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Ghost of Tsushima standoff guide

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Two characters walk towards one another on a bridge in Ghost of Tsushima Image: Sucker Punch/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

Standoffs are one of the most straightforward ways to dispatch foes in Ghost of Tsushima. These combat encounters are short, cinematic, and require precise timing to win.

If you’re having trouble getting the timing right in standoffs, this Ghost of Tsushima guide will give you advice on how to make sure you win these combat encounters decisively.

How to start a standoff

Standoffs in Ghost of Tsushima are an optional way of handling combat. You can choose to square off against opponents one-on-one like an honorable samurai or use a stealth build to take out enemies without a sound. Taking on foes in standoffs requires a bit of timing to get right. As the game progresses, some wrinkles get added to the formula and you can unlock skills to defeat more than one enemy in a standoff.

Image: Sucker Punch/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

Once you’ve unlocked the ability by following the game’s story, you can start a standoff by approaching an unaware group of enemies either in a camp, in front of a stronghold, or on the road. If you approach a group of enemies without them noticing you first, a prompt will appear on screen to initiate a standoff. Press up on your D-pad, and your character will alert that group of enemies by challenging one of them to a standoff.

How to win a standoff

When the standoff begins, your character and a single enemy will approach one another and prepare to cut down the other in a single strike.

To start the standoff, hold Triangle and watch your opponent for your cue to strike. To successfully defeat an opponent in a standoff, you must release the Triangle button right as they are striking. If you release the Triangle button before they strike, they’ll hit you instead. If you fail to release the Triangle button before they hit you, the enemy will also strike you and end the standoff.

The key is waiting for them to strike, which leaves them open for your counterstrike. If you release the Triangle button while they are in their attack animation, you will cut them done in a single blow, instantly defeating them.

Image: Sucker Punch/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

As you make progress in the game, enemies will eventually try to psych you out during standoffs. Instead of attacking, some enemies pretend to attack first, which may trick you into attacking before them, giving the enemy the opportunity to strike you.

The tell for each enemy is different, but pay attention to their body language and what they say. Foes will often taunt before feinting and will gesture with their shoulders or some other body part that isn’t their attacking arm. To be certain, always release the Triangle button to counterattack when it’s clear an enemy is attacking: You will see them quickly reach for their weapon, scream, and then attack.

Just watch their feet, and don't let go of Triangle until they move them.

While the timing on both an enemy’s feint and actual actual attack is quick, the difference in animation and movement is comparatively huge. If you’re nervous about failing a standoff, remember that you can still release Triangle to counterattack until the very moment you’re hit, giving you a large window to successfully defeat an opponent.

Standoff skills

In addition to instantly defeating a single opponent in a standoff, you can unlock techniques that let you dispatch multiple enemies in a single encounter.

Image: Sucker Punch/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

In your Techniques > Ghost > Evolving Tactics menu, you can spend Technique Points to bolster the capabilities of your standoffs.

The first ability you can unlock is the Standoff Streak, which allows you to cut down a second foe after defeating the first one. The camera will then swing around to focus on another enemy who will run toward you. Pressing Triangle before they strike you will instantly defeat them.

Once you’ve unlocked that skill, you can also learn the Improved Standoff Streak, which lets you cut down two additional enemies after defeating the first one in a standoff.