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What Elden Ring players should know before playing Sekiro

by | Dec 31, 2022

Reading Time: 3 min.
Reading Time: 3 min.

Elden Ring and Sekiro may look similar at first glance, but the tutorial alone will show you that the games’ inner workings are night and day.

With eight months on the market, Elden Ring players may have finally grown tired of the Lands Between. FromSoftware’s previous Soulslike Sekiro is the next obvious choice, but get ready for some culture shock as the game’s mechanics are massively different from the developer’s latest release.

Signs also point to a possible Sekiro sequel after FromSoftware’s Armored Core VI, giving Elden Ring fans even more incentive to check out the 2019 hit. If you picked up Sekiro: Shadow Die Twice for cheap in the Steam Winter Sale, here’s what you should know before jumping into the fray.

There’s way less cheese in Sekiro than Elden Ring

One of the best parts of Elden Ring’s gameplay is that if a fight is too hard, players always have the option to change their strategies, grind some levels, or find stronger weapons. This makes the game more accessible, but Sekiro is on the opposite end of that spectrum.

Character development is directly tied to defeating bosses. There’s only one weapon, and there are no cheesy one-shot builds to blow bosses away. For players without extensive external knowledge, the only way out of a challenging boss fight is through.

This results in a very different gameplay pace in Sekiro compared to Elden Ring. Prepare to spend a lot of time on each boss fight even if you’re maxed out on stats. Focus on memorizing boss attacks and slowly work up the muscle memory to parry them. Try out different ninja prosthetic tools, as many bosses are weak to a specific type. Lastly, never back off from the boss unless you absolutely must heal. In Sekiro, hesitation is defeat.

Parries are everything in Sekiro, no substitutes

Instead of stamina, Sekiro uses a unique posture mechanic where both the player and enemies have a second health bar indicated in orange. This bar builds up with every blocked attack. Enemies whose posture gauge is full become vulnerable to a death blow even if they have full health. The number one way to build enemy posture damage is to parry them, which requires players to block at the precise moment an enemy strike lands. 

Parries are the least important in Elden Ring of all the Souls games, but they are the absolute best way to fight in Sekiro. Consequentially, they are way easier to pull off. Simply tap block the moment an enemy’s attack connects. If you’re successful, a distinct “schwing” sound will play, accompanied by orange sparks. Dodging can only get you so far in Sekiro, and learning how to parry multiple attacks in a row is the key to nearly every boss battle.

Sekiro’s story can be understood without video essays

Elden Ring’s story is a sweeping epic with hundreds of named characters and organizations all in conflict or cooperation. However, it can be difficult to tell exactly what’s going on the first time through. Supplemental materials are practically mandatory for making sense of it all.

If sitting through video essays isn’t your cup of tea, you’ll be happy to know that Sekiro’s story is a much more digestible experience. It takes place in a fantasized version of the real-life Japanese Sengoku era and follows the journey of a lone shinobi protecting his supernaturally-gifted master.

There are only eight major named characters in Sekiro including the protagonist Wolf. The main story is a nonlinear trip to collect three important tools, which then leads to a linear endgame. There is one alternative route that is much shorter than the intended path, but the game clearly signposts to players when that decision is made.

There are still plenty of side characters and hidden nuance in Sekiro’s lore, but the downfall of the Ashina dynasty is much easier to follow than Elden Ring’s continent-spanning fantasy opera.

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