One of the new and most impressive additions to Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is the Conquest Battles. These massive battles of 150 Spartans against 150 Athenians take the series’ reworked combat system we first saw in Assassin’s Creed Origins to the next level.

The improved combat also introduces active abilities for both your primary weapon and bow, which should help you overcome the sheer amount of enemies you face during one of these battles.

I got to fight in a Conquest Battle on the Gamescom 2018 show floor. It was quite deadly, as in I died… a lot. At first, it was because I had to re-learn how to play the game since it’s been awhile since I played the previous game. But then, I started dying because the combat was way more difficult than I expected.

Everyone who played Assassin’s Creed Origins knows that you can no longer survive just by blocking, countering and tossing enemies off of rooftops. You have to be smart, resourceful and show some real skill if you want to take down enemies quickly.

The same is true in Odyssey’s Conquest Battles, only multiplied by 150.

Fighting alongside and against so many people at once is tricky. Enemies can easily surround you, and fending off more than two at a time can be a real challenge. Luckily, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey gives you new tools to try and tip and balance in your favor.

These are the new active abilities and special skills Kassandra (we do not speak of Alexios) can use during combat.

Assassin's Creed Odyssey Conquest Battles

I’ve got to play around with a few of them. First, you have the signature Spartan move – the Spartan Kick. This special attack sends enemies flying backward, damaging them and giving you some time to breathe.

Shield Breaker lets you rip a shield out of an enemy’s hands and toss it away. After upgrading it, the shield explodes into metallic shards when you throw it, damaging nearby enemies – a handy upgrade to have when surrounded by dozens of angry Athenians.

The third one I had at my disposal was Rings of Chaos, but I hardly used that one. It creates a blast that stuns and damages anyone around you. It sounds useful, but in reality, doesn’t help much during combat. It could be that after an upgrade or two, the stun lasts longer and you gives a significant window of opportunity.

Last by not least is Second Wind, which is by far the best one. It’s a simple healing ability, but it saved my life so many times during the demo I lost count.

Your bow also has its own set of abilities. The only one I got to try was Spread Arrow, which lets you fire three arrows at the same time. However, I know there are others that allow you to do anything you could do in Origins, like shoot Predator arrows and fire arrows.

Assassin's Creed Odyssey Abilities

To use these abilities, you first need to charge up your super meter. It works pretty much as it did in Origins – you fill it up during combat by attacking or dodging in time. In Odyssey, however, the super meter is used more like mana – each ability costs energy to use. It’s not a groundbreaking feature, but it’s nice to see the super meter has evolved beyond the overpower moves.

Another change to the combat I noticed was the lack of shields. The enemies had plenty of them, but Kassandra didn’t have one of her own. Ubisoft has already confirmed that the shield won’t return in Odyssey, but now that I had a chance to try the game, I can actually see how different (and more difficult) it made the combat.

You can now only dodge incoming attacks and arrows, and you can’t do it forever. As a result, combat feels more immediate – you can no longer hide behind a shield, so you have to be fully aware of enemy positions and movement.

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s combat is taking a big step forward in both difficulty and flexibility. The new abilities, which you can respec at any time, are a great addition to the formula. I also love how the new focus on dodging and offense makes everything much more intense, but also tactical.

The game is coming out on October 5, for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

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