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Assassin’s Creed Odyssey: Nautical Nuggets

Red Thomas Posted:
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As I said in my previous article, I’m new to the Assassin’s Creed franchise, with Odyssey being my first since barely touching the original all those years ago.  One of the things I’ve noticed while searching the internet for tips is that there aren’t many, if any, articles discussing how to engage best in the naval portion of the game.

I haven’t spent nearly as much time in game as some, but here are a few tips I’ve picked up and wanted to pass along.

Fast Travel – Kind of an obvious mechanic, but not an obvious tip.  Hitting space bar lets you rack oars and set sail.  You travel faster, but I noticed I wasn’t getting any of the flotsam you see while rowing.  Collecting the floating debris nets you resources used in upgrading your ship and equipment.  Sailing is fine for when you need to get from A to B in a hurry, but I think you miss enough that it’s just not the go-to mode I’d expected it to be.  You can still be attacked by ships while under sail, but you have a little less time to respond to the hostile ship, which might also prevent you from getting a couple extra volleys of arrows off.  Thus, you should use it, but also know that sometimes faster isn’t better.

Traveling fast appears to mean you miss the chance to loot flotsam, missing free resources.

Speed Boost – Holding W on your keyboard expends energy to boost your speed for a short time.  The obvious use is to gain speed just before ramming a ship or for escaping if you find you’ve bitten off more than you can chew.  I’ve also found it handy for evading shots from other ships and for putting my galley in a position where I can fire on the enemy ship without them firing on me.  Boosting while turning in on a hostile ship can swing you along behind them and position you perfectly for arrow and javelin shots stern to bow.

Fire Arrows/Javelins – Get the fire brazier upgrade as soon as possible.  The damage over time is great, and the increased alpha damage is fantastic.  It took a bit to work out how exactly to use it because I wasn’t totally sure what the tip was saying right after I got the upgrade.  The gist is, if you’re holding the right mouse button down (as if you were about to shoot arrows) and hit R, you get fire arrows.  If you just hit R, you throw fire javelins.  Effectively, replace left-click with R when fire is charged to use it.

Lighting ships on fire does a lot of damage immediately, but also sets them on fire doing damage over time.

Boarding – Should you board?  Actually, not always.  I’ve been in several fights where I was outnumbered, and it was a close enough fight that I couldn’t just goof off.  That said, boarding has its advantages because boats have one or more loot boxes on board that can be accessed after clearing the deck of hostiles.  Boarding when you can will definitely get you more.  You’ll have a chance at gear from opening the chests, and you’ll always get a little Drachma.

Destroying Boats – Sometimes boarding isn’t tactically feasible.  In those cases, focus down the smallest ships first.  Once they’re dead in the water, either fire arrows at them or ram them to finish them off.  You’ll be able to loot the debris while dodging other ships, but you’ll miss out on looting the crates you get if boarding.  One of the reasons I often destroy ships instead of defeating them all and boarding in turn is because you occasionally aggro more boats or just end up realizing you need to run.  Destroying the smaller ships and looting the resulting debris ensures you leave every engagement a little ahead.

Sometimes destroying defeated boats is better than boarding. Looting the debris lets you run and still come out ahead in the engagement.

Change Shanties – Maybe this seems a little silly, but I really liked that I could hit X and change the sea shanties my crew was singing.  I’m just not as big a fan of some of their songs, so being able to skip the ones I don’t like is handy.  Also, if you get a new crew (eg, Daughters of Artemis) and want to checkout their unique shanties, that’s a quick way to sample them.

Avoid Damage – Obviously, you can hit Q during naval engagements to avoid taking as much damage from hostile arrows.  That’s not always the best option, though.  As I mentioned earlier, you can also speed boost to get out of opposing firing arcs.  Another option is to turn your ship’s bow towards the enemy when they fire.  The turn throws off their aim a little, and limits your profile, resulting in fewer hits.  You can also turn away from the enemy ship, but it seems less effective since you’re sailing with the arc of fire, instead of diving under it by making the more aggressive turn.

Upgrades – Spend the cash and resources to upgrade your ship.  It helps a lot.  Specifically have an upgrade path planned out and stick to it somewhat.  Sometimes it can be tempting to just purchase the upgrades you can afford, but that often puts you farther away from the next upgrade you needed.  One upgrade you always want to be working towards is Hull upgrades.  It betters your hull, but it opens up more slots for lieutenants, each of which give additional bonuses and are available on deck during boarding actions.  It’s a clear winner against all other options of the tier.  After that, I like rower stamina for maneuvering or running when needed, and then think fire braziers is the next clear choice.  After that, I think it’s play style with whether you go more armor, ramming upgrades, arrows or javelins.

Upgrading the hull lets you take more damage, but also gets you another slot for lieutenants.

I didn’t cover recruiting lieutenants, partly because that might make its own article.  There are so many available and it’s a complex enough subject that it really should be more than a single bullet point in this sort of article.  I may be covering that next, but the short tip is that you can either find them, get them through doing quests, or choke them out and recruit them while clearing enemy encampments.

Otherwise, that’s a general list of some of the interesting mechanics I’ve found while working my way through Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.   I’m sure there are more, but I thought I’d get these out as soon as I could, considering the lack of available guides I’ve seen online for this particular aspect of the game.

I will definitely say that I’ve enjoyed naval combat a great deal, and hope these small tips help you enjoy it, as well.  If nothing else, you now know there are more effective ways of defeating enemy ships than turning circles and swapping volleys of arrows back and forth until someone gets too many holes in their ship.  I’ve found ship-to-ship combat unexpectedly interesting in ACO, and hopefully you’re enjoying is much as I am.  If you haven’t yet, maybe this’ll help you get there!


Red Thomas

A veteran of the US Army, raging geek, and avid gamer, Red Thomas is that cool uncle all the kids in the family like to spend their summers with. Red lives in San Antonio with his wife where he runs his company and works with the city government to promote geek culture.