In this Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Guide we’ll be taking a closer look at Skills. There are many Skills you can choose from in Sekiro, and players will not be able to obtain all of them without intense grinding, so it becomes imperative to isolate just which are the best. In this Guide we’ll cover which you should aim to get early on, and those that any player should have.
The Best Skills in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Near the beginning of the game players will gain access to the Shinobi Arts and Prostethic Arts, and will gain the Ashina Arts and Temple Arts a ways after. The final Skill Tree is the Mushin Arts, but you will not obtain these for a good amount of time. Since the Shinobi arts are the very first you will acquire, let’s begin there.
Best Shinobi Arts
Players will obtain the Shinobi Esoteric Text from the Sculptor after obtaining their first Skill Point (via XP) and then speaking to him in the Dilapidated Temple. Once you possess this, you will gain access to the Shinobi Arts Skill Tree, and you can begin to place points there. This Skill Tree contains the single most important Skill in the game in Mikiri Counter.
Mikiri Counter (2 Skill Points)
Many Mini-Bosses and Bosses feature “Thrust Attacks” that can be extremely hard to dodge or deflect, and this Skill allows you to not only prevent damage, but also deal substantial Posture Damage from simply pressing a button. Some late game Bosses, that would otherwise be extremely difficult are made much easier because of this Skill, so you will absolutely want to have it. Mikiri Counter should be the very first Skill you take.
Suppress Presence (2 Skill Points)
Immediately after taking Mikiri Counter, you will have the ability to obtain Suppress Presence (when you have enough Skill Points). This Skill is extremely beneficial in allowing for more successful Stealth Deathblows without detection, and you’ll want to consider taking this one early on. I wouldn’t recommend taking it immediately after Mikiri, but it shouldn’t be that long after until you do.
Suppress Sound (3 Skill Points)
Much like Suppress Presence, this Skill helps with preventing enemies from hearing you when you perform Stealth Deathblows, or are sneaking up on a target. Also, like Suppress Presence, it’s not one you will need immediately, but you will want to take this one earlier on in the game to make best use of it.
Shinobi Eyes (3 Skill Points)
This Latent Skill increases the Posture Damage you deal with your Mikiri Counter Skill, making it a must have…eventually. It costs 3 points, and you must spend an additional point on Run and Slide, since you cannot acquire this Skill without taking it. This likely means you won’t have it as early as you’d like, but look to get it when you are about halfway through the game.
Breath of Life: Light (5 Skill Points)
This Latent Skill will allow you to regain Vitality upon performing ANY Deathblow. Since you kill the vast majority of enemies this way, it can really help keep your Vitality topped off as you make your way around the game, saving valuable Healing Gourds for Mini-Boss and Boss encounters. The downside is that it costs 5 Skill Points, and you’ll have to spend another 3 just to get to it in the Tree. Much like Shinobi Eyes, this means you will likely get it much later than you’d prefer. Just be sure you get it eventually.
Best Prosthetic Arts
You will likely acquire the Prosthetic Esoteric Text from the Sculpture after obtaining the Prosthetic Tools from the Hirata Estate. These Skills will allow you to use your Prosthetics to greater effect, but the best skills in this Tree have almost no relation to your Prosthetic Tools
Grappling Hook Attack (1 Skill Point)
This Shinobi Martial Art Skill will allow you to attack during your Grapple animation when grappling to certain Mini-Bosses and Bosses. It is particularly useful against the Chained Ogre, Gyoubu Oniwa, and the Demon of Hatred. This means you’ll want to take it just after Mikiri Counter in order to be able to use it for 2 of these fights.
Chasing Slice (1 Skill Point)
This Shinobi Martial Arts Skill allows you to follow up a Shuriken throw with an immediate attack that has longer range than a spinning slice. This works particularly well after jumping away from something like a grab attack, where you are out of range of attacking, but the enemy is vulnerable. This is another one you’ll want to take early on, since it only costs 1 point, and has a lot of versatility.
Emma’s Medicine: Potency & Aroma (4 & 5 Skill Points)
These Latent Skills passively increases the healing effectiveness of ALL healing items, including Pellets. This makes them extremely valuable and you will want to ensure that you have both of them by the end of the game (the sooner the better).
Best Ashina Arts
The Ashina Esoteric Text can be obtained by speaking to the Tengu of Ashina, just up the stairs from where you fought Gyoubu Oniwa in Ashina Outskirts. Defeat the nearby “Rats”, and then return to him to learn the Ashina Arts.
Ascending Carp and Descending Carp (2 & 1 Skill Points)
These 2 Latent Skills allow you to deal more Posture Damage to enemies you face, and as you might well be aware, that is extremely important. Besides Attack Power, which increases your Posture Damage (and your Vitality Damage), these two Latent Skills are one of the ONLY ways to increase your Posture Damage. This makes them invaluable, and must haves for anyone.
Best Temple Arts
You will acquire the the Senpou Esoteric Text from a shrine through the cave near the Main Hall Idol in the Senpou Temple, Mt. Kongo area. This is a decent ways into the game, so it will be awhile before you get them. It isn’t the most useful Skill Tree, but you will want to get it eventually.
Senpou Leaping Kicks (3 Skill Points)
This Combat Art is amazing at punishing the Perilous Sweep Attacks of enemies, dealing substantially more Posture Damage than jumping on to the enemy. This is its primary use, making fights with the Lone Shadow Mini-Bosses, Genichiro Ashina, O’rin of the Water, and even the last boss fight against Isshin, the Sword Saint a bit easier. I highly recommend checking this one out, particularly if you don’t tend to use Combat Arts all that often.
Best Miscellaneous Skills
There are a number of Skills you gain in Sekiro from defeating Mini-Bosses or Bosses, but many of these you will acquire simply from progressing the game, so there isn’t much point going into them. However, there is one that is exceptionally good, and is very much miss-able. That is Breath of Life: Shadow.
Breath of Life: Shadow (0 Skill Points)
This Skill works very much the same way Breath of Life: Light works, giving you Vitality when you perform a Deathblow of any type. For this reason you definitely want to face O’rin of the Water and obtain it as soon as you get to her. Keeping your Vitality topped off saves Gourds.
These are not the only “good” Skills in Sekiro, but they are the best of the best. Those wishing to dive deeper will explore the Combat Arts and really figure out how to use each in the best way possible, and where each shines. However, your typical player will not be getting into this on their first or second playthrough, and this guide is designed for those having issues with the game. I will be exploring ALL Combat Arts in a later guide, which will be more advanced in nature.
32 Skill Points are what you need for these Skills specifically, but you will need a total of 43 Skill Points in order to be able to acquire them all. This is because a few of them have 1 or 2 Skills as requisites, and you cannot get them without gaining these Skills. Most notably are Breath of Life: Light, and Senpou Leaping Kicks. This is why it’s a great idea to save these ones for later, as there are many other good skills. However, you should be able to obtain all of these by the end of your first playthrough.
Stay tuned as we dive more into Sekiro’s mechanics with our comprehensive Prosthetic Tools Guide, and be sure to check out the first of our lore videos later this week!