Image taken via IGN
Sekiro is a title well-known for its difficulty. Through updates from the developers and self-imposed challenges that can be activated on later playthroughs, Sekiro is a title that only gets harder the more you play it. And yet, it’s been on the forefront of numerous discussions on whether games should have more difficulty options - despite practically starting on an “easy mode” when you first launch it.
Nothing accentuates Sekiro’s love for difficulty better than the Demon of Hatred boss. An optional battle found only during the endgame, some people consider it to be harder than the final boss itself. Such a sentiment is easy to understand when you consider its fire attacks and larger-than-life bestial form. Defeating Sekiro’s Demon of Hatred will require a full understanding of the game’s mechanics, including some tricks not used very often by most players.
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No items in this section are required to defeat the Demon of Hatred. However, they will make the fight much easier, and can help you survive situations that would otherwise kill you.
If you haven’t already, you might want to get every Gourd Seed, Prayer Bead, and Memory you can. If you’re particularly having trouble, you may even want to defeat the final boss first; you can choose whether to move on to New Game + after beating it, so you don’t have to leave the Demon of Hatred behind.
A particularly strong item to use during the fight is the Malcontent, a prosthetic tool that’s upgraded from the Finger Whistle. You can use it to stun the Demon of Hatred during its fight, leaving it open to your attacks. This is particularly useful with stronger combat arts that utilize the Mortal Blade, if you have them unlocked. Be warned that this tool will only work three times during the fight; it won’t have any effect after that.
Crafting the Malcontent
The item to craft the Finger Whistle is dropped by the Guardian Ape, so you’ll likely already have it. The upgrade requires:
You’ll also need the Malcontent’s Ring, which is only dropped by the Shichimen Warrior in the Headless Ape’s second boss arena. You’ll need to sever the ape’s immortality and complete Mibu Village to get the miniboss to spawn.
Also useful is Suzaku’s Lotus Umbrella, which acts as an upgrade of the Loaded Umbrella. It will defend against fire attacks, making it especially helpful for some of the Demon of Hatred’s deadlier moves. You can avoid many of its fire attacks with practice, but the umbrella will act as a fine last-resort option.
Crafting Suzaku’s Lotus Umbrella
In order to get the Loaded Umbrella, you’ll need to purchase the Iron Fortress item from Blackhat Badger. If you’ve missed it by the time you reach the Demon of Hatred, you can purchase it from the offering box at the Dilapidated Temple.
The upgrade requires:
Most of these can be found throughout the world, though Fulminated Mercury can be difficult to search for. You can find a few around Ashina Castle and the outskirts during the endgame.
Other useful items include Divine Confetti, which offers a damage boost, and the Withered Red Gourd, which helps in mitigating the Burn status. You can purchase the gourd from the Pot Noble at Hirata Estate; just be sure you have two Treasure Carp scales. If you’ve used the True Precious Bait from the Pot Noble at Fountainhead Palace, you’ll need to speak with him instead to purchase the gourd.
The Demon of Hatred only becomes accessible after obtaining the Divine Dragon’s Tears, which will trigger the game’s final sequence. To reach the Demon of Hatred fight, you’ll need to head out from Ashina Castle and find a certain kite to grapple onto. It will bring you over to the Ashina Outskirts; you’ll know you’re in the right place if you encounter Shigekichi of the Red Guard. Just head through the area and you’ll come across an idol at the end, allowing you to access the boss arena.
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The Demon of Hatred is a highly aggressive foe, able to deal large amounts of damage in mere moments. It’s one of the tallest, most imposing enemies in the game, but that size is also its weakness.
The fight won’t start immediately when you first enter the Demon of Hatred’s arena. The moment it sees you, it will strike a pose - you should take that time to move in as fast as you can. Staying near the boss will limit its capabilities, keeping it from effectively utilizing many of its ranged attacks. By getting close enough, certain attacks will actually miss you entirely, letting you get in some free hits.
Dash Constantly and Stick to its Right Side
By staying near the Demon of Hatred, you force it to use a certain number of moves. Stomps, kicks, and other attacks with its body can easily be deflected, but its flaming left hand will inflict burn if you try blocking it. However, by abusing Sekiro’s unlimited stamina, you can constantly dash around the boss, avoiding many of its strongest attacks. You’ll want to stay by the Demon of Hatred’s right side; if you were playing on a keyboard, holding the W and A keys together would be your best chance at victory.
Focus on Attacking and Less on Deflecting
In general, the boss’s posture bar won’t decrease much. Your focus should be less on deflection and more on attacking. You should also try to wait until the third phase of the fight before using the Malcontent, if you have it. The third phase is by far the most dangerous, so stretching out all three stuns during that time will prove immensely helpful.
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You’ll need to train your reflexes if you want to avoid taking too much damage, but many of the Demon of Hatred’s attacks are highly telegraphed. Its stomps and slams are easily learned, and some players might not even see its full moveset. Even so, there are some attacks that can catch even the best players off guard.
Here are some of the trickiest attacks, as well as how to handle them:
Jumping Slam - The Demon of Hatred will jump into the air and slam straight down in an explosion. The actual attack isn’t hard to avoid, but a gust of wind will fire from the blast, knocking you down. The boss will gain a grapple point you can latch onto to avoid the knockdown. You should wait to jump and grapple until the boss finishes its slam, in order to avoid being knocked away at the end of your animation.
Fire Combo - A short-range string of attacks. The Demon of Hatred will first swipe its fiery arm at you, then swing it upwards before trying to stomp you, ending with another flaming swing. You should jump backwards if you see the initial attack, as well as back and to the right during its final swing. Despite appearances, both attacks in the middle of this combo can be deflected without any burn buildup.
Bursting Fireball - An attack only performed at medium range. The Demon of Hatred will throw numerous fireballs at once, launching one volley after another. Because it only uses this when you’re far away, your best bet to avoid the attack is staying as close as possible to the boss. If it manages to get far enough away from you, dashing directly towards the Demon of Hatred will make it easier to avoid the attack; running slightly to the left can allow you to avoid the first volley entirely, if you’re lucky.
Sweep - A perilous attack. The Demon of Hatred will sweep the ground, running a large distance away before striking a pose. Jumping back and away from the boss will allow you to easily dodge the attack, and you should run towards the Demon of Hatred before it can start to use any more dangerous ranged moves.
Meteors - A ranged attack. The Demon of Hatred will swing its head around, spawning balls of fire before launching them towards you. Running diagonally towards the boss is the best way to avoid this attack, but it can be unavoidable if either of you is too close to a wall. After the final ball, the boss will strike another pose, leaving it open to more free attacks.
Flaming Whirlwind - A perilous attack. The Demon of Hatred will sweep its flaming arm in a circle, raising it up before performing a second sweep, creating a massive ring of fire around the area. The first sweep can be avoided with a careful jump, and staying behind the boss during the attack will leave you relatively safe.
If you find yourself unable to avoid the ranged attacks, Suzaku’s Lotus Umbrella can mitigate most - if not all - damage from the flames. Any attack not listed here can be easily avoided through deflection or strafing, and keeping these moves in mind should make the fight much more manageable.
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You can trigger extra dialogue before and after the Demon of Hatred fight. You can only do this earlier in the game, particularly before the Great Shinobi boss. For the sake of avoiding spoilers, this guide won’t go too in-depth on that, but here are the important parts:
Other requirements can be fulfilled as you progress through the game normally, such as obtaining the Finger Whistle, exploring Hirata Estate, or curing Dragonrot.
The Demon of Hatred’s difficulty cannot be understated, but it isn’t invincible. Keep at it and eventually you’ll learn how to take it down. Though it might not be a necessary fight to complete the game, very few things compare to how satisfying it is to finally take down one of Sekiro’s greatest challenges.
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