Assassin’s Creed Origins: Tips for Mastering Combat
Assassin’s Creed: Origins is a fresh new look for the Assassin’s Creed genre with both more sand and, thanks to the new combat system, more of the player’s own blood than ever before. The new combat system feels difficult, it feels unforgiving, but it also feels like the best new addition to the series in years, and when mastered it begins to feel like the powerful blend of skill and luck that we’ve always wanted.
Of course, part of that difficulty is a steep learning curve, so let’s talk about how to adapt, survive, and overcome the toughest enemies in Egypt.
Block, Parry, Dodge, and Rhythm
Your three basic abilities to respond to attacks in Assassin’s Creed: Origins are blocking, dodging, and parrying, and each one fits well into an enemy’s natural combo rhythm. At the start of every combat you’re going to want to focus on keeping your shields up, and then either looking for or creating an opening with a power attack, or parry.
Once you begin your combo you’ll usually have about three to five good light swings or two power attacks with a few light swings mixed in before the average enemy will retaliate with a counter-combo of their own. This will likely vary depending on how fast or slow your preferred weapon is, but it’s relatively easy to figure out once you begin your combo, just keep an eye on your opponent’s balance. When an enemy is leaning back or bent over, you’re generally good to continue your combo, but when they look like they’ve managed to lean forward off their heels you should expect an incoming counter combo. We’ve found that varying your combo with light and power attacks seems to extend the amount of time that the enemy is off balance, so don’t be afraid to switch it up a bit from light fast attacks on the fly, especially towards the end of a combo when the extra damage could finish off an enemy entirely before they can retaliate.
When an enemy delivers a counter-combo your defensive options open up. Generally, you can immediately toss up your shield, which will block damage, but usually prompts them to swing with a power attack, at which point you can either dodge, or if you have the parry skill you can try and time a shield parry that’ll open up the enemy for another series of attacks. The timing for a shield parry is a lot less forgiving than counters have been in pretty much every other Assassin’s Creed title, so you’ll need to practice quite a bit to get the timing right. We found that waiting until an enemy’s swing is at its absolute apex seemed to give a positive result most of the time, but it feels different depending on the enemy’s weapon. If you’re not confident in your parry skills, it’s usually better just to dodge and either switch targets or focus on stepping out of the enemy’s range as he continues his combo, then following up with another power attack.
Again, rhythm is the most important thing to keep in mind here, every enemy has one, and you’ll want to get familiar with how each enemy type moves so you know how far you can push your combo before throwing your shield up or getting out of dodge.
Know your Equipment
In Origins, your equipment matters, and it’s important to both prepare beforehand and have more than a few tricks up your sleeves for when things get scary. Your gear breaks down into four categories, including your selection of bows, the melee weapons you have on hand, your armor, and what tools you unlock via progression into the Seer skill tree.
Your melee weapons, your bows, and your shields are pretty straightforward, you’ll want to snag the weapons that best fit your playstyle, and that have enough damage to give you an edge. Weapons vary in their speed, reach, and in the special effects they bring to the battle, and there’s a heck of a lot of variance from your basic sword to a Warhammer.
Your weapon choice is largely based on how you like to fight. Clubs and warhammers tend to hit hard with a long reach, but are occasionally frustratingly slow, which encourages a careful approach with big payoffs for a single strike and an immediate retreat. Kopeshs and Swords tend to run the middle line, often balancing speed, reach, and medium damage to give you plenty of options against almost any opponent. Dual blades are focused
It’s easy to fall into the habit of thinking there’s one set of weapons that’s the best, but really it depends on your personal preference. Players that like to hit hard and duck out will find themselves attracted to clubs and warhammers, players that like to get in close and hit fast before ducking out of a deadly retaliation will enjoy the dual short swords as much as a player similar to a player that enjoys pointed safe strikes from a distance will like spears. So experiment, find one that you like, and don’t be afraid to get intimate with a new weapon type that has a particular status effect or bonus that sounds attractive.
We found ourselves particularly fond of weapons like the Viper’s Tooth, a Kopesh that inflicts both Bleed and Poison Damage on hit, giving it a hell of a bite, which is well complemented by the Kopesh’s balanced speed and reach. When paired with a sword or another weapon that allows you to restore health on kill, you can easily whittle down a few enemies with poison or other DoTs and then swap weapons to your health restore weapon to finish them off, which will keep your health constantly topped off and keep you in the fight.
Bows have a bit more of a specific where and when attached to them, but as you get proficient with each you’ll probably find a favorite for certain situations, and find that some are more flexible than you might think.
The Hunter and Predator bows are fantastic for clearing out groups of enemies before they even know you’re around, and serve as a great compliment to your hidden blade and stealth attacks for whittling down large groups of enemies before you kick off the party. Once you get used to aiming and pulling off headshots on the fly, they can both also be used to quickly disengage from an enemy to pull off a quick and dirty headshot to finish off a tough enemy quickly or to whittle down weaker guards as they rush in from the surrounding area.
Likewise, the Warrior and Light bows are great to use in the middle of combat, although they’re best used to either weaken enemy units in mass before moving in for the kill, or to dole out massive damage as you try to put distance between you and a particularly lively group of bad guys. In terms of stealth, these bows are best for situations when you know you’re going to be discovered as soon as you attack, so generally use a Predator or Hunter bow to nail a quick kill right off the bat, then swap to a Light or Warrior bow to pepper whoever’s left before they have a chance to retaliate.
Your armor is a practice in the art of prep time, when you first kick off on your sand-filled adventure your attacks are weak, and Bayek is about as squishy as a jar full of dates. So as soon as you have a spare moment you’re going to want to invest in farming materials to change that. Improving your chest piece gives you a massive bonus to health, and improving your bracers will increase your ranged and melee damage respectively.
Generally, you should always focus on leveling up your health first, because it really determines your key level of survivability, the damage boost for upgrading your bracers really isn’t significant if you can’t take a few solid hits. Once you feel like you’re at the point where you can at least survive taking a sword swing or two, then you can start focusing on DPS. Dodging and blocking attack can only get you so far, and between arrows, the occasional power attack, and the occasionally dodgy directional response of Bayek’s dodge, you’re inevitably going to get hit no matter how good you are, so make sure you have the armor to shake it off and rethink your strategy.
Farming is best accomplished near crossroads, highways, and plentiful hunting grounds which Senu will helpfully point out on your map. Keep an eye out for large groups of animals, trade caravans, and lonely wagons, which can be taken out quickly from the back of your horse or camel with relative ease.
Tools of the Trade:
Your tools are easily your most valuable early game commodity, because they both help your recover on the fly, and they can help you create openings on large groups or particularly difficult enemies. To that end, you should pick up smoke bombs and fire bombs as soon as you have the extra ability points to spare.
Smoke bombs are the king of breaking up combat encounters that would normally leave you bleeding in the sand. Throw a smoke bomb at any time during a battle and you’ll be able to stun lock any nearby enemies and break the line of sight of nearby archers. This gives you quite a bit of time to work on slashing your way through a few key enemies, or to whip out your bow and start taking headshots. You can even use the smoke to run, and play guerilla warfare to whittle down a group of enemies from stealth.
Likewise, Fire Bombs are a great way to trigger environmental hazards to wipe out whole squads of enemies that are making your life miserable. So, keep your eye out for piles of hay and debris, red oil barrels, and anything else that looks remotely flammable and don’t be afraid to throw as many bombs as necessary to whittle down your opponents. The biggest advantage these bombs have going for them is that fire will continue to burn an enemy after the first throw, giving you a chance to layer on some damage in a wide area, and then focus on blocking and dodging incoming attacks while your enemy is steadily losing health.
Later on your tools give you a number of quality of life upgrades that make whittling down a force of enemies much easier, but these two tools work the best for turning a deadly, unavoidable combat encounter into an easy win.
Use DoTs like Fire and Poison whenever possible
Fire Bombs aren’t the only way to apply damage over time (DoT) effects, and knowing what kind of DoTs are available to you can make even difficult fights a lot easier. Aside from fire, you also have access to poison, bleeding, and the damage you can eventually apply to your smoke bombs. Stack all four dots together and pretty much any enemy will melt into a pile of pain, focus on applying even just one or two and you’ll find almost any battle is a breeze.
DoT’s allow you to deal continual damage with only a few careful sword swings or a single tool, which gives you that much more time to focus on dodging, parrying, and blocking attacks, which in turn keeps you one foot farther from the grave. Applying them often and then retreating behind your shield is a great strategy for doling out massive damage from the safety of a quality turtle shell.
Keep an eye on your weapons to look for bonuses like poison or bleeding, and even if you don’t plan on using that weapon for the entire fight, don’t be afraid to swap to it to apply a bit of extra hurt to a powerful group of enemies before swapping back to your weapon of choice or simply running away while they bleed to death. You’re an assassin as much as a warrior, and as long as your target ends up dead it really doesn’t matter how many times you have to cut them.
Even the Odds
The thing about Bayek, is that early on he’s really a glass cannon more than an insurmountable force, so before you ever enter a combat encounter you should focus on scouting the area using Senu, and then using that knowledge to take down as many enemies as possible, by whatever means in necessary.
So keep your head on a swivel, watch where enemies are, and either use stealth and your bow to wipe them out entirely, or focus on luring enemies into areas where the environment is on your side. Every enemy that dies before you have to draw your sword is an enemy that can’t bury their own sword in your back. So fight dirty, and even the odds, as much as you can before the battle starts, and when things get dicey, don’t be afraid to break off from the melee to try something different like a fire bomb or a dose of berserk. You’re making bodies, you’re not dueling in front of a live studio audience, so focus on using every available resource to your advantage to even the odds.
Use your Mount
When all else fails, don’t be afraid to cheat, bringing a mount to a battle isn’t always ideal, but pretty much any battle that happens in a fairly open area can be made a thousand times easier by bringing your camel to the party. Mounted combat allows you to quickly engage with an enemy via a swift slash of your weapon, and then immediately break away from their counterattack, allowing you to literally ride circles around your foes while you hack and slash from the safety of your saddle.
The trick is to both choose weapons with poison and bleeding, and to get in the habit of moving in small, but not too small circles around your opponents. You should be trying to stay within about a ten meter radius from your target, any farther away and they’ll likely pull out a bow to start peppering you with arrows, and closer and they can potentially hit you with a power attack and knock you off your horse. Find the balance that’s just right and they’ll be so focused on being staggered, stuck switching between their weapons, or still halfway through an attack, all of which gives you plenty of time to pop in dole out a few key slashes on the fly, and then pop out.
Camel based warfare brings Origin’s combat to a whole new level.
There’s no Shame in Retreat
Unfortunately, every Assassin has to learn when they’re undeniably outmatched, Origins is very much a number based RPG, and as a result you need to make sure to stack the numbers on your side before you enter a battle. That’s why gear is just as important as actual skill in a game like this.
That said, there are a lot of situations where fighting an enemy just isn’t an option because your numbers, specifically your level, is way outclassed by another enemy. Once an enemy gets to be about four levels over yours they’ll get a scary red skull over their head, at which point you should just do your best to drop a smoke bomb and run the hell away or otherwise avoid the encounter entirely.
These enemies take significantly less damage than other enemies, don’t seem to respond as well to parries, blocks, and power attacks, and in general can slice even a well-equipped Bayek to pieces in a few sword swings, or worse, a few well-placed arrows. If you’re fighting one of these enemies in a group of lower leveled bad guys you can sometimes still clear out the lower level mobs, but it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to finish off the big guy without dying. You can occasionally use your hidden blade to deal massive damage to these enemies, run and hide, then rinse and repeat, but it’s often not worth the time and risk it takes to pull it off.
There’s no doubt that it’s meant to both challenge the player and show Bayek’s growing skill level as an assassin so players can’t slaughter everything in the first act of the game, but if you aren’t paying attention it can make for a lot of extremely dead Bayek’s across Egypt.