Learning to how to parry in Ghost of Tsushima is a foundational skill. It can and will save your life early in the game, and understanding its nuances in the late game will make even the toughest fights manageable. Parrying isn’t the easiest technique to learn or master, but once you know the basics, all you have to do is put them into practice.
That’s what this guide is all about: how to parry, how to make parrying easier, and where to practice your parrying skills early so you can spend the rest of the game honing them to a razor’s edge.
The Very Basics: Parry Timing
To parry in Ghost of Tsushima, press “L1” about a quarter- to a half-second before an enemy’s attack lands. Any sooner and you’ll leave yourself open. Later and you’ll have already taken a hit, making the parry attempt worthless.
Parry timing is relatively specific and somewhat depends on your game’s framerate. Usually, I found I needed to add an extra quarter-second before I pressed “L1” to allow for input delay. In practical terms, give yourself a little more than half a second to parry.
The best way to get the timing down is as simple as it will be brutal. Once you’re out of the opening sequences and the open-world map is available to you, go to the nearest encounter area and forget stealth altogether.
Instead, rush in headlong and get a few enemies to attack you. Kill a couple to give yourself some breathing room, then start trying to parry. You will fail a lot, and you will die a lot, especially on Ghost of Tsushima‘s hard difficulty setting.
Don’t let that slow you down, though. The muscle memory you build early on will pay dividends in the late game, where even the easier bosses hit like trucks but offer plenty of parry bait for you to exploit. A few missteps at the beginning are a small price to pay.
Getting the Timing Down
As for getting the timing down, stick to fighting the enemies in bright yellow shirts. Their weapons don’t deal as much damage as the better-armed Mongols, and their attacks are slow and easy to predict.
Set yourself a consecutive parry goal, say three in a row without taking damage. Once you achieve that, start mixing it up a little bit — parry into counter-attack into more attacks back into a parry.
Take your time and practice for a little while. Alternately, you can bum rush through the map, cutting a bloody swathe through every Mongol outpost, practicing your skills the whole way.
How to Parry a Spear
Spear enemies in Ghost of Tsushima will be the bane of your existence for at least several hours. Their primary attack comes with a red glow, and there is no way early on to parry those. You can only dodge them. Some attacks have a blue light on them, and you’re not parrying those either, at least at the start of the game.
To parry a spear, you need access to the Wind Stance. To earn that, you need to observe and kill around 18 leader enemies scattered across Tsushima. Leaders are clad in full armor and usually carry a shield. Here’s a full run-down on how to observe leaders and get stance points.
Once you unlock Wind Stance, you need to spend three Technique Points to gain access to Wind: Spear Defense, which allows you to cancel out a spear thrust with an attack of your own.
The parry timing against a spear is different than against a sword, and the most consistent way I found to do it was to parry with a heavy attack just as the enemy begins to wind up.
Though it occurs much less frequently, the unblockable blue spear attacks do happen, and you gain a counter to those much earlier.
Unyielding Spear Parry will cost you four technique points in the Deflection tree, but because you’ll deal with red spear attacks so much more often, I think your points are better spent elsewhere.
Where to Find the Parry Charm
Charms are powerful equipable items that can drastically change how you play the game, or at the very least, make your life easier. There’s one such charm for parrying as well.
Known as the Charm of Kagu-Tsuchi, the item widens the timing window for parries and dodges. If you mastered the default timing, this charm will almost seem like cheating, as it’s incredibly generous, even on perfect parries.
You’ll find the Charm of Kagu-Tsuchi in the Spring Falls Shrine at the northernmost part of the opening area, here:
Once you reach the top following a brief platforming section, you’ll have easy access to the charm once you pray at the shrine. Give it a spin. I think there are better options that open up more playstyles, but if you want to become a parry god, Kagu-Tsuchi will provide.
And that’s just about everything you need to know about parrying in Ghost of Tsushima. We’ve got more on the way, so stay tuned. In the meantime, check out our other guides by clicking the links above.