By and Jean-Luc Seipke on
Like previous FromSoftware games, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice's difficulty can be demoralizing at times. When you're against a tough foe, you might wonder what you may be missing. The game is packed with intricate mechanics that take time to understand.
To help you become more competent with the game's difficult systems, we've compiled several tips to help you be the best shinobi you can be. With the tips below, you'll learn how to better play the game and perhaps come out alive more often than not.
For more Sekiro guides, check out our guide detailing how death works in the game, as well as how to cure Dragonrot. You can also read about where to find some essential early game shinobi prosthetics. Otherwise, check out our guide roundup.
GameSpot gave Sekiro a 9/10 with Editor Tamoor Hussain saying in his review in progress: "Sekiro marries From Software's unique brand of gameplay with stealth action to deliver an experience that is as challenging as it is gratifying. At the time of publish I haven't completed Sekiro. While I have invested upwards of 30 hours into it, there are still a few more locations I need to explore and bosses I need to beat before the credits roll, and I'm excited to do it."
Got any essential tips you don't see? Let us know in the comments below.
Return to the Dilapidated Temple
The Dilapidated Temple serves as Sekiro's main hub area, in which you can craft new prosthetics, upgrade your healing gourd, or just relax. Throughout your journey, you'll pick up several key items that unlock new mechanics and tools. However, you won't be able to utilize them unless you go back to the temple, so make it a priority to halt progress and return as soon as possible.
Practice Makes Perfect Deflection
Sekiro's combat is all about breaking an enemy's posture, which is the gauge below their health bar. You're trying to max it out in order to dismantle their defense and inflict a death blow. While sword attacks help with the general effort, it's ultimately your ability to deflect their attacks that does the most damage to posture.
A deflection is performed by timing a guard right at the moment an enemy's attack makes contact. As you can imagine, this takes a bit of practice to master. Luckily, there's a fella named Hanebi--an undead samurai who hangs out at the Dilapidated Temple--who you can practice deflection against without having to worry about dying. This is a nice way to practice the game's combat mechanics, as well as get a feel for any new attacks or techniques you unlock from the many skill trees, such as the Whirlwind Slash or the Mikiri Counter.
However, the best way to train is to find an area near a Sculptor's Idol filled with varying enemy types and just work from there. Hanebi is a decent foe to test your deflection skills against, but it's in practical situations where you can gather the most valuable knowledge and insight about your strengths and weaknesses in not only deflection, but in a general fight. In addition, practicing deflection against varying groups of enemies and larger, more intimidating foes is essential as you're often thrown into dire situations with them during the game's more challenging areas.
Watch Out For Perilous Attacks
An incredibly important enemy thing to watch out for in a fight are what the game calls Perilous Attacks, which are devastating maneuvers sign posted by a red kanji symbol. There are three types that you'll encounter: Thrust, Sweep, and Grab.
Thrust can be deflected, but the timing required to do so is incredibly precise. You're able to acquire a skill in the Shinobi Arts tree called Mikiri Counter that enables you to stomp down on a thrusting enemy's weapon, dealing great damage to their posture. However, Sweep and Grab cannot be deflected and must be jumped over or step dodged away from respectively to achieve the most optimal results.
Recognizing the Perilous Attack type an enemy is about to perform is essential to survival. If you're ever unsure what's coming your way, try hanging back to better study the enemy's Perilous Attack repertoire and speed. Incorporate this into your practice of timing deflections and you'll learn to quickly deal with any challenge an enemy throws at you.
Replenish Your Posture
In your attempts to perfectly deflect and counter enemy attacks, your posture is likely going to break numerous times. If you're a Souls player, your main instinct is probably to let your guard down to recover. However, doing so actually decreases your Posture's recovery time. If your Posture is high, instead remain in guard stance to replenish it faster. In addition, healing yourself makes your Posture clear quicker, so the higher your health, the quicker the recovery.
Breaking Boss Posture
The rules of Posture apply to enemies as well, and becomes crucial to pay attention to during boss fights. Enemies can be killed more traditionally by emptying their health gauge, but it's far more efficient to max their posture meter and deal a death blow. If you want to keep that meter filled up you have to keep dealing damage and deflecting attacks.
Backing off to heal or get a breather is useful, but if you wait too long their Posture will replenish and all that work will be wasted. If you ever run into an enemy that's simply replenishing posture far too quickly, try damaging their health first. You’ll notice their Posture gauge begins to change color from a light orange to a deep red. The darker the color, the easier it is to deal posture damage and the longer it takes for them to replenish.
Seriously, Use Your Shinobi Prosthetics!
As the One-Armed Wolf, you're equipped with an arsenal of useful tools you can attach to your shinobi prosthetic arm. Your head may get wrapped up in trying to deflect and countering attacks, but do NOT forget about these. Some have pretty obvious functionality, such as the Loaded Axe, which can break enemy shields. However, the usefulness of others like the Loaded Shuriken and the Flame Vent may fade into obscurity for you.
Every tool has a very specific use during combat. Make sure to read each one's description to get attuned to its purpose. For example, Loaded Shuriken are incredibly useful against enemies who jump into the air, as it can instantly drop them to the ground, providing you ample opportunity for attack. Be adaptive and resourceful with your shinobi prosthetic's tools, as they can literally save your life in most combat situations.
Pause The Game!
This is an obvious tip, but nonetheless an important one--especially for all you SoulsBorne players out there! Yes, you can pause the game in Sekiro, so there's no more of that panicked item equipping and unequipping from previous FromSoftware games. Use this to your advantage when squaring up against enemies or bosses who exhibit characteristics that call for the use of other special tools or items in your inventory. That, or to take a break, because let's be real, you're gonna need it with how unapologetically tense this game's combat encounters get.
Use That Maneuverability
Compared to other FromSoftware games, one of Sekiro's most standout features is the ability to jump. This adds verticality to encounters, allowing you to jump to either dodge attacks or leapfrog off foes. The latter is performed by jumping towards an enemy and pressing jump again as you get close to kick off them; it's a great way to deal posture damage. Jumping is a big part to the general flow of combat, so make sure you're taking advantage of it.
Another unique quality is the fact that you have unlimited stamina. Sprint, dodge, jump, and attack to your heart's content, while paying particular mind to link these actions together in acrobatic and strategic ways. Though, be mindful of when to show restraint. After all, this is still a FromSoftware game, so swift punishment still comes to those who move and attack carelessly.
Use Stealth To Whittle The Numbers
When direct confrontation isn't the most viable option, you're able to sneak past enemies and murder them from behind, above, or while hanging from a ledge. Look to nearby rooftops and bushes to take cover and plan your attack. Always take note of the kinds of enemies in the area and prioritize your stealth kills accordingly. For example, if you encounter a rifleman and a spearman standing next to one another, you'll want to take down the latter as you can easily take down the other with only a few slashes.
You can also use a stealthy backstab to knock a free health bar off powerful mini-bosses--that is, if you're able to get the jump on them. Don't hesitate to use stealth often, especially if you're not confident enough to take on more fearsome foes, as you can easily inflict an instant death blow on them when they're not looking. However, be mindful that it doesn't work on every single enemy. Regardless, stealth is always a great strategy, whether you're using it to sneak past enemies, ambush them, or break line of sight.
Eavesdrop And Buy Merchant Information For Valuable Intel
Being a proper shinobi isn't just about performing perfect deflections and being super sneaky. It's also about being well informed about your surroundings. As you sneak about, you'll notice that there's often an option to eavesdrop on guards. While some of these conversations are mostly intended as flavor dialogue, they can offer you intel on the locations of valuable tools or incoming threats. This isn't the only way to gain intel, though. You can get information from special merchants just as long as you've got the coin to cover their asking fees.
Make Progress Elsewhere
Despite your best efforts, you're likely to get stuck on a boss early on. Instead of spending hours beating your head against the wall trying to overcome this challenge, know that there's typically another area you can travel to. Sekiro's world is rather open in this regard, often allowing you to make progress elsewhere if you find yourself ill-prepared to take on what lies ahead in the area you're currently in.
Buy Coin Purses
Buying Coin Purses with your money might not make much sense at first, but they're well worth getting to ensure you've got extra coin to spend in emergencies. After all, dying costs a chunk of your money, which can go pretty quickly when you're up against a tough boss.
Make Time For Side Quests
Always be on a lookout for NPCs. While they typically share important information, a few also have special side quests attached to them. Completing these tasks earn you some pretty substantial rewards, such as upgrade materials and access to a completely new skill tree.
You know what's absolutely mindblowing about Sekiro? You can swim! That's right, you can actually wade through water to explore out-of-reach locations--this stands in stark contrast to other From Software games where water meant death. Anyway, there are some useful items to be found by swimming about. One of the most important items you can find are Treasure Carp Scales, which you can get by killing the occasional Carp.
A seemingly inconsequential collectible, these scales are used as a currency for a special potted merchant you can find at the Hirata Estate. You'll see this little fella tucked away at the rightmost side of the lake early in the area. He's literally a pot with a hand sticking out of it; you can't miss him. You can purchase some useful items from him, such as the Withered Red Gourd, a refillable potion that increases your burn resistance. Definitely seek him out!