Ghost Of Tsushima is a game that lets the player embody an internal conflict within its protagonist – as Jin Sakai, you have to reject parts of your samurai code and adopt a new, more underhand mode of combat to repel the Mongols invading your home. Along the way, the game lets the player hone Jin’s hybrid style to their liking through techniques, which can be purchased with points earned when the player completes missions and ticks off objectives, growing their legend meter.
- READ MORE: ‘Ghost Of Tsushima’ review: a serene samurai simulator paired with a lacklustre storyline
In this guide, we’re going to run through a few of the game’s finest techniques, and teach you how to unlock and employ them on your own terms so you can truly become the Ghost Of Tsushima. The guide will be split into sections based on the three technique pages available to the player.
1Samurai Techniques: Deflection, Evasion and Mythic Abilities
This is the first screen you’ll see when you navigate to the techniques tab in Ghost Of Tsushima’s menu. These abilities are mostly focused on Jin’s abilities in battle, the literal swordplay you’ll get used to as you play through the game.
Unyielding Sword Parry and Unyielding Spear Parry
Effect: Parry an unblockable sword/spear attack from Mongol swords
These two abilities are crucial so you should rush to attain them in the early game. This is due to the fact that they essentially nullify the game’s most dangerous ‘red’ attacks, turning them into blue glinting attacks that you can actually counter.
After a few hours, you’ll acclimate to Ghost Of Tsushima’s parry system, but you may not be able to adapt to unblockable attacks, which will blindside you and get you killed when you’re overwhelmed by a pack of enemies. With these two skills you can avoid that problem almost entirely, reducing the number of unblockable attacks in combat.
Effect: Dodge at the last possible moment to perform a deadly counterattack
This is another skill that will make combat a breeze should you rush to unlock it in the early game. Pressing ‘Circle to dodge in battle will become second nature to any decent Ghost Of Tsushima player, but with this ability, you can catch enemies out every time you hit the button. This means that you’ll pull off deadly counter attacks often at random once the Perfect Dodge is unlocked just by keeping to healthy combat habits. Even better, time slows if you pull it off!
Effect: A quick unblockable attack that inflicts extra damage against Staggered enemies. Kills may Terrify nearby enemies
Ghost Of Tsushima’s Mythic quests are some of the best tales in the game, and they’re well worth seeking out in the early game to quickly unlock some of the game’s best abilities. You can get the Heavenly Strike by finding the Shigenori Musician (you should stumble upon them naturally) which will lead you to Shigenori and the Heavenly Strike ability.
The Heavenly Strike ability uses one Resolve node, and it’s surprisingly useful during duels due to its unblockable nature and the fact that it deals more damage to a staggered enemy. It’s high risk, especially if you need Resolve to heal, but if you seek out Bamboo Strikes to build your Resolve meter you’ll be able to pull off consecutive Heavenly Strikes to make short work of enemies.
Dance of Wrath
Effect: Unleash three consecutive unblockable attacks that inflict high damage. Kills may Terrify nearby enemies
You’ll find this next Mythic Tale via a musician near Yarikawa in Toyotama, the second island in Ghost Of Tsushima’s story. Keep clearing outposts and saving civilians and one of them will eventually mark the musician on your map. The Dance Of Wrath is even more deadly than the Heavenly Strike, and is especially useful in combination with it.
Jin will zip between enemies doling out deadly unblockable attacks. What’s better is that if you land these attacks you’ll usually see a nearby enemy start crawling away from you, terrified. This means you can quickly execute them for a massive Resolve boost to make up for the three Resolve nodes you burn using it. You might not think it, but this is very useful if you’re stuck in a duel.
2Stance Techniques: Stone, Water, Wind and Moon Stance
The second page of techniques relates to Ghost Of Tsushima’s sword stances, which can be changed on the fly to help the player deal with different enemy types. You unlock more sword stances by observing or killing Mongol leaders whom you’ll find at the various outposts dotted around the game’s three islands. It’s well worth unlocking all of them as early as possible so you can adapt on the fly.
Stone: Strength of Mountains/Momentum
You’ll want to progress down this tree immediately until you hit the bottom, as it has a number of hidden benefits. Most of the game’s boss battles take the form of duels, and pretty much all of them pit you against another enemy with a sword. This means that the upgrades in this tree are useful in normal combat and duels.
Crucially, Strength Of Mountains lets you deal more stagger damage against enemies with swords, so you can break their posture quicker in a duel, which makes the fight so much easier. Momentum increases the speed with which you can deal Heavy Attacks in Sword Stance (Triangle) which will also give you a massive boost in battle.
Wind: Strengthened Typhoon Kicks and Typhoon Kick Finisher
If you’ve played Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, you’ll know the inimitable feeling of Spartan Kick-ing an enemy off a cliff to their ultimate doom. You can do the same in Ghost Of Tsushima with this underrated ability that lets you throw enemies into the air during Wind Stance.
Given that the Water and Moon stance upgrades aren’t all that important, spend your spare points here so you can dispatch enemies in a cathartic manner by booting them off a mountain. It’s heaps of fun and deals incredible stagger damage. At the top level your foes will even be knocked down by the kick.
3Ghost Techniques: Ghost Weapons
The third and final tab of Ghost Of Tsushima’s techniques relates to Jin’s Ghost Weapons – activated by tapping R1 – and a series of Evolving Tactics that you can develop throughout the game. You unlock a Ghost Weapon every time your legend meter increases. I’d argue that the Kunai and Smoke Bombs are most useful, so focus on those first.
Effect: Kunai inflict twice as much damage
This is a simple upgrade but a very deadly one. One of the easiest Ghost Weapons to use in battle, you can chuck multiple Kunai out at high speed with a simple tap. Once you have them fully upgraded you can wipe out an entire group of enemies by hammering R1 – upgrade your carry capacity to do even more potential damage.
Effect: Smoke Bomb fumes restore some of your health.
This is an excellent defensive technique that you can use to escape in battle when things get ropey, but I actually found that it’s really useful on the offensive too. When you use a Smoke Bomb, enemies will be blinded to the point that you can assassinate them, so I would use the Smoke Bomb to initiate a three-enemy Chain Assassination (more on that later) while restoring Jin’s health.
4Ghost Techniques: Evolving Tactics
Chain Assassination Master
Effect: Assassinate up to three nearby enemies in quick succession
This is an absolute no-brainer, and you should rush to pick it up ASAP. This gives you three free kills at the start of any battle if you can approach it with stealth in mind. Ignore other skills until you grab this one, and they’ll interface better with the rest of your techniques, it’ll make clearing camps a breeze.
Improved Standoff Streak
Effect: After a successful Standoff, two enemies will rush in and open themselves to a killing blow
Sometimes you can’t approach with stealth though, which is where improved Standoff Streak comes in handy. This means that when you initiate a battle without sneaky tactics, you can take out up to three enemies if you pull off the timing mini game to dice through them as they approach. This is another ability you should rush straight away to seriously improve your chances in combat.