With these tips, you’ll still die more than twice, but less than you ordinarily would have.
As shocking as this might be, this game made by FromSoftware is pretty hard. You’re going to die- and you’re going to die more than just twice. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice may not be Dark Souls or Bloodborne, but the game is about as demanding as you would expect from one made by From- if not more. To help you out as you come to grips with its systems and mechanics in the earlier hours of your playthrough, in this feature we’ll be taking a look at fifteen beginner’s tips and tricks you should keep in mind.
Without any further ado, let’s prepare to die.
UN-LEARN DARK SOULS
Sekiro does share some similarities with FromSoftware’s signature Dark Souls series, but they exist on a surface level only. In more ways than one, this game is very, very different from Souls. Most immediate of these is the second-to-second loop of combat. While Souls was slower and more methodical, Sekiro is all about being aggressive, about parrying instead of dodge rolling (though you do often have to dodge as well). Even when you’re defending, you have to do so with aggressive intent, as you look for openings in your foe’s posture to strike that deadly killing blow. For Souls veterans to whom FromSoftware’s signature combat style and moment-to-moment gameplay has become second nature, this is the most important piece of advise- forget everything you’ve learned. Go against your instincts. This is not Dark Souls.
DEPEND ON YOUR GRAPPLE
Very soon into the game, the Wolf gets a grappling ability, which allows you to, well, grapple onto certain points in the environment. It’s not a free grapple, so you can’t just swing up to rooftops whenever you want like you’re Spider-Man, but the game is pretty generous with the availability of grapple points at any given time. Don’t ignore these- they’re there for a reason. Sekiro expects you to employ stealth to thin out enemies before you get into outright combat, and the best way to do that is from above. Use the rooftops, pick out enemies, grapple back to rooftops- rinse and repeat.
RUN AWAY IF YOU NEED TO
This follows on from the previous thing we talked about. Stealth, as we mentioned, is an important tool that you’re pretty much gonna have to use, but it’s also very useful because it can be pretty easy to cheese as well. Even if enemies do notice you, most of the times it’s pretty easy to just grapple back to rooftops and stay crouched up there for half a minute or so- enemies will soon lose sight of you, allowing you to re-enter stealth. So if you feel like you’re overwhelmed by sheer numbers, running away and re-entering stealth is always a viable (and smart) option.
Ceramic shards may seem like very unassuming items in every way possible, but they can come in pretty handy in stealth situations. If you’re faced by large numbers of enemies and need to separate them from each other, pick a good spot to hide and throw a ceramic shard at one of your intended targets. Drawing out enemies close to your own position this way can be very useful when you’re looking to thin out enemy numbers.
INVEST IN STEALTH SKILLS
We’ve established by now that stealth is key in Sekiro, so obviously, you’re going to want to invest in stealth skills to make you the perfect silent shinobi. The Suppress Presence and Suppress Sound skills do exactly what their names suggest, making it more difficult for enemies to detect you. Suppress Presence costs two skill points, while Suppress Sound will set you back three of them- if you find you’re relying on stealth more than out-and-out combat, stock up on enough skill points for both of these.
Whirlwind Slash is yet another skill that’s incredibly handy, and chances are it’ll be one of the very first you unlock, not least because of how cheap it is. Once you do unlock it though, make sure you exploit the hell out of it- it’s not overpowered or anything, but in tight situations where you find yourself surrounded by enemies or want to deal quick blows to a target- the Whirlwind Slash can be incredibly useful- and you will be in such situations quite a lot, regardless of how stealthy you try to be.
DON’T IGNORE EAVESDROP OPPORTUNITIES
Sekiro does a good job of explaining the eavesdropping mechanics, and how it can yield important information at times, but make sure you keep it in mind as you go forward as well. Before you rush in to slaughter your enemies, while you’re scoping them out, check if you can eavesdrop on any of them. From weaknesses to be exploited against certain enemies to clues about where to head next to even some interesting lore tidbits, eavesdropping on conversations in Sekiro is almost always rewarded with something meaningful.
TIME YOUR RESURRECTIONS
Resurrections are the core hook of Sekiro– it says so in the name, after all. But as is the case with anything made by FromSoftware, how useful this mechanic is depends, for the most part, entirely on you. Sure, you can plain and simple use it to just act as an insurance for even more health should you ever die (and of course you will die), but if you time your resurrections right, they can be an incredibly handy tool. Let an enemy walk far enough away from you after they’ve killed you, and after you’ve risen again, they will have no idea you’re not dead, giving you the perfect opportunity to strike a deadly stealthy blow.
While you play Sekiro, you’ll come across a few coin purses scattered through the game’s world- for someone who’s played the Souls games, their function will be quite familiar. Coin purses are consumables that give you certain amounts of sen (depending on what kind of purse you’re using), similar to consumable souls. If you have coin purses and are short of money, pop them before you go to a merchant to buy something.
SOME MINI-BOSSES CAN BE SKIPPED- BUT DON’T DO THAT
Sekiro doesn’t force you to fight every single mini-boss you encounter (and you encounter a lot)- and given just how tough some of them are, you might be tempted to just pick an alternate route and skip them entirely (the ones that can be skipped, at the very least). But while it is possible to do so, it’s not advisable. Named bosses drop prayer beads, which is what you need to to upgrade your max health and posture meters. So every single boss you find- kill it, don’t skip it.
USE STEALTH DEATHBLOW ON MINI-BOSSES
While regular enemies in Sekiro usually need you to deal just one Deathblow for you to kill them, when it comes to named bosses and mini-bosses, more often than not they need more than one. However, if you can find a way to sneak up behind a named boss without alerting them, or a way to get to a vantage point above them, that gives you the chance to do one of the required Deathblows stealthily before the fight’s even begun. The fight will then get triggered, but your enemy will essentially have one less health bar to worry about.
PERFECT YOUR PARRY TIMING ASAP
Parrying is to Sekiro what dodge rolling was to Dark Souls. But simply holding down the left bumper to block enemy attacks won’t be enough. You’ll block the attacks, sure, but that will also damage your posture- perfecting the riposte in Sekiro is key, as the game tells you very quickly, and you’re going to want to do that as quickly as possible if you want to make any progress. And how do you do that…?
TRAIN WITH HANBEI THE UNDYING
Trial and error will of course be an effective method to get to grips with combat in Sekiro, but dying has larger consequences in the game. Instead, to learn and master the game’s many combat techniques, it’s usually a good idea to go back to the Dilapidate Temple and train with Hanbei the Undying. This is a perfect and safe place to practice and master combat moves both basic and advanced, especially given how there’s no possibility of any actual failure here, and as such, no consequences.
GRIND WHEN NEEDED
Hitting a stone wall in your bid for making progress is not that uncommon in Sekiro- there are too many bosses an mini-bosses in the game that will need absolute perfection in combat from you if you wish to progress. As such, if you find there’s a fight you simply cannot handle, you can always grind it out. Resting at sculptor’s idols respawns almost all enemies, so resting at idols, killing enemies to gain more currency and experience points and also build up more resurrections, and then resting at idols again to repeat the process until you feel like you’re strong enough is a pretty good tactic.
EXPLORE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE
Sekiro offers plenty of opportunities for exploration. Its environments are often winding and large with plenty of areas that you can miss entirely- so don’t just stick to the critical path. Explore as thoroughly as possible, because some of the most important items in the game, like Gourd Seeds and Prosthetic Shinobi Tools, are entirely skippable and pretty easy to miss.