One could be forgiven for thinking Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was an action-packed mix of 300 and Wonder Woman, all swinging battle axes and dudes getting kicked off cliffs. But the word “Assassin” is right there in the title, and it is more than possible to play as a stealthy killer. In fact, it’s really fun.
I’m about 30 hours in to Odyssey, and have been having a fantastic time. Like, a “holy shit, this is so much better than I even thought it was going to be, and I thought it was going to be good” kind of time. A lot of those good times are due to the fact that I’ve put together a character build that lets me play the game as a sneaky assassin, which wasn’t always that easy in Odyssey’s predecessor, Assassin’s Creed Origins.
As is mandated for all modern AAA open-world games, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey has three skill trees. Hunter focuses on bow-and-arrow abilities, Warrior focuses on melee combat, and Assassin focuses on sneaking and stabbing for huge damage. The game restricts your available moves such that it’s impossible to unlock and use all possible abilities at the same time, so you’re going to have to learn to specialize. Fortunately, you can cheaply reassign all of your abilities at any point (all RPGs should do this!!), so it’s easy to experiment until you find a build that works for you.
I am here today to explain how to make a really good Assassin build, and how to maximize those abilities once you unlock them. A note up front that I’m playing the game on hard difficulty, and I really like it. It took some getting used to, but I think an Assassin build is extra fun if combat is a little more punishing than it is on normal difficulty. However, Hard was pretty tough for my first five or six levels, so I could see starting out on normal and then kicking it up to hard once you get your feet under you.
In addition to straight-up weapon damage, your character does three types of damage: Hunter, Warrior, and Assassin. You can check yours in your Gear menus. Any time an ability tells you that it does “X% Of Hunter Damage” or whatever, it’s using that number as a basis. Those numbers are much higher than your regular melee and ranged attacks, because your abilities are way more powerful than your basic attacks.
Here’s where my level 25 character is at:
Because I’ve kitted my character almost entirely for Assassin damage, that number is unusually high. But no matter what, Assassin damage will be way higher than the other two. Makes sense, since most Assassination moves are ideally one-hit-kills that require you to be undetected to pull them off, so they have more limited application than other abilities. At any rate, the first thing you need to do for an Assassin build is get that Assassin damage number as high as possible, which you can do by picking the right armor and weapons.
Your armor is one of the most important things for making a good Assassin build. Make sure every piece you’re wearing gives you some boost to Assassin damage, and try to boost poison and crit damage, as well. Hunter damage is okay if you really like how a piece looks or it’s much higher level than anything else you have, but in general, you want to boost your Assassin damage as much as possible. Weapons can also boost your Assassin damage, so try to equip weapons that boost it further.
Here are the skills I have assigned to my level 25 assassin:
I’ve put almost everything in the Assassin tree, with a few exceptions in the Hunter and Warrior trees. I’ve found this build to be fun, engaging, and viable in everything from sneaking to full-on combat, particularly when I play creatively and focus on my strengths. I’ll now list the most important of those abilities, along with some strategies and skill-combos I use to get the most out them.
Your first thought might be the same as mine: how can I make an Assassin build viable in combat? Particularly given that I need to participate in Conquest Battles, which don’t allow for stealth? Well, let me tell you about Hero Strike.
Just going by its description, Hero Strike doesn’t seem very good. On its first tier, you do a single strike for 60% of your Assassin damage. Which is fine, sure, but why wouldn’t you just do a regular or critical assassination? The thing that makes Hero Strike good isn’t explicitly laid out in the ability description, but it should be: you can do it while in regular combat.
Remember those numbers from before? Your Assassin damage is likely above 10,000, so 60% of that is a lot of damage. Keep upgrading it (and upgrading your spear), and you’ll eventually be able to do 100% of your Assassin damage in combat. It bypasses shields and is basically impossible to dodge, so it’s enough to kill, or almost kill, any single enemy you’re facing.
Hero Strike is the linchpin for my Assassin build, and easily the most important ability I have. It’s great in combat for one-shotting regular enemies and significantly damaging more powerful ones, and also works as a good follow-up finisher to a regular assassination attempt when you’re still sneaking around. Like in Origins, assassination moves aren’t always enough to one-hit kill an enemy, but only the most powerful foes will withstand an assassination followed by a heroic strike.
I initially dismissed the “Venomous Attacks” poison ability as overly specialized. I didn’t need to poison people, I’d just whale on them with my sword, right? That was a mistake, because poison is just as important as Hero Strike, particularly during bigger fights and Conquest Battles. After two tiers, the poison on my blades and arrows lasts 25 seconds and doesn’t cost adrenaline. At three tiers, it won’t even have a cooldown, so if I’m fighting, I’ll be poisoning.
If you hit an enemy with enough poison, they’ll become Intoxicated. That means they suffer damage over time but, perhaps more importantly, their armor and damage output are both lowered. That means your basic attacks will do a lot more damage, and your Hero Strikes and Hunter arrow attacks will be devastating. Lots of Assassin-focused armor boosts your Assassin damage as well as your poison damage and duration, so with the right gear, your poison will be even more potent.
- Rush Assassination is extremely useful, especially if you upgrade it to let you chain your attacks to multiple enemies. You can even chain it back and forth between two enemies, which means you can ping-pong between two hard-to-kill captains and stab them each more than once. It’s a pretty hilarious way to win a fight before it even begins.
- Vanish is also helpful, and it’s worth putting in at least a point. Activate the ability when you’re surrounded, crouch, then creep into tall grass or around a corner nearby. The people you were fighting will immediately get question marks over their heads, which means they’re in search mode. What that also means is that they’re now vulnerable to assassination abilities. Like, say, a devastating chain of Rush Assassinations. Rinse and repeat to thin enemy ranks without letting them get off a single swing.
- Critical Assassination and Shadow Assassin are both obvious ones to upgrade. They make your basic assassinations more powerful, so, yeah, get these.
- Slow Time is great, particularly when paired with the Hunter abilities I’ll list below. It’s nice to get a few free melee hits on enemies, but even better to use the extra time to pull back, aim, and get a good draw on your bow.
In the earlier screenshot of my character build, you probably noticed that I have almost no skills from the left two branches. That’s because for a pure Assassin build, you really don’t need them, and in particular, you don’t need Warrior abilities.
Now, I’m not saying Warrior abilities aren’t fun, or that a hybrid build isn’t possible! But for the purposes of a pure Assassin build, you’re better off without them… with one or two exceptions.
First, as my colleague Heather Alexandra pointed out in her big-picture tips post, get yourself at least one tier of Second Wind as soon as you can, because everyone should be able to heal in times of need. At level 25 I’ve finally unlocked a tier of Gear Master as well, since it’s not a bad idea to have tougher armor. Other than that, it’s all Assassin abilities and, to a lesser extent, Hunter ones.
Your bow is still going to be useful to you with an Assassin build, so it’s definitely worth taking these Hunter abilities:
- Archery Master is useful in an obvious, general way. It increases your bow damage and helps you get back more Adrenaline, both of which are helpful. Your bow will do a lot more damage in combat than a regular melee attack, so you want to boost that damage by as much as possible. Thanks to the way Archery Master makes partial Adrenaline blocks recharge, it’s possible to do a regular assassination on an enemy, then spend an Adrenaline point to do a Hero Strike and finish them, then get your Adrenaline point back from the recharge. Not bad.
- Multi-Shot works well in open combat, when softening up enemy crews during naval combat, and during Conquest Battles. It pairs well with Slow Time, since you’ll need those extra seconds to line up your shot and fully draw the string without being attacked. It also works well with Poison, because you can intoxicate a whole bunch of enemies at the same time, reducing their damage and armor. If you’re about to leap across to an enemy ship, remember to fire some poison arrows, first.
- Predator Shot is helpful in the same way it was in Origins, in that you can remotely take out basic enemies pretty quickly without breaking stealth or even moving. It’s also pretty hilarious to remotely pilot your arrows. You could probably get by without it, but it’s nice to have the option, and, like Multi-Shot, pairs particularly well with Slow Time in open combat.
Those three skills are actually the only Hunter abilities I have active on my current build. I found that Sixth Sense wasn’t really worth spending a point on, and most of the other abilities I’ve tried have seemed more situational and prone to triggering alarms. I’ll likely unlock a few more once I’ve maxed the Assassin abilities I want.
Once you upgrade your spear, you’ll get access to a second melee ability wheel. It seems like an obvious move to have one wheel for combat and another for sneaking, and you should do that even if you’re making an Assassin build.
I have Poison, Slow Time, Second Wind, and Hero Strike on my combat wheel, and Slow Time, Vanish, Rush Assassination, and Hero Strike on my stealth wheel. Slow Time is only on the stealth wheel because I don’t have anything else that could go there, but if I ever add Call to Arms or Shadow of Nyx to my setup—two abilities that I haven’t used much but which I bet could open up a lot of fun new possibilities—I’ll put them there.
Now that you’ve made an Assassin build, it’s time to learn to use it. As a reminder, I’m playing on hard difficulty, and I actually think that’s a great way to get the most out of this kind of build. The key is to stay hidden whenever possible, poison everyone, and vanish at the drop of a hat. If you ever find yourself openly attacking an enemy with a melee weapon, you’re doing it wrong. Well, not wrong exactly, since that’ll probably work, but you could be doing things much better.
When you do get into a fight, parry more than you dodge. Parries knock surrounding enemies back, and will give you a moment of breathing room to plan your next move. Use Hero Strikes to lower the health on your toughest enemies, and bow headshots to finish them off.
Slow time, pull back for a multi-shot, then trigger a vanish flashbang. Hide in the bushes, then chain together three Rush Assassinations. Before he knows what’s happening, the high-level Mercenary who’d haughtily led a bunch of dudes to challenge you will be standing alone, wounded, with nowhere to go, just as your Hero Strike cooldown is almost up.
Odyssey is nicely flexible in the possible playstyles it allows, but you have to actively embrace your build to get the most out of that flexibility. You’re not a lug-headed warrior, wading into battle and Spartan Kicking everything in sight! You’re sneaky, so you gotta think sneaky. Scout out bases. Save up adrenaline points to combo-kill commanders with critical assassination and hero strike. Don’t burn supply caches until there’s no one around. And always, always hide the bodies.
Hopefully these tips help you become the most deadly assassin in all of ancient Greece. Good luck.