Your goal in this playthrough is to reach the Shura ending, which will allow you to fight the one remaining boss that is still needed for the Man Without Equal trophy. It's up to you how thorough you want to be as you progress through the primary objectives- Gyoubu Oniwa, Genichiro Ashina, Folding Screen Monkeys, Corrupted Monk (Lotus of the Palace), Guardian Ape (Shelter Stone), and then get to the top of Ashina Castle and meet Owl there. When he gives you the option, choose to "Obey the Iron Code, Forsake Kuro."
After a brief cutscene, you'll begin a battle with Emma, the Gentle Blade (VIDEO).
Emma is tough because her attacks are fast, somewhat erratic, and deal a lot of posture damage. Employ the usual "attack until deflected, then be ready to react" technique, which varies here as Emma will often allow you to attack four or more times before deflecting you. This is important to understand because the timing of her counterattacks differs based on whether she deflected you or just blocked you. You want to stay aggressive and attack her until you get deflected, then be prepared to immediately react to what she does.
She will often counterattack with a single slash that you can deflect, then counterattack yourself. She may rear back briefly, then release a flurry of attacks- four in total. Deflect the first, then the second and third, then the fourth to throw her behind you and then attack her. You can also dodge the fourth attack to her right to counterattack.
She has three perilous attacks- a grab that she winds up for (quickly jump away and to either side), a slash (jump over it), and two thrusts, one of which is done while jumping towards you (Mikiri Counter if possible). Should she connect with the grab, she sometimes follows up with a sword slash that you can avoid by dodging backward as soon as allowed (hold back and spam ). The perilous sweep and thrusts come fast so it's often hard to do anything other than just avoid them.
If she starts a charged attack by reaching for her sheathed sword, either get behind her or back far away immediately as she will unleash a double slash attack with huge range that deals a lot of damage, even if deflected.
She can close distance with a dashing lunge attack that she will often do if you try to get away to heal.
The best plan here is full aggression as I find her more manageable when you stay close. After dealing a heartbreaking deathblow, a cutscene will occur. You will then begin a two-phase battle with Isshin Ashina (VIDEO).
The first phase has some similarities to the first phase of the Sword Saint Isshin Ashina battle from playthrough 1. You need to understand his counterattack patterns so you know how many attacks need to be deflected before you can counterattack yourself. He will occasionally do a similar "knock you away, then perilous thrust" attack that you want to Mikiri Counter.
He has two attacks that start with a hand near a sheathed sword. One comes quickly and can be blocked/deflected, then follows with a perilous sweep which you can jump over, then punish. The other charges longer before releasing a double slash with a huge range that does a lot of damage. When I see him start this charging animation, I just run far away to be safe, then react based on which of the two attacks he does.
He can close distance with a dashing lunge attack that he will often do if you try to get away to heal.
Unlike with Emma, you don't want to attack Isshin from an idle position more than once. He will almost always dodge your attack, then immediately counterattack and if you've attacked a second time, you'll have overcommitted and end up taking damage. If he didn't dodge your first attack, you can continue attacking until you get deflected.
He has two attacks that start with raising his sword above his head and preparing for a downward slash. One comes more slowly and has a follow-up slash after. The other comes more quickly and is two fast downward slashes. If you circle to his side you can usually get behind him to avoid these attacks.
He has a perilous thrust that comes quickly and is often hard to Mikiri Counter and a perilous grab that you want to jump away from as soon as you can.
After you deal the first deathblow, the second phase will immediately begin. He almost always starts with a conjuring animation that results in fire appearing throughout the area. You ALWAYS want to use firecrackers during this animation to interrupt him. Should he get this off, huge pillars of fire will burst from the ground and he will do a long slash with crazy range.
He has some new attacks that deal fire damage. The most common is an overhead slash followed up by an arcing slash. You want to dodge both to his right to avoid them.
He will do a backhand slash, a fiery foot stomp, then a fiery perilous sweep. Also, dodge around to his right to get to a safe spot.
If you get distance, he may stomp the ground, then send a wave of fire your way that you need to jump the side to avoid.
Keep the pressure up with deflecting and being aggressive and after dealing the second deathblow, you can deal a Shinobi Execution, after which two trophies will unlock:
The ending cinematic will then play out, after which another trophy will unlock:
There will only be two objectives left: unlock all of the Prosthetic Tool upgrades and unlock every skill in the five skill trees. The former requires 4 more Lapis Lazuli which can only be found by reaching Fountainhead Palace. The latter requires (likely) a ton of exp that is best earned by grinding. Unless you have anything specific that you want to accomplish, move on to playthrough 3.
The goal in this playthrough is to defeat the Divine Dragon in Fountainhead Palace which triggers the Interior Ministry invasion. You need to play through these bosses: Gyoubu Oniwa, Genichiro Ashina, Folding Screen Monkeys, Corrupted Monk (Shelter Stone), Guardian Ape (Lotus of the Palace), Great Shinobi Owl (Betray the Iron Code, Stay Loyal to Kuro), Corrupted Monk v.2, and then the Divine Dragon.
Get the four needed Lapis Lazuli from Fountainhead Palace- three from the Pot Noble and one from the Shichimen Warrior. Demon of Hatred gives two but the other four are easier.
Grind out exp and sen from the Interior Ministry soldiers near the Outer Wall - Stairway Idol (VIDEO). They will drop plenty of Scrap Magnetite, Adamantite Scrap, Yellow Gunpowder, and Fulminated Mercury.
Fujioka in the Dilapidated Temple sells Black Gunpowder and Scrap Iron.
Fulminated Mercury can also be farmed by using Golden Vortex on the Interior Ministry soldiers near the Ashina Castle idol (VIDEO).
Lumps of Fat/Grave Wax can be farmed by killing Palace Nobles near the Flower Viewing Stage idol in Fountainhead Palace (VIDEO).
If Spiral Cloud Passage (the middle skill in the final Mushin Arts column) is locked, you still need the Floating Passage Text which is sold initially by the Pot Noble in Hirata Estate for 5 treasure carp scales. If you can't get to Hirata Estate, get to the Pot Noble in Fountainhead Palace to get the Truly Precious Bait and feed it to the Great Colored Carp, then return to find the Pot Noble transformed into a Carp in the water below and you can buy the Floating Passage Text from him there.
If you never bought the Phantom Kunai from Anayama and he is not available in the Ashina Outskirts, it should be in the Offering Box at the Dilapidated Temple.
Once you unlock all of the Prosthetic Tool Upgrades, a trophy will unlock:
Once you unlock every skill, a trophy will unlock:
Once you've unlocked all other trophies, the Platinum trophy will unlock:
Congrats on a fine completion!
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