The Best Techniques in Ghost of Tsushima
Techniques are the backbone of combat in Ghost of Tsushima. Without them, all you can do is dodge and attack: no special moves, no fancy counterattacks, no sneaky kills from the shadows.
While the game’s Technique trees are straightforward enough, there are several you’ll want to focus on acquiring early and using often, as they make the game both more satisfying and generally more fun.
This guide details the best Techniques in each tree, with a particular focus on early- to mid-game pickups.
The Best Samurai Techniques and Skills
Samurai skills come in two primary flavors: deflection and evasion.
- Deflection — Focuses on parries and redirecting attacks
- Evasion — Focuses on avoiding damage
- Some techniques in this tree deal damage
The Best Deflection Techniques
The first skill you’ll want to learn in the Deflection tree is Deflect Arrows. Archers might not be able to take much damage but put enough of them in the right spot, and they’ll kill you faster than almost any other enemy in the game.
Deflect Arrows makes archers instantly obsolete. As long as you hold "L1," they can’t touch you, no matter how many there are or where they’re shooting from. Even point-blank, you’ll be swatting arrows and fire arrows from their bows with ease.
Next on the Deflection tree is Resolved Parry. If you’re set on taking your enemies head-on, you’ll want the extra resolve buildup this Technique provides.
Perfect parries are better here, but don’t let that stop you from going for the safer option. You’ll gain Resolve either way, and that extra healing use could save you from an early grave.
Check out our Parry Guide for more on how to maximize your parry potential.
The Best Evasion Techniques
The first Evasion Technique you’ll want to pick up is Dodging Slash. The game says it’s useful against slow opponents, but that’s an understatement. This Technique is useful against every enemy in the game, bosses included.
Timing your dodge can be a little tricky at first, doubly so if you’re unfamiliar with an enemy’s move set. Once you know when to dodge most attacks in the game, Dodging Slash will become a mainstay of your arsenal for both its simplicity and effectiveness regardless of circumstance.
Your other important Evasion Technique is the final one you gain access to: Perfect Dodge. This Technique follows a similar logic to the perfect parry.
Take on a little extra risk for the chance at a free killing blow. Thankfully, the input for the follow-up can be either a light or heavy attack, so all you need to focus on is nailing the timing.
The Best Stance Techniques
There are 16 Stance Techniques in Ghost of Tsushima, but I think there are only two real difference makers no matter where you are in the game. The Stone Stance, the first one you can use, is an excellent general-purpose Stance, but there’s nothing about it that stands out.
The two Techniques you want are Water: Surging Strikes and Wind: Spear Defense.
Other options have more utility in certain situations, but these two abilities have the most overall benefit. That’s because they make two of the most annoying enemy types in the game child’s play.
Water: Surging Strikes
Water: Surging Strikes is the premier anti-shield Technique. Even without upgrading it, you’ll break shield guards left and right, and it’s a great DPS tool to boot. The later nodes in the tree only make it better.
Wind: Spear Defense
We talked about Wind: Spear Defense in the parry guide, but it bears repeating that this Technique completely nullifies every spear attack in the game and leaves your enemy open for easy damage.
So long as you’re in Wind Stance, a well-timed light or heavy attack will parry the spear-wielder, sending him reeling behind you and creating an opening where before there was only pain.
The Best Ghost Techniques
Like Samurai Techniques, your Ghost skills come in two varieties: weapons and tactics.
The Best Ghost Weapons
You can never go wrong with Kunai, as the world is filled with easy-to-find refills and enemies drop them on death frequently enough.
You’ll want to spring for Serrated Blades as soon as you can. You don’t have to upgrade your carrying capacity much: Three serrated Kunai will decimate almost any enemy group in the game. Even those that don’t die will have broken guards, leaving them open for a quick kill.
Your next Ghost Weapon purchase should be Sticky Bombs. You can upgrade them to use Explosive Powder if you like, but even on their own, these things hit like a truck and can win fights before they begin.
Damage, knockback, blinding — Sticky Bombs can do it all, and when upgraded, they’re a guaranteed kill against almost anything they stick to.
The Best Evolving Tactics
Paradoxically, one of the Evolving Tactics Techniques you want is more samurai oriented than Ghost oriented. Pick up Improved Standoff Streak to cut through up to three enemies (with one stroke each) and gain a healthy chunk of resolve.
Pair this ability with the fully upgraded Sakai armor you receive as part of the main quest, and your Standoff Streak goes up to five kills in a row. That deletes most wandering patrols, and even an empty Resolve meter won’t know what to do with all the extra gains.
Chain Assassination Master
Learn the Chain Assassin Master Technique if stealth is more your game. You'll get three instant kills in a row, plus the ability to get away scot-free.
Combine this Technique with Smoke Bombs, and you can Chain Assassinate in the middle of combat, getting three points of Resolve and the means to escape at almost zero risk.
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Those are the Techniques we favor when it comes to making your early progress in Ghost of Tsushima, as they will serve you throughout the entire game. Whether they’re get-out-of-jail-free cards or outright deadly, you can’t go wrong with these choices. For more tips and tricks, be sure to check out the links above.