A new year brings a new Assassin’s Creed, and this year’s adventure, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, sees another round of updates and new features added to the basic foundation. Odyssey builds off of last year’s Egyptian-set Origins, using the same revised combat mechanics and RPG systems and adding some new elements that you’ll have to get used to. A full walkthrough would run for tens of thousands of words—this is a long game—but we can offer up a few basic tips based on our experience with Odyssey to get you started. It might be easy to get overwhelmed by a game this big and long, but these pointers should help keep you moving in the right direction.
At the very start of Odyssey you’re presented with a huge decision between Guided Mode and Exploration Mode. Exploration Mode removes many of the on-screen markers and icons that tend to clutter the screen in these games. It also makes it vital to actually explore the Greek countryside. From old ruins to abandoned temples to hidden bandit camps, there’s a lot to discover, and almost all of it will give you experience points, money and more. Exploring is also a great way to find the materials you’ll need to upgrade your arms, through foraging and hunting. It pays to stray far from the roads and settlements in this game, more than ever before in an Assassin’s Creed.
The RPG nature of the game leads to some awkwardness with how weapons and armor are valued. You can have a Legendary weapon that’s less powerful than a common one that’s just one or two levels higher, or a full suit of Legendary armor that can’t match the strength of piecemeal scraps randomly picked up throughout the game. Fortunately every weapon and piece of armor can be upgraded by the blacksmiths found in major towns. Upgrades boost an item to whatever level you’re currently ad, increasing its stats accordingly. If you have a Legendary weapon that’s level 6, and thus far less powerful than a common weapon at level 9, the Legendary weapon should be upgraded to level 9 too; at that point it’ll be far more powerful than the common weapon. It can take a lot of materials to upgrade something—and the bigger the gap between the item’s level and yours, the more materials it’ll take—but it’s absolutely worth keeping your best items as close to your level as possible.
Again, materials like soft leather, olive wood, precious gems and others are crucial to keeping your best armor and weapons in their best shape. There are six different kinds of crafting materials, and there are different ways to find all of them. You’ll often find some in chests, in war supplies, and when looting the bodies of dead soldiers. Blacksmiths will also often sell them, although the prices usually aren’t great. Soft leather can also be found by hunting animals, and olive wood grows naturally throughout the forest. Iron metal is often found in deposits in caves, and precious gems can be acquired by taking on bounty quests or also sometimes in caves. Obsidian glass is often found in unique chests and on the bodies of dead leaders, and ancient tablets are occasionally found in the historical ruins you’ll often come across. All of them are vital, and you should always take them any of them whenever you find them.
Drachmae is much easier to come by than crafting materials. When you have weapons and armor that you don’t need any more, instead of selling them you should dismantle them to recoup some materials. It’s faster than traipsing around the woods looking for animals to kill, and also saves you the guilt of, you know, killing animals. Pretty much all common weapons and armor should be dismantled, as there’ll be no shortage or rare or epic items around Greece. And once you get Legendary gear, you should be upgrading it regularly, anyway. You might feel inclined to sell these less valuable items in bulk, but don’t—it’s best to recycle them for their materials.
Another RPG-style system that plays a notable role in Odyssey is the ability to engrave weapons and armor. These are relatively minor boosts that can be added to items that have open slots for them, giving you passive advantages like a 4% increase on your hunter damage, or a 2% boost to your total health. Legendary items have space for multiple engravings, and they can be replaced as you find better engravings throughout the game. Like upgrades, engravings are handled by blacksmiths, and when all your armor and weapons are stacked with them these minor perks can really make a difference.
Odyssey has a skill tree with three tiers, and you’ll earn a point every time you level up. The Warrior tier unlocks special moves that you can use when you’ve stored up enough adrenaline in battle, and they’re incredibly useful. This is a relatively new development for the series, so longtime fans might find themselves forgetting about these moves in the heat of battle. Uh, don’t do that! Few things in games are more satisfying right now than sneaking up behind an enemy hoplite in Odyssey and giving them a swift Spartan kick right off the side of a cliff or building. Combat’s not especially hard in this game, if you can get the timing down and stick to fighting enemies that are at your level or lower, but these special moves make it even easier. Make sure you unlock, equip and use them as much as possible.
You can fail quests in this game without dying. With new multi-option dialogue scenes, you can’t always predict how conversations will wind up and what kind of impact they’ll have on your plans. For those reasons you should make sure you quick save regularly, in case you hate an outcome and want to undo it. This is especially useful when you’re recruiting lieutenants for your ship, which, uh…
Black Flag-style naval action returns in full flower, and your ship will benefit greatly from recruiting lieutenants. You’ll meet characters with various skills throughout the game who will join you if you complete a specific task for them. You can also hire captains of defeated enemy squads to serve with you, as well. If you successfully recruit these lieutenants, and officially assign them to your ship, you’ll get some kind of perk, like stronger arrow attacks during naval combat or greater resistance to damage from other boats. You have limited slots for how many lieutenants can be assigned at any one time, but you can unlock more throughout the game.
These are just a few broad tips to get you started. Odyssey is a legit odyssey, a massive epic that will take dozens of hours to explore, so you’ll have many opportunities to experiment and find the strategy that works best for you. If you keep these basics in mind, though, you’ll start your journey off on the right foot.
Garrett Martin edits Paste’s comedy and games sections. He’s on Twitter @grmartin.