Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is out today, and it’s one incredible game. It might be a little long, but that’s either a good thing or a bad thing, depending. It’s clear, however, that this is a monumental RPG, and arguably the best Assassin’s Creed game to date. It follows in the mold of last years’ Origins by turning the game into something less like the games that came before it and into something like a traditional RPG, with a hefty dose of math-based attacks and an involved skill tree. And like all skill trees, it can be a paralyzing nightmare if you’re scared of commitment. Don’t worry: you can respec for a relatively small fee. But if you’re feeling overwhelmed about what to unlock as you level up, I’m here to help.
Any given player is going to approach this game differently: you might be a sneaky assassin, an out-and-out brawler, or even a long-range sniper. Specialized players will want to stick to their tree of choice, but these are options for the more versatile player: the one who does some fighting and some sneaking, maybe some arrow-work in between. You can’t go wrong with any of these skills.
Note: there are obviously more powerful skills than these higher up in the tree. That’s not what this article is about: these are going to be some of your very first unlocks, the sort of thing that will form the backbone of your playtime going forward. You’ll clearly get some better toys going forward.
Second Wind: This one–don’t miss this one. Odyssey is going to throw you into some long, drawn-out fights with high-health enemies, even if you’re trying to play with a stealthier approach. And when it does, you’ll find your health bar whittles down both fast and slow. There’s no way to recover without heading out of conflict, which might be impossible in some situations. Second Wind eases that up a little bit, allowing you to recover a bot of health with your adrenaline meter, and a lot of health once it’s fully upgraded. It also recharges fairly quickly, so a bit of dodging and delaying tactics can get you back in the fight without too much trouble.
Shiled Breaker: Shields are annoying as sin. Shield breaker takes care of them. Enough said.
Charged Heavy Attack: A skill so useful it’s a bit mysterious why it’s not an automatic unlock like its equivalents might be in any number of games. Regardless, it does what it says it does: unleashes a guard-breaking, weapon-specific heavy attack, the sort of thing any respectable third-person RPG warrior should have in his or her arsenal. And it doesn’t take up an ability slot, either. It’s a no brainer to unlock, really, though I doubt the efficacy of upgrading it.
Weapons Master/Gear Master: When in doubt, passive skills are never a bad thing to get. They don’t require activation and they’re with you always, raising your baseline capability rather than giving you new tools. You might argue that they’re also boring, but that’s really a philosophical question rather than a practical one. With that, you can’t go wrong with Weapons Master or Gear Master. These give you impressive 30% boosts to weapon damage and armor ratings even at the first level, so don’t miss them.
Critical Assassination/Shadow Assassin: This one might not seem like the most important thing to have here, but it’s going to make some encounters a whole lot for you. Odyssey, like Origins before it, foregoes the one-shot assassinations of its predecessors. Instead, you do a high amount of assassin damage with stealth attacks: enough to kill most lower-level enemies to be sure, but not enough to take out a lot of officers and mercenaries. Critical Assassination will allow you to do 200% assassin damage at the outset, dramatically raising the bar on who exactly you can take down in one shot. And one shot vs. multiple shots is a giant difference if you’re trying to thin the herd before a larger confrontation. Grab this if you like to sneak around and tab people.
Shadow Assassin is essentially the passive version of this, giving you a 20% boost to Assassin damage at the first level. With just a little boost to this you should be able to nail any non-officer enemy in a single attack. The passive skill will boost your critical assassination too.