Ghost of Tsushima is out now, and we’re now finally able to experience Sucker Punch’s open world samurai game for ourselves. As you’d expect from a game of this size and scope, there’s a lot going on in Ghost of Tsushima, and here we’ve compiled some handy pointers to make your earlier hours in the game a bit smoother. With all that said, let’s get started.
SEEK OUT UNDISCOVERED LOCATIONS
Ghost of Tsushima’s open world is full of things to see and do, and often many of the more small-scale activities show up on the map as question marks, called undiscovered locations. Of course, years of playing open world games may have trained you to leave that sort of stuff for later and focus on the story for now, seeking out those locations in Ghost of Tsushima is actually quite rewarding. Head to these locations, and you might find a place where a bowyer who can upgrade your bow, or a person who tells you about a nearby point of interesting, or an enemy camp that might help you grind your way to that next skill point. More often than not, these undiscovered locations are worth checking out.
PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR SURROUNDINGS
Quite often, Ghost of Tsushima’s world tries to catch your attention not through prompts or UI elements, but through things that you see in the game itself. Sometimes, these can be easy to miss. For instance, often you might run across foxes or golden birds in the forest, who, if you follow them, will lead you to shrines or nearby locations of interest. Foxes and golden birds can be easily missed, especially if you’re galloping through a forest on horseback, so make sure to watch out for them.
SEEK OUT HOT SPRINGS AND BAMBOO STRIKE CHALLENGES
Hot springs and bamboo strike challenges are among the many optional locations you can find in Ghost of Tsushima’s world- and you should definitely seek out as many of both of them as you can. Hot springs increase your max health, while bamboo strike challenges increase your Resolve, which you need to heal and use certain abilities. Collectively, all the boosts you get from these challenges and hot springs will give you a major leg up in combat.
Speaking of which…
DON’T TRY TO RUSH THROUGH COMBAT
Our first instinct in games with melee combat is often to rush in and just wail on enemies- but don’t make that mistake in Ghost of Tsushima. Mashing the attack button is never a good idea, and will more often than not lead to a swift and humiliating death. Ghost of Tsushima’s combat places a lot of influences on stances, parries, and dodges (we’ll be talking more about some of this stuff in a bit), and those are things you need to be paying attention to. In Ghost of Tsushima, rather than constantly slashing at enemies, what you want to be do is patiently wait for the short window where you can deal one or two quick blows.
START WITH STANDOFFS
Stances, parries, and dodges are for when you’re in the thick of combat- to make sure that you enter fights with a boost, make sure you engage in as many standoffs as you can. Often, the game will give you the option to engage a single foe in a one versus one standoff to initiate combat- take this option whenever you get it. With every successful takedown, you automatically enter combat with a healthy amount Resolve, which makes things much smoother for the rest of the fight.
PAY ATTENTION TO STANCES
We mentioned stances earlier- but how exactly do they work in terms of the mechanics? There are different stances, and you can swap between each of them during combat, and learning how to seamlessly swap between stances is something that becomes incredibly important the deeper you get into the game. Different enemy types merit different stances- one stance might be better to use against enemies with shield, while another might give you a brute coming at you with spear. Often, combat in the game will see you coming against multiple enemies of multiple varieties, so as you can imagine, changing stances often and well becomes quite important.
KUNAI KNIVES ARE SUPER USEFUL
Kunai knives are, of course, not particularly impressive on their own, but when used with the right timing, they can prove very useful. That throwing knives are useful during stealth goes without saying, but here it’s true for when you’re in the thick of combat as well. Enemies come at you with their swords up and ready to block any attack quite often in Ghost of Tsushima. Rather than trying to parry and dodge around them to find the right time to strike, throwing one kunai knife at them will make them recoil, giving you a couple of seconds to get your killing blow in. Of course, kunai knives are limited- so, you know… don’t spam them.
KILL THE ARCHERS FIRST
Archers – as ranged filth often is – are among the most annoying enemies in Ghost of Tsushima. They fire at you from range, and it seems all of them are expert marksmen given how true their aim is. They can be a pretty big hindrance during combat, especially if you’re fighting against multiple enemies at the same time, so any time you enter a fight with archers in it, make it a priority to take those guys out first.
Thankfully, Ghost of Tsushima does give you pretty useful tools to make enemy archers less of a nuisance. For starters, the aforementioned kunai knives are pretty effective against them. Much more effective, however, is the Deflect Arrows Technique in the Samurai tree. It does exactly what it’s name suggests- any time you’re blocking (which you’ll be doing very often), you’ll deflect any incoming arrows. This Technique is available very early on, and it’s very useful, so get it as quickly as possible.
UNYIELDING PARRY TECHNIQUES
Perhaps the single most important mechanic in Ghost of Tsushima’s combat is parrying. Perfect parries give you an immediate opportunity to strike back with deadly slashes, and it becomes central to your strategy in most fights. Some attacks, however, cannot be parried and have to be dodged, which, with a small mistake in the heat of combat, can be fatal. With the Unyielding Sword Parry and Unyielding Spear Parry Techniques though, unblockable attacks can also be parried.
PERFECT HEALING AND RESOLVED PARRY
The Unyielding Parry Techniques are useful, sure, but they’re not crucial by any means. Two parry-related Techniques that are crucial are Perfect Healing Parry and Resolved Parry. The former recovers a small amount of health for you, while the latter restores some Resolve for every parry and perfect parry you perform. Given how much you’ll be parrying in combat in this game, these two Techniques are absolute must haves.
GET THE MIZU-NO-KAMI CHARM
As you may have put together for now, parrying is very important in Ghost of Tsushima’s combat, which means you should take every chance you get to enhance your parries in any way possible. One of the best ways to do that is with the Charm of Mizu-no-Kami. Found at the Spring Falls Shrine, this charm slightly increases the window for the timing of parries, perfect parries, and perfect dodges, making all of them easier to pull off. As you can imagine, this comes in incredibly handy. Later on in the game when you’ve had enough practice with parrying, you may no longer need this charm, but it’s extremely useful in the first few hours.
GET THE CHARM OF AMATERASU
The Charm of Ameterasu is perhaps the single most useful charm in the entire game, and no matter what your playing style is, it will prove quite valuable to you. With this charm equipped, for every enemy you kill, you regain a moderate amount of health- you don’t need to be told how helpful that can be, especially in the more challenging combat encounters. The Charm of Ameterasu can be found at the Golden Summit Shrine- don’t miss it.
PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR OUTFIT
Ghost of Tsushima won’t have you worrying about your gear score or legendary equipment or anything like that, but outfits and armour are still important in the game. You can find various armour sets, and each of them gives you different buffs and advantages- but each also has its own weaknesses. For instance, the Traveller’s Attire you get early on is great for clearing more fog of war from the map during exploration or making it easier to track down items and collectibles, but as you might imagine, it’s not great for combat encounters. Stealth, similarly, has different demands, and so on and so forth. So always pay attention to what it is you’re doing in the game, and equip an outfit based on that.