Nioh 2 is not an easy game. In fact, unless you’re blessed with some godlike reaction skills or unwavering perseverance, you’re probably in the same boat as I am, just a regular gamer trying to enjoy some Yokai action.
You’ll be dying in this game. A lot of times. I’ve died at least 10 times within the first couple of hours and it’s really not a shame at all, or at least I keep telling myself that to make me feel better.
To help out, we’ve compiled some tips to ease you in the world of Nioh 2, hopefully these help you out as it took us a lot of deaths to do so!
Stamina is K(i)ey
Nioh is not your typical Soulsborne game where you can simply roll or parry your way to victory. Your actions are governed by Stamina (or Ki). What and how much you’ll be able to do will be dictated by how wisely you manage your reserves.
A Ki Pulse, which is a mechanic that will allow for faster Ki regeneration, will be the one thing you will need to fully master and take to heart if you want to survive this game. Pressing R1 after an attack while blue orbs are spinning around you will make your character perform a Ki Pulse. Adjust your timing because you’ll want to do it as perfectly as possible to gain the most Ki back, doing it off timing will thus result in less Ki returns.
Blocking (pressing L1) also drains away at your Ki reserves so you’ll need to be mindful of how much Ki you have at all times as it will tell you when you can and can’t do any more actions. Sometimes, blocking is better than actually dodging an attack because it will give you a much better position to unleash a counterattack.
Ki is the key in Nioh 2, it will serve you well to master how to utilize it as early in the game as possible to avoid getting caught in sticky situations. Ki Pulsing SHOULD be a habit by every player as soon as the first mission, do not get past the first mission without mastering this skill.
Fight on your own terms
Often times the best strategy is to actually just run away from a fight. You do not need to kill EVERY enemy you see. Sure, they’ll drop useful items here and there, but if it will cost you an elixir or you entering into a boss fight with half health, then you’ll have to be smart about it and choose your battles.
In the event that you really have to engage in a fight, do so on your own terms. Use your bow to pick off enemies from range, ensuring that when they get to you, it’ll only take a couple of more slashes from your weapon. Using your ranged weapon will also allow you to lure an enemy towards you instead of engaging multiple foes at once. Wondering the use of those stones you’ve been picking up? There you go.
It is NEVER a good idea to fight more than one enemy at once, as even the most basic of enemies will be able to kill you in a couple of hits.
It is also never a good idea to fight in confined spaces. Lure an enemy out to a wide open space to take advantage of your movement speed and dodge abililities and you’ll be in a much better place resource wise. Enemies that use wide arcing weapons will eat you up in tight spaces, so you’re going to want to move around as much as possible to get in decent hits.
You’ll also encounter enemies that will spawn a Yokai Realm (or Dark Realm) which is seriously bad news for you. You Ki regeneration is slower and the enemy packs a wallop while in this area. Thankfully, there are a couple of ways to disengage from it and the first is? You guessed it, just pull them away from it! The other way of removing a Dark Realm area apart from killing the enemy is to perform a Ki Pulse, effectively purifying the area.
Again, fight on your own terms. Survey the playing field, look around, and make a plan from there.
Burst Counters are your friend
Yokai are really tough opponents that can rattle your self confidence. They are merciless and have punishing attacks but you’ll be glad to know that you are very well equipped to deal with them.
A skill in your arsenal that will make mince meat out of them is called a Burst Counter, activated by R2 + Circle. Yokai have attacks that have a red aura around them, this means that the attack is Burst Counter-able. Performing a Burst Counter will lead to massive stamina damage, allowing you to pull off some hurt on the Yokai without fear of being retaliated for a few seconds.
Even regular enemies such as humans will have this red marker as well and you may use the Burst Counter the same way with them as with the Yokai.
Trust us, this will make succeeding fights a whole lot easier if you learn to maximize the Burst Counter move against Yokai and next to the Ki Pulse, this should be a habit already by the time you finish the first mission.
Equipment builds matter
Nioh further distinguishes itself from the pack due to the plethora of builds you can work your character towards from your equipment. These builds will effectively dictate your playstyle throughout the game and you’ll eventually learn to throw away an armor piece with superior defense in favor of a piece with half the defense spec but with favorable “attributes”.
In my case, since I’m not the most mechanically skilled player, I often tend to miss out on attacks and sometimes forget to perform a Ki Pulse. You can imagine that I’m almost always low on Ki, which greatly limits my survivability in a fight. My answer? Equipment and accessories that add to my Ki total, giving me a comfortable pool to start with even if I mess up some attacks.
Some equipment will have attributes that are locked behind stat walls and if you really want to use that certain piece of armor whether for looks or for the abilities it provides, then you’ll have to allocate some much needed stat points for it.
The game is tough, so you’ll have to find every bit of advantage you can take to balance it out a bit!
Spend some time in the Tutorial Dojo
The Ki Pulse and Burst Counters will be some of your best friends as you journey through the Yokai infested world so it just makes sense to master these techniques as early as possible. You can do just that without any penalties in the Dojo!
Both moves are heavily based on timing, so repetition will be useful in mastering them. In the training Dojo, you’ll be able to summon different types of enemies so that you can test your timing out in different scenarios, allowing you to get a feel of how to use these during battle. Of course the situations the Dojo can present you are limited, but it helps you form a habit of anticipating the next Ki Pulse or Burst Counter. Now, everytime I see that red aura from enemies, I’m always ready to do a Burst Counter in an instant.
Unless you’re really really good at the game, both the Ki Pulse and the Burst Counters are non negotiable (even for pro players!), meaning you’ll have to really familiarize yourself with them to stand a chance, so it’s a wise move to spend some training time before venturing out into the world.
Find out what works for you and stick with it
Knowing when to attack and actually sticking an attack are two totally different things in games such as this. In Nioh 2, you are presented with a LOT of weapon choices that have different timings and attack patterns. Further complicating the choice are the stances (High, Mid, Low) you can take which changes up the attacks as well.
Don’t be pressured to switch weapons just because you found a purple Kusarigama with massive stats after killing a boss. If you’re not comfortable using a new weapon, stick with your trusty old sword. Looking cool won’t matter if you’re lying on the floor dying because you couldn’t use the new weapon effectively.
My main weapon is the most basic katana and because I’ve been using it for so long now, I know my timings and range inside out. I’ve also discovered certain attacks that will keep me safe from counter attacks in an instant.
One tip I can give you with the basic sword is to let the enemy come to you by continuously moving back and when they are within range while still in a running animation, unleash a Triangle x3 combo while in Mid Stance. You’ll be able to poke them three times and you’ll end the combo with a safe distance to allow for a Ki Pulse and a dodge to repeat the whole process.
Speaking of spears, if you fancy using a spear, you’ll want to take advantage of the skill called “Spear Flourish”, which staggers opponents in range while you perform a Ki Pulse. This is surprisingly effective against humans but you’ll be forced to use the High stance, which have slower attacks that eat up Ki heavily. A way to counter this is to activate the next skill which allows you to use Spear Flourish with any stance and you’re set.
Learn enemy patterns and be content with 1-2 slashes per cycle
The first 2 bosses (Mezuki and Enenra) will be your test to see if you are paying enough attention to patterns or not. There are a few things to note when studying patterns:
- Learn when to block and learn when to dodge – For me, I favored blocking during the Mezuki fight since I found it harder to get into range for a counterattack while dodging due to his massive range. Enenra, on the other hand, has multiple hit combos that will rip your Ki bar apart, so dodging was my preferred option here.
- Figure out which attacks leave the enemy open for a counter attack – Enenra has an attack where he pounds the ground with 2 hands and has a long recovery time, this will allow you to get in 2-3 slashes in before he recovers. He also has a flying kick move that he likes to do a maximum number of 2 times during his combo cycle, so wait for the second kick before you move in.
- Be content with 1-2, maybe 3 hits at most before you back up – This is something most Soulsborne games have in common and it rings true with Nioh as well. Don’t be tempted to button mash your way to a multiple hit combo since you’re just asking to be smacked in the face. Be happy with a hit or two before backing up and repeating the cycle. Remember, taking 5-10 minutes for one fight is better than dying 10 times due to impatience.
Aaaaand there you have it, we hope these tips help you on your journey through the tough and punishing world that is Nioh 2. We’re having a blast with the game and we’ll be bringing you our review pretty soon!
Videogame Content Editor. A father and gamer. Would gladly trade what’s left of his soul to witness a Final Fantasy 6 and Xenogears remake done during his lifetime.