An assassin must be a master in the art of stealth, dextrous, versatile, and capable of doing what needs to be done with the requisite finesse to leave no trace behind. A Viking invader on the other hand, can afford to be a lot less subtle.
Where Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s Skills and character upgrades were quite straightforward, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla takes a much more sprawling approach to the system, with a celestial cosmos of minor stat increases to mull over.
And that’s before you even get to the Skills themselves - powerful abilities which swing the tide of combat in your favour, alongside the regular swinging of your axe.
Across the Viking invasion of medieval England - given the violent nature of your intentions - there’s a lot of battling. This means that getting the right combat Skills to supplement your favored style of character build is vital to your smooth progress and enjoyment.
Here are some of our picks for the best Skills in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, as well as how to upgrade your character effectively.
- Earning XP and Skill Points in Assassin's Creed Valhalla
- Spending Skill Points in Assassin's Creed Valhalla
- Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Skills & Character Upgrades
- Assassin's Creed Valhalla — Skill tree branches: melee, ranged, and stealth
- Assassin's Creed Valhalla — How Skills work with Abilities
- Assassin's Creed Valhalla — How Skills work with Weapons
- Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Best Skills
Earning XP and Skill Points in Assassin's Creed Valhalla
You do have an XP metre in Assassin's Creed Valhalla, but it's really just a means to an end of earning Skill Points.
You earn XP from completing story missions and puzzles throughout the game. Finishing a story mission will net you enough XP to earn two Skill Points; while completing puzzles (such as Standing Stone puzzles, Offering Altars, and Excalibur tablets) will earn you one Skill Point worth of XP. XP is automatically converted into Skill Points once you fill up the metre.
Spending the Skill Points you've earned to unlock upgrades on the skill map will in turn increase Eivor's Power Level. Their Power Level is what actually determines their readiness to take on a combat challenge (a recommended Power Level is shown on the game's map for each region). Note that Power Level increases when the Skill Points are spent, not when they are earned, so it's worth checking in with your skill map regularly to distribute any Skill Points you have in the bank.
The good news is that which skills you choose for your Eivor are far less important than just continually increasing their skills overall. You can choose to have them specialise in one type of combat you particularly prefer, or build an Eivor who's a good all-rounder: it's up to you.
Spending Skill Points in Assassin's Creed Valhalla
Shrouded in smoke and boasting more percentages than a Wall Street stock ticker, the Skill and character upgrade screen in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla can be a bit of an information overload.
The skill map in Assassin's Creed: Valhalla is winding and interconnected, but it can roughly be split into three categories, which are helpfully colour coded and include an animal motif to help you tell them apart:
- Yellow Raven category on the left-hand side of the screen. This branch focuses mainly on stealth and indirect engagement with the enemy.
- Red Bear branch in the middle of the screen. This branch focuses mainly on close-quarters combat, such as melee attacks.
- Blue Wolf branch on the right-hand side of the screen. This branch focuses mainly on ranged combat using the bow.
The good news is that Valhalla encourages you to be a spendthrift in this regard: each and every new skill only takes one Skill Point to unlock, so you don't need to save up in order to get the more powerful high-end ones. The only downside (if you can even call it that) is that you need to advance through each branch or offshoot in sequence, so you might have to sacrifice a few Skill Points on some less exciting upgrades in order to unlock the skills you're really interested in.
Furthermore, there’s something vital which isn’t immediately obvious from the start of the game: you can reset and redistribute your skills at any time during your adventure - completely free - so you don’t have to agonize over every stat point you spend.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Skills & Character Upgrades
There are two types of skills in Assassin's Creed Valhalla:
- Active skills (also called main or major skills), which give Eivor powerful one-of-a-kind combat abilities.
- Passive skills (also called character upgrades or skill nodes), which give Eivor permanent bonuses to health, damage, resistance, etc.
Active skills have a bigger icon on the skill map, and when you hover over them you get a short description and an animation demonstrating the skill in action. Passive skills have smaller icons and just give you a brief text run-down of the stat increase. Spending a Skill Point on either type will increase your Power Level.
There are 40 different active skills in total, and in practice, there are three things which determine where to spend your skill points:
- Whether you want to favour melee, ranged, or stealth skills
- Whether you want to make use of Abilities
- Which animal affinity your current and favourite weapons are
Assassin's Creed Valhalla — Skill tree branches: melee, ranged, and stealth
As we've already covered, the three directions on the Skill map can be very roughly divided into three categories: stealth (yellow, to the left), melee (red, up from the middle), and ranged (blue, to the right).
All three directions have their own bow skills (which is why I say very roughly): the predator bow in the Yellow Raven branch, the light bow in the Red Bear branch, and the hunter bow in the Blue Wolf branch. So if you choose to invest your points into the melee-oriented skills under the Red Bear branch, for example, you're not going to be a useless archer, so don't worry about specialising too much.
Think of each route more as a focus than the only thing you can use. This is backed up by the range of different stat nodes that you’ll acquire whichever path you choose.
In the early game, there’s a lot of raiding and brawling, so you’ll probably want to go with the red melee Skills, but you won’t struggle if you don’t.
Assassin's Creed Valhalla — How Skills work with Abilities
Your next choice is whether you want to make use of Abilities. Abilities work differently from regular Skills. Instead of unlocking them in the Skills map, Abilities are learned from Books of Knowledge that you find throughout the world, and they cost adrenaline to perform.
There are 22 Abilities in the game: four are earned by delivering Order medallions to Hytham, while and for the remaining 18 there are two Books of Knowledge each that can be found somewhere in the game world. Check out our comprehensive guide to Book of Knowledge locations for more details.
If you like spamming these abilities, then you may want to look into building a mixed character with all of the adrenaline upgrades.
There's one at the bottom of the board underneath Last Chance Healing, one on the left next to Chain Assassination, and finally one up and to the left next to Berserker's Mettle.
Assassin's Creed Valhalla — How Skills work with Weapons
One more thing to consider: just like the skills in the skill map, weapons have a colour coded animal affinity. When you look at your equipped weapons in your inventory, above their name is a picture of an animal: again, this is either a red bear, a blue wolf, or a yellow raven.
If you find yourself particularly enamored with a certain variety of weapon, then you should consider taking your skills down the corresponding path.
For example, Varin’s Axe is a red bear affinity weapon, so if you spend stat points going up from the middle of the upgrade screen - in the melee focused tree, some of the stat nodes will be specifically geared towards enhancing your ability with bear affinity weapons.
Since you can redistribute your points freely, you could change up your points to hit these nodes whenever you change weapons.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Best Skills
Muddling your way through is all well and good, but it’s much easier to pick the best Skills for you in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla if you actually know what they are.
To help you start sifting through all the many skills on offer and see which appeal to you, you can check out the video below to see every single one of them in action:
As a starting point to work toward, I usually go up to Stomp, then right to Parry Damage, both on the Red Bear melee branch. Then from the middle go left to Backstab on the Yellow Raven stealth branch, and on up to Brush with Death. This gives you a really capable melee character from the start, by which point you should have a grasp of where you want to go next.
As you progress, other great Skills include:
- Missile Reversal (stealth) - This Skill makes it really easy to cheese Zealots, because you can just run away and throw back their spears
- Parry Damage (melee) - Parrying is vital to Assassin's Creed Valhalla's combat, and this is a great source of chip damage
- Advanced Assassination and Chain Assassination (both stealth) - If you're going to try and be stealthy at all throughout the game, you'll want to pick both of these up. Otherwise you'll come up against elite enemies with no tools to take them down quietly
- Counter Roll (stealth) - Similarly to the above, this skill gives you a more active option for dealing with a common issue in combat; otherwise you're stuck dodging
- Stealth Recon (ranged) - Automatically highlights nearby enemies when Eivor is crouched undetected, greatly reducing your risk of being caught unawares
- Auto-Loot (stealth) - A real time-saver for clumsy and/or forgetful Eivors, especially since I can't think of a circumstance under which you don't want to loot the corpses of your enemies
- Adrenaline Slots (all branches) - I really like to spam abilities, so I usually unlock all 4 slots
Below is a full table of all 40 Skills, what they do, and where they appear on the board so you can plot your path.
|Assassin's Creed Valhalla Skills|
|Skill Name:||Skill Effect:||Affiliation:||Location on upgrade board:|
|Stomp||When an enemy falls, press R3 to stomp on them for extra damage||Red Bear||Up from middle|
|Parry Damage||Successful parries deal damage to the attacker||Red Bear||Right from Stomp|
|Adrenaline Fiend||Gain a damage boost and attack speed boost when 1 or more Adrenaline Slots are filled||Red Bear||Up from Parry Damage|
|Arrow Volley||Fire all loaded arrows from a light bow at once on an enemy for a stamina cost||Red Bear||Top right, right from Adrenaline Fiend|
|Perfect Attack||Press R1 again during a weapon swing to have the next one do more damage||Red Bear||Up from Stomp|
|Warrior Takedown||Press R2 to perform a violent takedown on an unaware enemy - fills a bar of adrenaline for every enemy you alert||Red Bear||Up from Perfect Attack|
|Sprint Bash||Upgrade your sprint to break through breakable objects and doors, as well as knock NPCs to the ground||Red Bear||Top, up from Warrior Takedown|
|Dual Swap||When dual-wielding, press R2 +R3 to swap the weapons in your hands||Red Bear||Left from Stomp|
|Berserker's Mettle||A partially filled adrenaline slot won't empty the first time an enemy hits you||Red Bear||Left from Dual Swap|
|Heavy Dual Wield||You can dual-wield two heavy weapons - but it alters the stats and handling||Red Bear||Left from Berserker's Mettle|
|Light Bow Combo||Consecutive shots with a light bow deal more damage||Red Bear||Up from Dual Swap, left from Perfect Attack|
|Terror||After a Stun Finisher, weak enemies cower in fear and can be easily finished||Red Bear||Left from Light Bow Combo|
|Battlefield Cremation||Enemies you kill with fire attacks stay burning and deal fire damage to other enemies||Red Bear||Up from Light Bow Combo|
|Backstab||Landing a blow directly to an enemy's back does more damage and makes them stagger||Yellow Raven||Left from Middle|
|Advanced Assassination||Unlocks ability to assassinate high-level targets with a timed mini-game||Yellow Raven||Down from Backstab|
|Breakfall||Eivor automatically does a roll which negates some fall damage after a large drop||Yellow Raven||Down from Advanced Assassination|
|Missile Reversal||Catch and throw back "virtually any" projectile by parrying it with L1 just before it hits||Yellow Raven||Down from Breakfall|
|Brush with Death||Dodging just before an attack lands slows down time||Yellow Raven||Up from Backstab|
|Predator Bow Combo||Consecutive shots with the Predator Bow deal more damage||Yellow Raven||Left from Brush with Death|
|Counter Roll||Dodge towards an enemy's Rune Attack just before it lands to vault behind them||Yellow Raven||Left from Predator Bow Combo|
|Guided Arrow||Press R1 to control the arrow from a Predator Bow as it flies||Yellow Raven||Left from Backstab|
|Explosive Corpse||Hold R3 to booby-trap dead bodies to damage enemies who investigate||Yellow Raven||Left from Guided Arrow|
|Miasma||Enemies who die from your poison attacks release a cloud of toxic gas||Yellow Raven||Left from Explosive Corpse|
|Chain Assassination||After performing one assassination, throw an axe at a second NPC in close proximity||Yellow Raven||Down from Guided Arrow|
|Auto-loot||Automatically collect the loot from a defeated enemy||Yellow Raven||Down from Chain Assassinationq|
|Assassin's Cantrip||After a parry, press Triangle to throw a smoke bomb and disappear||Yellow Raven||Left from Chain Assassination|
|Stealth Recon||Automatically highlight enemies when crouched||Blue Wolf||Right from middle|
|Emergency Aim||Hold L2 when being detected to snap your aim to an enemy for a chance to kill them before they raise the alarm||Blue Wolf||Up from Stealth Recon|
|Hunter Bow Combo||Release an arrow just as you finish drawing it to make the next one draw faster||Blue Wolf||Up from Emergency Aim|
|Arrow Reinforcement||Loosed arrows never break, so you can always pick them up from defeated enemies||Blue Wolf||Right from Hunter Bow Combo|
|Bow to Melee Link||Alternating between bow and melee hits deals extra damage||Blue Wolf||Right from Stealth Recon|
|Stealth Adrenaline||While in stealth, fill adrenaline slots by looting chests or picking pockets||Blue Wolf||Up from Bow to Melee Link|
|Bow Stun Finisher||Press R3 while aiming at a stunned enemy to trigger a finishing move||Blue Wolf||Right from Stealth Adrenaline|
|Sprint Attack||Press R1 while sprinting to do a special attack||Blue Wolf||Down from Stealth Recon|
|Battleground Bolt||Press Triangle next to a discarded weapon to throw it at another enemy||Blue Wolf||Right from Sprint Attack|
|Charged Shot||Fire two fully charged arrows with the Hunter Bow||Blue Wolf||Right from Battleground Bolt|
|Grit||Regain the "red portion" of your health bar when you hit an enemy||Blue Wolf||Down from Battleground Bolt|
|Last Chance Healing||When you reach critical health, time will slow down to let you heal or run away||Blue Wolf||Down from Sprint Attack|
|Adrenaline Upgrades||+1 adrenaline slot||Blue Wolf, Yellow Raven, Red Bear||There's one at the bottom below Last Chance Healing, one next to Chain Assassination, and one next to Berserker's Mettle|