Sucker Punch’s Ghost of Tsushima introduced an innovative katana combat system and set it against a stunning backdrop in feudal Japan. The boss fights in the game are a real test of skill and patience, often accompanied by moving narratives that add to each duel’s intensity.
Some of these duels are more challenging than others, as opponents can use their own unique stances, unpredictable movements, and impressive techniques in battle against Jin Sakai. It’ll take more than the usual hack-and-slash aggression to take down these bosses.
10 Lord Shimura
The final boss fight in the game is arguably the most heartbreaking, as Jin has to go against his beloved uncle and father figure, Lord Shimura. With a gentle breeze and falling leaves in the background, the lord of Tsushima reveals that he has been ordered by the shogun to take Jin’s head.
The battle itself is not too challenging, as players know at this point to expect massive damage if they get hit and to focus on parrying and timing to succeed. What makes the entire ordeal difficult is that the two characters are obviously conflicted and don’t want to hurt each other. If the player succeeds and makes the hard decision to give Shimura an honorable death, Jin says one of the best quotes in Ghost of Tsushima: “I will make sure you are remembered. As a great warrior… a wise leader… and a father.”
9 General Bartu
General Bartu is introduced to the player as the final obstacle to liberating his camp. The Mongol soldier is immediately intimidating, as he draws his blade and lifts his shield without ever saying anything to Jin.
Duels against the generals are not usually too tough, but General Bartu is an exception. It’s hard to get close to him during the battle, as he has powerful kicks that can deal almost as much damage as his blade. His defense tactics are specially strengthened by the way he uses his shield to block Jin’s blows.
8 Lady Masako
Lady Masako Adachi is the sole survivor of her clan and Jin’s loyal ally throughout his journey. With Ghost of Tsushima being a highly dramatic story-driven game, it’s not surprising that players are pitted against her when she turns against Jin.
Players’ mastery of defense and evasion are tested during the fight against Lady Masako. Her rage is obvious on the battlefield, as her powerful attacks are more erratic than one might expect. Even her physical blows are difficult to avoid, particularly when they’re executed in between her blade’s heavy strikes. Jin will have to stay alert to survive this one.
Tomotsugu is one of five ronin that Jin must defeat to reach Kojiro. Players will meet the skilled Straw Hat assassin fishing on a beach, waiting for Jin to arrive. Unlike the other violent Straw Hats, however, he seems focused, calm and composed—which only makes the duel more difficult.
The assassin is surprisingly agile and seems to have an endless reserve of power, as he can deliver quick slashes consecutively. This battle will leave little to no breathing room for players, who must stay on their toes and think fast enough to even get an attack in.
6 Spirit Of Yarikawa’s Vengeance
The Spirit of Yarikawa’s Vengeance is not a spirit at all, but rather a vengeful woman pretending to be one to justify her actions. She goes so far as to fake a request to the ‘spirit’ to end Jin’s life in the Garden of Gods.
What makes this battle so dangerous is Lady Yarikawa’s combo attacks. If players don’t react quickly enough and get hit once, they can expect a barrage of overwhelming slashes to follow. After the duel, Jin will walk away with a new powerful technique, the Dance of Wrath.
5 Yasuhira Koga
A string of violent murders leads Jin to Yasuhira Koga, who has joined forces with the Mongols. He’s motivated by his anger towards Lord Shimura, who he claims played a role in his clan’s downfall.
The fight against Koga is a tedious one, as players will have to be patient with Jin as he slowly learns to replicate his opponent’s powerful technique. Pacing and parrying are crucial here, as a few hits from Koga will prove fatal. Eventually, Jin learns the Heavenly Strike and uses it against Koga, who dies after he is struck by lightning.
Hirotsune is undoubtedly the most powerful among the five ronin that Jin has to fight to get to Kojiro. The “Duel Among Spider Lilies” is fittingly set in a field of blood-red flowers which stretches to meet a treeline that is obscured by fog in the distance.
The dramatic setting is quickly forgotten when the actual duel begins, as Hirotsune delivers powerful blows that are sometimes unblockable. He’s a skilled assassin who has a litany of techniques that are impossible to keep up with. It’s best to react quickly and find opportunities to strike to win this fight.
3 Khotun Khan
The final fight against the main antagonist of the game is unsurprisingly a challenging one. The ruthless leader of the Mongols faces Jin for the last time in Port Izumi. With Tsushima’s forces closing in and the Mongol soldiers retreating on ships, it’s a desperate attempt at clinging on to power.
Khan’s desperation is obvious in this duel. Using his polearm, he flails wildly at the Ghost, and any blow that does land is a damaging one. The range of the polearm makes it tricky to approach this opponent, and his lengthy health bar only makes the already tough battle more challenging.
It’s difficult to find other open-world games like Tsushima given how polished it is; the soundtrack, combat mechanics, and characters are all well developed and expertly implemented. One of the most tragic characters from the game is Jin’s childhood friend, the treacherous Ryuzo.
The harrowing narrative is hard to ignore in this final battle, as Ryuzo pleads with Jin to spare his life. Unable to forgive his former friend’s betrayal, Jin must overpower Ryuzo, who has noticeably stronger attacks and new techniques compared to when players first fought him. Like Khan, his desperation shows in his fast-paced but erratic attacks, simultaneously making them stronger and harder to avoid.
The duel against the leader of the group of Straw Hats who swore an oath to kill Jin is without a doubt the hardest in the game. There are no heartbreaking moments here, as Kojiro is a bloodthirsty assassin who is proud of his several murders.
Players should have mastered their parrying skills and various techniques at this point, as Kojiro won’t go down easy. His relentlessly aggressive attacks are not only ridiculously fast, but Kojiro can also defeat Jin’s with just two or three blows. Patience won’t even be rewarded here, as Kojiro has several unblockable attacks that he will use without hesitation during the duel.