I adore everything about this fight. It really is From Software at their total apex. It’s tough, fast, aggressive, powerful and everything else you’d expect from a true final boss. Isshin is actually pretty easy though once you get down to brass tacks. I’ve included video of me taking him down in New Game Plus with audio commentary so you can see his moves and how I deal with them. Let’s get into the strategy:
Isshin insanely aggressive and has some brutal combos. At the beginning of the fight, you’ll be fighting armorless Genichiro. This is the same as last time except his lightning has been replaced with a Mortal Blade attack. Always get behind him for this and he’ll never hit you. It’s very obvious when he’s charging it. Hitting him will cancel most of his attacks and combos. Be very aggressive and stay on top of him to break his posture and end this fight quickly. His heavy attacks when he comes towards you has to be dodged. The other heavy attacks you have to jump over. Whenever he pulls out his bow you can get a free attack in and he won’t shoot. For his long combo that he charges the best way to deal with it is to just deflect right through it.
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Then Isshin starts. This is really tough. Get close to him right away. He attacks quickly. His primary one is a rapid double slash with crazy reach. His sword will flash white before this, dodge past the first attack towards his right, the side with no sword and dodge again a second later in the same direction for the heavy follow up. Always dodge in his direction. Once you learn this attack this fight will become so much easier. He’s open for a few hits here. All of his combos can be deflecting and his thrust is really slow so you can get the mikiri counter in. For his shockwave attack, you need to quickly run behind him. He’s very vulnerable afterwards. He also has a twirl attack, for his double jump on his head to do posture damage and be safe. Break his posture to begin phase 2.
Phase 2 is even harder. He now has a spear which he’ll do an area attack with to start this round. He still has his sword as well. He’ll always come running at you and will try to shoot you with a gun, you can deflect all five bullets. His thrust is still really slow and easily countered. You can deflect all of his swings but he’ll really damage your posture. Keep your distance and when he jumps at you dodge past him and get a couple of hits in. You can also use this to recover both posture and health. When you get his posture to halfway start using firecrackers after his jump attack to really damage him and get the deathblow.
Then phase 3 will begin. It’s almost identical but now he has lightning, like Genichiro. This will benefit you a ton. As soon as you see the lightning get ready to jump, jump when it is swinging towards you then hit R1 before you hit the floor to hit him with the lightning and cause massive health and posture damage plus you can get close and attack him. Continue to bait the jump attack now and wait on the chance to use the mikiri. Between lightning, jump attack firecrackers and mikiri you’ll be able to break his posture before half health and complete the game!