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Should You Pick The Sword, Shield, Or Staff?

During his Awakening in Kingdom Hearts, Sora can pick either the Sword, Shield, or Staff. What are the benefits and consequences of each choice?

In the opening hours of the original Kingdom Hearts and its subsequent re-releases, the player is forced to make several choices that will impact the rest of their gameplay experience. These choices can be quite confusing for anyone who doesn’t understand their consequences. One such instance occurs during Sora’s dream sequence, where he is forced to choose between a Sword, Shield, and Staff as his main combat focus while sacrificing one of the remaining two.

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On the surface, this choice doesn’t seem to make much difference to gameplay, as each of the three weapons functions identically to one another during the opening dream sequence. However, this choice is one of the more important players will make and can potentially make the game significantly harder if they choose poorly.

How The Choice Affects The Game

In a nutshell, each weapon has its own focus in combat that affects the skills and starting stats Sora has at level 1, something that should be taken into consideration when playing on higher difficulties. While the Sword results in Sora gaining more attack and attack-focused skills earlier, this can be detrimental if the player also chooses to sacrifice the Shield while not taking the time to learn how to parry and dodge attacks. Sacrificing the Shield will result in a slower defense stat at the beginning of the game.

The Staff, as would be expected, affects the amount of MP and AP available to Sora as well as allowing him to learn several great skills earlier on in the campaign. Naturally, it comes at the cost of a loss in attack or defense.

Benefits Of Picking The Sword

The main reason why players should choose the Sword over the Shield and Staff are the stats Sora has at the beginning of the game. If Sword is picked, Sora will have a Strength stat of six, which is the highest possible at level 1.

Choosing the Sword will also result in Sora learning the incredibly useful Scan ability much earlier than if players picked the Shield or Staff, gaining the ability to see the enemy’s health bar at level 9. The Sword also enables Sora to learn the combat abilities Sliding Dash and Slapshot at level 6 and 12 respectfully, giving him a wider range of attacks much earlier in the game than the other two weapon options.

Benefits Of Picking The Shield

For many Kingdom Hearts veterans, particularly those who like to play on higher difficulties, the Shield is the best choice to make when starting a new playthrough. It not only gives Sora a Defense stat of 4, the highest possible at the beginning of the game, but it also grants him the highest number of item slots by the end. This can make tougher battles much easier, particularly the optional boss fights that can require the use of several healing items to defeat.

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The greatest advantage that comes with choosing the Shield is the early access to both Leaf Bracer, which makes Sora immune to all damage while healing, at level 27, and Second Chance, which leaves Sora with 1HP remaining if he takes a fatal blow with more than 1HP in his pool, at level 36. This is much earlier than if players chose to take the Sword or Staff, as Leaf Bracer is learned at level 39 when the Staff is chosen and 69 when the Sword is taken, while Second Chance is learned at level 48 for the Sword and 90 for the Staff.

Benefits Of Picking The Staff

Aside from the Shield, the Staff has some of the best benefits when it comes to combat. While taking the Staff results in several good skills being learned much later in the game, it grants Sora the most MP and AP before taking Keychains and equipable items into account, allowing for greater use of skills and spells in combat.

While taking the Staff does result in the lowest Attack stat at the beginning of the game, it also gives Sora access to Stun Impact at level 6. This skill helps Sora make up for his lack of damage output by giving him a 30% chance to create a shockwave on the final attack of a combo that stuns enemies.

Benefits Of Sacrificing The Sword

While at first glance it would appear that sacrificing the Sword would result in Sora’s damage output being severely hindered, the reality is that it doesn’t make all that much of a difference to combat, particularly towards the end of the game. The difference in damage output is noticeable, but not as much as the lack of Defence or MP, as a low amount of those two means the player has far fewer chances to mess up in boss battles before dying.

Related: Kingdom Hearts: 4 Tips For Fighting Hercules

Several of the skills gained quicker by picking the Sword are also unnecessary in early fights and can make combat more confusing for newcomers to Kingdom Hearts. The one main benefit of taking the Sword, the ability to learn Scan earlier, is made redundant by level 21, as that is the latest that any build can learn it.

Benefits Of Sacrificing The Shield

There are very few benefits to sacrificing the Shield during the dream sequence, as it not only makes the initial combat encounters less of a slog for inexperienced players but also grants several good skills early in the game.

The only reason players should think to sacrifice the shield in the dream sequence is if they want to make the game harder on themselves in subsequent playthroughs, as this will result in a diminished ability to take damage that makes even low-level Heartless a threat at higher difficulties.

Benefits Of Sacrificing The Staff

Depending on how players like to play the Kingdom Hearts series, the Staff may be the only viable option to sacrifice in the opening dream sequence. Choosing to sacrifice the Staff will greatly reduce the number of spells that Sora can cast as well as his AP at the beginning of the game. However, AP can be increased as Sora levels up and it is very easy to play through all of Kingdom Hearts by using only Cure and Aero spells while focusing on melee damage using the Keyblade.

Thankfully, sacrificing the Staff results in the same MP as when the Sword or Shield is sacrificed. The available MP pool only goes up if players choose to take the Staff, when Sora reaches a certain level, or with certain keychains equipped.

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