I sucked at Stellar Blade until I learned these 7 essential tips

Eve from Stellar Blade.
(Image credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment)

Stellar Blade is the latest must-play PS5 exclusive. While it gives you plenty of opportunities to feel like a kickass android, it’s also not afraid to cut you down to size with enemies that deal serious damage if you’re not paying attention and playing carefully.

Taking cues from notoriously challenging games like Dark Souls and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, Stellar Blade can be a very unforgiving mistress. Even early-game enemies and bosses can present a stiff challenge, and there are a few useful mechanics that aren’t fully explained.

I’ve spent a couple of dozen hours with this fantastic PS5 action game, and after rolling credits, I know exactly what it takes to see Eve’s adventure through to the end. Below are the top Stellar Blade tips I wish I’d known before starting my journey across the game's post-apocalyptic Earth.

Before diving into my (hopefully helpful) advice, it should be noted that these tips are specifically for newcomers who need a little assistance. If you’re a more experienced or intermediate player looking for strategies to beat the late-game bosses, this isn’t the guide for you.

Parry, parry and parry some more 

Stellar Blade screenshot

(Image credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment)

Let’s start with a fairly obvious (but absolutely vital) piece of advice. To succeed in Stellar Blade you’ll need to become very familiar with its parry mechanics.

In most Souls-style games, you can mostly neglect parrying in favor of dodging/rolling out of harm's way. In Stellar Blade, however, if you can’t parry consistently, you won’t make it very far. You initially parry by performing a guard move with the L1 button, and the goal is to press the button a fraction of a second before an enemy's attack connects with EVE.

Practice makes perfect

Stellar Blade screenshot

(Image credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment)

Figuring out Stellar Blade’s parry timing can be a tad tricky, with some players even accusing the game of suffering from input lag (a decision the game’s director claims is intentional). So, if like me, you’re struggling to get the timing down to a tee, be sure to spend some time in the training area practicing.

In the brightly-lit training room, you can hone your skills, and get a proper feel for when you need to bring your guard up to perform a perfect parry. During my playthrough, I spent around 20 minutes just getting comfortable with parrying consistently. I cannot overstate what a massive difference this made to my combat abilities.

You can access the training area via skill terminals located at checkpoint camps. Just approach the terminal, open the “Skills Setting” menu and click the square button to enter the dedicated training space.

Make Perfect Parry easier

Stellar Blade screenshot

(Image credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment)

If you're still struggling with parrying even after spending some time in the training room, there’s a solution that makes this fundamental mechanic a little more forgiving.

In the Survival skill tree, there is an ability called “Focus Boost” that makes the timing window for a perfect parry a little bit more generous. This skill costs two SP points, and I recommend you unlock it as a matter of priority.

In the same skill tree, there’s also an ability called “Reflex Boost” that makes performing a perfect dodge a little easier. Be sure to also unlock this ASAP.  

Never stop scanning  

Stellar Blade screenshot

(Image credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment)

Stellar Blade is a real visual treat on PS5 with plenty of eye-catching sights to behold. That said, don’t get so distracted by the pretty graphics that you forget to use your drone companion's scan ability while exploring the world.

Clicking the DualSense’s touchpad will send out a pulse that highlights all manner of useful things — from nearby loot chests to enemies. The cooldown on this ability is super short (and you can shorten it further via upgrades), so you should be scanning at every opportunity. This ability will ensure you don’t miss an upgrade just off the beaten path, and can also alert you to the presence of enemies just around the corner.  

Select these useful settings

Stellar Blade screenshot

(Image credit: Sony/Shift Up)

Head into Stellar Blade’s settings menu (located within the pause menu), and you’ll find a couple of useful options that I recommend you toggle on.

For starters, be sure to enable “Auto Loot Items.” Now, Eve will instantly absorb all the luminous orbs from defeated enemies and opened chests without you having to tediously pick them up yourself.

I also advise switching Eve’s ponytail length from the default long to short. You might think this is purely a cosmetic change, but you’ll find that the longer ponytail wildly swishing in all directions during combat encounters can be a fairly big distraction. Keep it short, and it won’t bother you. 

Don't be scared of Story Mode

Stellar Blade screenshot

(Image credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment)

Unlike some games that take inspiration from the Souls series, Stellar Blade offers two difficult modes (it technically offers three but the third is unlocked after beating the game for the first time). These are Normal Mode and Story Mode. While I recommend playing the game on the default Normal, don’t be afraid to switch down to Story Mode if you’re having particular trouble with a difficult section or boss. 

Even players who don’t want to take the “easy” route to success, can still use “Story Mode” as an effective tool for learning enemy patterns. For example, I struggled with the game’s final boss but was able to beat it on Normal after doing a couple of practice runs on the easier difficulty. The extra leniency of Story Mode allowed me to wrap my head around how best to counter the boss' many devastating moves and combos.

Just make sure you don’t accidentally vanquish a boss on Story Mode if you want to beat the game on Normal Mode, as you can’t reload a previous save. 

Explore 'The Wasteland'

Eve from Stellar Blade exploring one of the world's environments.

(Image credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment)

After a few hours of play, you should arrive in Xion. This town serves as humanity's last sanctuary on an Earth overrun with alien enemies. The location functions as a hub that you’ll revisit frequently. It’s also where you’ll discover the game’s first open zone: The Wasteland. 

You might be tempted to make a beeline for the next mandatory mission. However, resist the urge to plow forward and instead take the time to explore The Wasteland. There’s loads of loot to find in this sandy space and also worthwhile side-quests to complete. 

If you want to be prepared for the difficult foes that await you deeper into Stellar Blade, you should carve out at least a bit of time to tackle some optional objectives and get stronger.

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Rory Mellon
Entertainment Editor (UK)

Rory is an Entertainment Editor at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics but with a particular focus on gaming and streaming. When he’s not reviewing the latest games, searching for hidden gems on Netflix, or writing hot takes on new gaming hardware, TV shows and movies, he can be found attending music festivals and getting far too emotionally invested in his favorite football team.