Sekiro’s Isshin, the Sword Saint boss fight continues. Unlike other bosses who only add one or two moves after the first Deathblow, Isshin, the Sword Saint becomes basically a whole new boss. He summons a halberd and has a host of new moves.
You’ve already been through a couple phases of this final fight, but you still need a plan to take on Isshin. And that plan looks a little different than the first phase. In this guide, we’ll show you how to defeat Isshin, the Sword Saint’s second phase with the most effective Shinobi Prosthetic and strategies for reacting to his attacks.
The best Prosthetic Tools, items, and skills for Isshin, the Sword Saint
There are always items and attacks that work well against Sekiro bosses. These are our recommendations for the best items to bring to your fight with Isshin, the Sword Saint.
- Suzaku’s Lotus Umbrella. If you haven’t unlocked this final upgrade to the Loaded Umbrella Prosthetic Tool, the other versions will (probably) work, but, really, what are you waiting for? Isshin’s new weapon has a long reach, so it’s a lot harder to get in close enough to use the Shinobi Firecrackers to interrupt his attacks. Instead, the umbrella lets you just absorb those attacks (and keep fighting).
Isshin, the Sword Saint Phase 2
At the beginning of this phase, Isshin draws a large halberd/spear. This changes the fight dramatically. Not only does he have two weapons, but the range of the fight changes as well.
While it feels like a whole new fight, one thing carries over from the first phase: Deflecting. You can Deflect nearly all of Isshin’s attacks — and doing so deals respectable Posture damage. Deflecting can even interrupt some (but not all) of his attack combos.
Deflecting is a pretty daunting task, though, so you have to know when it makes sense to try. For example, Isshin has several attacks that end in a Perilous thrust. Instead of Deflecting during those attacks, the Mikiri Counter is a lot safer.
It’s important to note here that Mikiri Countering his Perilous thrusts works from about two miles away. No matter how far away you are, try to Mikiri Counter — you’ll be surprised by how much you can draw him in.
Let’s break down his moves — all 11(ish) of them — and how to react to them, then we’ll discuss how to bring it all together.
Isshin, the Sword Saint’s attacks
Let’s talk about Isshin’s attacks, how to identify them, and what you should do about them. And Isshin has a lot new.
We’re going to start with Perilous Attacks. These are where you’re going to do most of your Posture damage in this phase. After that, all of Isshin’s attacks are things to avoid or attempt to Deflect.
Perilous Attack 1: Gun and Perilous Thrust
This attack is where things start getting interesting. After a series of gunshots, he’ll follow up with a Perilous spear thrust. Mikiri Counter it to deal some Posture damage. You’ll even have time to land one free hit before his guard is back up.
Perilous Attack 2: Sweep
We don’t have much to say about Isshin’s Perilous sweep attack. We’re pretty sure he only ever did it once in our week of fighting him. It’s got an elaborate windup, and it’s his only other Perilous attack. Jump and land a Jump Kick, or just get out of the way.
This is his only Perilous Attack that comes without prelude — the others start with gunshots or spear flurries. So, if you see the kanji appear after something else, prepare to Mikiri Counter. If it appears without a lead-in attack, get ready to jump.
Perilous Attack 3: Dash, sweep, and thrust
The first several (thousand) times you see this attack, it might be a little intimidating. Isshin winds up, dashes from left to right with a sword slash, spins around with a spear sweep, then finishes up with a Perilous thrust.
The best way to handle it is to dodge backward or block his sword attack, then dodge back away from his spear sweep. That puts you out of range, so you can prepare to Mikiri Counter the Perilous thrust. (In the video above, you can see how far away you can be and still land the Mikiri Counter.)
Perilous Attack 4: Spear flurry and thrust
Let’s start with the good news about this attack: It ends with a Mikiri Counter-able thrus. The bad news is that it starts with a series of five (or so) brutal spear attacks. It’s much harder to dodge out of the way because he moves toward you throughout the attacks.
It’s much better to Deflect as many as you can, absorb the rest, then make sure you’re prepared for the Perilous thrust.
This is a simple leap attack along with an overhand swing of his spear (glaive?). It’s easy to see coming, and a quick side step will get you out of the way.
The only trick is to wait a moment longer than you’re used to before you dodge. If you dodge too early, he’ll still hit you and deal a lot of damage.
Isshin’s basic attack is a swipe of his sword followed by a huge sweep of his spear. You can block or Deflect both of these swings, but be careful trying to dodge — his spear has a huge reach and will catch you.
Overhand spear, followthrough sword
Another of Isshin’s basic attacks — though he seems to use it a lot less frequently — is a heavy overhand spear swing followed by a dashing slash of his sword.
You can absorb both of these hits, but it’ll take a huge chunk out of your Posture. Deflecting is best, but dodging away works as well.
This is Isshin’s repositioning move, but we’re including it because of that sneaky sword strike he does right at the beginning. He always dashes to the left, so watch for his windup, then block. You’ll have plenty of time to prepare for whatever he does next.
Isshin has an Ichimonji attack in this phase as well. You can dodge to the side to avoid it, but we had a lot of trouble with the timing of it (as you can see in the video above). Be prepared for a Double Ichimonji, as he’ll almost always swing twice.
Isshin’s wind-based attack is similar to one of his wind attacks in the first phase. The difference is he leads this attack with a series of swings with his spear that will drive you backward — right into the danger zone of the wind spiral attack.
It’s (hypothetically) possible to dodge through the attack, but it’s better to just sprint away when you see him drawing in wind. Even better is to pull our your Loaded Umbrella and hunker down through the attack.
Gun, jump back
Surprise! Isshin also has a gun now! He’ll usually draw it when he’s at range. It’s easy enough to spot, and you can block his shots. He has a few options after the gunshots, though, so it’s important to recognize it and prepare.
His first option is a series of between zero and two sword slashes, followed by leaping backward with a spear sweep. It’s all blockable and Deflect-able. Just make sure you don’t get caught by the spear sweep when he backs off.
Combining defense and offense
Most of this fight is about responding to Isshin’s attacks, but we should also point out what to do when you’re on offense.
The short version is: Focus on reacting, but don’t only react. Your job is to put yourself in positions that keep you out of harm’s way and give you time to react, but still keep you close enough to Deflect, dodge, and sneak in some hits. You want to stay about a spear’s length away from Isshin as often as you can.
Landing attacks that actually hit Isshin and damage his Vitality is very rare in this fight — and the opportunities are few and far between. Usually, you’re only going to sneak in one hit after one of Isshin’s attacks.
Recommending that you just get better at Deflecting is not actually helpful advice, but since this is the last boss fight, we’re going to say it. Deflecting is the way to turn this fight to your advantage. Isshin is unrelenting in his attacks, and Deflecting lets you use those attacks to drive up his Posture damage. The mistakes you make will be costly, but the rewards make trying worth it — even if it means this fight is just practice. Trust us: It’s worth it.
Above, you’ll find our video of a successful Phase 2 — warts and all. We make plenty of mistakes, but you’ll also see us putting into practice all of our advice.