Nioh 2 Beginner’s Tips: Ki-Pulse, Kodama, Loot & More

The way of the samurai.

Nioh 2

Nioh was one of the better follow-ups to FromSoftware’s runaway success with the Soulsborne series. It managed to invoke the feeling of those games while adding more flexible and versatile combat and marrying that with an extensive loot game. Nioh 2 has all of the previous systems in place but also manages to expand and build upon them.

As such, Nioh 2 can be a tough nut to crack, even if you are used to playing Soulsborne games. The sheer amount of things you need to keep track of in the game can be overwhelming. Therefore I thought I’d put together this little guide here with stuff you ought to be focusing on at the early stages of the game.


1. Mastering Ki-Pulse

Nioh 2

Perhaps the most important part of combat in Nioh is learning how to properly manage your Ki and doing perfect Ki-Pulses. Ki serves as your stamina and once you deplete it you are open for attacks, which can be devastating in the wrong situation.

To mitigate the Ki cost of your attacks you can perform what is called a Ki-Pulse. After you have unleashed a combination of attacks you will see small specks of blue light being sucked into your character. If you push R1 as they converge on you you will perform a Ki-Pulse which restores some of your lost Ki.

The key to this system is to pace yourself in combat, as slashing away in a frenzy will almost certainly leave you without any Ki left. Until you become more familiar with your weapons and how the system works, I recommend going for two to three-hit combos, pausing for a second to perform a Ki-Pulse and then repeating the process. It takes a bit getting used to, but once you have mastered the Ki-Pulse mechanic you can string a lot of combos together like this and devastate your opposition.


2. The Better Part of Valor

Nioh 2

From the first few minutes of playing, you will learn that Nioh 2 isn’t messing around. The second enemy you face is a huge bull-headed yokai called Gozuki that will stomp you dead in about two seconds if you’re not careful.

Gozuki is placed at the beginning of the game to teach you that sometimes it’s better to just leg it. Whenever you face something that seems too hard for you to tackle head-on, look for an alternate route or see if you can simply run past the situation. You can always return later, with a sharper sword and honed skills to take on the beast(s).


3. Avoid Group Battles

Nioh 2

As with most Soulsborne games, even the simplest foe can potentially be the one to stab you to death if you aren’t careful. Underestimating an enemy is usually the quickest way to take a dirt nap and lose your hard-earned XP in Nioh 2.

To that end, never fight more than one foe at a time if you can avoid it. When you find yourself staring down the barrel of a two on one fight, look for a way around it or try to draw them out one by one. Stones and arrows are excellent tools to achieve this.


4. Arrows And Bullets Are Your Friends

Nioh 2

By the end of the first level, you should have access to a bow. Do not forget to make use of it to give you an edge in battle. As mentioned above, shooting arrows at an enemy is a good way to make them run after you. Additionally, landing headshots on weaker foes will likely do them in for good. Tougher enemies can be harder to tackle with just the bow, but a headshot might drain their Ki, stunning them long enough for you to land a killing blow.


5. If You Have The High Ground – It’s Over

Nioh 2

Ladders were my best friends in the early game. No, seriously. They’re invaluable to have in hairy situations. Dropping down on an enemy in Nioh 2 allows you to perform a devastating attack that kills normal enemies and knocks bigger ones to the ground, open for another powerful stab.

To this end, one of my most successful strategies involved climbing up a ladder and shooting the biggest enemy around with arrows. After that, I only had to wait for him to run towards the ladder so I could pounce on him.


6. Slow Down, Think Ahead

Nioh 2

One of the best pieces of advice I can give to new players of Nioh 2 is probably to slow down. There’s an almost insatiable desire to button mash your way forward and just keep slashing at enemies in this game. However, such tactics are almost guaranteed to make you run out of Ki. When your Ki reaches zero, you are in a very vulnerable state, unable to move, attack or dodge. Needless to say, not being able to do those things can have dire consequences in a fight to the death.

Instead of just hacking away, take a step back to observe your opponent and see if they make a mistake that you can exploit. Only get stabby when you believe you can actually do something with your attacks. Whenever I meet a new enemy in Nioh 2, there’s a period of faints and circle-strafing around them to try and force them to make the first move. Only once I see them overreaching or make a mistake do I move in for the kill. Likewise, by slowing down you might notice some environmental aspects you can use to your advantage, such as attacking from a height or kicking someone off a ledge, and so on.


7. Evade, Exploit, Execute

Nioh 2

Most enemies you face in Nioh 2 can make very powerful burst attacks. These are telegraphed by red smoky flames coming off them as they ready themselves for the attack. Burst attacks are devastating and even lower level adversaries can rip away half your health if they manage to hit you with one of them. On the flip side, they’re usually a kind of all-out attack which leaves the attacker’s Ki completely depleted. So, while they can be really scary, keep your cool and dodge or evade the attack in order to exploit their weakened state afterward.


8. Clean Out Your Junk

Nioh 2

Unlike most games of this kind, you will find a lot of different loot in Nioh 2. All gear is color-coded and you will pick up droves of the same type of armor or weapon over the course of a level. Luckily, there are a couple of ways to make use of that junk.

The first one you gain access to is donating them to the shrine. Doing this will grant you favors from the Kodama and sometimes extra items. The favor you gain can be used in the Kodama Bazar to give you extra Elixirs, arrows or other useful items.

Eventually, you also gain access to a blacksmith and can donate things to her for materials you can use for crafting. Much like the first game, the blacksmith can create weapons and armor for you. Each weapon and item you smelt down will give you materials like lacquer, iron, and wood, which can then be used to make new equipment. The rarer the weapon you dismantle, the better the material. I’d recommend donating all low-level “white” loot to the Kodama while keeping the rarer stuff for the blacksmith once you unlock it.


9. Take a Break

Nioh 2

With games like Nioh 2 and other Soulsborne titles, it’s inevitable to hit a wall. You’ll face a monster or samurai that just feels impossible to beat or come across a stretch of the level that looks insurmountable.

When this happens, step away, take a break. Go for a walk, play something else. Coming back with fresh, rested eyes and a clearer mind can make all the difference. Also, if it’s an optional area or mission it’s ok to just skip it. Back out and do another mission or take another path. You can always come back later.


10. Be a Good Kodama Mama

Nioh 2

Kodama are the small green wood sprites who hang around your shrine where you take a rest. These little goblins aren’t just cute however, they grant you real benefits and bonuses which are tied to how many Kodama sprites you have at your shrine. For instance, for every fifth Kodama you gather to your shrine you can make use of an extra Elixir. These stack up to 8 Elixirs, so they can literally be the difference between life and death.

While you usually have to go out of your way to find Kodama spirits, they aren’t actually all that hard to spot. They are glowing green for one and will stand out almost anywhere. Secondly, they play pipe music and dance around when you are near so you can often hear them before you can see the Kodama.

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