Assassin’s Creed Odyssey: Power through the grind with our leveling guide

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey isn’t the first game in the series to have an RPG leveling system — Origins had a similar setup last year — but it’s incredibly important in Odyssey. How important? If you don’t actively seek out ways to earn experience points, you’ll fall way behind and have an extremely hard, if not impossible, time completing the story. So, in the spirit of helping you through the grind, we’ve put together a leveling guide that should hopefully eliminate some of your hard times in Ancient Greece.

Check the recommended level or level range

If you open your map, you’ll notice that each landmass has a level recommendation. The lowest-level areas, where you start, are under 10, while a few areas go up to the mid-40s and even 50. Keep in mind that although the loot is better in tougher areas, you’re unlikely to survive for very long if you go exploring while severely under-leveled. This includes sailing your ship near high-level areas, as enemy ships will mirror the level of enemies ashore.

Know that story missions aren’t enough

Assassin's Creed Odyssey review

In our Assassin’s Creed Odyssey review, we emphasized that you won’t be able to sustain progression from just completing story missions, especially as you get deeper into the game. On multiple occasions, there are four-plus level jumps between story missions. This means that you won’t be able to breeze through Odyssey. We recommend keeping up with the required level of the missions, if not one or two higher. Keep in mind that some mainline missions see an increase in level if you pass the original number. That’s OK, though, since this doesn’t affect future mission recommended levels.

Complete side quests

If you’re looking for a way to level up while still experiencing some fairly interesting content, dedicated side quests are a good option. Side quests are marked on the map with exclamation points. All of them have a story element to them and some of them even lead to unlocking new mainline missions (weird, right?) or additional side quests. Many of these side quests unlock as you complete story missions in the same area. Most importantly, side quests dole out as much and sometimes more experience than story missions. Essentially, completing side quests is just as important as story quests during the grind.

Raid all locations

Side quests are finite, though. There’s typically a handful of secondary quests for each level, but after a while, they won’t even be enough to keep you at a suitable level. That’s where all the in-between stuff comes in. All throughout Ancient Greece are enemy strongholds. Some of these are large Spartan, Athenian, or bandit bases, while others are single buildings or even environmental landmarks. You don’t have to walk far to find opportunities to earn chunks of experience points. Fortresses are marked on the map with a red symbol, while Leaders (powerful enemy houses) are marked with a blue symbol.

Often times you’ll stumble on enemy locations not previously marked on your map. You’ll know this when Alexios or Kassandra remarks that they should be quiet there. You can press L3 (down on the left thumbstick) to show location objectives. Sometimes objectives include killing an enemy captain and/or polemarch, along with looting treasure chests and/or picking up key items and burning war supplies. Other times it’s just looting chests. It depends on the location. Smaller locations with less or no enemies lead to fewer experience points, but they are still worth clearing out. It’s easy to snag 1,000 or more experience points for just a couple minutes’ work.

Use Ikaros to find stuff to do

We mentioned this in our Assassin’s Creed Odyssey beginner’s guide but it’s also worth mentioning here: Don’t forget that if you’re having trouble finding new locations, switching to Ikaros (your eagle) is a good way to zero in on buildings, enemies, treasure, and other points of interest. Send Ikaros to the sky by pressing up on the d-pad. You’ll want to activate stationary mode with L2/LT. From there you can swivel the camera and Ikaros will catch anything of interest that you hover over.

Initiate conquest battles

One of the largest sources of experience points comes from conquest battles, the new full-scale battlefield fights that see you slashing through a large group of Athenian or Spartan soldiers alongside CPU allies. Each area has a conquest meter, shown on the map and bottom of the screen, that will decrease as you kill enemy Leaders, steal/burn enemy supplies, and kill enemy soldiers. A few mainline missions are conquest battles, but most of them are optional, triggered by your own attention to detail when clearing out enemy bases and completing side missions. This often leads to lowering an enemy’s grip on a region and once the meter moves down to vulnerable, two conquest battles will be available (they are marked on your map).

One of these icons represents your defense, while the other indicates your offense. While a bit harder, you should always choose to attack, as it nets you more experience points. In the early going, you can earn about twice the experience points you would for a normal mission. As you get later in the game, conquest battle rewards are massive, in the mid-30,000s. You should always be mindful of lowering the conquest meter. If it’s halfway depleted but your next story mission is in another area, it’s smart to stick around and chip away at the meter before moving on.

Level your gear

Your gear levels matter, too. If you’re level 25 but all of your gear is level 20, you aren’t going to be as prepared to take on level 25 enemies. Although your attack and health increase with each level advancement, it’s always best to keep your gear at or really close to your overall level. One surefire way to do this is to upgrade or purchase gear at the blacksmith (if you haven’t picked up any useful gear recently).

You can also prepare for the future at the blacksmith. Interestingly, the blacksmith often sells gear at one level higher than your current level. While you cannot equip gear that eclipses your current level, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy it. Once you level up, you’ll have new gear to equip right away. It’s a forward-thinking strategy that pays off, and one you can continue to use throughout the adventure.

Challenge mercenaries at the Arena

Assassin's Creed Odyssey review

Once you’re level 20 or higher, head to the Dikte Plateau in the Pephka region — found in the southeast portion of the map — and speak to Maion to unlock the “They Just Want Cruelty” quest. You should now have a map marker to find the Arena, where you can fight five boss-level Champions or any unlocked mercenaries in the Mercenary menu. Fighting mercenaries in general earns you solid XP, but challenging them at the Arena saves time, as you take them on in one place instead of fast-traveling around to find them.

The five quest Champions are your best bet for leveling up fast; each grants a huge amount of XP for defeating them. Their levels are 22, 29, 36, 43, and 50, and we recommend taking each on when you’re at or just above their level, which will make the fight harder but also increase the amount of XP you get. Of course, be ready for five tough brawls: Each battle starts with multiple waves of standard enemies to drain your health, followed by the Champions themselves, who each have unique fighting styles that you’ll have to overcome.

Take on gold contracts

A series of bounties and contracts in Assassin's Creed Odyssey.
Michael Hicks/Digital Trends

When all else fails and you cannot find anything to do, head over to the message board — marked on the map by a three-line symbol — and pick up contracts. Each contract rewards you with XP or rare materials for better gear, and the color behind each icon indicates the amount of XP or quality of the loot. Gold XP contracts are worth seeking out, while purple gains are only decent, and blue or gray are far less enticing. The main negative is that these quests are truly about level grinding, as they have no story connection beyond the terse description in the contract.

If you don’t want to clutter your quest log, choose only gold XP contracts. Or, fast travel to each city’s message board and take all untimed missions that don’t have a distance marker (e.g., “Lakonian Vessels” or “The Fear of Arrows” in the above screenshot). These contracts will ask you to complete X conquest battles, or kill X leaders, or loot X treasures. You’ll fulfill the requirements naturally as you play, giving you unexpected XP boosts while you stick with more interesting story missions, conquests, or naval battles.

Try story creator mode

If you’re burned out on your Odyssey grind and want a change of pace, give user-created Story Creator Mode missions a try. These missions let anyone build their own missions, add any characters they want, write their own dialogue, and add any assortment of enemies to fight. Once you finish, any XP you earn will transfer over to your main game. There were “XP farming” missions while the mode was in beta, but Ubisoft quickly patched it out, so the amount of XP will depend on the difficulty and length of the mission.

To access these missions, go to Options and toggle the mode on. Then, go to the Quests menu in-game and select the See Stories icon to see a menu of all available content. Each Story will show the number of plays, user rating, themed tags, and average completion time, so you know what to expect before going in. As with any user-driven game (Exhibit A: Mario Maker 2), Stories vary wildly in quality, and certainly won’t be canon to the main story; on the other hand, they offer fun, often-absurd scenarios and battles that normally wouldn’t fit into Ubisoft’s super-serious historical sims.

Pay to play faster

A Ubisoft Store page where gamers can buy permanent XP increases.
Michael Hicks/Digital Trends

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is about the journey as much as the destination. Ideally, exploring the world and completing side quests, conquests, contracts, and raids until you’re ready to take on the next main mission will be part of the fun for you. But if none of our leveling tips sound appealing, and you really just want to jump from one main mission to the rest, you can buy a permanent 50% XP boost for 1,000 Helix credits on the Ubisoft Store, which can be found on the main menu. This will greatly limit the need for grinding, though enemies will also level up 50% faster as they scale to keep up with your level.

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