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Sekiro guide: The best skills

Our favorite skills to buy early

The best Sekiro Skills FromSoftware/Activision via Polygon

While your weapons in Sekiro are limited — you finish the game with the same sword you begin with — your options during combat are anything but. There are a lot of skills, and it can be hard to decide where to spend your hard-earned Skill Points.

This guide lists seven of our favorite skills — the ones you should focus on buying first. (We’ll cover skills more extensively in another guide.)

Mikiri Counter (Shinobi Arts)

This is one of the earliest skills available. It allows you to deflect otherwise unblockable thrusting attacks. And, since it’s a Latent Skill, it’s always available. It’s especially useful against enemies with spears.

Mid-air Deflection (Shinobi Arts)

This is another early one — you only need to buy the Whirlwind Slash to unlock it. It’s another Latent Skill that adds the ability to block enemy attacks while jumping. That might sound like a limited use at first, but it is invaluable when dealing with ranged enemies.

Fang and Blade (Prosthetic Arts)

Fang and Blade is a second level Prosthetic Art — you’ll need to get Chasing Slice first — that follows up Prosthetic Tool attacks with a second attack combining both the Tool and your sword. It’s another Latent Skill, so it’s always active. Fang and Blade gives you some extra oomph when you attack with your already powerful Prosthetic.

Emma’s Medicine: Potency (Prosthetic Arts)

Being able to heal and recover from grievous injury is indescribably important in Sekiro (that’s why we recommend always buying Gourd Seeds), so anything that makes healing more effective is a good thing to have. This is the first of two Latent Skills that improve the efficacy of your Healing Gourd.

Ichimonji (Ashina Arts)

Ichimonji is the first Skill you unlock win the Ashina Arts tree (so you won’t be able to buy it for a little while). The drawback: It takes a long time to execute. The benefit: Ichimonji shreds enemy Posture. As long as you have the time to pull it off, it makes short work of low-level enemies, often turning confrontation into two-hit affairs (Ichimonji + Deathblow). On tougher enemies (including mini-bosses and bosses), it’s a reliable way to add chunks to their absurdly large Posture meters.

Ascending Carp and Descending Carp (Ashina Arts)

These skills become available a bit later in the game than those above. Picking up the strong, overhead strike Ichimonji unlocks them both. We’re lumping them together here because they both deal with the same mechanic. Ascending and Descending Carp both focus on doing more Posture Damage to your enemies.