Guardian Ape is the next main boss in Sekiro, found in the game's Sunken Valley area, following on from Corrupted Monk in our walkthrough of the game's bosses and mini-bosses.
You'll find the Guardian Ape waiting by the Bodhisattva Valley.
Below, we'll cover how to beat Sekiro's Guardian Ape, including any particularly strong methods or weaknesses they might have and any handy things to bear in mind.
For more guides and pages like this, meanwhile, cycle back to our main Sekiro walkthrough and boss guide hub.
Sekiro Guardian Ape - how to beat and kill the Guardian Ape and headless ape
The Guardian Ape is one of Sekiro's toughest bosses, with some quick and unpredictable attacks, heavy hits that do major posture damage, and not one but two, rather different phases.
How to beat the Guardian Ape's first phase
In the first phase, the Guardian Ape is a 'beast', meaning the Firecracker Prosthetic will work well if you're a fan of using it.
If that's not really your thing - and you might find it tough given there's a roughly 20-second cooldown on it working against the Ape - then here's what we recommend.
First, equip a good Combat Art - we use the Whirlwind one that you unlock early in the game.
Then it's just a case of patience. Wait for the Guardian Ape to do his back-rolling attack. He'll do a big, almost lazy swing of one arm from low to high, and then flip over onto his back and start thrashing, rolling from one side to the other.
When you recognise the first 'lazy swing' part of the attack, start sprinting anti-clockwise around him - at a fair distance, because his rolling has surprising range - and then as soon as he's into the rolling phase, run to his head and start attacking, using the Whirlwind combat art or whatever you feel does the most damage.
You can get a good five or six hits in there, but as soon as he starts to get back up, back off. This first phase is about dealing Vitality damage, which means patiently surviving, keeping a distance and dodging, blocking and parrying everything he has, whilst waiting for an opportunity - the safest one being that rolling move.
You'll only need to do that a handful of times before you can get the Deathblow in, at which point it's onto the headless phase.
How to defeat the headless Ape, the Guardian Ape's second phase
This phase is surprisingly different: the Ape is now classed as an Apparition-type enemy, so Firecrackers don't work but Divine Confetti and the like do - although we don't find it makes a huge difference, honestly.
There's one very specific strategy for the headless phase that works incredibly well: the Loaded Spear Prosthetic.
The fight is actually set up for its use specifically, it seems. All you need to do is block, deflect, dodge, and generally avoid its attacks until it starts a specific one: several vertical slashes of its sword, with one very long, drawn out verticle slash to finish it.
If you successfully deflect that final, slow vertical hit, the headless Ape will stagger, leaving its bloody stump exposed in front of you. Use the Loaded Spear right away - even if you're sort of 'under' the Ape in a weird position - and tap it twice for the 'pulling' action that is normally designed to rip armour off of enemies.
This'll yank the centipede out of the Ape's neck - yep, it's infested with one like those monks, hence the reanimation as a headless form when it should be dead - and deal massive posture damage.
We only had to do this about three times, with a couple very quick sword hits here and there at the odd moment, and the Ape's Posture bar was filled.
Looking for more Sekiro pages like this? First up, the first main Sekiro patch notes for update 1.03 are live. Otherwise, our Sekiro boss guide, boss list and walkthrough hub has everything in one place, including pages on Lady Butterfly, Genichiro Ashina Way of Tomoe, Folding Screen Monkeys, Corrupted Monk, Guardian Ape, Great Shinobi Owl, Emma and Isshin Ashina, True Corrupted Monk, and Divine Dragon. We also have in-depth pages like Sekiro tips and tricks to get you started, Sekiro Skills, skill tree and Esoteric Text locations explained, our deep dive on the Sekiro combat system, Posture, and Perilous Attacks, or details on all Sekiro Prosthetic Tool locations, how to cure Dragonrot and Rot Essence in Sekiro, Gourd Seed locations, a Divine Confetti farm route method, all Treasure Carp Scale locations, all, Prayer Beads locations and all Snap Seed locations, too. And when you're ready - the how to beat Isshin Sword Saint and an Isshin Sword Saint cheese, plus the many Sekiro endings.
Other things to know about beating the Guardian Ape
There are a few other things to bear in mind about this fight, given that it's a bit of a tricky one, with some unusual consequences. Here's a quick rundown of some things to bear in mind:
- Killing both the Guardian Ape here and the Corrupted Monk in Ashina Depths will trigger the endgame phase of Sekiro. Ashina Castle will be locked off from fast travel - you'll need to travel somewhere nearby and head there on foot - and when you do arrive there, you'll soon face the decision that starts you down the path of one of several endings. Here's a guide on how to get every Sekiro ending - obviously, that will contain spoilers.
- Once you've beaten the Guardian Ape's two forms here, it'll appear again in a different place - the big cavern you'll have passed through shortly after Snake Eyes Shirahagi. This time it'll bring another Ape with it, and you'll get a Prayer Bead for each of them, making two in total. The dual apes only appear there after you've beaten it here, but they're optional if you do this one after the Corrupted Monk. Do it before and you'll need to beat the dual apes on your way through Ashina Depths.
- The Guardian Ape has a very similar move in its two phases, where it releases a very dangerous cloud of gas. The first is, genuinely, a toxic fart, that will poison you if you stay in it too long. this is avoidable, even when you're close to the Ape, if you move to its front end while it's bent over preparing for it. Antidote items can negate this effect if needed.
- In the second phase it's unavoidable if you're in range, occupying the area around the Ape in a circle, and much more hazardous: it's a Terror effect, and when the purple bar fills up, you'll instantly die. To avoid it you need to be constantly watching the Ape's body language and get into a habit of generally backing away to a safe distance after any attacks or blocks. Watch for when it moves its own severed head to its neck - it's preparing to take some kind of drink of its own blood for the big, red mist-forming scream that'll kill you if you stay in it. Pacifying Agent can negate this effect.
That's all you'll hopefully need for tackling this encounter. Next up in our guide is Great Shinobi Owl, or you can cycle back to our main Sekiro walkthrough and boss guide hub for much more explainers and advice.