In Sekiro, hacking and slashing is the best way to get your kicked
You should approach each fight like a real life duel : dispatch your opponent as quickly as possible with a few precise and deadly moves. The tempo should be : 1,2,3 death.
Sekiro’s combat is like a game of rock, paper, scissor.
Your objective is to deplete the health bar but rather than hacking and slashing, the best way to do that is to break your enemy’s posture. Posture is like armor, once its broken, it almost guarantees a deathblow.
To break your enemy’s posture while protecting yours have to use all 4 basic moves.
Each enemy type requires a different strategy.
Basic soldiers : a few attacks then a deflect and then a counter to finish them.
Spear soldiers: use a special counter that you can purchase as a skill
Feathered Ninjas: opposite strategy, be ultra aggressive. Attack and dodge rather than deflect.
Most bosses require a combination of dodge, deflect and attack to be defeated.
How do you chose the right approach?
Each enemy more or less telegraphes his attacks.
Learn to read the enemy movement.
Some special attacks trigger a red “danger” kanji.
Your priority is to learn to read these attacks and how to counter them.
In the central Hub, where you find the sculptor you can find a guy to train with and learn the basic moves. If you are new to the genre or having troubles, I recommand to spend some time practising with him. It will be time well spent.
In any case, you will die a lot. It’s part of the process.
Do not worry too much about Dragonrot by the way, talk to Emma after the first onset and she will develop a cure. Later, you can buy items that cure Dragonrot.
Basic Combat Tactics
Combat is one thing but how you approach it is also important to guarantee victory.
-Thin the herd
Do not take on many opponents at the same time
Stealth kill as much as possible and finish the remains
Focus on the grunts before taking on a mini-boss.
-Use your environment
Sekiro offers high mobility: move around, grapple, retreat, use hit and run tactics if needed
Before making a move, take a minute to analyze the environment from a vantage point
Eavesdrop on enemies to learn information.
-Use your grapple
Some ennemies can be grappled (green icon) like the Ogre and the boss on horseback
Use it to close the distance and deliver blows
-Upgrade your character
You can find gourd seeds, prayer beads and memories that upgrade your attributes.
Explore the world and defeat enemies to get these items.
Bring gourd seeds to Emma.
-Come back later
Some ennemies require you to come back to them once you are stronger.
Explore a another path, get some upgrades and come back later.
-Use your prosthetic arm upgrades
Shurikens are great against dogs
Firecrackers are great to stun all enemies even bosses ( bought from the memorial mob merchant in the first area)