In the same vein as its predecessor and other Souls-like titles, Nioh 2 is an incredibly difficult game. Packed full of menacing enemies and mechanics to wrap your head around, it's quite the undertaking should you wish to see the experience through to its conclusion. That's an exciting 50 hours of gameplay to digest, and while you'll surely want to see much of that for yourself devoid of spoilers, it's worth approaching the game with some knowledge already in the bag. As such, we've put this guide together to include some important pointers, hints, tips, and tricks so that when you're in the midst of the action, you won't be at a disadvantage.
Nioh 2 - Basic Information
Here are some basic details about Nioh 2 that will give you a helping hand with its controls, combat, and Yokai skills.
|Default Button Input||Action|
|Square button||Quick attack|
|Triangle button||Strong attack|
|D-pad up||Item shortcut 1|
|D-pad left||Item shortcut 2|
|D-pad down||Item shortcut 3|
|D-pad right||Item shortcut 4|
|L2||Aim ranged weapon|
|R1||Stance (change stance)|
|R2||Shoot (while aiming)|
|Options button||Gesture menu|
At its core, engagements in Nioh 2 are governed by just two buttons. A standard attack is mapped to the square button while a heavy blow can be unleashed through the triangle button. There are, of course, many more ways of going about tackling combat but the crux of every combo revolves around the two face buttons in question. Because of that, it's fairly easy to get to grips with what the game is asking of you. Dictated by a stamina bar (referred to as Ki in-game), you can freely attack enemies within its parameters, however, you have to make sure you leave enough spare to escape the immediate vicinity when the combatant starts to fight back.
In terms of getting out of the way of those attacks, blocking or dodging are your two options. Both use up a bit of stamina upon activation, allowing you to avoid taking any damage. That's all well and good, losing HP is the last thing we want, but you're going to need to keep a close eye on the stamina gauge to make sure you don't run out completely. If that happens, the character you create has to take a second or two to catch their breath and regain some strength, leaving you wide open to slashes and blows from an enemy. In certain situations, boss battles in particular, this could lead to death.
Making use of your stamina bar as you combine attacking, defending, and retreating without letting the gauge deplete entirely is key to success in Nioh 2. You'll only learn the telltale signs of when you need to change your approach through proper practise in-game, but simply being aware of this dynamic will take you far in the early game. Maybe hold back on a combo before you're sure you can pull it off with time to spare or stick to blocking and dodging before you've got a good grasp of an enemy's attack patterns.
Combat gains more depth thanks to the presence of stances -- changing the way you attack and where the weapon strikes. For more information on when you should be using high, mid, and low stances, head on through the link.
As well as the two melee weapons you have equipped at any one time, there is one more means of attack. Yokai skills give you the chance to turn into the demons you've been defeating for a select couple of seconds to deal huge damage to an enemy. Triggered by holding the R2 button and pressing either square or triangle, you'll unleash whichever ability you have mapped to the two inputs in question.
Yokai skills are acquired through Soul Cores dropped at random by enemies. When you're lucky enough to have one drop, you'll need to head to the closest Shrine to tune it, at which point it can now be equipped. They can't be used at will, however. The Yokai bar located underneath your health and stamina is fuelled by kills, so you'll need to put an end to some enemies before you can whip out one of your new abilities. When the chance presents itself, take advantage of your chosen skill to see an enemy off.
Although, there's even more to this than meets the eye. There's another gauge you can charge, and it's the circle located directly to the left of your health, stamina, and Yokai bars. When this fully filled up and glowing, you can transform into a demon by pressing circle and triangle at the same time. Invincible in this state, you can start to tear apart a boss' health bar through sustained damage. It takes a while to build up so make sure you save it for special occasions, but when it is taken advantage of, the enemy in front of you won't be standing on its own two feet for much longer.
Rounding out the Yokai skills is the Burst Counter -- perhaps the most important addition to the series' gameplay loop Nioh 2 makes. Similar to what you'd see in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, this is an ability which gives you the opportunity to counter certain moves, telegraphed by a red aura which will suddenly appear when an enemy prepares the attack. To pull it off, hold the R2 button and press circle when you're about to make contact with the blow. Essentially, you're the one instigating contact in order to counter the attack. If you want to make any meaningful progress through the game, you simply have to learn how to Burst Counter reliably.
Nioh 2 - Hints, Tips, and Tricks
Here are some useful hints, tips, and tricks that will help you out while playing Nioh 2.
Getting the First Hit in Cancels Out a Lot of Enemy Attacks
Coming up against a new enemy type is always a worrisome moment, but as long as it isn't a Yokai demon, your attacks will mitigate almost anything it can throw at you. That's because your swings and hits cancel enemies out most of their own attacks. It doesn't work on the sorts of moves which requite a Burst Counter, however, if a standard foe is taking a swinging at you, landing a blow before them ensures you won't take any damage.
You need to use this to your advantage. As long as your weapon connects before their's, you can safely wind up a combo and begin to stagger an enemy alongside taking a chunk out of their health bar. Make use of this tactic over and over again and you'll be able to take out certain enemies without them landing a hit. Remember, this won't work on the likes of the Yokai demons, but it's absolutely fair game for more minor enemies.
Use Arrows to Pull Enemies Away from the Pack
Certain enemy types love to roam around in groups, which creates a problem for you. Ending up in a fight with multiple foes at once probably isn't the best idea, so make use of your bow and arrow to pull individual enemies away from their friends for an easy kill. Aim for the head if you can, but if not, simply make contact with a combatant and they'll come running after you on their lonesome.
From there, you have a simple kill and one less enemy to worry about. Pull one more with the use of another arrow and the job becomes even simpler. You can also employ this when dealing with enemies at range -- if you spot an archer or gunner at a distance, simply make sure it's a headshot and they'll go down without a fight. There's no aiming drop off either so you don't need to take the space between you and the enemy into account.
Try and Lure Enemies Out of the Dark Realm
You may encounter a bunch of tough enemies in the Dark Realm, but that doesn't mean you have to fight them there. If you spot a particularly mean-looking one, get its attention at a distance with either the bow and arrow or a gun and it'll come chasing after you. All you need to do is lead it out of the Dark Realm and then you can fight it on your own terms without the worry of reduced stamina regeneration.
Learn and Master the Burst Counter
We've already talked about it once, but learning how to use the Burst Counter is absolutely pivotal to progressing through Nioh 2. Every enemy type in the game has a select few moves you can take advantage of so learning how to counter them is incredibly important. When you're in a quiet area near a Shrine and you have some the Yokai meter built up, simply trigger the Burst Counter by holding R2 and pressing circle to learn how it works. You'll quickly get a feel for things, understanding whether or not the associated Guardian Spirit will dash forward or simply stand in place when Burst Countering.
From there, when you encounter a new enemy, keep your distance and analyse how the attacks which can be Burst Countered work. Figure out when the best moment to instigate contact would be and you'll be able to successfully Burst Counter on the fly. This will lead to easier fights and a better chance at taking down bosses.
Use Your Yokai Skills Liberally
Using a single Yokai skill during a fight will take up roughly half of the meter which governs their use, but that shouldn't put you off using them whatsoever. If you're fighting a Yokai demon, killing it actually restores a significant chunk of the bar, meaning you were all but able to use the skill at no cost whatsoever. Therefore, as long as you get the kill afterwards, using an ability isn't going to cost you anything at all. If anything, you only gain from it.
Better yet, successfully pulling off a Burst Counter completely fills the Yokai meter. You only need a tiny bit of the bar to be full in order to activate the move so you can essentially go from empty to full in a couple of seconds. From there, you can go to town with Yokai skills and recover much of that juice back upon the demon's death.
Don't Forget to Apply Prestige Points
This is a system which gives you a small set of bonuses upon every level up, so make sure you don't forget about applying them until halfway through the game like we did. Located in the Titles tab on the pause screen, they provide tiny improvements to the likes of your healing items and the number of souls you accrue upon kills. They'll only ever be small percentage bonuses, but when you're amassing the points for free, you might as well take advantage of them.