In Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, you’ll find that leveling your character is different than in other From Software games. This is not an RPG in the sense that you cannot level up and increase various stats, and specialize as a certain class. You are a Shinobi – you wield a katana, and you can clash blades and perform stealth kills.

However, there are a variety of Skills and Skill Trees to unlock. Instead of gaining character experience, you gain Skill Experience by killing enemies. Once you fill a full bar, you’ll gain a Skill Point, and be able to put these points into Skill Trees. It’s important to note that you begin the game with no such Skill Trees – they have to be learned by finding Esoteric Texts. Some are given by characters, others are secrets to be found, and each Skill Tree you unlock can are based around a theme.

Skills come in three types: Combat Arts, Shinobi Arts, and Latent Skills.

  • Combat Arts are rare, and only one can be equipped, and unleashed as often as you like using the shoulder buttons L1 + R1.
  • Martial Arts are skills that open up new combat potentials, like being able to perform a running slide.
  • Latent Skills are passive bonuses, like increasing the amount of consumables you can hold.

To see a list of each of the Skill Trees, where to find their associated Esoteric Texts, and what the Skills do, see the sections below, as well as the best skills to get early.

5 Important Skills to Get Early[edit]

Video: 5 Best Skills to Get Early

There are many skills to choose from in Sekiro, and some may help you out early in the game more than others. See our picks below for the best skills early, and keep reading below to see the full list of skills, and how to unlock each skill tree.

Mikiri Counter This move lets you counter an incoming unblockable thrust attack by dodging into the attack, as opposed to dodging away. If you meet it head on, you’ll deal impressive posture damage – which can instantly defeat lesser enemies. Even the biggest bosses all have tells for their thrust attacks, and you can rack up posture damage fast on them by being ready to counter them each time – especially when paired with the Shinobi Eyes skill.
Suppress Presence Suppress Presence makes it harder for enemies to become aware of you when sneaking – which can make assassination attempts much easier. Minibosses in general usually have a better chance of sniffing you out – so having a better sneaking ability means a better chance to get in behind them and start the fight by shaving off one whole health bar.
Breath of the Life: Light Each time you perform a deathblow – whether in stealth, from above, or after breaking their posture or vitality, you’re guaranteed to recover some health in the process. While this won’t help you all that much against a 1v1 boss battle, it will absolutely help you tear through the legions of goons in your way, and can be used in quick succession against weak enemies like dogs that die in a single hit – since you have a few seconds after an enemy is killed to follow up with a deathblow so long as the red dot appears.
Chasing Slice With this, you’ll be able to follow up when using either the Loaded Shuriken, Firecracker, or Spear to quickly dash up and attack – which is great both for closing the distance on ranged enemies, and it’s an excellent one-two punch for interrupting an enemy’s attack with the tool, and getting in close for a slice before they can start guarding. In particular, try using the chasing slice with a shuriken on a leaping opponent to send them crashing down into your waiting blade, or use the firecracker to stun a group of animals and dash into them all at once – or focus on their handler before the animals recover.
Ichimonji The Ichimonji is a equippable Combat Arts that lets you perform a powerful overhead strike that not only deals great damage – but has a big added bonus. With it, you’ll deal immense posture damage, and also recover your own posture at the same time, making it a great move to unleash when your foe is open to retaliation. You can even hold down both bumpers to unleash a slower and much more powerful attack, but you may want to either be sure your opponent won’t hit you first, or lure them into running straight into your attack.
Name Cost Prereq Use
Whirlwind Slash 1 A Combat Art that lets you perform a spinning slash to hit multiple opponents.
Mikiri Counter 2 Enables you to counter an enemy’s thrusting attack by dodging into the attack and stomping on the blade, dealing immense posture damage.
A Shinobi’s Karma: Body 2 Whirlwind Slash Latent Skill that allows you to carry more Spirit Emblems
Mid-air Deflection 1 Whirlwind Slash Allows you to guard from attacks and deflect bullets while in the air.
Run and Slide 1 Mikiri Counter Enables to slide into a crouch while sprinting to quickly enter stealth.
Suppress Presence 2 Mikiri Counter Latent Skill that reduces enemy ability to see and sense you in stealth.
Breath of Life: Light 5 A Shinobi’s Karma (Rank 1) A Latent Skill that allows you to recover Vitality upon performing a successful Deathblow
A Shinobi’s Karma: Mind 3 A Shinobi’s Karma: Body Latent Skill that allows you to carry more Spirit Emblems
Mid-air Combat Arts 3 Mid-air Deflection, A Shinobi’s Karma: Body A Shinobi Martial Art that grants you the ability to perform Combat Arts while jumping or falling
Shinobi Eyes 3 Run and Slide, Suppress Presence A Latent Skill that will increase Posture damage inflicted after performing a Mikiri Counter
Suppress Sound 3 Suppress Presence Latent Skill that lowers the amount of noise you make while moving
Vault Over 2 Suppress Presence A Shinobi Martial Art that allows you to leap over and behind an enemy whose posture is broken
Shadow Rush 6 Mid-air Combat Arts, Shinobi Eyes A Combat Art that unleashes a long range powerful thrust that can impale opponents before vaulting over them – requires Spirit Emblems
Name Cost Prereq Use
Chasing Slice 1 A Shinobi Combat Art that performs a large step forward after using the Loaded Shuriken, Shinobi Firecracker, or Loaded Spear
Grappling Hook Attack 1 Shinobi Combat Art that lets you attack during a grappling hook and strike an opponent
Fang and Blade 2 Chasing Slice A Shinobi Combat Art follow up attack slice after using the Loaded Axe, Loaded Spear
Mid-air Prosthetic Tool Chasing Slice Shinobi Combat Art that lets you perform Prosthetic Tool attacks during a jump or fall
Nightjar Slash 2 Grappling Hook Attack A Combat Art that allows you to leap in with a spinning slash at an enemy
Emma‘s Medicine: Potency 4 Grappling Hook Attack Latent Skill that increases healing effect of recovery items
Sculptor‘s Karma: Blood 2 Mid-air Prosthetic Tool Latent Skill that increases the number of Spirit Emblems you can hold.
Sculptor‘s Karma: Scars 3 Mid-air Prosthetic Tool Latent Skill that increases the number of Spirit Emblems you can hold
Projected Force 1 Mid-air Prosthetic Tool, Fang and Blade Martial Arts that let you unleash the effects of your Tool in an area in front of you
Nightjar Slash Reversal 3 Nightjar Slash, Emma‘s Medicine: Potency A Combat Art upgrade that lets you perform a spinning leap attack away from your enemy – or towards them.
Emma‘s Medicine: Aroma 5 Emma‘s Medicine: Potency A Latent Skill that increases the healing effects of all recovery items.
Living Force 4 Projected Force, Nightjar Slash Reversal Martial Arts that allow you to perform a follow-up attack with certain Tools that imbues the sword, including the Flame Vent.
Name Cost Prereq Use
Ichimonji 1 N/A A Combat Art that delivers a heavy overhead strike that deals great posture damage while recovering your own, and can be held for a slower and more powerful attack.
Ascending Carp 2 Ichimonji A Latent Skill that increases the Posture Damage dealt with a successful deflection.
Descending Carp 1 Ichimonji A Latent Skill that increases all Posture Damage dealt from any source after a successful Deflection
Breath of Nature: Light 2 Ascending Carp A Latent Skill that allows you to recover some Posture after any successful Deathblow.
Flowing Water 3 Ascending Carp A Latent Skill that reduces the amount of Posture Damage taken by an enemy’s sword.
Ichimonji: Double 3 Ascending Carp, Descending Carp A Combat Art upgrade that allows you to follow up and Ichimonji strike with a second attack.
Ashina Cross 5 Flowing Water, Ichimonji Double A Combat Art that allows to unsheathe your blade in a high-speed cross slash attack. Costs Spirit Emblems to use.
Name Cost Prereq Use
Praying Strikes 2 N/A Combat Art that allows you to use several arm and elbow strikes without being counterattacked
Virtuous Deed 3 Praying Strikes A Latent Skill that improves the amount of Sen and drop rates from enemies.
Praying Strikes – Exorcism 3 Praying Strikes A Combat Art Upgrade that adds a finishing strike to Praying Strikes to knockback foes.
Most Virtuous Deed 4 Virtuous Deed Further increases the amount of Sen and item drop rates from enemies.
Senpou Leaping Kicks 3 Virtuous Deed A Combat Art that combines an anti-air leaping counter kick followed with several more kick attacks.
Devotion 3 Praying Strikes – Exorcism A Latent Skill that improves the time that Buddhist candy is active for.
High Monk 4 Senpou Leaping Kicks A Combat Art Upgrade that adds sword slashes and more kicks to the Senpou Leaping Kick, finishing with a jumping forward kick.

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