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Shenmue 3 fighting tips: How the fighting system, and endurance, attack and kung fu in training work

How to better understand - and get better - in combat.

Fighting in Shenmue 3 is one of the many activities you'll need to do to advance the story at key moments.

With the original games having their roots in the Virtua Fighter series, it's no surprise Shenmue 3 continues to feature battling.

Something Shenmue has always have on top of just fighting is making yourself stronger through training, and this third game introduces levelling for not only moves, but Ryo's endurance and attack as well.

Though these will aid your chances in battle, learning some fighting tips will also help - you cannot just brute force your way through battles after all.

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Let's Play Shenmue 3 - Shen-Noobs!

Shenmue 3 fighting tips to help you improve your skills in battle

Shenmue 3's fighting system is much like a traditional fighting game, putting you against an opponent (or sometimes, several at once) with a range of attacked mapped to the face buttons at your disposal, with health meters that, when depleted, knock you out.

Though it's simple on the surface, fights in Shenmue 3 get very difficult very quickly. Here's how to best approach them at the start of the game:

Eat food before you battle so your health is at its highest. It's simple yet important advice - but one that's easy to forget!

Train regularly. Though you cannot simply brute force your way past battles through levelling alone, fights will ramp up in difficulty as you play through the game, and training to improve Ryo's attack and endurance will help greatly.

We recommend levelling both endurance and attack together, just to ensure Ryo becomes a well balanced fighter.

With the wooden dummy mini-games and sparring being simple activities, this process can feel like a grind, but it's a welcome opportunity to practice moves, and also straightforward enough to chip away at while listening to an audiobook or podcast.

Learn to block and dodge. Holding L2 will block attacks coming in, and means you'll take much less damage as a result.

However, if several attacks come in, you can get overwhelmed and take some direct hits, so learning to dodge - by moving away in the opposite direction as an attack is coming in - not only allows you to avoid attacks, but if timed right (you'll hear a wind whooshing sound) leaves your opponent open to attack.

Use skill moves with R2 and time them right. Though hitting face buttons will result in attacks, you'll want to use skills - which you can learn from skill books - allowing you to unleash more powerful, specialised moves.

Take the time to do some sparring to learn which ones suit you best (and also level them up a little) then, in battle, use L1 and R1 to cycle through them before deploying them with R2.

For example, Tornado Kick is a great move for multiple opponents, at least in the early game, allowing you to strike several enemies at once, and even if they are blocking, it'll at least buff them back to stop you getting flanked.

Though they become easier to deploy with R2, don't spam the attack - moves sometimes can leave you open, so learn to time them wisely.

Don't get cornered. If you're facing more than one opponent at a time, then make sure you keep facing them all at once.

As soon as someone is behind you - say if you go in to attack one, and the other flanks you - you cannot block or dodge, and are wide open to attack. Take it nice and slow, use the right stick to focus on the one closest to you.

With the above in mind, downing one opponent at a time is recommended, so you can then concentrate on fewer foes.

Practice your current battle. If you are stuck but you are close to winning, then keep trying - you'll soon learn which of your opponents have the lowest health to pick off first, plus the attacks and movements they use to watch out for.

If you want to practice battles in general, visiting the Martial Hall in the early game allows you to fight as well as spar or use the wooden dummies.

Get Snake Power. This is a power-up you can use mid-battle to replenish half of your health, and is an effective aid if you're struggling in battle.

You can get it from Tao's shop between Verdant Bridge and the Village Square in the opening of the game. Problem is, it's not cheap- costing a whopping 270 yuan.

As a result, you'll need to save up for it. It's well worth taking the time to find a way to make easy money in Shenmue 3 to afford this - as well as food - to best prepare you for battle.

Don't be afraid to turn the difficulty down. If you're not enjoying the combat, then enter your menu, then Settings at the bottom, and opt to change the difficulty.

There's point getting frustrated by one aspect of the game and spoiling the rest of the experience when you can dial it down and focus more on what you do enjoy!

We have Shenmue 3 explainers on the White Lure and Diamond P quest and Future Dream quest, fishing, fighting, food, making money and tokens and where to find Digital Deluxe DLC.

Shenmue 3 training explained: How to increase your endurance, attack and kung fu levels

The endurance, attack and kung fu levelling systems are new additions in Shenmue 3. These are three RPG-style gauges that reflect your strength in battle, and can be make a real difference when it comes to surviving and winning fights.

Endurance represents your health, and is levelled up through wooden dummy mini-games, such as the horse stance. The higher your health, the more damage you can take in battle.

Attack represents how hard your attacks hit, and is levelled up by sparring and practicing your moves, such as at Martial Hall or by talking to martial artists in the world, such as Su Zixiong who is teaching the children in the Village Square.

The higher your attack power, the more damage you'll do.

Kung Fu, meanwhile, is levelled up by improving either your endurance and attack, and represents Ryo's overall prowess in battle - think of it as Ryo's 'level' if this was a role-playing game.

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About the Author
Matthew Reynolds avatar

Matthew Reynolds


Matthew Reynolds edited guides and other helpful things at Eurogamer from 2010 - 2023. When he wasn't doing that, he was out and about playing Pokémon Go or continuing to amass his amiibo collection.

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