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Ghosts of Tsushima: Tips and tricks you need to know

Ghost of Tsushima is another AAA, open-world adventure, and although it adopts a lot of the tropes we’ve seen in previous open-world RPGs, it changes the formula in a few ways, too. From the Guiding Wind to the lack of a lock-on system, Ghost of Tsushima isn’t just the same game with a different theme. To aid your journey up the island of Tsushima, here are 13 Ghost of Tsushima tips and tricks you need to know.

Further reading

Let the wind guide you

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Ghost of Tsushima‘s big innovation on the open-world formula is, of course, the Guiding Wind. In place of waypoint markers or a mini-map, the wind will guide you to a destination you set on the full map. That’s not all the wind can do, though. Out of the gate, you can set the wind to track undiscovered collectibles, those being records, artifacts, banners, and singing crickets. You can invest some of your points into tracking other collectible locations like fox dens and hot springs, too.

Even if you don’t have a specific goal, it’s best to set the wind to guide you toward a quest far away that you eventually want to do. As long as you have the Traveler’s Attire equipped, you’ll remove a good chunk of the Fog of War as you go, revealing undiscovered locations and points of interest on your map. Basically, if you don’t know what to do next in Ghost of Tsushima, set the wind in a direction you haven’t explored and start riding. You’re bound to stumble upon something.

Let nature guide you

Wind isn’t the only guiding force in Ghost of Tsushima. As you’re traveling, you’ll come across large yellow birds that’ll fly down in front of you. Follow them. Yellow birds will lead you toward bamboo strikes, pillars of honor, shrines, hot springs, and just about every other point of interest on the map. Follow the wind first, but if you see a yellow bird, it’s always a good idea to break course and see what they’re directing you toward.

Although yellow birds are the key way to find areas of interest on the island of Tsushima, there are other cues from nature you should pay attention to. For example, fireflies will circle around fox dens, while butterflies will hang around haiku spots. In short, if you see something that’s standing out in the environment, you should investigate it.

Balance your Resolve

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Although the wind navigation is Ghost of Tsushima is a standout feature, it’s not the only innovation in the game. In place of stamina, you have a Resolve meter. You can use Resolve for a few different things, including the powerful, unblockable Heavenly Strike attack. In most cases, though, you’ll use Resolve to heal, similar to the Focus bar in Marvel’s Spider-Man. The important thing to remember is that your Resolve doesn’t passively fill up. You’ll have to earn it back.

There are two main ways to earn Resolve: Parrying attacks and killing enemies. If you’re about to enter a large battle, though, you’ll need a big boost to your Resolve quickly, and that’s where standoffs come in. If you successfully defeat your opponent during a standoff, you’ll earn all of your Resolve back, giving you plenty to work with throughout the rest of your battle.

End their suffering

This is a small tip but an important one. As you’re taking down mobs of enemies, a few, deeply wounded, will start to crawl away. If you go up to them, you’ll see a button prompt to “end suffering.” Brutal as it is, you should always finish the job. Defeating an enemy in this way will give you a full bar of Resolve, and in some battles, you’ll have a handful of enemies waiting to see the other side. Running around the battlefield and taking out the stragglers is a quick and easy way to earn back any spent Resolve.

An outfit for every occasion

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There are 11 sets of armor in Ghost of Tsushima, and each set offers more than just a cosmetic difference. Right away, you’ll have access to Broken Armor and Traveler’s Attire. The Broken Armor is, well, broken, and is basically useless as such. The Traveler’s Attire is more useful, allowing you to track collectibles with the Guiding Wind as described in our first tip. It will also send some pulses through your controller when you’re near a collectible.

You’ll earn other armor sets throughout the main story, though the majority of them come from Mythic Tales. You can get the Samurai Clan Armor right away, however, and you should. During the main quest “The Tale of Lady Masako,” you’ll need to travel to the Golden Temple in the first region. While you’re there, talk to the Armorer, and they’ll give you the Samurai Clan Armor for free. This is basically the best overall armor set in the game, reducing all of your incoming damage, offering a boost to your health, and granting additional Resolve when you take damage.

You can switch armor sets on the fly, even when you’re in a duel. We recommend using the Traveler’s Attire when you’re exploring to remove the Fog of War and discover secrets. When it comes time for battle, though, switch over to the Samurai Clan Armor, at least until you unlock some of the more specialized sets later in the game.

Switch stances to break their defenses

There are four stances in Ghost of Tsushima: Stone, Water, Wind, and Moon. Each of these stances is effective against a certain type of enemy, those being Swordsmen, Shieldmen, Spearmen, and Brutes, respectively. By default, you’ll have access to the Stone stance, which is enough to get you through the first few hours of the game (we’ll cover how to unlock the other stances quickly in a moment).

Stances are more than just a gimmick. Combat in Ghost of Tsushima is based around breaking the defense of your enemy, leaving them open to direct strikes. During mob attacks, switch your stance for whatever enemy you’re facing, break their defenses, and start hacking away. When it comes to Brutes and Spearmen, in particular, using the right stance is the difference between winning and losing.

Stealth like no one’s watching

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Stealth is extremely powerful in Ghost of Tsushima. Frankly, the A.I. just isn’t that smart. You can usually work your way around a Mongol camp with little fuss as long as you’re not sprinting between enemies. Most Mongol warriors are more than content staring at a wall while you run up behind them and cut the back of their knees. Although Ghost of Tsushima is much more enjoyable when you face your enemies directly as the honorable samurai you are, stealth is a far easier approach. If you’re having a tough time in a particular area, try taking out a few enemies using stealth. You can get away with a lot more than you might think.

Beat the first mission, at least

After a rather lengthy prologue, it’s tempting to dive headfirst into liberating camps and tackling side quests once you’re set loose on the island of Tsushima. You should complete the first main story quest before doing anything else, though. “The Warrior’s Code” serves as an extended tutorial in many ways. In addition to giving you a huge boost to your Legend, this quest also teaches you how to assassinate enemies and, more importantly, how to track them with Focused Hearing.

You’ll earn various new abilities and gadgets as you journey to the top of Tsushima, but you don’t need them right away. Focused Hearing, which allows you to move at a slower pace and detect enemies at range, is essential. Although we recommend tackling side content early and often — we’ll get to that in a moment — you should play through “The Warrior’s Code” first.

Don’t play it too safe

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Ghost of Tsushima isn’t Dark Souls, but it also isn’t Ninja Gaiden. Fit with the samurai theme, combat is all about balancing offense and defense. If you hide behind a block and dodge only when necessary, you’ll rarely find a window to land an attack on your adversary. On the other hand, if you approach a mob of enemies with your katana swinging like you’re invincible, the Mongol warriors will quickly prove you otherwise.

It’s about balance. Ghost of Tsushima‘s combat system is a little strange, so much so that it takes a dozen or so hours in-game to get a grip on it. Once you understand the dance, though, there’s nothing quite like it. The key is to identify when it’s time to change modes. When an enemy is attacking, dodge and block, and when you have a chance, land a heavy strike or two. Repeat this process until you’ve stunned your enemy, then move in for an all-out assault. Once you get a grip on the combat system, you’ll be parrying, dodging, and striking like you’ve been doing it for years.

Talk to everyone

Ghost of Tsushima has very little in the way of filler. Unlike many other open-world RPGs, talking to NPCs isn’t just to build the world. As you work your way through survivor camps and towns, you’ll see NPCs with speech bubbles. Talk to them, always. They’ll generally give you a small rumor, which will mark a new location on your map. This is how Ghost of Tsushima hands out side quests that aren’t part of a multistep quest. Even if you don’t plan on tackling the side quest then and there, it’s a good idea to at least mark it on your map so you don’t have to search the island for NPCs willing to speak with you later.

Do side content early and often

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Ghost of Tsushima is around 50 hours long, but only 15-20 hours of that is dedicated to main story quests. There’s a lot of side content, and it’s not just there to extend the runtime. Side content, be it in the form of Mythic Tales or hot springs, is where you’ll earn some of the most important upgrades and abilities in the game, so you’ll want to tackle side content as early as possible to make the rest of the game easier.

Early on, for example, you’ll have access to “The Heavenly Strike” Mythic Tale, which rewards you with the unblockable and extremely powerful Heavenly Strike ability. Likewise, fox dens unlock new charm slots on your katana, while hot springs increase your maximum health. Everything in Ghost of Tsushima works toward making Jin stronger in one way or another, and the game expects that you’ll tackle some of the side content as you go. If you’re struggling with a quest, take a break and seek out some points of interest before lowering the difficulty level.

Observe, then kill

As mentioned above, there are four stances in Ghost of Tsushima, though you only have access to one in the beginning. To unlock the other stances, you’ll need to defeat Mongol leaders. You can find Mongol leaders in camps, and when you take one out, you’ll earn a point toward your next stance. You can double down on your points by observing the leader before taking them out, though.

When you reach a Mongol camp, you’ll have a couple of main objectives, as well as a bonus objective, which gives you more Legend. Sometimes, the bonus objective reads, “observe or kill the Mongol leader.” You don’t have to choose! If you see this objective, stealth your way around the camp until you find the Mongol leader, and once you have a sight on them and the prompt appears, hold down R2. Observing a Mongol leader gives you a point toward your next stance, but so does killing them, so you can earn double the points and quickly unlock all of the stances in the game.

Bow to show respect

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If you swipe down on the touchpadJin will bow for a brief moment. On the surface, this is just a pose that you can use in photo mode for some sweet shots. However, it’s also a way to unlock Easter eggs. If you see something interesting, trying bowing in front of it. You’re not guaranteed to find something new, but in the few cases where there is something new, it’s immensely satisfying. Plus, there’s a trophy for bowing in front of every hidden altar.

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Jacob Roach
Senior Staff Writer, Computing
Jacob Roach is a writer covering computing and gaming at Digital Trends. After realizing Crysis wouldn't run on a laptop, he…
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