We’ve compiled a list of the most essential things you should know when playing Nioh 2 – there will be no story spoilers involved, but there are details about certain mechanics that some players may want to find out about on their own – read on at your own risk.
Adjust Your Control Scheme to Your Playstyle and Preference
If you’re coming from other From Software games, you’re probably more familiar with a different combat input than the standard one offered in Nioh 2. Thankfully, the game features several control schemes to choose from. Those players more experienced in the genre may find Control Scheme 2, which binds your light and heavy attacks into R1 and R2 respectively (just like in From Software games) more to their liking.
Though if you’re coming from other action games, the bindings to Square and Triangle (PS4) may be something you’re accustomed to. Just keep in mind that Control Scheme 2 allows you to move your camera freely while still being able to attack as your right thumb always remains on your right stick, which makes it a bit more versatile.
Learn the Systems, Especially Ki Pulse and Burst Counter
Nioh 2’s systems are deep, approaching but not crossing the line of comprehension. Take a moment to familiarize yourself with all of them as best you can in the tutorial area at the beginning. You won’t get all of them at first, but the most important advice we can give you at the beginning is remembering to use the stamina recovery system known as Ki Pulse.
Each time you perform an action, Ki (stamina) is taken from the green gauge in the top left, turning red. You’ll notice initially that this line is recovered quickly using a white line. If you press R1 at any point during this time, you’ll regain that amount of your lost Ki using a Ki Pulse. You’ll want to try to time it so that you gain the full amount back. As you continue through the game, you can assign bonuses to well-timed recoveries like a boost in attack damage.
Good Ki management alone will oftentimes be the difference between life and death, as once you completely run out and take a hit, you’ll be vulnerable while standing still for a moment, just like your opponents. Ki Pulse becomes even more important in areas with slow Ki recovery like in the Yokai Realm areas of the game.
The other tactic that is mandatory for success in the game is the Burst Counter. As you achieve successful hits on enemies, you’ll build up what’s known as your Anima gauge. This is the purple gauge underneath the stamina. Often times, enemies will use attacks that sprout a red burst of light. This is to let you know the following attack that’s coming can be countered with a Burst Counter.
Pressing Triangle and Circle together initiates this, but the timing on each enemy’s attack when it must be initiated is different (some have a delay between the flash of light and attack that must be learned with consecutive fights). A successful Burst Counter will severely impact an enemy’s stamina, often resulting in a moment in which you can Grapple the enemy with your Heavy Attack for massive damage.
Learn to Uuse Yokai Abilities Strategically
Besides the Burst Counter, the more direct Yokai abilities are very strong and are especially great at dealing with groups of enemies, but you need to be careful because they use Anima, which is the same resource that your burst counters use.
Be sure to use Yokai abilities whenever you can, but you always want to try and make sure that you have enough in the tank for at least one emergency burst counter, because there’s nothing worse than seeing a red aura attack coming, preparing for it, and then having nothing come out when you try to use a burst counter.
Learn Enemy Movements and Tactics
This comes with experience, but it’s really important to keep mental notes of certain tendencies and vulnerabilities of each enemy:
- Slimes can be blown up with fire or elemental damage, but if you don’t have any elemental magic, simply wait for them to attack you, then strike when they shrink back and expose their nucleus.
- Most enemies can be stunned with a shot to the head, making the Enki soul core especially useful against tall enemies with big heads.
Most every enemy uses some type of unblockable red aura attack, and learning when each enemy type is likely to employ it will be key to your survival:
- Many human enemies will use them out of desperation when they’re low on life.
- Karasu Tengus like to use their stabbing one after whiffing on a spin kick.
- The one eyed oni will look to do a drop kick if you’re out of range of its regular attacks.
If you know when attacks are coming, timing a burst counter becomes much easier.
Make Offerings Often
One of your options at the shrine is to make offerings. This option has two important functions. Firstly, you can dump any and all weapons and armor that you don’t want or need, in exchange for items, Amrita, and Divine Rice. Early in the game, continue to upgrade your weapons and armor to whatever provides the most damage and defense, dumping the rest.
If you’re going to save anything, save items that are Purple, as these can be bumped up to your current level gear later in the game. Dump the rest for the Divine Rice. Why? Well…
Divine Rice allows you to use the second very important feature of making offerings: buying items from the Kodama. Select the Kodoma Bazaar, and here you can exchange that precious Divine Rice for the maximum amount of Elixirs, Arrows, and other ammunition in addition to other items. Maximum Elixirs are especially important, especially as you head into a boss battle, and if you don’t have any in your reserves, this will be the best way to top them off to the max amount you’re allowed to carry (the alternative is tedious farming).
If you ever find yourself out of Divine Rice, make sure you don’t have extra gear to offer up to the little green guys!
Explore Every Corner and Use Your Dash to Destroy Objects in the Environment
The world of Nioh 2 is littered with boxes, crates, and other objects that can be destroyed. Doing so has many benefits, oftentimes revealing secret paths, Kodomas, or picking up an item here and there or a much-needed Elixir. Using your dash button makes this process easier, allowing you to destroy objects with movement instead of using your weapon.
Making sure to be thorough in your exploration will also help you not miss any of the various chests in the world, which are often hidden in corners of buildings away from sight.
Grab Your Grave and Make Sure to Upgrade
If you’ve never played a Souls game before, there’s a basic mechanic that’s fundamental to success. Your experience points in the game, here known as Amrita, are collected upon the defeat of enemies and unlocking of shrines. However, when you die, all your Amrita is lost and put into a Grave at the spot of your death you’ll have to backtrack and grab to get that Amrita back.
This makes it integral that when you have the Amrita to upgrade, you should always try to do so at the nearest Shrine. It makes the fear of dying lessened, though don’t let it stop your progress. The Shrines in Nioh 2 are very strategically placed and are often enough that there’s always one around the corner, so keep pressing forward.
Ranged Weapons Can Clear an Area
This should go without saying, but your bows, rifles, and hand cannons are your best friends when it comes to thinning out the hordes of enemies that lie in wait in an area.
The easiest way to die in Nioh 2 is do get overwhelmed by multiple enemies, so make sure to always take it slow and look for headshots before you trigger the aggro of any enemies. Be sure to restock on ammo whenever you get the chance between missions, as nothing is worse than spotting a group up ahead and having no choice but to recklessly charge in.
Experiment with Weapons
Nioh 2 never locks you into a weapon choice, and due to the random drop nature of its rewards system, you’ll constantly be getting new options. Early on especially, make sure to try out the different weapon types to see which ones vibe with your play style. Are you someone who prefers fast attacks?
Maybe Dual Swords or Tonfa is your option. Prefer something slow and heavy-hitting? Perhaps Odachi is the way to go. Regardless of what you choose, the game will cater the drops you receive to your equipped weapons, so if you know you want to experiment with a new weapon, equip it to your second slot and you’ll get drops for that weapon type that should be an immediate upgrade to the weapons you received earlier of that type.
Mix and Match Your Stats with Weapons
Gear is much more important than stats in Nioh 2, but you should still focus on matching your stats to whatever weapons you decide to main. If you decide to main two weapons, it’d be best to try and pick two weapons that synergize well together.
For example, both the dual swords and dual hatchets scale with Skill, making them a great pair since you can focus on one stat and improve the scalable damage of both weapons. You also don’t HAVE to focus on two weapons. For instance the Switchglaive, which scales with magic, can still work well with other builds, if its balanced out by using magic as a secondary weapon – otherwise you might be wasting valuable stats.
On that same note, the Kusarigama scales with Dex, as does Ninjutsu, making it a good main weapon if you’d prefer to specialize in Ninjutsu.
Weaknesses and Resistances
Nioh 2 is not very good at communicating when an enemy is weak to an element, but most enemies are weak or resistant to one or more element.
The best way to find this out is by heading to the Yokai Illustrations section of your hut and pressing R2 to view the stats of a particular enemy. Some weaknesses are obvious, like of course a flaming wheel yokai would be weak to water, but others like, the Yoki’s weakness to paralysis, are a little more illuminating, and can definitely affect how you approach battle against them.
Don’t Neglect Your Other Stats
Even if you decide to focus primarily on two or three stats, that doesn’t mean that you should completely neglect the others. Keep an eye out on the stat requirements on the pieces of armor that you pick up.
You can put on pretty much any piece of armor in Nioh 2 and still get the defensive rating, but if you don’t meet the stat requirements of the armor, you’ll be missing out on powerful modifiers that can sometimes be even more important than its actual defense.
So buff your secondary stats to meet the requirements of your equipment, while also dumping some points into constitution and courage to make sure that you’re not getting one-shotted by everything, or tired out from just a few swings of your weapon.
Since gear is more important that stats, its more important to spread the points around a bit than just quickly reach the soft cap of your main stat like you would in other Souls-like games (Which, by the way, there is no softcap to stats in Nioh!)
The Loot Game (And What the Heck to Do With It All)
You get so much loot in Nioh 2 that it can be absolutely overwhelming. Unlike other Souls games with set armor pieces, loot can have any number of randomly generated stats and perks, and it can be hard to figure out which armor piece is right for you.
Everyone’s going to have their own thoughts on how to deal with it, but here’s our general recommendation:
While you’re in a level, unless you’re really struggling with your gear being under-levelled, ignore the loot you pick up, unless you’re using it to feed as offerings for divine rice or elixirs. Otherwise, wait until you get through the level and are back in the map screen to do all of your loot management, as it will be less stressful and make for a more streamlined mission experience.
Between missions, do a deep dive and do everything that you need, including: Equip the strongest gear you have, lock down items that you don’t want to throw away because they have rare modifiers or are part of a rare set, and also lock down items that are high level, but aren’t items that you particularly want to use, like a weapon that’s of a type you aren’t using, or a piece of armor that makes you too heavy. Then either sell or dismantle the rest, depending on what you need more of: money or crafting parts.
Then, take a look at your resulting equipment. Did you lock down any equipment that’s a higher level than the equipment you’re currently using? Take a trip to the blacksmith and see if you can feed it into something you’re using via soul match to raise its level. Note that you won’t be able to soul match if the item you’re trying to feed into the other item is of a lesser rarity.
Is there anything you have equipped that is at a substantially lower level than the rest of your gear? Try to forge something new to replace it. Are you happy with the modifiers of your weapons and armor? If not, do some re-rolls by tempering your equipment.
It can take a while, but if you do all of this work now, you’ll be able to keep your actual play time relatively menu free, which is absolutely worth the effort. The more you experiment and try swapping things around between missions, the quicker you’ll get a feeling for what you really need to look out for.