Stellar Blade Combat Tips To Become The Best (And Prettiest) Sword Swinger

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Eve braces for an attack against an enemy.

Stellar Blade, the PS5’s upcoming action game where you get to play as a cute lady (feels good, right?), has had a demo out since March 29. Perhaps you’ve been playing it? Whether you’ve been enjoying it or found it too cumbersome at first, it’s always a good idea to brush up on some basics again.

Read More: Yoko Taro Explains Why He Envies Stellar Blade And Its Director
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Stellar Blade is actually a good time and just maybe Yoko Taro is on to something about how compelling the action on offer here really is. After spending a bit of time with this demo myself, my initial discomforts over how slow the game initially felt have slowly faded away. Here’s what I’ve learned and wish to share with you about playing Stellar Blade.

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Combat is slower than you probably expect, and it comes in layers

Upon first glance, Stellar Blade might give the impression that it’s a super-speedy hack ‘n slash bonanza like Devil May Cry. That just simply isn’t the case. Stellar Blade starts much slower than you’d expect, and protagonist Eve doesn’t necessarily move the fastest. Over time the game can evolve into something speedier, but you need to learn the game’s rhythm first. In fact, the game is way closer to a soulslike than it is to a DMC or a Bayonetta.

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Use Square + Circle for easier platforming and traversal

Stellar Blade has some minor platforming sequences which can feel a little clunky. When hitting X, you’ll jump; if you hit circle at the apex of your jump, you’ll dash forward. You can use this at any time— in platforming sequences, while fighting, or just traversing the environment.

It’s not a bad idea to consider combat in Stellar Blade as existing in layers, which expand and change depending on what skill points you invest into the elaborate skill trees. Think of combat in the following layers to start:

  • Basic attacks with square and triangle (these buttons can be used for a variety of combos)
  • Reactions to enemy attacks with various combinations of circle, the left-thumbstick, and L1 (often signaled by colors that flash on the enemy and on Eve’s sword)
  • Beta Energy (BE) attacks activated with L1 + any of the face buttons

Use the training simulator

Once you come across your first Rest Area, you can enter the training simulator by using the Skill Settings terminal at any Rest Area. You can train specific combos and moves (including ones you haven’t unlocked yet, making for a great way to test out how you want to build Eve) and you can set the training enemy to stand still, attack, only use special attacks (great for practicing Blink), or All Attacks.

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Don’t be afraid of Story Mode

Don’t let toxic people on the internet belittle you for having “Skill Issues.” You “get good” by practicing easier stuff. Take your time with Story Mode if you’re struggling. Story Mode includes an added assistance feature by default you’ll want to consider tweaking in the settings too. You can read about that in our settings guide here.

Sadly, you can only pin one combo at a time to the HUD for reference and practice, forcing you to back out of the training simulator and sit through a few seconds of a black screen to load in between the training environment and the game’s menu. Fortunately, the game’s HUD will read out what buttons and combos you pull off in training, so you can still practice just about any move.

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Parry!

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Hitting L1 right before an enemy lands an attack will allow you to execute a Parry. Pulling off a successful Parry not only blocks an enemy’s attack, but gives you an opening to strike back, fills your BE gauge, and takes a point off of the enemy’s Stance meter (the yellowish dots at the very bottom of an enemy’s health information).

Read More: Best Settings To Tweak In Stellar Blade’s Demo

By default, a sword sound will erupt from your controller when you pull off a Parry successfully. As I advised in my settings guide, I think the DualSense’s little speaker is silly and you should shut it off (or don’t. Live your life. I don’t care). Should you change this setting, the Parry sound will play from your monitor/TV’s speakers.

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You can pause cutscenes with the PS button

Shift Up really wants you to look at these cutscenes, and don’t you dare skip them (in fact, most cutscenes don’t let you skip ‘em). And, by default, it doesn’t seem like you can pause these sequences either—unless you press the PS button! By pulling up the PS5’s dashboard, you’ll pause Stellar Blade’s cutscenes.

When you deplete a foe’s Stance meter, they’ll get “Groggy” and you’ll be able to execute an even more powerful strike by pressing of triangle.

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Fight up close; read enemy attacks blow-by-blow

Aside from key moments like Abaddon’s (the demo’s final boss) lightning attacks that hit various areas on the ground, Stellar Blade wants you up close when fighting. You’ll also need to read enemy attacks as best you can, learning when to Parry and when to get the heck out of the way.

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You can sprint in combat, by the way

With either L3 or by hitting and holding circle, you can sprint in combat. This is handy for getting the frak out of the way or to close distance with a foe. Pressing L3 will force Eve to immediately break out in a sprint, while hitting and holding circle will cause her to dodge first, and then sprint.

To me, it seems like audio is also a big part of reading an enemy’s attack as they’ll usually let out sounds before striking. (Perhaps this is why there’s some obnoxious audio filter layered over the soundtrack to suck out any interesting harmonic timbral content, but I digress).

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A screenshot of a main menu shows various skills for Eve to learn.

Learn Incursion combos first

Seeing long combo lists gives me anxiety like little else out there, so if you’re intimidated by all the combos, you’re not alone. Stellar Blade’s moves are totally learnable though, and you should start (preferably in the training simulator) with the combos that begin with the square button, referred to as “Incursion” combos.

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There are four main Incursion combos to start. Commit these to memory (or screenshot ‘em) as just one of your base sets of combo attacks:

Incursion I: Square > Triangle > Triangle > Triangle

Incursion II: Square > Square > Triangle > Triangle

Incursion III: Square > Triangle > Square > Triangle

Incursion IV: Square > Square > Square > Triangle > Triangle

Practice these in any of these in the training simulator and the button indicators on the upper right of the screen will tell you if you executed them correctly.

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Then, learn Onslaught combos

After Incursion combos, you also have Onslaught combos to learn as well. These moves start with a press of triangle. They are as follows:

Onslaught I: Triangle > Triangle > Triangle

Onslaught II: Triangle > Square > Square > Triangle

Onslaught III: Triangle > Square > Hold Square > Triangle

Onslaught IV: Triangle > Square > Triangle > Square > Triangle

Invest skill points in improving Parry and Blink first

As you play through the demo, you’ll be asked to unlock Perfect Parry and Blink. These are very important moves. Blink, which starts with a blue circle on an enemy indicating an attack, followed by a blue glow of Eve’s sword indicating you need to hit up on the left thumbstick + circle, can be hard to execute reliably.

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You can invest skill points into Blink (and Parry) to widen the timing of these moves. Invest in these early if you’re struggling to nail the timing.

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Don’t forget to scan!

When you hold down the touchpad, your little robot drone buddy will emit a Death Stranding-esque scan of the environment. This is really handy for spotting enemies hiding around corners who won’t hesitate to jump out and attack you if you’re not prepared.

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Explore the area too!

Stellar Blade’s environments aren’t just corridors of bloody carnage. There are plenty of handy items to find in the environment, like crafting materials that will help you be the prettiest little girl in the post apocalypse. Be sure to spend some time looking around.

Scan also helps make the environment more readable as well, particularly in the rather dull environment the demo throws you into.

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That wraps my tips for Stellar Blade’s combat as far as the demo is concerned. Be sure to check back for a more fully featured rundown of the game’s combat when it launches on PS5 on April 26, 2024.

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