Hello, this post is intended to give people some direction when it comes to beating Nightmare Survival. It is leagues ahead of other modes in difficulty, even Nightmare Story. Even though Iyo’s Raid requires more teamwork and coordination, many will agree that Nightmare Survival is harder. I made an old post about 2 weeks ago here, and have decided to release an updated version. Why? Because the playerbase has improved as a whole, and people are now looking to aim for their No-zones lost clears. We also know (or at least strongly suspect) that no new equipment or Ki levels are coming, so there’s no point waiting. I also wrote the last one on mobile, so it wasn’t as neat. Time to get good.
Note: I’ve played as all classes, and will be attaching a video of a Nightmare Survival No Zones Lost clear for each class with random players at the bottom of this thread, mainly because someone asked me to when I wrote the last guide and I was too lazy to do so. You can see how I treat each wave, though for sanity’s sake I would probably just recommend watching 1 or 2 random waves past 15+ if you actually care to do so.
The order of spawns are the same everytime. Here is a list so you can keep track and be ready for each wave: https://www.reddit.com/r/ghostoftsushima/comments/jijvi3/survival_all_waves_for_each_map_except_shadow_of/
Class-specific Epic Charms: These things are amazing, and most of the legendary charms are kinda baity. These charms allow each class to do something that completely changes/drastically improves their gameplay. More detail in the specific classes.
Ki Levels: There IS a noticeable damage difference between Ki105 and 110. Mainly in your damage dealt. Damage received is not too different, though the difference between 90 and 110 is night and day. Get at least Ki100. By all means this doesn’t mean just give up if you see people below 100, but do know you’re at a pretty significant disadvantage. People below 100 who are somehow lucky / built properly will still be way better than people above 100 who just slap things together.
Hwacha Arrows: These can be used to your advantage. They hurt enemies. As enemies are coming to your base, bait them into arrow valleys. Note: ASSASSINATING/CRITICAL STRIKING OUTSIDE OF THE 3 CAMPS IS RISKY. Especially for non-assassins. That’s a long animation and you’re very likely to get volleyed and die.
Legendaries and Builds: I personally don’t believe that for any class it’s worth taking 2 legendary vs. your other Tier 3 classes. However, no matter what you decide on, make sure your build synergizes. Each class has multiple options. I will go over a legendary list shortly. NOTE: Legendary Minor perks are always max value.
Smoke Bombs: IMO, the universally best Ghost 2 (though the others have purpose too). This can help you Res allies, and more importantly stun a large group. I take this on all classes. It’s also a huge bonus if you have any/multiple assassins in your team.
Using your points for blessings: Use these wisely. Summon bears/dogs/ignite fire when you’re on a wave that has enemies go to all 3 points, and use them at the beginning. The sooner the first spawn group dies the sooner you can all fight as a group. Use them also on boss waves where you think you might be in a danger (Toxic, Bears, etc.)
General “safe” moments: You can’t die during an ult. You’re very likely to die after an ult (especially you Ronin) if you ult outside of a circle. Hwacha arrows do not shoot inside houses. Hwacha arrows do not shoot if you’re crouched in a bush and enemies haven’t spotted you.
Using your ult properly: If you’re on the final Spawn wave of a particularly wave (every wave has 3), you don’t need to use your Samurai/Assassin/Hunter ult unless it’s a lot of enemies and you can build that resolve back asap. Using your ults at the start of the next wave’s first spawn will almost entirely decimate them. This lets you guys focus the second spawn sooner, and whichever 1-2 people buy time for the final spawn have less waiting to do.
2 Ronin make a significant difference if they’re smart enough to ult each other when 1’s down.
List of Legendaries: I’ll simply split them into 3 categories. Gamechangers. Good/Useable. Bad. Disclaimer: I don’t like the charms. I believe the class-specific charms are better in all instances, but I will still include the legendaries in this list.
Spirit Kunai: Roll Melee Damage+12 & Damage Increase+20 with Super Massive. Killing enemies with a single kunai lowers all CDs (including the kunai themselves, which are only 30s) by 15s. If you kill 2 enemies, your knives are instantly reset. This is the strongest legendary in the game IMO. If you want to see it in action, I use it on both my Samurai and Assassin videos.
Stone-skipping Bow: This makes Hunters a terrifying force to be reckoned with. Watch them ult a wave at spawn and see the enemies just poof out of existence. It’s so strong it’s practically required for the best Hunter builds.
Forbidden Medicine: This gives Ronin heals on all of their bombs. A single heal is not strong, but is noticeable. Getting hit by 3+ bombs will heal maybe half your HP, which can happen often if you fight in large clusters of enemies. This also makes any Toxic stage almost ridiculously easy, which is good because a lot of teams lose on those stages.
The 5 legendary swords: I’ll get these out of the way together. All of them are good, but none of them are amazing. All of their bonuses are not strong enough to be gamechanging (Ex: a 50% chance to do double damage instead of 20% would be a massive difference). Water stance is also so strong that it can be used on any enemy in the game, with ghost tools/teamwork quickly downing non-purple Oni spear enemies, so Master Katana isn’t as necessary there. I’ve seen some Ronin use the Stone Striker with Water Stance because it gives them a damage option for Resolve. It’s not a bad idea when you have 4-5 resolve, but I personally don’t go for it. Demon Cutter (moon) seems used by almost nobody and could be considered bad.
Last Breath: This charm prevents death once every 5 minutes and heals you for 50 HP. It’s a nice crutch, but there’s unfortunately no notification as to when it’s ready. Also, as you become a better player, this becomes less and less useful. It’s mainly used by lone Ronins since their death can very quickly end a NM survival run.
Shogun’s Fortitude: Grants Immunity to Flash and Poison effects. It’s an underrated passive but neuters some waves entirely.
Enjo’s Remorse: Deals 15%+ bonus damage when at full health. Unless you’re a samurai or a Ronin throwing heal bombs at your feet often, you can very easily get chipped by a single fire damage tick, an enemy concussion bomb, your own Ronin’s fire bomb, etc. It’s not that great, but it can be used. Surprisingly, this is a pretty powerful charm vs. Raid Ch 3 (Please don’t discuss why as I’m not trying to spoil it for anyone).
Lady Sanjo’s Surprise: A dirt throw that also has a 15% chance to cause hallucinate. It’s on a 40s CD, and every once in awhile this can disrupt an entire wave for you, having them fight each other and giving you an easier opportunity.
Kenji’s Shared Brew: Nearby allies also get healed. Most people who use Gourds will have either Strong Brew (heal 37 HP instead of 25) or Sudden Resolve. It’s not bad to have an emergency heal when you’re all low dealing with a boss wave together.
Demon Seeds: Applies Weaken to affected enemies. I’m not a fan of the Caltrops personally. I think they’re the weakest of the 3 Ghost2’s. Demon Seeds with Deep Bags rolled onto it can hit a couple of people. Rolling Cooldown & Cooldown on Kill means you can weaken a lot of enemies over the course of your run.
The Mist of Yagata: Heals allies in the smoke. I would not recommend this legendary, but it’s not worthless if this is one of your only legendaries. Assassin’s utilize Smoke Bombs more than any other class, and should have Lucky and one form of Cooldown reduction on it. Note, it’s a very slow heal.
The Weightless Spirit: Arrows don’t descend. It’s something. It gives Short Bows more range…but that’s it. Until you get your Stone-skipping bow it’s okay. Non-Hunters shouldn’t even look at this thing otherwise.
The Touch of Heaven: Heals allies caught in the blast. Sticky Bombs are mainly used to stun enemies so you can combo them to death. Like the Mist, I’d say it’s a “use it if it’s your only option”, but this is not worthy of being the focus of someones build.
Sacred Iron: Enemies that deal Melee damage to you have Weaken applied to them. Considering that melee hits in general do 25+ health to you, you’re not actively trying to get hit. Weaken is also not some super amazing debuff. It’s +-25% Damage dealt/received. It’s nice, but not insane. There are better ways to apply Weaken.
Heaven’s Sting: Darts have a 20% chance to kill non-oni targets. Human targets are not the issue. This is bad.
Benkei’s Last Stand tier: 15% chance to ignore arrow damage. This gets it’s own special section. No.
Stealth Attack Damage. This will dramatically increase your damage. This can be rolled on Blowdarts, certain charms, and Smoke Bombs for a max of +75% (realistically 60-70%). After this roll Cooldown/Ability Cooldown reduction, Melee Damage, Oni Damage, or Status effect duration (Hallucinate)
Hallucination: Hallucination darts can be a major perk on your Blowdarts. Using a single dart on the second or third spawn point lets the entire enemy wave fight each other, buying time for your team to catch up on killing the first wave.
Assassin’s Charm: You can roll Hysteria (assassins hallucinate enemies) or Chain Vanish (Killing an enemy under Vanish re-activates it). Hysteria allows you to laugh if you solo a camp, or hallucinate an entire wave at spawn. Chain Vanish re-active Vanish for all allies if you use Group Vanish (which you should), so it has bonuses as well. Especially if you have multiple assassins.
DO NOT USE FIRE DAMAGE. You can’t assassinate burning targets. This will mess up a large chunk of your damage, ruin your vanishes, and probably kill you. Take note of what allies are using fire damage and how (what abilities are proccing it).
Resurrecting allies: Though week 3 has ended and this is now less important, Assassin’s can safely res allies using Vanish and Smoke Bombs. This is especially important if an ally is close to dying permanently or a Ronin is far out and dead. Other players DO NOT RUN TO AN INVISIBLE ASSASSIN RESSING OUT THE CIRCLE. The Hwachas and enemies won’t target them, but will hit them if it tries to attack you and you’re too close.
Legendary: I used to use the Master Katana, but now run the Spirit Kunai. Assassinations are what we are supposed to do, and Vanish/Smoke Bombs are what let that happen. Masamune’s Edge (wind Katana) is also a decent choice for the 20% double melee damage, along with the Mist of Yagata as a last resort.
Techniques: Group Vanish and Perks 1,1,1/2 are imo the best skills. More assassination damage, faster assassinations, and more ult damage. Chain Vanish instead of 5 hits on your ult is also good. Group Vanish is on a significantly shorter CD than Toxic Vanish, and helps your allies. It’s really no contest between them.
Bomb Pack – Assassin unlock: You can take Bomb Packs as an assassin. This gives you some AoE damage/minor stuns + major resolve generation like Ronins, but removes your hallucination darts and more importantly a potential 25% stealth attack damage. This gets your ult up more.
Ultimate Priority: Ult the crow onis, Bears. Teleporting bow onis, towards a second or third point, or the tanky spear onis. Prioritize it as such.
Ghost Tools: Smoke Bombs are the obvious choice for Assassins. For Ghost 1 all 3 tools work. I used to use Sticky Bombs but have now settled on the Spirit Kunai.
You’re expected to be a healer, especially if you run solo and are the only Ronin in your group. However, there is a lot you are able to do and you need to make choices, and more importantly, stay alive.
Ronin Charm: There are several very powerful minor perks, Healing Pot Radius + 50-100% and Duration +20-40%, or Healing Spirit Radius + 50-100%. I actually have 2 charms, 1 specced for Incense and 1 specced for healing dog. Get those and/or Ability CD (especially for the dog). As for major perks aim for Resolve+1, or the perk that grants a Healing Aura to your Summoned Dog. You can also get the perk that turns the Dog into the Spirit Bear and stuns the hell out of a few enemies, but I personally wouldn’t recommend this without a second Ronin healing. If you choose to take the Last Breath, roll Resolve Gain, and choose whether you want Fire Damage, Status Duration Up, or Ability Cooldown.
Causing major damage to the first spawn any wave: If your ranged inventory is full you are able to spam your bombs as the first few enemies are coming in and kill/severely damage a lot of them. This allows you and your team to quickly finish the wave and move on to the next camp. You decide whether you believe this is the best course of action because…
Resolve Generation: Your Ranged Bombs are your best bet for Resolve generation. Use them if you need Resolve quickly. This is also why having extra max Resolve is useful.
Techniques: Healing Incense, 1/3-2-1 is the best build imo. Lower CD on heals, your clutch ult will bring every1 back to full, and you can have potentially 5 Resolve, meaning you’re close to a reserve ult if necessary (trust me, it will be necessary many times). The dog is bad unless you have the healing aura charm. Even with the healing aura I still choose incense now. The incense on a 42s vs. 65s. CD, a massive difference. Taking the dog also means you can only have 4 Resolve instead of 5. The dog’s heal lasts longer, but heals significantly less per second. It also moves very unpredictably, often moving away from you or your allies that need heals. The dog is great with a second Ronin however.
Enhanced Ghost Weapons Technique: This does work for the Bomb Pack.
Legendary: Forbidden Medicine is my legendary of choice. If you or another ally purchases Refill Ammo every couple rounds, this is a big saver. You can disrupt crowds easily, stop crows/bears/teleporters, heal people, and neuter poison waves. I personally choose Blackfire bombs as my perk. You can also take Last Breath, as every 5min it can revive you. This is very useful for a solo Ronin since your revival ultimate is the most important, and you can potentially get 12-16 uses in a run. Spirit Kunai also works on Ronin, allowing spammable incense or your dog to almost always be up with enough Ability CD. Like I mentioned earlier, I’ve seen some Ronin take Stone Striker with Water Stance to have Heavenly Strike. An offensive use of their extra Resolve.
Ghost Weapons: I take Sticky Bombs with Lucky, and Smoke Bombs with Lucky. Both of these serve primarily to disrupt enemies, give me a chance to Res allies without ulting, and get some breathing room. If you use the Gourd you are able to roll Injured Resolve Gain, and either Cooldown or Damage Reduction.
Try not to fight alone, but it’s not terrible if you do. Your heal is somewhat wasted if you fight alone. However, if you’re alone dealing with an entire spawn, your other members can (hopefully) quickly clear their spawn and come to you. Being alone allows you bomb the crowd and gain massive Resolve, allowing for constant map-wide heals or burn damage. Contrary to popular belief, you should NOT be the one running out to revive a far away person. You need to get your resolve up as fast possible just in case. Try to always be in combat.
Legendary: GET THE STONE-SKIPPING BOW. It’s a Longbow that completely changes the game for Hunters. There is no contest here, and it’s kind of annoying how necessary this is to bring out a Hunters true power. Headshot Refund is a very powerful perk for this bow, but is not necessary if you can manage your ammo supplies properly. Unlike other classes you really are stuck with this Legendary. Nothing else works as well, and unfortunately your 3rd perks are too strong to really choose to the +1 Legendary items.
Techniques: Stagger or Explosive Arrow, and 1/3-3-1/2 are the best imo. A lot of Hunter techniques are useful. Cause of the hwacha spam, you will be close the enemies often, enough for the 12m headshot damage proc. The class ability reduction is of course always nice. Resupply is not necessary if you used Headshot Refund, especially if your allies are buying Refill Ammo, and considering how strong your ult is you don’t want to waste Resolve is. Stagger arrow can grant more opportunities for Headshots. 50% chance of body shots becoming headshots vs. 5 hits on your ult…it’s a tough choice tbh. I like the 50% chance but that ult + the longbow is insane.
Hunters Charm: Either Foul Arrows (headshots apply weaken) and Blessed arrows (heal nearby allies when headshotting, the circle applies around the headshotted enemy) are what you want.. Pick your preference. I personally would go with Foul Arrows, since with your Technique perk and the Legendary Longbow it should proc often.
Roll Ranged Damage, Headshot damage or Draw Speed as much as you can. Do more damage while staying mobile. You can also roll Fire Damage / Status Effect Damage or Duration for Fire & Explosive Arrows.
Ghost Weapons: Again, I personally would take the Sticky Bomb/Smoke Bomb. Roll Lucky (both) or Fire (Ghost 1). The Smoke Bomb is your chance to line up some headshots. Use it. Or res a downed ally.
Ultimate Priority: Like the assassins, Crows oni, bears, bow teleporters, etc.
If you can start every wave with an ult at the first spawn, you make the entire match so much easier. Especially with Foul Arrows. All those weakened enemies really help your team out.
Legendary: Like Assassin I used to use the Master Katana but now use Spirit Kunai. It’s ridiculous how powerful this thing is with Samurai. You have almost unlimited sustain. Note: You must wait until your Siphon pull/Explosive Blade de-activates before the Spirit Kunai can refund your CD. Other options are the Master Katana, Masamune’s Edge (wind), Demon Cutter? (moon, it helps with your lifesteal if you use Explosive Blade and just spin-to-win), or Kenji’s Gourd.
Samurai Charm: Get the Blessed Strikes Major Perk. This gives you life steal (drain HP when doing melee damage) during either of your class abilities. This is very important, as there may be times you need to solo a point. Your Ronin can’t always heal you, and sustainability is important.
Techniques: Both class abilities are good if you have the Samurai Charm, otherwise just use Siphon’s Pull. Take 1/3-3-2. You want your life drain/explosion up as much as possible with the Ability CD, but the +25% HP is a nice cushion too. Extra Resolve in the tank is good for emergency situations requiring Burst damage, getting you closer to Hachiman’s Fury quicker. 5-hit Hachiman’s Fury is very useful. The melee passive is not very efficient. Explosive Blades stuns most enemies even through guard, allowing you to pummel them. You can almost always be on the offensive with this technique.
Ghost Weapons: Either the Spirit Kunai, or Dirt Throw/Legendary Dirt Throw if you don’t have it, and either the Healing Gourd (rolled with Cooldown and either Injured Resolve Gain or Damage Reduction, and stronger heals) for Ghost 2 or Smoke Bomb to res allies.
Roll Ability Cooldown Reduction first, then Melee Damage.
Like the Hunter, you can meet the first spawn and immediately Explosive Blade + Ult and do heavy damage. Fight the rest, healing to full and when it drops, use your Spirit Kunai to get it almost ready again. Your gourd is for emergencies, when you can’t lifesteal and are below 50%. You can hold a point solo for a long time with your massive sustain.
Videos: These are all clears with full random parties (except the Hunter clear, I stayed with the Samurai party) with no zones lost. The Assassin and Ronin videos start off near the start of the first Wave, as they lasted about 1hr 2 min and PS4’s auto capture only lasts an hour max.
Assassin (240/690 kills, 0/13 Res, 4/13 deaths: https://youtu.be/z9fl_OdOPeM I messed up a lot here, sometimes hallucinating too early and just wasting time or just dying unnecessarily.
Build Stat Totals: Stealth Attack Damage+71.2%, Melee Damage + 23.6%, Ability CD + 7.6%, Hysteria, Status Effect Duration +10.9%, Ghost Weapon Damage+20%, All Ghost Weapon CD reduction on Kill+1s, Smoke Bomb CD Reduction on Kill + 3.6s. Group Vanish and 1-1-1 perks.
Ronin: (154/660 kills, 13/21 Res, 2/21 deaths): https://youtu.be/L2R19RbZEZc It’s not a great showcase since the other Ronin spammed his ult alot, but it’s the one I recorded.
Build Stat Totals: Melee Damage + 11.6%, Ability CD + 22.6%, Melee Stagger Damage + 12%, Blast Radius + 47.6% (Bomb Pack & Sticky Bomb), Healing Incense Radius & Duration + 80.2% & 36.6%, Resolve+2, Ghost 1 CD + 10.4%, Stealth Attack Damage + 24.1%, Ghost 2 CD reduction on Kill + 3.6s. Healing Incense and 3-2-1 perks.
Samurai (308/667 kills, 2/30 Res, 4/30 deaths): https://youtu.be/ckRNysqByT4 From what I remember the first 2 waves were sloppy then it was just a constant kill fest from there.
Build Stat Totals: Melee Damage + 29.7%, Explosive Blade Radius + 93%, Ghost Weapon Damage + 20%, Ability CD + 22.6%, Blessed Strikes, Ghost 2 CD Reduction + 14.9%, Injured Resolve Gain + 22.3%. Explosive Blades and 3-3-2 perks.
Hunter (294/670 kills, 1/32 Res, 0/32 deaths): https://youtu.be/185ulkan5ZY Somehow didn’t die once in this run. Keep in mind that this only has the 3-shot ult instead of 5. There’s significant room for improvement.
Build Stat Totals: Headshot Damage + 18.7%, Ranged Damage + 12%, Hunter Ability Radius + 62.2%, Foul Arrows, Melee Damage + 11.6%, Ability CD+7.6%, Blas Radius + 22.6%, Ghost 1 CD Reduction + 10.6%, Stealth Attack Damage + 24.1%, Ghost 2 CD Reduction on Kill + 3.6s. Explosive Arrow and 1-3-1 perks.