Rise of the Ronin – 9 tips to survive your samurai journey

Rise of the Ronin charts a difficult journey. Take these tips with you to survive.
rise of the ronin guide tips combat exploration

In your quest through Rise of the Ronin, you’ll face a gauntlet of challenges – of the political kind, and more commonly, of the sword-wielding kind. To fight your way through, you’ll need to familiarise yourself with an array of mechanics, and immerse yourself deeply in Rise of the Ronin‘s world.

The task can be fairly difficult, as the game is littered with unique gameplay systems, complex collectibles, upgradeable gear, and other quirks. Not everything is spelled out well in Rise of the Ronin, and that means you really need to pay attention to what you’re doing, and to what consequences your actions have.

Read: Rise of the Ronin review – History in motion

Get started with the game on the right foot – here are our most useful tips to make the most of your time with Rise of the Ronin.


1. Buy a horse as soon as possible

In Rise of the Ronin, you can spend your days running through the world on foot – or you can purchase a horse. During my playthrough, this fact was not initially clear, so I spent a good deal of time wandering, before I realised you can just visit a stable and buy your own horse for travel. Don’t make the same mistake as me.

While horses do require special currency earned by completing quests, you’ll be able to afford one pretty quickly after starting Rise of the Ronin‘s main story. Head out to buy a horse, set its command whistle on your quick action wheel, and you’ll be set to travel far and wide.

2. Touch banners frequently to restore Healing Elixir and deposit XP

Depending on how high you’ve set your difficulty, you’ll likely rely on Healing Elixirs to keep your health stable in battles. If you haven’t touched a banner in a while, your supply will very likely be running low. To fix this issue, make sure you’re touching banners frequently in your travels. These are littered throughout the map, and allow you to restock your Healing Elixir.

As an added benefit, touching a banner will also bank your XP, converting your experience into skill points, which can unlock new strengths and abilities.

3. Craft Healing Elixir wherever possible

A small but solid piece of advice you’ll need for Rise of the Ronin is this: craft Healing Elixir as often as you can find a vendor or apothecary. You’ll always need Healing Elixir in battle. Make sure you’re collecting the ingredients (plants, mostly) as you run through the world, and then use your stash to craft excess stock. You’ll love this choice when it comes to the heat of battle.

4. Improve bonds with allies – but pick wisely

rise of the ronin allies
Screenshot: GamesHub

Rise of the Ronin sets you a path with various choices, with the game’s overarching conflict being between shogunate (pro-government) and anti-shogunate forces. Allies you meet along the way will fit into either of these factions, although they will change allegiances and reveal new loyalties during the story.

You should pick early on which faction you want to support, by taking on themed quests. In related fashion, you should also pick which allies to form strong relationships with, depending on their alliances.

If you pick early on, this will allow you to better build your bonds, and work towards unlocking each character’s friendship bonuses. It will also shape your path through Rise of the Ronin. (As a side note, you should also be prepared for betrayal in your journey.)

5. Defeating Public Order enemy clusters is the quickest way to level up

Between missions in Rise of the Ronin, you’ll get the chance to explore the map of Japan as you like. There’s plenty of distractions on this map – including cute cats to pet – but if you’re looking to smash through the main story and strengthen your fighting skills quickly, the best activities to complete are Public Order quests.

These show up as red dots on the map. Essentially, they are mini quests where you’re clearing out enemy encampments by slowly picking off each enemy, one by one. Use stealth, and you may be able to clear a whole camp without kickstarting a major battle. You can also choose to go in, all guns ablaze, and carve a path that way. Once you finish a Public Order quest, you’ll gain a bunch of XP, and unlock new activities in the nearby town area.

6. Check for new gear in your inventory often

rise of the ronin gameplay guide
Screenshot: GamesHub

As you complete new missions in Rise of the Ronin, you’ll be gathering a lot of random gear, most of which will pop up on screen with a green or red arrow to indicate whether it’s less or more powerful than your current gear. First, you should be paying attention when green arrow gear appears, even if it’s ugly.

Consistently replacing your gear gives you an easy, immediate impact on the battlefield, and allows you to improve your attacks and defence easily. Between missions, you should always check your gear and weapons to ensure you’re using the best possible tools. Any lesser-powered weapons and gear can be sold for coins, and then these coins can be re-invested either into better gear or better supplies.

In my time with Rise of the Ronin, I never really needed to purchase gear, as I was always fairly levelled for encounters. That said, if you’re struggling, consider saving your money to improve your gear standing.

7. Focus on Strength abilities first

skills rise of the ronin
Screenshot: GamesHub

In Rise of the Ronin, you’ll be able to build your skills in four categories: Strength, Dexterity, Charm, and Intellect. You can choose whatever you like to invest skill points in, but my personal preference and recommendation is to devote points to the Strength skill tree. This tree contains a variety of helpful skills that will improve your prowess in battle, allowing you to strengthen attacks, and add on more critical hit damage.

There are some handy stealth-based skills (like the ability to stealth-kill enemies with your grappling hook) in other parts of the skill tree – but you should start with Strength to ensure your battles kick off smoothly.

8. Pray at shrines to build skill points

If you’re keen to level up your skills at speed, an easy way to gather skill points is to find Shrines in the open world, and pray to them. Each time you pray at a Shrine, you will gather a new skill point, which can then be used to unlock abilities.

For certain skills, you will need to gather additional Strength, Dexterity, Charm, and Intellect points (earned in battle), but getting base skill points at speed via Shrines will boost your progress.

9. Roll, roll, and keep rolling in battle

rise of the ronin gameplay combat
Screenshot: GamesHub

As for Rise of the Ronin‘s core gameplay – its towering battles – the best advice we have is to roll. Like other games in the so-called “Souls-like” genre, Rise of the Ronin‘s combat relies on careful study and adherence to enemy animation cycles. You need to analyse your opponent’s swing, their stance, and then leap into battle with care. To best avoid enemy attacks, the only way to go is to roll, roll, and keep rolling.

This also applies to when you need to heal. Occasionally in battle, you’ll get stunned by an enemy attack, meaning you can’t swing your sword. When you get stuck like this, roll away, out of enemy reach, and then take the time to gain your strength (and heal, if you need it). These pauses are a natural part of combat, and you’ll need to learn their rhythms, and when to roll out, to ensure you survive over the long haul.


Rise of the Ronin is out now, exclusively for PlayStation 5. This guide was creating with a code provided by the game’s publisher, Sony Interactive Entertainment.

Rise of the Ronin - PlayStation 5
$69.00
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05/18/2024 07:16 am GMT

Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.