As if the other mini-bosses in Sekiro weren’t enough, FromSoft decided to add in these beastly creatures. Found tucked away in dark, solitary areas, the Headless will no doubt, if you haven’t stumbled across them already, prove to be a test of your nerves alongside your combat ability. Though, like much of the other side content in Sekiro, defeating the headless is worth it. Not only do they provide a decent exp reward, but killing them is the only way to obtain Spiritfall Candies, an infinite use version of the normal candies, provided you have spirit emblems to use.
Acquiring these rewards isn’t easy though, putting these restless spirits down will be a trial and a half. That said, there are ways to take the edge off your ghostbusting. In this article, I’ll be describing exactly where these demons reside, what they drop, and the best way to dispatch them.
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Where to find the Headless
There are five Headless to find in total, each in a unique area and some needing a different approach to others. I’ll be going over each Headless in the order you reach their area, so feel free to skip around to the ones most relevant to you.
Ashina Outskirts – Headless 1
Ashina Outskirts is home to the first Sekiro Headless location. You can reach it quite early in the game, just after you defeat the Chained Ogre. Start at the Ashina Stairway Idol or the Underbridge Idol, if you’ve progressed further in the game. Head into the General Tenzen arena, then scale the right-side wall. Below is a shrine with a note, warning you of what lies ahead. Follow the grapple points and ledges until you reach a dark tunnel. Once it opens up, the first Headless will be waiting at the bottom of the cave.
The secondary route requires you to rush through the Headless’ cave and use a rotating wall at the end of a tunnel. While a pain to do at first, your reward will be an otherwise inaccessible Idol and a little secret, for those of you mad enough to want an additional challenge. This Idol will mean a much shorter and safer route to the Headless, something very worthwhile if the mini-boss is giving you trouble.
Now onto the fight itself. To begin with, the cave itself contributes to the difficulty of the fight, as thick, movement-slowing fog swamps the area. This has a considerable impact on how you can approach the fight and your margin for error, as you won’t be as fast or as free to move as you are likely used to. On top of this, each hit you sustain will build up the terror meter, Sekiro’s version of frenzy or curse. Once this maxes out, you’ll die on the spot. Oh, and it teleports too.
To counter the nasty tricks up the Headless’ non-existent sleeve, you have a few options. Practicing your deflections is a good start. The Headless are more vulnerable to guard damage than health, plus perfect deflections will not increase your terror bar. Fighting defensively is your best bet here, as it is the least risky method and does not rely on Sekiro’s high maneuverability, something you are robbed of for the duration of the battle. There are a few items that can make the Headless easier too. Divine confetti, while rare in the early stages of the game, massively increases your damage output against the Headless and spirit enemies in general. You can further increase your damage by using Ako’s sugar or Yashariku’s sugar, if you have any. Lastly, be sure to pack some pacifying agents, which can be bought from Fujioka the Info Broker, as they can cure the terror status abnormality and increase your resistance for a brief time.
There are two shinobi prosthetic tools that can be used to great effect against the Headless, namely the Phoenix’s Lilac Umbrella and Malcontent. The Lilac Umbrella can be used to effectively negate the Headless’ attacks when deployed, though won’t do much for doing damage. Malcontent, on the other hand, completely trivializes the fight. When used, it will stun the Headless for several seconds, letting you deal some uncontested damage. You’ll likely be in the late stages of the game if you have these tools, which simplifies the fight in itself, making these tools unnecessary for anything other than a speedy win.
The above tools and tactics are largely applicable to the other land-dwelling Headless. For them, the main changes are their environment and how to navigate it, rather than wholly different approaches. There is a different kind of Headless, though, which will be your next quarry.
Ashina Castle – Headless 2
The second Sekiro Headless location is found near Ashina Castle, specifically at the bed of the pond behind the main castle. To reach it, you will need the Mibu Breathing Technique, which can be obtained by defeating the area boss at the end of Mibu Village. With it, you will be able to dive underwater and face this next foe.
Fighting underwater Headless is a little different from the ones on land. Naturally, the underwater environment is an entirely unique setting for a battle in Sekiro, though not one that limits movement this time. Rather than a slow, deliberate defensive battle, underwater fights are much more explosive and aggressive. Before the fight itself, you may want to dispatch the aggressive fish swimming about in order to simplify the fight. You should focus on closing the distance between you and the Headless, as hesitating will earn you a salvo of terror-inflicting phantom bullets. You won’t have to maintain this aggressive posture for long, however, since underwater Headless are significantly easier than their above-ground counterparts.
This is mainly for three reasons: they only have a single deathblow, are easier to deal damage to, and your movement is less restricted. It’s still a good idea to bring the aforementioned items though, as terror can still mean an unceremonious end. Using the attack-boosting items before your dive will make the fight much quicker, though bear in mind you can’t use them once submerged. With this one killed, it’s back to dry land.
Sunken Valley – Headless 3
Depending on which of the branching paths you took, your next Sekiro Headless location will be in the Sunken Valley, close to where the Gourd Seed is, if you found it. You’ll also need the Mibu Breathing Technique. Starting from the Under-Shrine Valley Idol, head right until you reach the grapple point leading to two riflemen. Kill them, then scale the ledge and shimmy along the wall. Jump down to the area with the graves, then dive into the pond. Swim through the tunnel until it opens up into the cavern. Your target awaits you deeper inside.
Fighting this Headless is much the same as the first one. He will release a fog that slows movement, teleport after consecutive attacks, and inflict terror upon you. The cavern is much more spacious compared to the last one, though it has some obstacles in the form of large graves. By using the same items and tactics as the last time, you should make short work of the restless spirit.
Ashina Depths – Headless 4
The fourth Sekiro Headless location is in the Hidden Forest, shrouded in mist below the treeline. Starting at the Hidden Forest Idol, move forward and drop down to the forest floor. Continue forward until you see a mushroom-covered tree. Drop down again and head over to it. The Headless will be waiting a little further back from the tree.
Killing the Mist Noble is a good idea before taking on the Headless. Getting rid of the mist will make it a lot harder for the Headless to sneak up on you when it teleports, and not being interrupted by phantoms is always nice. Once you’ve killed the Mist Noble, head back to the Headless and employ the usual approach. Dispatching it should be trivial by now.
Fountainhead Palace – Headless 5
The final Sekiro Headless location is in the Fountainhead Palace, at the bottom of the Great Carp’s lake. You can reach the Headless easily from any part of the lake, though only once you’ve dealt with Okami Leader Shizu, a miniboss on the Great Sakura Tree. From the Idol of the same name, you can dive into the lake and quickly locate the Headless.
This fight is pretty much identical to the Headless in the Ashina Castle pond, though this time around, you have two Headless to deal with. Before diving in, you should apply some divine confetti, Ako’s sugar (or Ako’s Spiritfall Candy now), and a pacifying agent. Then, once you meet with the Headless, focus down the non-miniboss variant. It doesn’t have too much health and will go down quite quickly thanks to your attack buffs, though watch out for the perilous attack and the other Headless’ projectiles. Once killed, approach the other Headless the same way you did the second. With that, your time ghostbusting in Ashina has come to an end.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Many Bosses Are In Sekiro?
Just one boss can take months to defeat on Sekiro, so you may not be too stoked to hear that there are 13 of them in total. In order of appearance, the big bads are as follows:
- Gyoubu Masataka Owina — Outside Ashina Castle
- Lady Butterfly — End of Hirata Estate segment
- Genichiro Ashina — Atop Ashina Castle
- Folding Screens Monkeys — The Illusive Hall of Senpou Temple
- Guardian/Headless Ape — Sunken Valley
- Corrupted Monk — Ashina Depths
- Emma/Isshin Ashina — Atop Ashina Castle (again)
- Great Shinobi Owl — Atop Ashina Castle (again, again)
- True Corrupted Monk — Fountainhead Palace
- Divine Dragon — Fountainhead Palace
- Demon of Hatred (optional) — Ashina Outskirts
- Genichiro with Mortal Blade — Moonlit Field
- Isshin, The Sword Saint — Moonlit Field
There is also a generous sprinkling of mini bosses to do battle with throughout the narrative, which keeps the dynamics of the game interesting between the main showdowns. And most of them are harder than the primary bosses in any non-FromSoftware title, so don’t let your guard (or your gourd) down!
How Long Does Sekiro Take To Beat?
If you’re looking to beat Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, you’ll need to put some serious graft in to do so. It will take approximately 30 hours of playtime to defeat him. Though this will depend on how well you can play the game, while the difficulty of this game is not extensively hard, it is by no means easy to complete and so it may take a little longer than those 30 hours.
The good news for those who love Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, is that the game is far from over once you’ve beaten Sekiro. To finish the game to full 100% completion you’ll need on average another 40 hours of gameplay on top of the previous 30. That means 70 wonderful hours of game time. So gamers can rest easy in the knowledge that defeating the final boss actually means that you’re less than halfway through your total game time.
Is Sekiro Like Dark Souls?
Sekiro and the Dark Souls games were both developed by FromSoftware, a company with a highly stylized approach, so needless to say, all their titles have some identifiable common threads.
For instance, both games share the same grim, almost colorless aesthetic that instills a sense of dread and defeat before you even really get into any conflict, and once you do reach the action, both games throw some truly shiver-inducing bosses your way — Even the most level-headed gamer will be coaxed into some furious rage-quits!
Yet, having said all that, in all the ways that count, these games are very different from one another and completely unique in the wider context of gaming. In Sekiro, you’re a troubled shinobi warrior, cutting a bloody path through a fictionalized post-feudal Japan, while in Dark Souls, you’re immersed in a completely fictitious world, and there’s more of a focus on character creation and development.
That’s pretty much everything you need to know about the Sekiro Headless and how to beat them. Ultimately, the battles are only a problem in the earlier stages of the game. Once you have your attack, health, and healing potential upgraded, you’ll likely breeze through the fights with ease. If you’re having trouble finding those all-important healing upgrades, check out our guides on Prayer Bead and Gourd Seed locations!