Nioh 2 is a fantastic game, but it’s hard as hell, and if you’re new to the series it can be daunting. Here are a handful of very basic tips to help you out if you’re a fresh-faced new player.

R.T.F.M.

Look, I know it sounds mundane, but do the dojo and tutorial missions. Nioh 2 just kinda throws you into the mix with very little explanation, and doing those levels will make all the difference. More importantly, dojo missions will eventually give you items that give you skill points. And if you miss something, you can read individual tips in the Amrita Memories section in the menu.

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Wolf it Up

When you start Nioh 2, you’ll be given the choice of three guardian spirits, each of which uses a different Yokai form. Each form offers a totally different and valid playstyle, but for a total beginner I would recommend the wolf, Makami, which uses the Brute Yokai form. The Brute form is big and direct and doesn’t require the finesse of the Feral or Phantom forms.

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Weapon Mastery

Nioh 2 is about experimentation, and there are tons of weapon types, each of which scales to a different stat. I’m a huge fan of weapons like the massive Odachi and the tricky Kusarigama, but my favorite are the dual hatchets. What makes the hatchets appealing is that they can be thrown by holding down the Triangle button, turning them into a medium-short range projectile. This can be very useful if you’re playing conservatively and are running up against a wall. They’re also just incredibly powerful. That said, experiment with other weapons! The Kusarigama, for example, is fantastic if you’re the kind of player who loves applying status effects like poison. Find out what weapon works for you and build around that.

Spend Your Skill Points

Nioh 2 has a skill point system not dissimilar to Final Fantasy X’s Sphere Grid system. You gain points in a tree by using that weapon or skill, and skill progression can be checked in the Status submenu. Make sure you spend these points, and tailor your selections to your playstyle.

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Ki Pulses

Your ki (what Nioh 2 calls stamina) is often the determining factor in victory. If you or an enemy runs out of ki, you’re dead in the water and prone to fatal grapples and final blows. Not only do you have to watch your ki, you also have to learn how to properly execute a ki pulse. You do this mainly by pressing R1 when the ki particles return to your body following an attack. Not only will this restore a significant amount of ki, but it’s also vital for purifying the dark Yokai realm that Yokai enemies will emit. I would also highly recommend getting the Running Water and Flux skills in the samurai skill tree ASAP. They make it so that you can execute a ki pulse by dodging and switching weapon stances. Eventually you should also work your way to getting Flash Attack after flux, which adds an attack to a successful weapon switch ki pulse.

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Burst City

The Burst Counter is a vital mechanic in the game. If you see an enemy glow red, that means they’re about to unleash a burst attack. Pressing R2 and Circle will unleash a counter that will let you disrupt them, doing massive ki damage and usually leaving them vulnerable.

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A Grave Matter

While playing Nioh 2, you’ll come across both bloody and benevolent graves. Bloody graves will summon a revenant of a player to fight against, while benevolent graves will summon a similar NPC to assist you. Farming bloody graves is clutch, as the ghosts of players drop not only exotic quality gear, but also Ochoko cups, which are required for summoning NPCs and other players to your game at the shrine. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask for help, but also don’t over-rely on the mechanic. Eventually, you’re going to have to learn to play the game on your own, and sometimes summoning can make you miss the nuance in how a boss fight works.

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You’re A Wizard

Magic isn’t just for wizards and goths anymore. Even if you’re not focusing on magic, you should consider grabbing the four basic talisman skills (fire, water, lightning, and purity) for extra damage against bosses. Ideally, try to get sloth, steel and barrier talismans too. Sloth slows down enemies, steel increases your defense, and barrier talismans greatly increase your ki regeneration. The more you use magic, the better you’ll get at it, same as ninjitsu.

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Kodama Pawn Stars

Sell spare items to the kodama at shrines. You can use the rice they give you to buy elixirs and other items. It also gives you amrita (souls). Need to level up but you’re just shy of the mark? Sell items. You’ll get souls, which will help you level up, as well as gifts and currency to spend later.

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Lock It Down

For faster selling, “lock” the items you want to keep in your inventory and then hit R2 to “check all.” This allows you to select everything you haven’t locked and sell it in one giant batch. It just saves time.

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The Prestige

Something Nioh 2 takes from its predecessor is poorly explaining how prestige works. The long and short: just by playing the game and doing certain tasks, you will get Ungyo and Agyo titles that can be spent on prestige points. These are basically free upgrades that exist in the “titles” menu. Do not forget to spend these points; it’s free real estate.

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Those are some tiny baby starter tips to help an absolutely beginner get started in Nioh 2. We could obviously go deeper on this subject, but since Nioh 2 is such a rich game, we’d be here all day. Check out Heather’s review for more. And try not to die too much.

Senior video producer of Kotaku. I make Highlight Reel. Send your clips to HighlightReel@kotaku.com

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DISCUSSION

Is it as grindy, and can the bosses kill you in 2-3 punches like the first one?

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