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What are the best skills to unlock in Assassin's Creed Valhalla? The open world adventure has a massive skill tree to explore, and weaving your way across its many, many branches can be daunting. With that in mind, we've broken down every core skill that you'll find in Assassin's Creed Valhalla.

In this Assassin's Creed Valhalla guide, you'll find our recommendations for which skills you should pursue, and which you should probably avoid... At least until later in the game.

How to Unlock Skills in Assassin's Creed Valhalla

Actually unlocking skills in Assassin's Creed Valhalla is a straightforward process. As you play through the game, completing quests and beating enemies nets you exp. Gain enough exp, and you'll 'level up' (although there is no actual 'level' to keep track of). You're awarded two skill points whenever you level up, which you can spent to unlock nodes on the skill tree.

The skill tree is made up of two kinds of skill nodes: stat boost nodes, which increase your character's base stats, and core skill nodes, which grant you a core skill. This guide is based on the latter.

You can only unlock nodes which are connected to nodes that you have already purchased, and to begin with, much of the skill tree is covered in fog so that you can't plan too far ahead. Hopefully this guide will help in that regard.

It's also worth noting that you can reset your skill points at any time, at no cost of any resources. Simply hold down the square button (by default) on the node that you want to reset. Any purchased nodes leading up to it will also be reset, and your skill points will be refunded. This system lets you experiment as much as you like.

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Best Skills in Assassin's Creed Valhalla

Below is a list of every core skill in Assassin's Creed Valhalla.

Skills are split between three different categories:

  • Bear Skills (coloured red, the Northern part of the skill tree)
  • Raven Skills (coloured yellow, the South West part of the skill tree)
  • Wolf Skills (coloured blue, the South East part of the skill tree)

There are 38 core skills in total.

In this guide, we'll confirm what each core skill does, and we'll also give it a rating. Our rating is based on the usefulness of the skill.

- A near useless skill. Avoid until you've got everything else, if possible.
- An okay skill in specific situations, but it's not a priority.
- A decent skill that's probably worth picking up.
- A very good skill that can really bolster your style of play.
- One of the best skills in the game. Essential, or close to it.

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Bear Skills (Red)

Bear skills focus on direct combat. If you like to be in the thick of battle, then you should prioritise this part of the skill tree.

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Skill Type: Active Attack

What It Does: Enemies who are knocked down can be attacked with a special 'stomp' move, which deals high damage.

Our Rating:

Stomp is a great way to deal big damage to all kinds of enemies. However, knocking your opponent to the ground isn't always easy. Bigger opponents and some bosses simply can't be knocked down, lessening the overall effectiveness of Stomp. But still, against weaker foes, specifically in raids and large battles, Stomp can really help you thin the ranks very quickly.

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Dual Swap

Skill Type: Active

What It Does: Lets you swap weapons (including shields) between your two hands without having to go into the equipment menu.

Our Rating:

Dual Swap is a deceptively decent skill. Being able to swap your weapons with a simple button combination opens up a lot options mid-combat. For example, if you're dual wielding an axe in your main hand and shield in your other, using Dual Swap instantly lets you switch to a more defensive style of play. Or you could try equipping both a fast dagger and a powerful hammer, and switching between them when your opponent is vulnerable. There are a lot of possibilities to experiment with.

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Berserker's Mettle

Skill Type: Passive

What It Does: You won't lose Adrenaline if you're hit by an enemy's attack (only the first attack counts).

Our Rating:

Berserker's Mettle can be kind of useful during a tough fight, but it's not really a skill that you should prioritise. Gaining Adrenaline is quite easy once you're used to the flow of combat, so there'll come a point where you won't have to worry too much about losing a partially filled bar.

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Heavy Dual Wield

Skill type: Passive

What It Does: Lets you wield two heavy (two-handed) weapons at once, or one heavy weapon and one light (one-handed) weapon together.

Our Rating:

Heavy Dual Wield can fundamentally change how you play the game. While dual wielding a heavy weapon reduces its overall damage, you can explore a lot of effective options, like pairing a shield with a heavy axe or great sword for a rock solid mix of attack and defence. This is a great skill that everyone should consider, if only to broaden your horizons.

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Skill Type: Passive

What It Does: Performing a finishing move has a chance to make weak nearby enemies cower in fear, which temporarily stops them from doing anything.

Our Rating:

Terror really comes into its own during raids or big battles, where lesser enemies can surround you. This skill can give you some breathing room, while also opening up more enemies to your assault. Combined with other skills, like Stomp, you can cleave through a lot of weak opponents very quickly.

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Light Bow Combo

Skill Type: Passive

What It Does: Increases the damage that your Light Bow arrows inflict if you hit your target multiple times in succession.

Our Rating:

Light Bow Combo is a must-have skill if the Light Bow is your ranged weapon of choice. The increased damage means that most enemies will crumble before you if your shots are accurate. A very effective bonus.

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Battlefield Cremation

Skill Type: Passive

What It Does: Kill an enemy with a fire attack and their corpses will burn, damaging enemies who come too close.

Our Rating:

Battlefield Cremation can work wonders against large groups of enemies — assuming that you have a weapon that's on fire. The fire itself spreads quite far, so it's easy to lure enemies into the blaze by positioning yourself correctly. The only issue with this skill is that it's very situational. It's obviously useless in one-on-one boss fights, and in big open battlefields, getting the fire to actually spread can be more hassle than it's worth.

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Perfect Attack

Skill Type: Active

What It Does: Attacking with proper timing increases your damage.

Our Rating:

Perfect Attack is an easy skill to recommend. It rewards careful timing during your combos, as linking together attacks at just the right speed results in increased damage. The damage increase itself isn't anything amazing, but it all adds up — especially during tougher one-on-one fights.

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Warrior Takedown

Skill Type: Active

What It Does: Instead of silently assassinating an enemy, you can brutally murder them, alerting all nearby enemies and filling your Adrenaline bar based on how many foes you've engaged.

Our Rating:

If you can't be bothered with stealth and you just want to face your enemies head-on, Warrior Takedown is the skill for you. If there are a lot of enemies around, you can fill your entire Adrenaline bar for the fight ahead, which can be a big help. Not a bad way to start a brawl!

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Parry Damage

Skill Type: Passive

What It Does: Makes parries deal a small amount of damage.

Our Rating:

Parry Damage is an okay way to deal some extra damage if you're good at parrying an enemy's attacks. The damage that it deals isn't much, but it can be enough to help chip away at bosses, or even finish off weaker foes.

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Adrenaline Fiend

Skill Type: Passive

What It Does: Increases your damage and attack speed when you have at least one Adrenaline bar filled. The effect grows for every additional Adrenaline bar that's full.

Our Rating:

Adrenaline Fiend is a rock solid skill to have, especially once you've unlocked a few extra Adrenaline bars. The damage increase isn't huge, but the attack speed bonus is definitely noticeable. The only downside to this skill is that it requires you to save your Adrenaline instead of spending it on special attacks, which can be a bit counterproductive depending on the kind of fight that you're in.

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Arrow Volley

Skill Type: Active Attack

What It Does: Lets you shoot several arrows at once by holding down the corresponding button with a Light Bow equipped. Doing so uses up those additional arrows and takes a chunk of stamina.

Our Rating:

Arrow Volley can be useful against tougher enemies with larger health bars — assuming you have enough arrows to make it work. The damage that you can rack up from this skill is significant, and the stamina cost doesn't really matter as long as you're careful. An effective attack to have in your arsenal, but it'll burn through your Light Bow ammo very quickly.

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Sprint Bash

Skill Type: Passive

What It Does: Sprinting lets you push NPCs (and enemies) out of the way and smash through breakable objects, like weak wooden walls, doors, or even jars and crates.

Our Rating:

Sprint Bash is a fun skill to have, but it's far from essential. Being able to shove your way through a crowd of enemies can be a boon, but realistically, if you're trying to escape a fight then you should probably be running in the opposite direction. At least sprinting through breakable doors saves you some time.

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Raven Skills (Yellow)

Raven skills focus on stealth and trickery. If you like to mix a lot of stealth into your style of play, you should prioritise this part of the skill tree.

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Skill Type: Passive

What It Does: Attacking an enemy from behind makes them stagger more quickly.

Our Rating:

You can't really go wrong with having Backstab in your arsenal for when those hulking enemies show up. The increased stagger damage can be significant when fighting tougher opponents, especially if you can force them into a stunned state and pull off a finishing move. That said, some enemies make it incredibly difficult to get around to their backs during a fight — specifically faster foes who like to circle around your position. A good skill, but situational.

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Brush With Death

Skill Type: Passive

What It Does: Performing a dodge just before an enemy attack hits slows down time.

Our Rating:

Brush With Death is easily one of the best skills in the game. The timing needed to activate the slowdown effect isn't as strict as you might think, and pulling it off lets you get at least two or three free hits in on your opponent. It's no exaggeration to say that Brush With Death can change the tide of a fight completely as long as you have the skill to make good use of it. Essential for those who want to maximise their effectiveness in battle.

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Predator Bow Combo

Skill Type: Passive

What It Does: Landing multiple headshots with a Predator Bow increases damage.

Our Rating:

The Predator Bow is built for sniping, and Predator Bow Combo makes that play style all the more deadly. That said, if you're hitting headshots anyway, you're already doing a lot of damage — often enough to kill most enemies outright. As such, this skill is best utilised against bosses or elite foes, but only if you have the time and space to actually fire off multiple headshots.

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Counter Roll

Skill Type: Active

What It Does: Lets you counter unblockable attacks with a roll that takes you behind the enemy.

Our Rating:

Counter Roll would be one of the best skills in the game, if not for the fact that some unblockable attacks will still deal damage even if you perform the roll. As such, this skill is a little bit inconsistent, but it's still incredibly useful once you've got the hang of it. Mastering the Counter Roll lets you deal chunky damage to elite enemies and bosses, as full, uninterrupted combos are possible when facing your opponent's back.

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Skill Type: Passive

What It Does: When you kill an enemy with a poison attack, the poison spreads to other enemies via the corpse.

Our Rating:

Miasma is a deadly skill to have when fighting groups of foes in a confined space. The poison spreads quickly and deals good damage, but this skill is obviously useless in one-on-one duels. It can also be difficult to get the poison to spread in large, open areas, where your foes have a lot of room to move around. Still, when it works, it's very effective.

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Explosive Corpse

Skill Type: Active

What It Does: Hold down the corresponding button to plant explosive powder in the corpse of an enemy. The body will explode if it's investigated by another foe.

Our Rating:

Explosive Corpse would be a good skill if not for the fact that it's mapped to the same button that you press to lock on to enemies. You'll find yourself planting powder instead of locking to the nearest foe, which can be a disastrous mistake to make when you're surrounded. Still, Explosive Corpse is a decent tool to have if you utilise a more stealthy style of play — it's just a shame that the controls often bugger it up.

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Guided Arrow

Skill Type: Active Attack

What It Does: Lets you control a Predator Bow arrow mid-flight.

Our Rating:

Guided Arrow is a deadly skill. Predator Bows are already made for sniping at long range, and this skill lets you apply some ridiculous accuracy to your shots — perfect for hunting or taking out a single target. Aim for the head, and watch the bodies hit the floor as any remaining enemies panic. It does take a little bit of practice to get used to the arrow's momentum, however.

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Advanced Assassination

Skill Type: Active Attack

What It Does: Lets you assassinate elite enemies with one strike via a timing-based button press.

Our Rating:

Advanced Assassination is an absolute must for anyone who wants to play stealthy. The timing requirement can be a little tricky, but it's a small price to pay for an attack that instantly kills almost any opponent.

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Assassin's Cantrip

Skill Type: Active Attack

What It Does: Press the corresponding button to drop a smoke bomb following a successful parry.

Our Rating:

Assassin's Cantrip is a great way to escape from a sticky situation, but you need to make sure that your parry is on point. The smoke bomb itself stuns enemies for a decent amount of time, allowing you to run a fair distance before your foes return to their senses. Or, you can use the bomb to reposition yourself on the battlefield, breaking from a crowd in order to take down a pesky archer, etc.

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Chain Assassination

Skill Type: Active Attack

What It Does: Lets you take out a second enemy following a successful assassination. Requires a timed button press.

Our Rating:

Chain Assassination makes stealthy play styles way more viable, especially when you're infiltrating camps or castles. The second kill does require a timed button press — which can be a little bit tricky — but the payoff of killing two guards is well worth it.

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Skill Type: Passive

What It Does: Automatically loots enemies that you kill.

Our Rating:

Really? Is this a skill that you have to actually spend points on? Why yes, yes it is. Auto-Loot does exactly as its name suggests. The bottom line is that it does come in handy — especially during raids or big battles, where you'd otherwise have to comb over the bodies of your enemies. But having to use a skill point to unlock a such a meagre quality of life improvement feels wrong.

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Skill Type: Passive

What It Does: Lessens all fall damage.

Our Rating:

Breakfall has its moments — like when Eivor decides to miss a jump for seemingly no reason whatsoever. But overall, you're better off prioritising other skills. Just take your time climbing down the mountain instead of trying to jump all the way to the bottom like a lunatic.

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Missile Reversal

Skill Type: Active Attack

What It Does: Lets you counter ranged attacks by throwing the projectile back at the enemy.

Our Rating:

Missile Reversal is a game changer. Archers and other ranged enemies can be a total pain, but this skill cripples their effectiveness. The timing can be a little tight depending on how far away your opponent is, but a simple press of your counter button results in an automatic attack right back at your aggressor, which either deals big damage or outrights kills them. Easily one of the most satisfying techniques in the game.

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Wolf Skills (Blue)

Wolf skills focus on ranged combat and some survivability. You should focus on this part of the skill tree if the bow and arrow is your primary weapon, or if you want to bolster your character's adaptability.

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Stealth Recon

Skill Type: Passive

What It Does: Automatically highlights nearby enemies when you're crouched and undetected.

Our Rating:

Stealth Recon is a nice quality of life skill, but it's not a priority. You can just as easily use Eivor's Raven pulse to locate any enemies who might be close.

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Emergency Aim

Skill Type: Active

What It Does: Gives you a second or so to shoot an enemy who's spotted you out of stealth.

Our Rating:

Emergency Aim is great for stealthy styles of play, effectively giving you a second change should you be detected by an enemy. Just make sure that no other foes are near when you plant an arrow in your opponent's head.

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Hunter Bow Combo

Skill Type: Active

What It Does: Time your shots with a Hunter Bow properly to draw your next arrow faster.

Our Rating:

Used correctly, Hunter Bow Combo can make you an exceptionally deadly marksman at medium range. The timing can be tricky — you have to release your arrow the second your bow is fully drawn — but get it right and you can fire a bunch of arrows in very, very quick succession, potentially dealing huge damage to your opponent.

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Arrow Reinforcement

Skill Type: Passive

What It Does: Your arrows never break, meaning that they can always be recovered from the environment or from dead enemies.

Our Rating:

It's a simple skill, but Arrow Reinforcement can make the life of a marksman much easier. Being able to pick up all of your used arrows means that you don't have to scavenge the battlefield for new ones, and as long as you keep track of where you've been shooting, you'll almost never run out (unless you're hammering your arrows into a boss who just refuses to die).

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Stealth Adrenaline

Skill Type: Passive

What It Does: Gain Adrenaline when you loot a chest or pickpocket an enemy while undetected and in a restricted area.

Our Rating:

Stealth Adrenaline really isn't that useful unless you're going full-on stealth, and even then, Adrenaline has limited functionality if you're looking to remain undetected. That said, there are still some abilities that come in handy when sneaking around, and this skill can make them more readily available.

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Bow Stun Finisher

Skill Type: Active

What It Does: Lets you perform a bow-based finishing move.

Our Rating:

Bow Stun Finisher is the definition of a non-priority skill. There's no doubt that the finishing move looks cool, and it's a useful tool to have if you're using nothing but a bow and arrow, but stunned enemies can be killed with any weapon anyway. In short, brutal, but you don't really need it until you've got other, more important skills locked in.

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Skill Type: Active

What It Does: Alternating from bow to melee attacks gives you increased damage for a short time.

Our Rating:

Bow to Melee Link is an interesting skill. The damage bonus that you get is quite noticeable, but you have to get used to weaving bow attacks into your regular melee fighting style. Doable, but it can be awkward until you've gotten the hang of it. Once you're in the zone, though, this is a great way to finish off enemies with a hefty chunk of damage.

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Sprint Attack

Skill Type: Active Attack

What It Does: Lets you perform a special light attack while sprinting.

Our Rating:

Sprint Attack is an absolute must-have skill. It's perfect for closing the gap on ranged enemies, who just love to run away and hide. Not only does the attack deal good damage, but you can use it as a combo starter. Against elite opponents and even bosses, it can be a go-to technique.

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Charged Shot

Skill Type: Active Attack

What It Does: Fires two arrows instead of one from a Hunter Bow. The shot can't be cancelled once the bow is drawn.

Our Rating:

Charged Shot is a straightforward but very effective skill. If you want to take out a tougher enemy with a well-placed shot, this lets you do so at the cost of just one extra arrow. The fact that you can't cancel the draw can make it a riskier proposition against a moving foe, but the benefits outweigh the risk.

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Battleground Bolt

Skill Type: Active Attack

What It Does: Lets you pick up weapons dropped by dead enemies, and then throw them at a foe for big damage.

Our Rating:

Battleground Bolt is a great skill to have at your disposal. While it does rely on the weapons of fallen enemies, the damage that a thrown spear or axe does is huge. You can use this skill to take care of weaker enemies in the blink of an eye, or to heavily damage foes who have a lot of health. The only thing stopping this from being a 5-star skill is that it's a bit unreliable in the heat of battle.

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Skill Type: Passive

What It Does: If you land melee attacks on an enemy after you've been hit, you'll regenerate some health (the part that turns red as you get struck).

Our Rating:

Grit is a crazy good skill. It's extremely useful in boss fights, where you might get hit for big damage and you're running low on healing rations. Get a couple of your own attacks off before you're hit again, and you'll get most of your health back. Overall, this skill makes Eivor much harder to kill, as long as you're being reasonably aggressive and playing well.

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Last Chance Healing

Skill Type: Passive

What It Does: Temporarily slows time when your health reaches its lowest point.

Our Rating:

Last Chance Healing can be a lifesaver in specific situations — usually when a strong enemy has you caught in some kind of combo attack. The automatic slowdown lets you reposition or attempt an escape. You can even use it to land a couple of attacks if you really want.

How do you like to play Assassin's Creed Valhalla? Tell us about your favourite skills in the comments section below, and check out our Assassin's Creed Valhalla guide for more information on the game.