William mostly fights his way across this demon-filled version of medieval Japan mostly on his own. But it doesn’t have to be lonely. And sometimes, frankly, playing alone is a sure way to get yourself killed (or at least super frustrated).
Let’s talk about the various ways to meet your fellow Williams.
The first, most obvious way to see another William is all of those bloody graves you see dotting the landscape. We’ve discussed those in our beginner’s and advanced guides before, but it’s technically multiplayer, so we’ll mention it here as well.
This is Nioh’s asynchronous online multiplayer — when a player falls, their grave appears in others’ games. By summoning that revenant from the grave, you can fight a computer-puppeted version of the William that fell. This isn’t PvP, but that revenant has all of your gear, skills and stat upgrades, so it’s not not PvP, either.
The first way you’ll encounter to access Nioh’s co-op play is at a shrine. There’s an option there to summon a visitor to your game. When you choose this, you’ll offer up an ochoko cup and, effectively, ask someone else to come help you.
Someone, based on a few criteria we’ll discuss below, will get summoned into your game to fight by your side. Here’s the thing: You have to beat a level before it’s available for you to be summoned into, so chances are they know more about what you’re struggling against than you do. This is why, after failing a few (dozen) times, we offer an ochoko cup before every boss fight. Beyond their knowledge of what’s ahead, giving Nioh’s enemies two targets instead of one can turn the tide of a battle on it’s own.
The biggest restriction to summoning someone to help you is that you can no longer visit shrines. This means that it’s not always smart to call someone in early to carry you through a mission — if you die, you’ll not only lose your ochoko cup, but won’t have that late-mission shrine to respawn at.
When you unlock the region screen after defeating the “Isle of Demons” mission, you’ll see an option for torii gate. This is your co-op mission hub.
The second option, random encounters, is the other side of the summon visitors tab at a shrine. This is where you go to make yourself available to be summoned.
You have control over a few options on this screen. You can set conditions — you can either choose which mission (one you’ve completed it) to be summoned into, or you can just make yourself available to be summoned into any mission.
Below that, you can choose whether or not to require a password — a secret word. This is the way to make sure you get summoned into your friend’s game. (Head to the bottom of this article to find out how to set up your secret word.)
Helping out isn’t just a good feeling (and the right thing to do in such a brutal game) — you’ll get gold, amrita and some mission rewards at the end.
Yokai realm with companion
The other option at a torii gate is more traditional co-op gameplay. Two Williams fight their way through a mission together, sharing an assist meter. This meter tracks how many times either of you can die before the mission is deemed a failure. Either player can recharge the assist meter a little at a shrine, but you only get one visit per shrine.
The setup screen has similar options — you can choose a particular mission and set up a secret word — with one additional choice. Instead of just “mission” or “no conditions,” you have the additional choice of “friends” — this limits your pairings to your friends list.
When playing with a friend, you have two new options: search for a friend and wait for a friend. One of you will have to wait to create the (for lack of a better word) party while the other searches, looking for the person waiting. The waiter then gets to select the mission you run together.
When one of you falls during a yokai realm with companion mission, the other player can revive them. This drains the assist meter. To punish your cooperation — and because Nioh loves death so much — the yokai realm missions are a little harder, but the rewards are a little greater.
Who gets the loot?
If you’re there to help someone out, you obviously don’t want to steal gear or items out from under their nose. Happily, this isn’t the case in Nioh’s co-op play. Dropped items — from enemies or smashed pottery — are spawned separately in each player’s game. You can loot to your heart’s content.
Some items aren’t available to the summoned visitor, though. Those include items that aren’t random. For example, corpses that are dotted around a level are there for the primary player only. The best you can do is call the summoner’s attention to them to help them out (the whistle gesture is good for this).
What’s the secret word?
In your options menu, the tab all the way to the right is labelled system. Scroll down to online settings, and the first option there is secret word. Here, you get six characters to make sure you only get paired with someone using the same password.