Let’s talk about Nioh’s two flavors of fighting: close quarters and ranged.
Close quarters combat
No matter what close ranged weapon you choose, combat unfolds in the same way. Here are some general tips for surviving:
- Lock onto enemies with R3. It focuses your fight and prevents you from swinging at the air instead of your enemy.
- Watch enemy movement. Like the Dark Souls series from which Nioh finds inspiration, learning how enemies move and attack will show you when to attack.
- Watch everyone’s ki. You and your enemies both have ki (stamina) meters. Watch yours to make sure that you don’t run out and become staggered. Watch your enemies to find opportunities to attack.
- Evade. Yes, it drains your ki, but a well-timed dodge can put you right behind an enemy that has just run out of steam. Those same dodges are going to keep you alive in a boss battle, so get comfortable with the process early.
- Watch for a red reticle. There is a samurai skill that lets you deal a devastating blow when your enemies are knocked down or out of ki. Get it early and watch for their target reticule to turn red.
- Get yourself a kick. Another samurai skills let you add a kick to the end of a combo that depletes ki. Get it early as well.
It’s hard to keep your ammo supply topped off, so it’s tempting to be careful about using it, but you can’t ignore your ranged weapons. Even at the lowest levels, well-placed shots taken from a distance can quickly thin the herd of upcoming enemies and give you a fighting chance.
- Headshots count. Zoom in with R3 and shoot enemies in the head to do a lot more damage. Like, one-shot kill damage for a lot of low-level enemies.
- Watch the targeting reticule. It will turn red when your shot targets your enemies weak points. (It’s usually the head.)
- Claim the high ground. There’s a lot of high ground in Nioh’s level design. Use it. Clear out enemies not only in front of you, but in areas you hope to get to. Having them out of your way is only a good thing.
- Don’t forget about your ninjutsu. Shiruken and kunai are not ranged weapons, per se, but these thrown items deal more damage than stones (which you can also throw) and can turn the tide of a battle.