Nioh 2: 13 Essential Tips To Help You Avoid Dying So Much
Learning How To Defy Death (Again)!
As a sequel, Team Ninja's Nioh 2 is more more focused on building atop the solid foundation of its predecessor than completely reinventing the way you play the game. The combat system, progression, and general structure are nearly identical to Nioh 1, but mechanically, it's way more complex. As you sink your teeth into the first couple of hours, you're probably going to have burning questions around how to master all the new mechanics and not die several dozen times. If you're more curious about how the game shapes up, though, be sure to read our Nioh 2 review.
In this guide, I outline in detail the most significant new mechanics and systems added to Nioh 2, as well as offer tips to help you better understand how to utilize them. The new skill trees are a bit of a handful at first, but in many ways, they're just an easier-to-read version of the previous game's skill table. On the other hand, Yokai powers are a lot to take in at first, but they're similar enough to the Living Weapon form from Nioh 1, that the additional abilities you get access to aren't too hard to get a handle on after a while.
I also offer general combat tips to help you get back up to speed. Ki Pulse--one of the most crucial mechanics from the first game--is back. This time around, it demands extra diligence to execute while you're quickly anticipating your next move in a fight, so it takes some getting used to--even if you're familiar with how it was in the first game. You always need to keep an eye on your Ki and perform any Ki Pulse techniques possible to ensure you have enough to survive.
There are many important things to consider when playing Nioh 2. If you're looking for anything specific, be sure to click from this feature's table of contents to pinpoint what you want to know about:
Table of Contents
- Stat Into Courage
- Explaining The Ki Pulse
- Don’t Worry About The New Skill Trees, And Spend Those Points!
- Learn The Running Water Ki Pulse Skills ASAP
- Let's Talk Yokai Powers -- Understanding The Yokai Forms
- Don't Choose The Bird Guardian Spirit! (Unless You Really Want To)
- Let's Talk Yokai Powers -- Master The Yokai Burst!
- Let's Talk Yokai Powers -- Soul Cores 101
- Check Out The Training Ground
- Benevolent Graves And Friends
- Spend Your Agyo and Ungyo Prestige Points
- Consult Amrita Memories
As mentioned, Nioh 2 is built on the foundations of the first game, which means its basic systems--like weapon stances, armor weight, and Ki, to name a few--all function the same. I've avoided going into too much detail about those subjects, as they're generally obvious or are explained in the opening tutorial.
Got any important Nioh 2 tips or questions about the game in general? Let us know in the comments below.
Take Courage! Recover Ki!
If you're a veteran of the first game and have noticed that Nioh 2's handling of Ki (your stamina) feels oddly different, it's because adjustments were made to how fast it replenishes--a characteristic you can now impact when you level up. New to the sequel is the Courage stat, which affects your character's Ki recovery speed. It's not enough to spec points into Heart anymore; you need to split the difference between the two to get your character precisely where you feel comfortable. These are both stats you should invest in right away to improve your odds of survival.
Remember The Ki Pulse!
Ah yes, the Ki Pulse. Out of all the mechanics from the first game, it's the most critical. The Ki Pulse is a maneuver that allows you to restore some of the Ki you've expended from attacking or dodging. To perform a Ki Pulse, press R1 the moment light gathers around you after an attack. The more precise your timing the more Ki you'll gain back. You'll know you've executed a perfectly-timed Ki Pulse when a swirling white energy gathers around your character.
It's paramount to use Ki Pulses during a fight, as the extra Ki it gives you can be a lifesaver when you're cornered, especially against bosses. It's also necessary when purifying Yokai Realms, which are small areas produced by Yokai enemies that enhance their strength and slow your Ki regeneration rate. A Ki Pulse can instantly extinguish a Yokai Realm from the field, which becomes even more important inside the Dark Realm where Yokai Realms are even deadlier--more on that later.
Don’t Worry About The New Skill Trees, And Spend Those Points!
When you first see the Learn Skills menu in Nioh 2, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of skill trees available. Don’t! Realistically, you’re only investing in a few or so trees, so take a moment to decide early on which kind of character you want to play to determine which trees you ultimately want to use. Do you want to focus primarily on traditional Samurai and Katana skills? Or would you prefer to focus on Onmyo Magic and Yokai powers? Consider what interests you, and which weapons you're most comfortable with in battle, and then start speccing your skill points from there.
Of course, you’re still free to experiment and spec into as many skill trees as you want. But keep in mind, once you start settling on the kind of character you want to be, consider fully respeccing your stats and skills points accordingly. You can respec at any time by purchasing the Book of Reincarnation from the Blacksmith--who sets up shop at the Starting Point after the second main mission. It costs 10,000 gold, though, so make sure you’re 100% willing to take the plunge before resetting.
Since you're frequently leveling up and increasing your weapon proficiency early on, you quickly amass quite an abundance of Skills points. Check your Skill tree often to spend them on the foundational abilities within the skill trees of your choice. You should also occasionally dip into your inventory to see if you've found any special locks of hair, which can give you free skill points of varying kinds upon consumption. These are incredibly handy items that can be easy to neglect since you're always picking up and earning so much stuff during your travels.
Learn The Running Water Ki Pulse Skills ASAP
Make sure to unlock the Running Water Ki Pulse techniques from the Samurai skill tree as soon as possible. This alternate Ki Pulse technique allows you to perform one with a precisely-timed dodge instead of the traditional method of pressing R1. There are three Running Water skills in total--one for each weapon stance--so make sure to save up at least six skill points to unlock them in Samurai Skill tree.
If you're having trouble mastering the traditional Ki Pulse, the Running Water Ki Pulse can be a great alternate way to reap the benefits of the technique, as the timing to execute correctly is easier. Of course, do your best to master both Ki Pulse techniques, as knowledge of each can make you a more effective fighter.
Let's Talk Yokai Powers -- Understanding The Yokai Forms
The biggest new addition to combat in Nioh 2 is Yokai powers, which help give you an offensive edge against the insurmountable threats throughout your journey. As a half-Yokai human known as a Shiftling, you can leverage your supernatural abilities in a couple of ways. The first is through Yokai Shift, a powerful form you can transform into 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.
Talking about their specific strengths and weaknesses alone warrants its own extensive guide, but until I make one, know that 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 defensive-minded Onmyo Magic players. I personally chose Feral, as it works well with my twitchier Devil May Cry and Bloodborne action background, so if that sounds appealing, then that Yokai Shift form may be right for you. Don't sweat the choice too much, though, as you do get more Guardian Spirits the further you progress. However, there's one thing to consider...
**Scroll down, please.**
Don't Choose The Bird Guardian Spirit! (Unless You Really Want To)
At the start, you're given the choice of a Guardian Spirit, which, as mentioned, dictates the Yokai Shift form of your character. You're free to choose whichever, but I highly recommend not picking the bird Guardian Spirit Ame-no-Mitori, which turns you into a Feral form, since the Guardian Spirit you earn for beating the first boss is Masaru the monkey--which can also turn you into a Feral form. So if you want to have more Yokai Shift form options to play with early on, I suggest choosing either Makami the wolf (the brute) or Kagewani the shark (the Phantom).
Ame-no-Mitori does have its charms, though. With Special Effects that buff your Ki Recovery Speed, Running Speed, and Lightning Damage, there's some initiative to choose this elegant bird at the start, if all of this sounds like it benefits your playstyle.
And if you're curious: Yes, I ended up picking Ame-no-Mitori. Please learn from my mistakes...Or repeat my mistakes? It's up to you!
Let's Talk Yokai Powers -- Master The Yokai Burst!
Anyway! While the abilities of the three Yokai Shift forms vary subtly, they all share a common skill: Yokai Burst. When timed correctly, this technique can interrupt and counter special enemy attacks imbued with red energy, leaving your opponent open to attack. The timing varies with the enemy, but try to execute it just as their attack is about to hit--no sooner, no later. It's also worth noting that the Yokai Shift form you choose has its own unique Yokai Burst and timing, so make sure to practice often against the different enemy types. In my experience, both Brute and Feral forms have relatively forgiving timing windows, while Phantom is tough to grasp at first, mostly because its Yokai Burst is a stationary defensive stance.
Be mindful that Yokai Burst consumes Anima energy--the purple gauge below your Ki--so avoid unnecessarily spamming it. Regardless, Yokai Burst is a significant pillar of Nioh 2's combat and can quickly turn the tide of a difficult encounter when used intelligently.
Let's Talk Yokai Powers -- Soul Cores 101
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 Anima energy when performed, so try to be smart about when you choose to unleash them in battle.
When you obtain a Soul Core, prioritize returning to a nearby Shrine to purify it, as you 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 the Resting Rites option to dispose of any unwanted duplicates cluttering your inventory.
Check Out The Training Ground
If you're finding yourself getting wrecked more often than not, there's a practice space called the Training Ground. You can access it via the Starting Point on the world map by selecting Dojo and then choosing the Training Ground option. Here you can comfortably test your weapons against a handful of enemy types, as well as spend time getting a handle on your Yokai Shift and Spirit Core abilities. It's a lovely place to get your bearings, but don't rely on it. Missions have far more diverse enemies to test your mettle against, after all.
The Dark Realm
A new burden you'll face in Nioh 2 is Dark Realms. Imagine an area of a map that's just all Yokai Realm--that's how Dark Realms are. You need to exercise caution whenever you enter a Dark Realm; a Yokai's attacks are more powerful, and your Ki regeneration takes a massive hit. Yokai Realms are more dangerous in the Dark Realm, too, as standing in one causes your Ki to regenerate slower. And any Shrines you find are also inaccessible until the area is purified.
To exorcise a Dark Realm, you need to defeat the main Yokai haunting the area. Red spider lily flowers surround the Yokai responsible, so try to look out for that specific aura coming from the enemies in the area. You need to be extra diligent in the Dark Realm, and that means performing consistent Ki Pulses, and knowing when to keep your distance from powerful enemies to give yourself time to replenish your Ki. Luckily, your Anima replenishes faster in the Dark Realm, so don't forget to lean on your Yokai abilities when your Ki is low.
Be careful and patient, and you should rid the area of all that debilitating demonic musk in no time. If you're willing to cheese it, it's a sound strategy to find more powerful Yokai, have them follow you just outside the Dark Realm, and then kill them at the entrance. Only do so quickly before they have a chance to teleport back! Though you're welcome to rinse and repeat as their health doesn't fully replenish upon returning.
Benevolent Graves And Friends
As you explore Sengoku-era Japan, you'll discover Benevolent Graves, which hold the spirits of helpful AI-controlled allies. They're similar to the hostile Revenant summons, but instead of trying to murder you, they follow you and provide support in combat. But their services don't come for free; you need to expend an item called Ochoko Cups, which you can typically find on dead bodies or get from defeating Revenants. It's worth noting that this same item is also used to summon other players at a Shrine--of which you can now have up to two join you--so try to be smart about when to spend them to call upon the help of a Benevolent Grave's spirit. Depending on the challenge, you might be better off with the support of a friend!
Either way, never let pride get in the way of leaning on Benevolent Graves, especially in a pinch, as they can easily throw off enemy aggression should you need time to breathe or flee. They're in the game for a reason! Use those tools!
Spend Your Agyo and Ungyo Prestige Points
Like the first game, Nioh 2 has an internal achievement system called Titles, which allows you to earn additional stat bonuses. There are two achievement lists in total: Agyo and Ungyo. Each contains several challenges with distinct conditions. For example, the Dual Swordsman Ungyo Title requires you to defeat 30 human enemies with the Dual Swords. Each Titles list is hidden at first, so it helps to diversify the attacks you use to increase your chances of earning a new Title. Upon getting a Title, you'll receive Reputation Points, and once you've accumulated enough, you'll gain a Prestige Point, which you can use to acquire a stat bonus in the Prestige Summary screen. Check your Titles often so you can further strengthen your character.
Consult Amrita Memories
If you're still feeling confused after the copious tutorials thrown at you early on, you can find comfort knowing that the Amrita Memories section of the pause screen condenses and consolidates much of the essential information around the game's mechanics for your reference. You're free to consult its entries for further clarification on anything that might've perplexed you. Give yourself time to thoroughly study them, because chances are you probably skipped past more of those tutorial screens than you should've in a rush to slay bandits and Yokai.