Our latest round of Nioh 2 tips are here to help you navigate the incredibly dense Souls-like. The over-the-shoulder action game from Koei Tecmo doesn’t hold your hand, after all! While there are plenty of paths forward for intrepid players, it’s often difficult to know which one works best, or how to engage with them in the first place. That’s why we’ve compile our best tips for farming, fighting, upgrading, and more. Want to know where you should start? Give this Nioh 2 guide a whirl!
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Pick a Weapon and Stick With It
I don’t necessarily mean permanently. In fact, half the fun of the Nioh games is trying out different weapons and stances against different foes, to learn which ones work best in a given situation. I’m mostly just talking about “Familiarity.” Nioh 2 mentions this stat pretty early on in the game, but doesn’t give a detailed explanation of what it does.
Long story short: familiarity increases an individual weapon’s damage. You can actually see the Familiarity gauge is split up into subsections. Filling up each of these bars will increase your damage more and more, until you hit the max. This gives you a pretty sizable advantage against bosses, without needing to farm or worry about losing Amrita. Plus, using the same weapon type for long enough will give you skill points to unlock new moves for that category. It’s a double win!
Read the Enemy Bios
Nioh 2 has a massive variety of enemy monsters. Unlike something like Sekiro, nearly all of these have magical powers or unique passive abilities that make them threatening in different ways. One foe might eat another of its own kind, for instance, to make itself harder for you to land finishers. Enemy bios have detailed breakdowns of how those skills work (e.g. the enemy can only devour an ally if the victim runs out of stamina). Check them out!
Yokai Work Differently
The game hints at this concept a few times, but doesn’t go into nearly enough detail. The gist is that different enemies react differently to damage in Nioh 2. Mortals (that is to say humans) recharge Ki (that is to say stamina) pretty much the same way you do. They regenerate it as long as they’re not blocking, attacking, getting hit, or sprinting. This means you can often bait humans into sprinting after you — draining their Ki in the process.
Yokai are different. Not only do they differ from mortal enemies, they can also differ from each other. The one thing that stays the same is how they regenerate. Yokai do not get Ki back automatically. Instead, they have to do a move that creates a Yokai Realm: one of those awful, inky pools of darkness. These recharge their stamina and cause you to regenerate it more slowly while standing inside, unless you perform a Ki Pulse near it.
Most of that is laid out in the game. However, Nioh 2 doesn’t explain that some Yokai — particularly bosses and mini-bosses — effectively have a second Ki bar. Weak Yokai and humans will let you land a finishing blow if you drain their Ki all the way. Strong Yokai, on the other hand, will not. At least they won’t at first. Draining their stamina will instead cause them to stagger after every hit. This effectively lets you stun lock then, for a time, and work on draining the second, dark red stamina bar beneath their normal Ki gauge.
Only when you drain that second gauge can you land a finisher on bosses and other big baddies. This is partly why it’s so important to chip away at bosses’ maximum Ki with heavy attacks and Anima attacks. Otherwise you won’t have the damage, stamina, or time to land a finisher (and get all that juicy damage).
Divine Branch Fragment & Harakiri Sword: Know the Difference
There are two items that effectively act like “get out of jail cards” in Nioh 2. Notice I didn’t say “free.” That’s because using either the Divine Branch Fragment or the Harakiri Sword will vaporize any experience points you gain in a given mission. Freedom isn’t free, it turns out.
But “freedom” means two very different things depending on which item you use. The Harakiri Sword will return you to the last Shrine (i.e. bonfire in Dark Souls terms) you visited in that mission. Whereas the Divine Branch Fragment returns you to the Starting Point.
Don’t let that terminology fool you! In Nioh 2, the Starting Point is actually the name of the overworld map. This means you can use this item to completely exit a mission and try again from the start. Why would you want to do that? Well, normally you won’t. What’s more likely is that you might want to leave a quest and try a different one — maybe a side mission — to collect loot or level up in a more familiar environment. Either way, you ought to know which item does what.
Helmets Stop Attacks… Sometimes
This is among our very smallest Nioh 2 tips, but it can make a lot of difference in the moment. Landing a headshot with a bow or matchlock is a fantastic way to ambush most enemies in the game. However, some of the mortal ones won’t be phased. That’s because helmets block headshots! Sometimes they do, anyway… It’s not easy to tell which headwear is merely cosmetic, and which might actually block a single attack before it pops off, so you might just have to test it. As a general rule of thumb, though, the big and beefy human enemies with huge helmets tend to absorb hits more readily.
Brute is Good for Beginners
You can pick between three Guardian Spirits at the start of Nioh 2. These offer passive stat bonuses and the ability to morph into a Yokai yourself for brief periods. You’ll eventually unlock tons to choose from, but at the start you can only pick one of three. Beginners should still with the wolf spirit, which turns you into a “Brute” Yokai when morphing. Sure, it’s slower than its counterparts. But the big guy or gal also gets the simplest counter move. Learning to use this move effectively is crucial to a lot of early boss fights. You might as well learn attack timing with a simple counter first, then worry about mastering a specific style later.
Check Your Inventory Often
You accrue so, so, so much junk in Nioh 2. A lot of it is just that: junk. And a lot of it is actually super useful, if you take the time to read the item descriptions. Things like “locks” for instance (meaning locks of hair) unlock skill points in various talent trees — like Ninjutsu. Except you would have no way of knowing that unless you either played the first game or meticulously checked through your item bag. Do the latter, read the item descriptions, and see just what your arsenal of mostly unmarked stuff can do for you.
Do the Dojo Missions
You begin to unlock “Way of the…” missions at the Dojo pretty early on in the game. These appear to be short tutorial missions meant to introduce you to various weapons, stances, and attacks. Technically they are! And you may not think you need those. You may think the battlefield will teach you much faster than a trip to some dojo. Well, you might be right, but the dojo missions are still important. That’s because Nioh 2 gates certain skills on individual skill trees behind completing them. Yep! Even if you already understand how a specific skill or weapon works, you’ll still get locked out of buying skills until you beat the tutorials. Think of them as exams meant to prove your mastery of abilities.
Check the Titles
As you play Nioh 2, you’ll eventually get points toward things called “Titles.” The name is a bit misleading, though. They’re not “titles” in the usual video game sense, where you just modify your profile name with a special moniker, but an actual upgrade system. Each one you spend provides a minor bonus to everything from the time you can stay in demon form, to how fast your Ki (or stamina) recovers. They can stack, too! Don’t let the innocuous name fool you. Titles are a fantastic way to boost your character with little to no extra effort.
L2 & R2 Have Hidden Functions in the Equipment Menu
Based on the way they’re presented, you’d think L2 and R2 just cycle between different items in your equipment menu, as they often do in games with lots of inventory clutter. Not so! While they’re not labeled (like at all), these two triggers actually have completely different functions when you inspect your gear.
You’ll probably use R2 more often. This is the “compare” button. It allows you to place the stats and perks for weapons and armor side-by-side — both on the item you’re wearing and the one you’re looking at. In a loot-based game with this much gear to grab, that’s incredibly useful.
But don’t count L2 out. The less popular button can serve a very important function. Most of the time it will just show you some lore associated with a given piece of equipment. That’s… interesting, but not exactly useful. What is useful is when you have gear with set bonuses. Pressing L2 on these items will let you see what gear set bonuses do and how many pieces of equipment you need to trigger each special power.
It’s Okay to Recall
Every Shrine will give you the option to “recall” your Guardian Spirit in the event of your death. This consumes any Soul Cores and/or Amrita you had on your person when you died. Soul Cores are one thing. Amrita, on the other hand, is rarely worth worrying about — especially if you’re prepping to fight a boss. The tiny stipends you get from enemies en route to the lord of any given land don’t amount to much. It’s more useful to build up your spirit gauge and use it to launch a super at the boss itself. If you need to farm Amrita, just go farm Amrita!
Stick With Elixir Boost to Start
Elixirs are good. You want elixirs. They’re your basic healing items in Nioh 2 — functioning like the Estus Flask in Dark Souls, or Blood Vials in Bloodborne. But Nioh 2 kind of meets both games in the middle. You’ll always have at least a few Elixirs on your person whenever you respawn or revisit a Shrine. To keep your maximum up, however, you need to farm and stockpile the suckers.
That’s not too tough given just about every enemy in the game will drop them. The problem is that you can burn through Elixirs very, very fast. Boss runs in particular will chew through your supply. So unless you’re specifically farming for something else, it’s best to keep the Elixir boost bonus on via your Kodama pals at any given Shrine. This will let you passively build a stockpile of the refreshing items. And hopefully you won’t run out too quickly.
You Need Stamina to Do a Finisher
Stamina management (or Ki management in this case) is, well, key to most Souls-like games. Nioh 2 is no exception. Neither are your finishing blows. If you see a red lock-on icon indicating that you should be able to land the powerful hit, but can’t, it’s likely you’re out of breath. Rather than panic and fall back, just wait a brief second to recharge and land the killing strike.
Draw Yokai Out of the Darkness Realms
It won’t be long before you encounter your first “Darkness Realm” in Nioh 2. These are specially marked zones with subdued colors and magical flowers — like much, much larger version of the Yokai Realms that demons can create. A Ki Pulse won’t cut it in here, however. You need to kill the mini-boss prowling around at the center of the Darkness Realm to destroy it. On the plus side, doing so won’t just permanently destroy the head Yokai. It will also remove any smaller Yokai that spawned in that area, free any Shrines muted by the curse, and unlock chests. Plus these freed Darkness Realms often act as shortcuts.
That means actually killing the head Yokai, of course. But that’s not as hard as it sounds if you follow this simple tip: just draw the enemies out. Even mini-bosses will follow you out of Darkness Realms. Once outside, your stamina will regenerate normally, and it becomes easier to fight. Although some later upgrades actually make you more powerful inside the darkness in various ways.