Ghost of Tsushima Combat: Two Paths, One Sword, Lots of Blood

ghost of tsushima combat katana jin way of the ghost samurai stealth

“Mud, blood, and steel” are the core concepts behind Ghost of Tsushima’s gritty and visceral combat system, according to the developers in a recent Q&A, and you can expect everything from deadly samurai movie duels to aerial assassinations and long-range archery attacks.

ghost of tsushima combat katana jin way of the ghost samurai game logo

“Mud, blood, and steel” are the core concepts behind Ghost of Tsushima’s gritty and visceral combat system, according to the developers in a recent Q&A, and you can expect everything from deadly samurai movie duels to aerial assassinations and long-range archery attacks.

The invading Mongol forces have all but obliterated the island’s band of samurai protectors, and it’s up to one of the survivors, Jin Sakai, to use whatever weapons he can find to counter them. That’s while he’s not busy exploring the gorgeous island of Tsushima and stroking passing foxes, of course.

So let’s take a look at everything we know so far about combat in Ghost of Tsushima. And if you’re yet to decide which edition to choose, don’t forget to check out what you’ll get with each version available at GAME.

There are two fighting styles to choose from

ghost of tsushima combat katana jin way of the ghost samurai duel

Jin might have been brought up as a regular samurai, but he’ll pick up new skills throughout the course of his story which should even the odds even when he’s taking on multiple enemies. As Jin’s path leads him to become the hero of Tsushima, you can choose to stick to the way of the samurai, or take the “dishonorable” path of the Ghost. There’s no karma system, and the ending won’t change depending on which path you choose to follow, so you’re completely free to mix and match skills from both fighting styles as you become steadily more deadly.

Combat type 1: The Way of the Samurai

ghost of tsushima combat katana jin way of the ghost samurai sword

The first path Jin can follow is the more openly aggressive style of the samurai, the traditional fighting style he was brought up learning and which his uncle considers to be far more honourable than the Way of the Ghost.

While most of the rest of Tsushima’s samurai have ended up dead or defeated by relying solely on the Way of the Samurai, you shouldn’t discount it completely in your own battle against the invading Mongol soldiers. Fighting in the samurai style involves some truly epic battles, just like the very best old samurai movies, with tense standoffs and fast-paced duels. You can also switch on Samurai Cinema mode for extra wind, a grainy black and white filmic quality, and some delicious slow-motion blood splats.

You’ll also get a Halfbow for long-range attacks, but your primary weapon is your katana.
This is a seriously deadly weapon, so throughout the game it’ll remain capable of taking down enemies with relatively few hits (which makes perfect sense when you think about it). And on that note, it’s worth being aware that your enemies are more than capable of taking you down in a few hits as well, so you’ll need to learn how to parry and adapt to the different fighting styles of your enemies. Of course, you’ll be able to upgrade your katana as you progress through the game to make it even more deadly, but more on that in a minute.

Combat type 2: The Way of the Ghost

ghost of tsushima combat katana jin way of the ghost samurai stealth sneak

Your second option is to forgo the honourable traditions of your samurai teachers and pursue a course of stealth, secrecy, and general sneakiness. While you can still engage enemies in up-front challenges (after all, you were raised a samurai, and old habits die hard), the Way of the Ghost will open up alternative routes through a band of enemies.

You could sneak your way past and avoid killing altogether, or leap from on high to perform a devastating aerial kill. Or you could throw traps and decoys (such as firecrackers and wind chimes), or turn to tools more traditionally favoured by shinobi rather than by samurai, such as kunai knives and a grappling hook. And let’s not forget your Longbow, which packs more of a punch than the samurai fighting style’s Halfbow.

Weapons, armour and tools

ghost of tsushima combat katana jin way of the ghost samurai

Your greatest weapon is your katana, which is a family heirloom (it even has a name) and serves as your primary weapon throughout the game. You’ll be able to upgrade it both in terms of its stats and its appearance.

Speaking of upgrades, you’ll be able to mix and match different pieces of armour to take advantage of their various stat buffs. Don’t feel constrained to stick to one set, either – regardless of which fighting style you adopt, you can wear any type of armour, and there are flowers dotted around the landscape which you can use to tidy up the colour schemes. You can earn some of the best rewards in the game for completing side quests, some of which do reward you with new armour sets, so they’re well worth your time.

You’ll also be armed with a grappling hook, which means you can zip across gaps and up over high obstacles with ease.

Resolve and tactical choices

There’s one tiny detail in the May gameplay trailer which you might not have noticed, and that’s the appearance of small circles in the life bar when Jin’s fighting. These are apparently Jin’s Resolve, a special move which he can use either to heal up in a pinch, or to unleash a devastating attack. You’ll have to think tactically when deciding which of these is the best course of action.

Additionally, you’ll have a choice of Stances to pick from to change the type of attack you unleash. Some of these will be more effective against particular enemies.

You can change the difficulty level

There are actually three difficulty levels to choose from: Easy, Normal, and Hard. Whichever you choose, one thing that’s worth noting is that the amount of health your enemies have won’t change. Your katana will always be a deadly weapon, but the amount of skill you need to survive a battle will differ according to the game’s difficulty.

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