Assassin's Creed Odyssey's mercenary system adds a totally new dynamic to the open world game. Break the law anywhere in Greece, and you may end up being hunted by mercenaries -- powerful enemies with their own abilities, equipment, strengths, and weaknesses.
In this guide, we're going to go over what the mercenary system actually is, how it works, and why you should make the most of it.
Assassin's Creed Odyssey mercenary system - How does it work?
As mentioned, mercenaries are boss-like enemies who are deployed when a bounty is placed on your head. As long as that bounty remains, they will attempt to hunt you down and kill you.
How do you get a bounty?
You get a bounty by breaking the law.
There are several ways to break the law in Assassin's Creed Odyssey:
- Stealing - Take anything from containers or chests that are marked with a red dot and it's classed as stealing. If you're seen doing this, by an enemy or a normal civilian, then you may get a bounty.
- Murder - Killing innocents or killing non-aggressive enemies in public will be counted as murder. If you're spotted, you'll get a bounty. Killing bandits is fine.
- Trespassing - If you stray into enemy territory and you're spotted -- even if you don't engage in combat -- you may receive a bounty.
- Sinking ships - Sinking non-aggressive ships while out at sea, whether they're Athenian, Spartan, or merchant ships, will often result in a bounty. Sinking pirate ships (ships with black sails) is fine.
How do bounties work?
The more crimes you commit, the higher the bounty on your head will climb. Committing more serious crimes, like murder and sinking ships, results in larger bounties.
The red bar at the bottom right of the screen indicates your bounty level. There are five levels in total. At level 1, only one mercenary will be sent after you, at level 2, up to two mercenaries will hunt you -- and so on. At higher levels, there's a greater chance of encountering more powerful mercenaries.
How do you get rid of bounties?
To remove a bounty, you have three options:
- Pay it off - Simply open up the menu and pay off your bounty with your own drachmae (in-game money). Obviously, the higher your bounty is, the more you'll have to pay. This is the easiest way to remove your bounty.
- Kill the bounty sponsor(s) - If you have a bounty, open up your map and you should see one or more red icons that look like coin purses. These represent 'sponsors' -- the people who are paying to have you killed. If you find them and kill them, your bounty will drop. Just make sure that you aren't seen murdering them, or you could end up with an even higher bounty than the one you're trying to remove.
- Stay out of trouble - Don't commit any crimes for a while and your bounty will drop over time, eventually disappearing. Of course, you'll also have to avoid any mercenaries who are hunting you down. The higher your bounty is, the longer it takes to fall, so this method requires patience.
How do mercenaries find you?
When you have a bounty on your head, mercenaries who want to claim it will try to hunt you down. Mercenaries exist in the world of Assassin's Creed Odyssey at all times, but only some of them will decide to hunt you. As such, there will be times where you may run across a mercenary who isn't hunting you, even if you have a bounty. These 'friendly' mercenaries will be marked with a grey helmet icon, rather than a red one.
Any mercenary that does decide to hunt you down will travel to your location and investigate. You can hide from mercenaries, but they're more intelligent than regular enemies, and will continue to hunt you even if you escape the area without being seen. Mercenaries will even follow you out to sea in their own ships.
Assassin's Creed Odyssey mercenaries - How to beat them
Mercenaries are some of the toughest enemies in Assassin's Creed Odyssey -- even low level mercenaries won't go down without a fight.
Early in the game, fighting against mercenaries can be very difficult. This is because your equipment isn't very good, and you don't have many, if any, abilities to fall back on. As such, it's best to simply avoid breaking the law as much as possible during the initial hours of your adventure.
Once you've gained a few levels, picking up abilities and better gear along the way, you'll stand a much better chance. At first, it's best to only pick fights with mercenaries who are either below or equal to your level. Hone your skills against these guys and you'll be on the right track.
Sooner or later, you'll find the confidence to go up against mercenaries who are slightly stronger than you. You'll do less damage and they'll hit harder, but with the right skills and some patience, you'll soon be able to beat them.
However, no matter how confident you are in your fighting prowess, some mercenaries will simply be too strong to kill. These mercenaries will have a red skull over their head, indicating that they're way above your current level. You'll do next to no damage and you'll likely be killed in one or two hits. Avoid these mercenaries at all costs until you've reached the same level, or thereabouts.
Mercenary strengths and weaknesses
Learning a mercenary's strengths and weaknesses can make fighting them a lot easier.
Mercenaries come with their own perks and abilities. Some are more vulnerable to stealth attacks, while others may travel the world with an animal companion by their side.
There are three ways to unlock information on mercenaries that you haven't encountered yet:
- See them with your own eyes - Run into an undiscovered mercenary while exploring the world and their information will be unlocked on the mercenary screen. It's as simple as that.
- Find their information on a dead mercenary - Killing a mercenary often automatically reveals the identity of another mercenary who was previously unknown.
- Scout them with your eagle - Use Ikaros, your eagle, to reveal the identity of a nearby mercenary. All you have to do is aim Ikaros' sights at them, as you would a normal enemy, and their information will be added to the mercenary screen.
Assassin's Creed Odyssey mercenary rewards
The mercenary system in Assassin's Creed Odyssey provides some of the best rewards in the game. By killing mercenaries that are higher tier than you, you'll progress through the mercenary ranks. These tiers range from tier 9 (lowest) to tier 1 (highest). You can find the tiers in the mercenary menu.
Again, defeating a mercenary higher up these ranks replaces them with your hero. The goal is to reach tier 1, and become the most powerful mercenary in all of Greece.
For rising through these mercenary ranks, you're rewarded with specific bonuses. You get a new bonus every time you reach a new tier.
- Tier 8 bonus: Reduces blacksmith prices by 20%
- Tier 7 bonus: Increases rewards from contracts and bounties by 20%
- Tier 6 bonus: Reduces engraving costs by 20%
- Tier 5 bonus: Reduces bounty removal cost by 20%
- Tier 4 bonus: Reduces ship upgrade costs by 20%
- Tier 3 bonus: Reduces equipment upgrade costs by 20%
- Tier 2 bonus: Increases your chance of finding better loot across the board by 10%
Mercenaries carry some of the best equipment that you'll find in Assassin's Creed Odyssey. Killing them allows you to loot it, and of course, the stronger the mercenary, the better the loot.
The loot that a mercenary has is displayed alongside their information in the mercenary menu. If you see that a mercenary has an especially powerful weapon or armour piece that you want, it may be a good idea to track them down, even if they're not pursuing you.
All loot gained from mercenaries will be at least rare quality, with higher level mercenaries having a better chance of dropping epic or even legendary equipment.
Recruiting mercenaries for your ship
As with any human enemy, if you can knock a mercenary out instead of killing them, you can recruit them for your ship. High level mercenaries often come with some really good ship perks, making them worthy lieutenants.
There are three ways to knock an enemy out:
- Use non-lethal attacks - Abilities such as Spartan Kick and equipment like paralysing arrows are non-lethal, meaning that they won't kill your opponent. Use these to finish an enemy off and you'll knock them out instead of killing them.
- Unequip your weapon - Sheathe your weapon and you'll fight with your bare hands. Unarmed attacks are always counted as non-lethal.
- Use a knockout assassination - Using the default control scheme, pushing L3 instead of triangle will give you a knockout assassination. These work just like regular assassinations, but they obviously don't kill your target. However, knockout assassinations do less damage, so more often than not, they won't be enough to knock a mercenary out in one hit.
Need more help with Assassin's Creed Odyssey? Check out our beginner's guide if you're just getting started, or if you want some extra hints, tips, and tricks. Check out our full skills and abilities guide if you want advice on how to spend your ability points.