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Nioh 2 guide: Soul Cores, explained

Yokai abilities, Soul Fusion, Soul Fragments, and Shiftling Skill Points

Nioh 2 Soul Cores guide Image: Team Ninja/Koei Tecmo, Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon
Jeffrey Parkin (he/him) has been writing video game guides for Polygon for almost seven years. He has learned to love just about every genre of game that exists.

Soul Cores are just one of Nioh 2’s many systems within systems. These concentrated bits of demon add some new abilities to your combat repertoire.

Like most things in Nioh 2, there’s a lot going on here. In this guide, we’ll explain what Soul Cores are, and then go into what you can do with them, like Attunement, Fusion, and Resting Rites.

Table of contents

What are Soul Cores?

Soul Cores are a remnant of a Yokai’s (demon’s) power. More practically for a player, Soul Cores add magical attacks. These attacks consume Anima (the purple gauge on your HUD) and usually mimic the Yokai they came from.

Nioh 2 Soul Core stats
Each Soul Core has its own stats.
Image: Team Ninja/Koei Tecmo, Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

Soul Cores have their own stats:

  • Level. This is the base level of the Soul Core. Higher level Soul Cores are better than lower level Soul Cores.
  • Attack and Defense. These numbers are similar to your own stats. Again, higher is better.
  • Soul Core Rank. Soul Core Rank indicates how powerful the Soul Core is. You can improve a Soul Core Rank with Soul Fusion (below), but you cannot improve the Soul Core’s Level.
  • Special Effects. This section lists the various effects this Soul Core has on your stats.
  • Yokai Ability. The Yokai Ability is the name of the attack you’ll gain from this Soul Core (and get to see a video of it in action).
  • Attunement Cost. This is how much of a Guardian Spirit’s Attunement is required to Attune this Soul Core. Each Guardian Spirit has a set Attunement Limit.

Where to find Soul Cores

Soul Cores have a chance to drop from just about any Yokai (non-human) enemy you encounter. Some Yokai, like bosses, are guaranteed to drop a Soul Core, but there’s a chance that any Yokai will.

How to use Soul Cores

Before you can use a Soul Core, it has to be purified. When you pick up a Soul Core as a drop, it will be impure (and probably covered in demon juice). The next time you reach a Shrine and Pray, any Soul Core you’ve picked up will automatically become purified and ready to use.

At a Shrine, choose Manage Soul Cores. You’ll have three options: Attune Soul Cores, Soul Fusion, and Resting Rites.

Attune Soul Cores is where you’ll choose Soul Cores to assign to each of your Guardian Spirits as Yokai Abilities. These get mapped to R2 + Triangle and R2 + Square.

Using a Yokai Ability consumes Anima (the purple meter in the top left of your HUD). Anima recharges as you land melee attacks on enemies.

Soul Fusion

Soul Fusion is a method to improve the stats of your Soul Cores by feeding one Soul Core to another at a Shrine.

To perform a Soul Fusion, choose a base (the Soul Core to improve) and material (the Soul Core you’ll feed to the base). Before you complete the fusion, you’ll see the output on the right of your screen.

Nioh 2 Soul Core Soul Fusion
Soul Fusion improves the Soul Core Rank and Special Effects of your Soul Cores.
Image: Team Ninja/Koei Tecmo, Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

There are some limits to Soul Fusion:

  • You can only fuse (combine) Soul Cores from the same Yokai (they have to have the same name).
  • Fusion does not change the Level, Attack, or Defense of a Soul Core.

What Soul Fusion does, though, is improve the Soul Core Rank. This makes the Soul Core more powerful by improving its Special Effects. You can only improve a Soul Core’s Rank up to 9. To get better stats, you’ll need to find a higher level Soul Core and improve its Rank.

Resting Rites, Soul Fragments, and Shiftling Skill Points

The final option you have under Manage Soul Cores at a Shrine is Resting Rites. This destroys Soul Cores and converts them into Soul Fragments. When you collect enough Soul Fragments, you’ll earn a Shiftling Skill Point.

Shiftling Skill Points are just like your other Skill Points. You’ll spend them in the Learn Skills tab of your menu. These skills add new abilities to your Yokai forms and change how your Anima is used and refilled.