GameSpot may receive revenue from affiliate and advertising partnerships for sharing this content and from purchases through links.

Nioh 2 Yokai Guide: Explaining Yokai Shift, Guardian Spirits, Soul Cores, And More

Here's everything you need to know about the new Yokai powers in Nioh 2 for PS4.


Yokai powers are the most significant addition to the combat system in Nioh 2. As a half-Yokai human known as a Shiftling, you can leverage your supernatural abilities to give you an edge during the toughest battles. But all of this is bound to be confusing to you early on. After all, Nioh 2 isn't shy about throwing a ton of tutorials your way the moment you begin--which is a bit overwhelming at first.

Below we break down the essential things you need to know about Yokai powers in Nioh 2, including details about Yokai Shift forms, Spirit Cores, and Guardian Spirits. For more Nioh 2 tips, be sure to read our essential beginner's guide. Also, be sure to read our Nioh 2 review.

Please use a html5 video capable browser to watch videos.
This video has an invalid file format.
Sorry, but you can't access this content!
Please enter your date of birth to view this video

By clicking 'enter', you agree to GameSpot's
Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

Now Playing: Nioh 2 - 12 Things You Should Know Before Playing

Yokai Shift

As to be expected, your primary Yokai ability is to turn into one! Known as the Yokai Shift, this form grants you devastating power for a limited time. It's similar to Nioh 1's Living Weapon form but is greatly expanded. There are three Yokai Shift forms in total--Brute, Feral, and Phantom--and the form you can become depends on the Guardian Spirit you equip.

In terms of capability, none of the Yokai Shift forms have inherent weaknesses. Instead, their abilities suit specific tastes. To quickly summarize each form's strengths: Brute is proficient for those big on inflicting powerful melee damage, Feral is fantastic for scrappy hit-'n-run tactics, and Phantom is for more ranged, defensive-minded Onmyo Magic players.

No Caption Provided

I chose Feral, as it works well with my twitchier Devil-May-Cry-and-Bloodborne-action-game background. So if that sounds appealing, then that Yokai Shift form may be for you. However, if you're predominantly a heavy-weapon user in Soulsborne games, then I can see Brute's arsenal of hard-hitting special attacks being ideal. On the other hand, Phantom is all about controlling the space between you and enemies, sporting attacks with more reach, and an ability that allows you to throw a projectile and teleport to your foe--perfect for fans of zoning in fighting games.

Guardian Spirits

At the start, you have the choice between three Guardian Spirits, which each has an associated Yokai Shift form. Your options are Makami the wolf (Brute), Ame-no-Mitori the bird (Feral), or Kagewani the shark (Phantom).

No Caption Provided

Aside from dictating the Yokai Shift form you take, Guardian Spirits also yield unique Special Effects that buff your character's stats in varying ways. For example, Makami decreases your melee attack Ki consumption, increases your final blow damage, enhances your Yokai ability damage, and improves your resistance to fire. For a full rundown of a Guardian Spirit's special effects, hop into the respective menu in the pause screen. During the opening tutorial, you can always backpedal your choices to check out the Special Effects, as well as practice the Guardian Spirit's Yokai Shift form abilities.

Don't sweat the choice too much, though. You do get more Guardian Spirits the further you progress, so you'll ultimately find one that suits you even better. And the more you get, the more Yokai Shift forms you'll have at your disposal, so you're not locked into one form for the rest of the game. Though it's worth considering the impact of choosing the bird Guardian Spirit, Ame-no-Mitori early on.

Yokai Burst Counter

While the abilities of the three Yokai Shift forms subtly vary, they all share one core essential: Yokai Burst. When timed correctly, this technique can interrupt and counter special enemy attacks imbued with red energy, leaving them open to attack. The timing varies withn the enemy, but try to execute it just as its attack is about to hit.

No Caption Provided

It's also worth noting that the Yokai Shift form you choose has its own unique Yokai Burst maneuver and timing. Brute form has a backhand attack that covers a small space in front of you, Feral form has a rush attack/quick dash maneuver, and Phantom puts up a shield in a stationary defensive position. Whichever Yokai Shift form you choose, make sure to practice using it often against the different enemy types.

Yokai Burst is a significant pillar of Nioh 2's combat and can quickly turn the tide of a tough encounter when used correctly. Be mindful that the maneuver consumes Anima energy--the purple gauge below your Ki--so avoid unnecessarily spamming it.

Soul Cores

Aside from Yokai Shift, your Yokai powers also manifest in Soul Cores. Special items collected from bosses and powerful enemy Yokai, Soul Cores grant you powerful attack abilities. You can equip up to two at a time, so long as you have enough capacity to attune it to your Guardian Spirit. Each has a unique attack attached; for example, the Enki Soul Core quickly turns you into the monkey Yokai as you throw a spear at an enemy.

Soul Cores consume a lot of Anima energy when performed, so try to be smart about when you choose to unleash them in battle. Steadily deliver damage, and you should earn another Soul Core use in no time. Soul Core abilities are recommended in the Dark Realm, where you're Ki regeneration is handicapped, and your Anima recharges faster.

No Caption Provided

When you obtain any Soul Core, prioritize returning to a nearby Shrine to purify it, as you can lose any in your possession if you die and fail to retrieve your Guardian Spirit grave. It's possible to collect multiple Soul Cores of the same type, which you can fuse at a shrine to increase the potency of its Special Effects. Like most things in Nioh 2, it's always good to consolidate, so make sure to use Soul Fusion often to improve your Soul Core power. Otherwise, you can use Resting Rites to dispose of any unwanted duplicates cluttering your inventory.

In Conclusion

Yokai powers seem overwhelming at first, but with enough time and practice, they'll naturally become a part of your attack repertoire. You're encouraged to use them frequently, so make sure they are front of mind at all times, especially during a tough encounter. If you'd like to practice using your Yokai powers, I highly suggest jumping into the Training Ground from the Starting Point on the world map. There you can transform and remain in Yokai Shift form to get the hang of its attacks and abilities without worrying about a time-limit.

And with that, I've imparted all of my Yokai power wisdom to you. Now, go! Let the legend come back to life!

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email

Join the conversation
There are 1 comments about this story