If you’ve taken interest in FromSoftware’s recent endeavor Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, and haven’t been properly groomed for death, I’ve drummed up a few tips to give you the edge in surviving these dangerous times.
Of course, there are a couple of things you must come to terms with before you set out to rescue your kidnapped lord. First and foremost is death – there will be a lot of it. The second is patience; Sekiro arguably requires more patience than its spiritual predecessors due to the precision and faster pace of the combat.
Here are some simple but important tips to survive and cheese your way through the Japanese 16th-century Sengoku era.
Choose Your Battles Wisely
By giving you a grappling hook, FromSoftware has opened up the world for a ton of vertical movement in and out of combat. So, if you’re stuck on a section, chances are that you can run or grapple-hook your way past it.
Of course, you shouldn’t do this too often; otherwise you won’t get the proper experience needed to purchase better skills. But it’s smart to revisit areas you’ve already beaten or are just not skilled enough to take on.
However, there will be sections that you can’t simply skip because you’ll either be facing a boss or mini-boss. In those scenarios (with the exception of Sekiro’s bosses), you can use the grappling hook to escape the battle if you feel things aren’t going your way.
A major part of fighting bigger enemies or even just fighting new foes is resisting the urge to spam the attack button, especially if you haven’t gotten a feel for deflecting and dodging threats. Instead, you should use hit-and-run tactics – go for the one-two slice and immediately run backwards. This method will take a lot longer to kill the enemy you’re fighting since you won’t break their posture and get an instant kill, but it’s much safer.
Also, don’t be afraid to abuse your infinite stamina. While you’re running backwards, do a lap around your enemy and carefully watch how they react. Do they go for a thrust attack? Or maybe a simple three-slash attack? Keep track of when they stop attacking and take the opportunity to deal some damage.
It’s also important that you use Sekiro’s Prosthetic Tools to deal some extra hurt. For example, Loaded Shuriken are a great tool to slowly eat away at your enemy’s health, and the Loaded Axe is useful beyond breaking shields since it can tear down an enemy’s posture, which is incredibly helpful against mini-bosses.
Farm Like You’re Playing Stardew Valley
If you’ve tried everything to get past that one difficult area and you’re at the end of your rope, the best and most simple advice I can give you is to farm. Find a group of enemies that you’re comfortable fighting and beat them senseless over and over until you get enough experience to buy some useful skills.
Some skills that I suggest purchasing right away for Sekiro are Whirlwind Slash (a strong spinning attack), Emma's Medicine: Potency (increases the effect of healing items) and Suppress Presence (increases your stealth). After that, I’d recommend reading about each skill and deciding for yourself which ones would impact combat the most, based on your fighting style.
Additionally, use that hard-earned farm money to buy more Spirit Emblems (or other items) that you can put into storage. It’s a better use of your money than losing half of it if you're killed. Some merchants actually sell coin purses, which are item versions of money that you won’t lose when you die.
You Are A Shinobi
Before combat even breaks out, abuse the hell out of Sekiro’s stealth executions. To transition into stealth, you simply crouch, and to execute an enemy, you sneak up behind them and press the attack button.
You should execute enemies who are a modest distance away from other enemies, so that you don’t alert their buddies. If that’s not feasible, you should pull a disappearing act into the shrubs or behind cover immediately after your kill.
If worse comes to worst and there is no cover, try to escape the enemy’s line of sight. Your opponents will only pursue you so far and you can even create a few stragglers to take out while the rest get back to their posts.
When you're facing a mini-boss (someone with more than one bar of health), it's important that you start off the fight with an execution so you eliminate one bar of health. However, don’t break their line of sight because they’ll simply regain the health you've taken from them.
Talk To Everyone
This may be obvious, but be sure to talk to as many non-playable characters (NPCs) as you possibly can and listen to all of their dialogue until they repeat themselves. Even if the NPC is in an area you’d rather just skip, it might be worth your while to seek them out.
Some NPCs in Sekiro are pretty easy to spot, but others lie off the beaten path and require some exploration to discover. At some point, you’ll find an NPC that gives you a bell that you can use to travel to a different area, the Hinata Estate, which you can miss completely if you aren’t paying attention.
There’s actually another NPC located along the river of the Hinata Estate that I had missed on my first run. This specific character will sell you useful items like a Withered Red Gourd, which reduces burn buildup and slightly increases burn resistance for a short period.
There are a ton of useful resources that NPCs offer, so don't ignore them.
Click On Everything
A recurring problem in the Souls series is that it inundate players with a ton of quick items. That really hasn't changed with Sekiro, but I strongly advise you to read the description of the items you pick up.
There are items like the Bundled Jizo Statue, which restores a node of resurrective power if you don't already have one; it can change the tide of battle entirely. There are also items like Ungo and Gokan's Sugar, which reduce damage (for a limited time) to your vitality and posture, respectively.
On top of that, there are some basic combat items, like Ceramic Shards (draws an enemy's attention), Fistful of Ash (distracts enemies) and Oil (causes enemies to take additional damage if set ablaze), all of which can give you the leg up on an enemy.
Almost everything is useful for your survival, so read everything!
We hope that these tips help you soldier your way through some of Sekiro’s tough moments. Tell us about some of your personal tips that helped you become the best Shinobi in the land.