The in-game world in Sekiro has been divided into several large "districts" comprising smaller locations, each with a unique name. Free exploration is the main focus of the game: when doing so, you have to eliminate enemies, earn experience and money, look for items and secrets, and fight bosses.
- Sculptor's Idol - checkpoints and fast travel
- Overcoming obstacles and using the grappling hook
- Discovering secrets and hidden passages
- Location boundaries
Sculptor's Idol - checkpoints and fast travel
When exploring consecutive areas, you will find blue campfires called sculptor's idols (or bonfires from previous games). They serve as checkpoints and can be found in each sub-location. Upon reaching them, you can:
- Save the game and rest (to replenish your strengths, which results in new foes appearing in the area),
- Fast travel - using the campfire, you can fast travel to other unlocked campfires, also in other districts; you can also teleport to the Dilapidated Temple - your safe haven,
- Develop your character - upon unlocking the ability to develop your character, reach new levels, and acquiring new prosthetics, you will be able to use the campfire to upgrade your character's stats,
- Upon dying, you will be reborn at the nearest discovered campfire.
Overcoming obstacles and using the grappling hook
You can explore on foot and using grappling hook your character is equipped with to reach inaccessible locations by grabbing some statues, trees, and roofs.
Grappling Hook has a limited range. The grapples you can use are marked grey if they are too far, however they turn green after getting close enough. The crossed green marker means there is something on your way and you cannot use the grapple, in spite of standing in range.
You can also use the grappling hook to jump. This is often required. Use the flying leap to jump over the chasm. After jumping, you can use the grappling hook: in Sekiro, you have to use the grapple hook! Your character will not catch the ledge, and if you don't press the right key - fall and die.
Hint: use the grappling hook to reach the highest spots in a given location: this way, you will easily investigate the are without drawing unwanted attention and plan your fighting strategy or avoid opponents.
Discovering secrets and hidden passages
In Sekiro, you will not find hints to locate hidden passages or secrets: all you can do is depend on your intuition and sight. There are many secrets to be found in the form of e.g. upgrades, precious items, and gold pouch.
- If the path ends but you see a branch you can cling onto, go towards it. If there is no secret there, for sure there is a location you should head to.
- Most secret caves do not guarantee an easy path to reach them. You will often have to risk a leap from a high into what might seem a chasm, only to land in a new location.
A lot of strategic passages you can sneak through, as well as hidden items, are located behind destructible objects such as old furniture and chests. Make sure to look underneath small houses and towers based upon wooden structures that you can go under while crouching (usually these places are blocked by a wooden plank or any other element you can destroy with your sword).
When eavesdropping, you can learn about secrets, how to avoid certain location, and awaiting enemies. Locate foes at given spots - next to each other or e.g. by a campfire. Upon closing up, you will see a yellow symbol by the soldiers talking to each other. After getting 5 meters away from them, you will be able to listen to their conversation. Each conversation you hear is marked with a small "tick" symbol that becomes visible after you get closer to your foes.
Annotation: eavesdropping can be interrupted if the enemies see you.
When moving between locations, you most often will find points indicating that you are entering a new area - usually gates or passages. Very often, these locations are guarded by powerful bosses. You cannot pass, until you defeat them - sometimes you can avoid the battle, and return when you see fit.
In Sekiro, you can swim, however, you cannot dive. When swimming, you can use the basic attack and e.g. use the grappling hook. Swimming is a good way to find a lot of secrets and enemy bases. Watch out, though: sometimes, there can be monsters in the water that will attack you.