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Ghost of Tsushima stance guide

How to unlock and upgrade stances for different enemies

Ghost of Tsushima’s main character draws his sword Image: Sucker Punch/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

While exploring the quest-filled map in Ghost of Tsushima, you’ll have to cross swords with enemies. The basic mechanics of combat are straightforward, but not every combatant you face is easy to take out with your beginner sword stance.

As you progress through the game, you’ll also face new enemies who bring more than swords to battle. To dispatch of them, you’ll need to learn and implement new sword stances.

In this Ghost of Tsushima guide, we’ll teach you everything you need to know about unlocking new stances and how to gain new abilities for each stance.

How to unlock new stances

Unlocking new stances in Ghost of Tsushima doesn’t require too much effort. In fact, as you explore the island and increase your legend, you’ll naturally gain the ability to learn new stances.

Image: Sucker Punch/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

To gain new stances in Ghost of Tsushima you need defeat or observe multiple Mongol leaders. As you defeat them, the game will slow down and show you a running counter of how many more leaders need to be defeated or observed before learning a new style. You’ll know you’re fighting a leader among a group of enemies if they are clad in more ornate armor compared to the group they’re with.

Simply continue to defeat or observe leaders across the island and you’ll unlock new stances. For reference, if you’re looking to unlock a new stance, check out the requirements for each in your stance menu under Techniques then Stances.

Ghost of Tsushima stances

Most of the combat in Ghost of Tsushima is sword-based, and stances help you defeat enemies faster when they’re using certain weapons and armor.

Just about any attack will be able to deal a killing blow, but enemies like Shieldmen can be defeated easily by staggering them with heavy attacks (Triangle button) from the Water Stance, which deals extra stagger damage to that enemy type, making it the most effective way to fight against them.

Image: Sucker Punch/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

Here are the four basic stances you can unlock by defeating leaders:

  • Stone Stance: effective against Swordsmen
  • Water Stance: effective against Shieldmen
  • Wind Stance: effective against Spearman
  • Moon Stance: effective against Brutes

As you encounter new enemy types, you’ll have to switch your fighting stance mid-combat to accommodate the new foes you encounter. To switch sword stances, hold down R2 and press the corresponding face button assigned to each fighting stance. When dealing with multiple enemy types, you may need to switch stances constantly to break through their defenses with heavy attacks.

How to unlock new stance skills

While each stance offers new abilities from the start, you can further enhance them with new skills or buffs to make the stance stronger.

Each stance starts off with two unique attacks plus four additional techniques or improvements to the style. To unlock new abilities within a stance, go to your Stance menu and spend Technique Points on new talents within each stance. You must unlock new abilities in order, so keep that in mind.