While your weapons in Sekiro are limited, you have tools (that are basically-but-not-quite weapons) and Skills at your disposal.
This guide will focus on Skills — it’s a broad category that covers both Combat Arts, Prosthetic Arts, and Latent Skills. We’ll talk about what they are, how you’ll use them and how you get them, and then we’ll talk about where you’ll find new Skills to learn.
Combat Arts versus Latent Skills
There are two kinds of Skills you’ll pick up: Combat Arts and Latent Skills. Combat Arts are a specific attack that you get to choose in Wolf’s equipment loadout. They’re assigned to L1/LB + R1/RB (and their PC equivalents). You only get to use one of these at a time.
Sekiro’s Latent Skills, on the other hand, are always active. You don’t have to assign them, so once you buy one, you’re always using it. Latent Skills aren’t attacks. These are things like extra healing and quieter running.
You’ll unlock Skills at Sculptor’s Idols by choosing the Acquire Skills option. Skills cost Skill Points, which you earn periodically as you gain Skill Experience after killing enemies. You can check how much experience and how many points you have, and how far you are from earning your next in the menu.
The tricky thing here is that you can lose the Skill Experience you currently have. When you die and don’t (or can’t) resurrect, you’ll lose half of the Skill Experience you’ve earned (along with half of your sen). The only chance you have to avoid this is Unseen Aid, which you can read more about in our Dragonrot guide.
There are multiple skill trees
The Combat Arts and Latent Skills you acquire are spread across multiple skill trees. The first two you have access to are Shinobi Arts and Prosthetic Arts.
The names broadly (very broadly) define the types of Skills in that tree, but there is some overlap — for example, you’ll find Skills to increase your Spirit Emblem reserve in both Arts. Shinobi Arts are generally sneaky, ninja-type Skills, while Prosthetic Arts tend to focus on, obviously, your Shinobi Prosthetic.
Finding new Skills
You acquire new Skills when you pick up Esoteric Texts. You’ll usually get these after boss fights or find them scattered around the world in hard-to-find locations.
Picking up the Esoteric Text doesn’t grant you the Skills, though. It just means you can learn them if you unlock them with Skill Points.