Whip your blade back and forth
Nioh can get really rough at points. That’s a good thing, mind, as long as you’re okay with “two to three hit kill” bosses type of rough.
Here are some tips to help you along the way.
Seriously, practice the Ki Pulse before you do anything
See that giant pool at the feet of that big ugly guy above? That’s yokai pollution, and it’s a huge factor when fighting non-human opponents (it refills enemy stamina and cuts the refresh of your meter). You can purify it by performing a Ki Pulse when your stamina (Ki) is nearly full, but you’ll need to practice this technique a bit in a safe zone to get the timing down right.
Simply put, a Ki Pulse is a short, timing/frame-specific ability that’s triggered by pressing the R1 button, or by switching stances with R1 in time with a flash of light that appears after using an attack. Whether it’s a single strike or a four-hit combo, you can always Ki Pulse roughly half a second after you finish your strikes and regain some extra stamina.
Get the timing down right by trying it at the start of the first mission. You don’t need to use it for every single attack, but for bosses it’s especially useful to keep in your pocket, given their propensity to wipe out your stamina meter. At the very least try to get the timing down so you can purify pollution right when the boss drops it — you’ll typically have enough time to pulse, wipe it out, then dodge and reset.
- Even if it seems redundant, pray at the shrine (bonfire) at the start of the level. You’ll earn some free Amrita (XP) just for doing it — something you may have missed if you powered your way to the next shrine.
- Grab all of the frog guys (Kodama) in each level if you’re having trouble with that region. Picking up more Kodama frogs not only ensures that you can choose from an array of buffs (that become increasingly more effective the more frogs you find), but it also increases your overall Elixir (Estus Flask) count for that region.
Note that I keep saying “region,” because when you head to the next map you’ll have to start all over at +3 Elixirs. In that sense, it’s imperative that you spend time locating as many Kodama as you can so the rest of the levels in that section will be easier to tackle.
- Do the training levels immediately after obtaining them. You’ll have access to new skills as a result, not just the (mostly underwhelming) item rewards that the map preview shows.
- Change up your spirit guardians frequently and level your spirit stat to at least 11. You’ll unlock new skills for them, which are gated behind that stat. You can press the options (start) button to scour each bonus individually and learn what they do — a tactic you can also use on weapons and armor. Do this frequently if you’re unsure what a buff entails.
- Once you finish a level the enemies go away and you’re invincible. This allows you to explore most areas foe-free, and earn some extra experience or items. If you fall off a cliff you’ll automatically complete the mission, and you can’t re-enter some areas, so beware.
- Get the regeneration Ninjutsu skill as soon as you can possibly unlock it (it’s buried in the middle and requires the investment of one point into a prior spell). Being able to recovery health naturally through a renewable resource (you start with two casts per shrine visit, and can work your way up to six) will save you Elixirs in the long run.
- Use the minimap at the top right hand corner of the screen, even if you aren’t using weapons or armor that unlock extra features for it. It often displays where shrines are, and where the objective is located.
- I can’t stress this enough, actually delve into Ninjutsu and Onmyo Magic. You get constant renewable buffs and debuffs that can turn a “one hit kill” boss into a multi-hit kill confrontation. That includes spells or renewable items that enhance your defensive and offensive power, as well as elemental resists. If you’re having trouble against say, a lightning-based boss, putting one point into a resist spell will help quite a bit.
- Sell items strategically at shrines. Every few items you sell, you’ll earn an extra free piece of loot along with the cash (Amrita), like an elixir. Note that you can’t renew above your maximum in a region (see above), so if you have eight Elixirs on your person at the start of a region, use them, die, and start at a shrine — you’ll only respawn with three again.
This seems like a bummer, but you can exploit selling items in bulk before a really tough boss to gain a hefty stock of elixirs. Just practice the boss before you blow your stash and ensure that you know the patterns inside and out. If you start the fight and get hit by a massive blow, consider not wasting all your Elixirs on what could end up being a bad run. Be patient, learn your own counters naturally, and then rely on your stash.
- Check your “prestige points,” which you unlock by completing tasks (think in-game achievements) often. If you’re having a lot of trouble on a specific boss, you might have a handful of points you can dump into a few stats to give you that extra edge. It’s one of the last menu options in the pause screen.
- Consider leveling magic and dexterity to 20. Put a few points in each, every region or so. That way by the time the game allows you to unlock the mastery abilities for both, you’re able to enter the dojo and complete the pair of tutorials, which require 20 of each stat.
The same goes for weapon masteries, as you need a certain familiarity level (read: experience) with each weapon to unlock its full potential. So if you’ve been using one weapon (say, a sword) the entire game, you’ll be good. But if you’ve been spreading your usage across everything, you might need to do some more side missions to start the final dojo training.