Ghost of Tsushima Wiki
Ghost of Tsushima Wiki

The theme of the combat is "mud, blood, and steel". The developer Sucker Punch wants a feeling of intensity and danger in the combat.[1] They want every swing to feel real, so every hit that connects leaves a scar.[1]

The combat system can scale all the way up from a one-on-one combat with a worthy opponent all the way up to dealing with a horde of Mongols.[1] There are counters which require patience. You can also force an attack. It's very skill-based.[2]

An adaptive landscape and organic approach to combat makes Tsushima the perfect playground for mixing and matching skills, weapons, and tactics to find the prefect combat blend for your play style.[1]

As Jin Sakai's story unfolds, versatility and creativity will become your greatest weapons.[1]

Nate Fox of Sucker Punch describes it as follows: "We have this phrase that we use to describe the combat in the game and that's "mud, blood and steel". We want it to feel, really, really grounded and lethally precise. If you've ever seen a samurai movie you know what it's like. These men cut each other down with a single stroke of their sword and to capture that samurai movie fight is different than a lot of games, because that means you can die very quickly and your enemies can too. That took us a while to get right, but we're very pleased with the results and we think it shows up well on screen."[3]



Except for the broken Samurai Armor you have after the start of the game. Each armor set has 3 bonus perks. The Samurai Clan Armor increases your defense and the amount of damage you can take. The Travelers Gear allows you to set your Guiding Wind to search for artifacts such as scrolls, flags, and relics. The Ronin Armor increases your stealth and melee damage. As you upgrade the armor, the perks get upgraded as well. If you wear heavy armor you will be less agile so it makes infiltration harder.[4] Vendors can improve your armor.[5]


Most suits and armor have special properties for specific tasks. For example, enhanced stealth, sneaking, reduced damage and better chance to find artifacts. It is advised to change your outfit to gain advantages based on the situation.

Weapons & Tools[]

The main weapon is the Sakai Katana throughout the game, but there are many other weapons such as the Half Bow. Jin also has access to a variety of tools and gadgets, such as bombs and the Kunai.

You can customize the look of the weapons.[1] Weapons like the katana or the bow are displayed on all the outfits of the game. However, all the gadgets are too small, thus be too much work to show their differences.[4] Pick up materials and visit vendors to upgrade your weapons.[5]

The following is a full list of weapons and tools available to Jin:

  • The Sakai Katana and Tanto
  • Half Bow and Longbow, and a variety of arrow types
  • Bombs (Sticky, Smoke, Black Powder)
  • Kunai
  • Wind Chimes and Firecrackers
  • Blowgun

Quick throw[]

Some of the tools above are considered as quick-throw items that are meant to be deployed on the fly. Use quick-throw items (Kunai, Sticky Bomb and Smoke Bomb) by pressing R1. It can be especially helpful when you're outnumbered. Throw items to distract, stagger, damage and escape from enemies.

Movement & Controls[]


You control Jin Sakai's movements with the gamepad. You can use light (Square) and heavy (Triangle) attacks. Block by holding L1 and parry by tapping L1 right before an enemy strikes. Dodge by pressing Circle and selecting a movement direction (Can learn "Roll" through Techniques, which requires the player to double tap Circle). [1]

Take note that unlike other games, many of Jin's combat moves can be cancelled into another. The following is a list of what moves can be used to cancel another:

  • Light and heavy attacks can be cancelled with a dodge, jumping or a block/parry until a moment before the attack would land. As a result, heavy attacks are easier to cancel than light attacks.
    • It is possible to dodge, block/parry or jump immediately after performing a strike, except on a few "finisher" attacks.
  • Blocking can be cancelled into a dodge or jump.
  • Dodging cannot be cancelled during the action, but a dodge can be immediately chained into a Block/Parry or a light attack (with the Dodging Slash technique).

This gives the player the flexibility to cancel most combat moves that may not be suited for the situation they are facing, or when there are surrounding enemies that will capitalize on their vulnerability if they keep performing the move.

Unsheathing & Sheathing[]

You can draw or sheathe your blade by swiping right on the touchpad. If Jin has "drawn blood" with his blade, he will clean it before sheathing it either with his sleeve or by flicking the blood off. Sheathing is one the few actions in the game that cannot be cancelled mid, alongside bowing and mounting/dismounting.

Dodge & Parry[]

Defensive moves like dodging and parrying are important to create opportunities to strike. To perform these maneuvers, you will use circle (Circle) to dodge and left bumper (L1) to parry. If Jin performs either of these maneuvers at the last moment, he will perform a Perfect Dodge or a Perfect Parry respectively, which will have special interactions as Jin progresses through the technique tree.

So when you're surrounded by a group of Mongols, you can first counter their attacks before going on the offensive.


Jin will be able to jump with x (X). This is effective against some unblockable attacks you encounter early on as you jump over these attacks.

During combat jumping can also be used in tandem with light (Square) and heavy (Triangle) attack inputs to perform a sword slash or an unblockable kick respectively.


When fighting with the blade, there are 4 combat stances to fight with. Jin starts with the Stone stance, proceeding to the Water stance, then the Wind stance, and finally the Moon stance. While Jin can use any stance to fight an enemy, each stance will be strong against a particular type of enemy with their own special moves. They can be selected by holding the R2 button, followed by X, Circle, Triangle, or Square.[4][6] Learn more about attack chains and each stance's capabilities in the stance page and each stance's respective article.

Later on, Jin will gain access to a special Ghost stance that will allow him to instill fear in enemies after having slaughtered a Leader or killing many enemies without receiving damage.


Aside from having a health bar, enemies will have a Stagger gauge. The Stagger gauge determines how close the enemy is to being Staggered, becoming open to attacks for a few seconds before they regain control. Otherwise, while their gauge is not filled, enemies will be able to remain in combat and on the defensive, blocking incoming attacks to reduce damage taken to their health. As a result, it is still possible to kill an enemy without filling their Stagger gauge, such as through parry counterattacks, arrows and Unblockable attacks.

Stagger damage is dealt through Heavy Attacks, with each Stance providing more stagger to the enemy type they are strong against. As enemies rise up in tiers, while they won't have increased health, they will become more resistant to being Staggered. There are Charms and Outfits that can help the player deal more Stagger damage to put enemies into Stagger.



There are three difficulty settings: easy, medium and hard.[1] You can change the difficulty at any time. It gets easier when you've unlocked all the abilities and upgrades later on the game. So early on, if the combat is too challenging then you can play on medium or easy.

Jason Connell said facing two or three enemies is challenging. If there's more than 5 it is better to escape with a smoke bomb.[7]

Duels & Standoff[]

Duels in the game are scripted face offs, and are very narrative based. Duels represent the Samurai side of Jin as he fights his opponent fair and square, one-on-one. As a result, you will only have your sword to rely on, as your gadgets and other weapons will not be available to use. Tension is built up overtime and each duel will feel unique as they will staged with distinct elements, such as a background dyed in crimson by a red tree in the scene.[1]

On the other hand, a Standoff allows Jin to challenge enemies to a de facto duel in the open world. It is activated by pressing U while approaching an unaware enemy. During the standoff, you will commit to it by holding Triangle and kill enemies by releasing the input right as your enemies attack, felling them with single strikes. While not as scripted as the Duels, Standoffs give Jin a chance to deal with multiple enemies without being attacked from all sides, while letting players kill enemies through pure reaction reflexes. As you work through the technique tree and gain the right gear, you can kill up to five enemies during these Standoffs.[7]

Horse Tactics[]

The Mongol soldiers are not suspicious of horses. When they approach you can hide behind your horse and wait for them to pass by and perform a quick attack. However, take caution when you approach the enemy on your horse, as they will catch attention of you.

Strike enemies while mounted with Square. Jump off your horse with X. Later on, you can gain the ability to use Mounted Strike, where you can jump off your horse and kick down an enemy with Triangle.


The red bar is health, while the golden spheres are Jin's Resolve. Resolve functions both as a resource for Jin's offensive and defensive capabilities, so you must make tactical decisions about how to use your Resolve during battles.[2] As one progresses through the story, Jin will progressively gain more health and Resolve.

Resolve can be gained in a number of ways, such as by killing enemies, performing skilled moves such as Perfect Parries or, with the right Charms and Armor, by simply hitting them.[4] Resolve can be consumed to either perform defensive feats or offensive moves. For defensive feats, you can heal some of your health, and even revive yourself with Iron Will technique. For offensive moves, you can perform mythical moves that you gain access to throughout the story, such as the Heavenly Strike which instantly staggers (or kill) whoever you target in one strike. The player must make the tough tactical choice between healing or landing a crucial strike.[8]

Progression & Play Styles[]

There is a progression system, with two play styles: Samurai and Ghost. Jin will start out working on his techniques with the blade as he furnishes his combat skills as a Samurai. However, once he attains the grapple hook, Jin will march down a path that is not part of his samurai training. These new tricks he learns are the techniques of the Ghost which he will use to silently kill the Mongols.[1]

Although there are two distinct "play styles," players will be able to switch and mix both styles as they find fit, when they wish to. Some abilities accentuate a playstyle, but generally all abilities are available at all times.[7] You can play through any encounter in the style you prefer and wear whichever armor you prefer, mixing and matching pieces of different armor sets.[8] The way of the Samurai has you facing off enemies head-on to remain honorable, whereas the Ghost has you dig your hand into dishonorable acts as you develop your stealth and deception to spring a surprise attacks.[1] There is no morality reward for playing into one style, so you can use both styles as you prefer.

You can even master the bow to eliminate distant threats with lethal precision.[1]

As noted above, Jin already knows how to fight as a Samurai, but throughout his training, he has been heavily discouraged from partaking in the "cowardly acts" that the way of the Ghost excels in. He will only get the hold of becoming the Ghost with the encouragement of his newfound allies during the Mongol Invasion, learning throw Kunai, borrow black powder from the enemies to make bombs, sneaking on rooftops quickly etc.[9]

Nate Fox said "With the skills you choose you get a playstyle that suits you the best. You can succeed in the game by just playing as the samurai as well.”[10] "Beating the Mongols in battle will be hard, but it’s that challenge that makes it feel alive and the victory rewarding. You can’t just run into a camp and fight 5 people at the same time, you will get overwhelmed and die.”[10]


Jin Sakai Ghost assassinate

As a Ghost, Assassinations are one of the tactics you can use to kill enemies without being found. These can be performed from horseback[1], from rooftops and from hidden cover.

As you progress, improving your skills as the Ghost, you will develop a fear factor, terrifying any enemy who witnesses your gruesome assassinations. You can improve the assassination to be performed in chains.[7]