Ghost Of Tsushima: How To Master The Combat System

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ghost of tsushima combat guide

Ghost of Tsushima‘s robust combat system marries careful stealth tactics with heavy-hitting blows. You’ll need to master both to carve your way through the Mongol hoards — but there’s a couple of quirks you should know about.

Jin’s combat abilities are impacted by several factors including his armour, equipped charms, weapon level and available techniques. You’ll need to focus on every factor to improve Jin’s overall fighting skill.

First, let’s take a look at gear and how it functions.

Ghost of Tsushima: Gear, Charms and Weapons

ghost of tsushima gear charms weapons

The most important tools in Jin’s arsenal are his sword and bow. These can be customised in various ways and can be levelled up with enough materials. If you take these weapons to a swordsmith or bowyer (normally found in larger villagers) you can upgrade them significantly. Each weapon normally has four levels requiring supplies, linen, leather and other goods to improve them. You’ll find these goods scattered around the map in enemy camps, villages and other locations.

Once you improve your sword and bow, you gain access to higher powered attacks. To improve them further, you can also equip unique charms. These charms can be found by traversing local shrines (found on the map or via obtaining greater Exploration abilities). They augment Jin’s abilities by providing offensive or defensive boosts like added damage, easier parries and more.

To unlock more charm slots and improve your weapon abilities, you’ll need to visit fox dens and pray at their corresponding altars. (Also, make sure to pet the fox while you’re there. It does nothing, but it’s very sweet.)

Ghost of Tsushima: Outfits and Armour

ghost of tsushima armour weapons outfits

You’ll begin Jin’s journey with simple traveller’s attire, but as you progress you’ll unlock new outfits. Each outfit has stats relating to how much damage you can take, how much health you have and how much resolve you’ll gain from attacks.

Some outfits offer more benefits than others, but every one can be upgraded with materials like supplies, linen and leather. All you need to do is gather the required ingredients and head to your local Armourer to improve your gear.

There’s several outfits you’ll unlock by taking on side quests and story adventures.

If you want the combat benefits of the armour without the helmet or masked look, you can also modify the armour’s appearance to suit your taste. Play around with what works for you.

Ghost of Tsushima: Combat Options

ghost of tsushima combat

Ghost of Tsushima features a blend of stealth and frontal assault combat. You’ll need to master both to succeed. At first, you’ll need to focus mainly on the samurai fighting style. This means heavy, hard-hitting attacks, parries and dodges. Deflection and evasion are two techniques you’ll need to pour technique points into — these allow you to avoid harder-hitting enemy attacks and strike a killing blow. (Technique points are earned by completing quests.)

Sprint Strike and Shoulder Charge were two of my favourite samurai moves to unlock because they allow for faster-moving attacks but with so many different moves available you can pick and choose what to spend points on. (I’d highly recommend grabbing the exploration abilities before combat so you can unlock a bunch of useful locations like the fox den and healing springs.)

You can also unlock legendary moves like the devastating Heavenly Strike by completing special quests found on your journey. To discover these, visit your local village and chat to any villager with a speech bubble over their heads.

Ghost of Tsushima: Stances

ghost of tsushima stand off

When you’re actually fighting, you’ll usually see a glowing red cross when enemies are about to attack, making the perfect dodge or parry fairly easy to time. Sometimes things get a bit trickier and you’ll need to watch body language to time your parries and attacks right.

Important to consider is Jin’s fighting stances. Jin has four stances to unlock — stone, water, wind and moon. Each features a different fighting style and is powerful against a particular type of enemy.

  • Stone Stance is powerful against swordsmen
  • Water Stance is powerful against shieldmen
  • Wind Stance is powerful against spearmen
  • Moon Stance is powerful against brutes

These stances are unlocked over time by defeating or observing enemy leaders in camps.

If you choose to attack an enemy camp head on, you’ll also be given the option to have a stand-off. These stand-offs are quick-time events where Jin is approached by an enemy warrior. You’ll need to watch these warriors and react in time to defend a heavy blow and strike back.

There’s no glowing indication for these attacks so you’ll need to watch enemy movement (particularly how their elbows and weapons move) to predict when they’ll strike and unleash your own counter-attack. Some enemies will fake you out, so you’ll need to pay attention to how their weight shifts.

After this, you’ll be able to continue with your deadly quest.

If a head-on attack isn’t your jam, you’re also able to focus on your stealth abilities via the ‘Ghost’ technique tree.

Ghost of Tsushima: Stealth Combat

ghost of tsushima stealth

Ghost techniques allow Jin to improve his stealth abilities and grow the legend of the Ghost of Tsushima. This skill tree lets Jin focus on seeing and hearing enemies from a distance, assassinating with speed and becoming more accurate with a bow.

As Jin’s legend grows in Tsushima, his status as a legend grows with him. As his reputation improves, Jin can unlock more stealth weapons and useful techniques like kunai throwing and using smoke bombs. This makes it far easier to sneak into enemy camps, rather than going the head-on assault route.

The major skill you’ll want to nab here are Stealth Hearing and Chain Assassination. They let you find, detect and dispatch enemies with ease.

ghost of tsushima combat stealth

Focusing on assassin-type abilities does give you a very familiar Assassin’s Creed-style of fighting, but it’s great if you want to avoid large-scale conflicts and maximise the legend of the Ghost.

That said, you won’t always be able to rely on stealth.

Ghost of Tsushima: One-On-One Fights

ghost of tsushima combat one on one

Ghost of Tsushima is peppered with multiple ‘cinematic’ fights taking place in a closed-off arena. The first of these you encounter is between Jin and Khotun Khan, but later fights pit you against deadlier enemies and old friends.

These battles rely heavily on the samurai skill tree meaning parries, dodges and heavy-hitting blows will be essential. You aren’t able to use stealth gear like bombs and kunai in these fights so you’ll need to stay alert and watch for any sudden movement.

Focus on the appropriate stance and attack only when your enemy’s defence is down. You’ll need to concentrate on defence-breaking moves here (using △ ) and wear down your enemy over time. These fights are the primary reason why spending points on both samurai and ghost techniques is important.


Mastering these tactics is a challenge at first, but the more you progress in the game the better you’ll handle it. Ghost of Tsushima has an endlessly rewarding combat system that’s well worth devoting time to. I highly recommend diving in and exploring your options before you start Jin’s long journey.

Ghost of Tsushima releases on July 17. Check out Kotaku Australia’s in-depth review here. If you’re looking to purchase the game, you can find the cheapest copies in Australia here.

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