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Guide: How to Beat Sekiro’s End Boss Isshin, the Sword Saint (Spoilers)

Having trouble finishing Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice? Check out our end boss guide.
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From Software, the creative team behind the highly popular Dark Souls and Bloodborne properties, has done it again. This time around, the talented team of video game developers has dedicated their highly honed skills to crafting one seriously tough game.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice hit shelves March 22. Developed by From Software, the game is just as unrelentingly difficult as any Dark Souls game. With that in mind, we have developed a quick guide for any player that is having some difficulty getting past the title’s toughest final boss.

Overview (Spoiler Warning)

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice details the story of a terrifying warlord named Isshin Ashina. The powerful warrior sparks a coup, ultimately taking over the local lands. Empowered by the Divine Heir Kuro and a former shinobi turned sculptor, the title’s main character Sekiro battles his way to Ashina.

The game features a bevy of different boss battles. In fact, you will face different final bosses within the game based on your decisions throughout. One of the toughest final bosses the game has to offer, however, is Isshin the Sword Saint.

If Sekiro chooses to battle the Divine Dragon at the end of the game and obtains a dragon tear from the creature, Sekiro will then return to Ashina to discover that Isshin Ashina has died of his illness. However, following another battle with Genichiro, Genichiro will ultimately sacrifice himself to resurrect Isshin Ashina in his physical prime.

Consequently, Sekiro will have to battle Isshin, the Sword Saint, for one final battle of the ages. If you have chosen this difficult path to the end of the game, then check out our guide for beating the powerful final boss down below. Fextralife was a source for this guide.

How to Defeat Isshin, the Sword Saint

Isshin, the Sword Saint, is a tough fight. All in all, there are four different phases to the battle. If you want to take out Ashina’s toughest warlord, you are going to have to master all three parts.

It is important to note, however, that Isshin will vary his tactics based on your patterns. Always stay on your toes when fighting this terrifying warlord.

Check out a graph of Isshin’s attacks down below, as created with the help by sekiroshadowsdietwice.wiki.fextralife.com.

AttackIndicatorCounter
Double Wind SweepWind will envelop Isshin. The boss’s posture will indicate a horizontal attack.Deflect twice.
Lightning Bow/SlashAfter jumping into the air, lighting will materialize.Jump up and deflect the attack before landing.
Anti-Healing SlamWill sometimes use if you attempt to heal.Deflect and then counter.
SlamDust with partially obscure Isshin. He will then leap upwards and follow up with a strike or multiple attacks.Dash to the side, then prepare to counter any follow up attacks before dashing backwards.
Sweep AttackA danger notification will alarm, followed by a glint circling Isshina.Jump upwards and then stomp.
Wind SweepWind will surround Isshin. His posture will indicate a horizontal attack.Deflect the attack.
Wind SlashWind will surround Isshin. His posture will indicate a vertical attack.Dash to the side to avoid the vertical offensive.
Thrust AttackA danger notification will alarm, followed by a glint on Isshin’s weapon.Use your Mikiri counter to negate the attack.
Unsheath FeintAfter sheathing his sword, Isshin will pause. A danger indicator will then alarm you.Leap upwards and block when coming downwards. Watch out for Isshin’s counter attack.
Unsheath AttackAfter sheathing his sword, a glint will appear on the weapon’s hilt.Following a delay, deflect the oncoming attack.
Bow AttackIsshin will draw his bow.Deflect the arrow, then dodge backwards.

Phase One

When starting your battle with Isshin, you are going to want to immediately get behind the boss. But, do not get close to Isshin. Rather, quickly back away while facing his back.

Isshin starts the fight with a series of powerful slashes, forcing you to take the defensive. Beyond that, the boss can spin around and attack from behind in an instant. This is why you are keeping your distance.

After the sequence, you can slide in for a quick flurry of attacks. Naturally, Isshin will eventually deflect your bombardment of strikes. When Isshin leaps into the air, dodge out of the way and retreat. Dodge to the side when he is in the air, then dash backwards.

Isshin will follow up the leap with one of a selection of attacks. It could be a linear strike or a sweeping attack, for instance. After the sequence, dive back into the fray for another flurry of strikes.

If you are spending too much time out of Isshin’s melee range, the boss will attempt to blast you with an attack from his bow. If you are struck by an arrow, Isshin will follow up with a furious sequence of strikes. Consequently, you are going to want to try and interrupt the bow attack from the start.

Gauging proper distance to stay out of melee range but in range of dashing in to interrupt his bow attacks will take some practice. If he is not having much luck with his bow, he may attempt to use his unsheath attack. The boss will sheath his sword before closing distance with a dash attack.

After dealing a single deathblow to Isshin, a brief cutscene will signal the beginning of phase two.

Phase Two

The beginning of phase two is a great time to do some healing if you need it. However, you will want to swiftly engage the boss after doing so.

Sometimes Isshin will aggressively pressure you at the beginning of the phase, so be prepared to go on the defensive if necessary. When the boss raises his sword over his head, dash to the side in order to dodge. However, do not follow up with an immediate attack. Isshin will often apply a second attack, so land a flurry of strikes after the second swing.

When Isshin uses his sheath attack, the boss’ weapon will glint with a white light. At this moment, dash to the side. Wait a moment and then dash again to avoid the follow up attack. After dodging the onslaught, move in for another quick flurry of strikes.

There will not be a cutscene to signal the next phase of the fight. Rather, Isshin will begin using his spear.

Phase Three

Quickly make your way to the center of the map, as to avoid falling off of the map during the upcoming exchange. You will have a brief moment to heal up, but you will need to be fast.

Moving forward, you will want to play less aggressively. Let Isshin approach you rather than applying pressure to the boss.

Isshin, now equipped with his spear, will potentially leap forward towards you. If this happens, leap under the boss and get behind him to avoid his onslaught. You can then punish him with some quick attacks.

Otherwise, Isshin may begin the exchange by firing a flurry of shots from his gun. You will have to be patient and determine which sequence the boss is ensuing. If he attempts to shoot you, you can deflect the attack.

An important sequence to look out for is a three strike combination that ends in a thrust attack. At the end of the sequence, use a Mikiri counter to dish out some seriously punishing posture damage.

Remember to hold block in between attacks to boost your posture. Maintaining your posture can be a challenge during this phase. After issuing yet another deathblow, phase four will kick off with little warning.

Phase Four

Isshin will begin using his wave attacks quite regularly. Remember to dodge these onslaughts, though you can deflect them if you are not afraid of taking a little damage.

Isshin will now be using lighting attacks, which can dish out sizable damage. When you see the red kanji warning symbol, jump into the air and attack when the lightning strikes you. Sekiro will then launch the lighting back at Isshin, providing a brief stun and dishing out serious posture damage.

Shinobi’s firecracker can be a great way to dispel Isshin’s AoE attacks, punishing the warlord with extra damage. After defeating Isshin, you will be granted a battle memory and the Dragon Flash skill.

Author

Hunter Boyce is a writer, which probably seems pretty obvious with "author" prominently displayed. He mostly writes about video games. However, he was previously a mixed martial arts news writer. When not writing about people pelting each other in the face or about leveling up in the latest RPG, he tends to spend his time as a web producer in Atlanta. You can shout all of your MMA and video game related quandaries at him at @SomthinClever on Twitter. Feel free to make your demands to him in ALL CAPS. He loves that.

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