving

In Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, engraving lets you add modifiers to your gear at a blacksmith. These modifiers buff one of your stats — some of them obvious like “+X% Hunter Damage” or “+X% Health”, while others are a little more subtle like “+X% Movement when Crouched.” Just like upgrading, engraving is more expensive the more rare the item is.

Rarity also determines how many engravings an item has. Common items have two engravings (one predetermined, one open), rare have three (two predetermined), and epic and legendary have four (three predetermined).

At a blacksmith, you can choose the engraving that goes into that final slot. If you re-engrave an item, you’ll replace the engraving in the final slot.

Like we mentioned above, engravings change stat totals. Where it becomes even more complicated is that your shoes might alter your weapon damage, or your bow might change how hard you kick.

Unlocking additional engravings

Documents lead you to a buried treasure and a new engraving.
Ubisoft via Polygon

You unlock engravings as you level up your character. You can also find them by solving the document clues that you encounter in the world of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.

When and what to upgrade

The short (and short-sighted) answer here is just to upgrade the best item in every slot so you end up with the highest numbers. The problem with such a simplistic answer, though, is that is becomes wildly expensive very quickly.

As you level up in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, the gear that you find, buy, or take off of corpses tends to stay close to your level. That means you will often find — especially early in the game — gear that is as good as or even better than your best stuff. As you progress, you’re going to eventually find a new common sword that’s way better than your legendary one from a few levels back.

Upgrading gear is a great solution to keeping your gear relevant. But don’t make the mistake of getting attached. Keeping even one legendary item leveled up (let alone several) will very quickly become cost prohibitive. It’s better to find a manageable loadout of common or (some) rare items that you can mix and match and upgrade affordably only when necessary.

As you collect better gear and level up a bit — around the level 15 neighborhood — you’ll stay at each level longer. Then it makes sense to start finding favorites and upgrading your more rare (expensive) gear.