Can't get through the prison tower in London or first areas of Japan without dying? We show you how to master this difficult game's basics to stay alive longer!

Nioh: Beginner’s Tips and Tricks Survival Guide

Can't get through the prison tower in London or first areas of Japan without dying? We show you how to master this difficult game's basics to stay alive longer!
This article is over 7 years old and may contain outdated information

European pirate William is going to need all the help he can get while battling soldiers, ninja, oni, and more across Feudal Japan in Nioh.

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As you can imagine, a one-man war against demons and well-armed foes is more than a little deadly, and Nioh doesn’t hold your hand on the difficulty front either, pulling liberally from the Dark Souls style of insane frustration.

Before starting the game, there are several basic mechanics you need to be familiar with that the tutorial doesn’t always fully cover. From knowing which stance to use to getting bonuses that will push you over the edge to victory, here’s the basic Nioh tips and tricks you won’t survive without mastering.


Using these kapa-covered shrines is absolutely necessary as they set your new respawn point (you don’t want to recover all that ground do you?) and is required for leveling, but they also respawn all the enemies in the level.

Make sure to always use a shrine and level up before activating the Himorogi Fragment to leave a level early, as you will lose all your Amrita when you quit before actually completing a level.

There’s another important shrine aspect to keep in mind: after dying, your Guardian Spirit isn’t available until you reach your corpse, unless you re-summon it first at a shrine. While this is a valid option if you can’t get through difficult enemies, it’s generally a better idea to return to where you died so you don’t lose out on your Amrita.

Visit shrines sparingly and strategically

Stamina / Ki

Nioh’s stamina system (referred to in-game as Ki) is easily the most important aspect of the combat system to master. First and foremost, turn on the health and Ki bars in the menu – for some reason this isn’t the default option.

Practice mastering the correct time to activate a Ki Pulse, which rapidly regenerates your stamina so you can attack and dodge more frequently. Just as important is to watch for enemy stamina to drop (either through the stamina bar if you have the feature turned on or by paying attention to the animation) so you know when to strike.

If you focus on utilizing Ki Pulses in your combat style, it’s absolutely critical to take the Living Water skills, which let you activate Ki while dodging – this can completely change the difficulty of battles across the entire game.

Master the Ki Pulse!

Combat / Stances

It’s always best to snipe enemies one by one at range whenever possible, and only come into melee if there’s absolutely no other option, since combat is extremely deadly. Don’t forget to buy ammo in between missions!

When in melee, this game is all about the attack patterns, so go in defensively and learn how an opponent attacks before trying to deal any damage. After that, a combat’s outcome is really determined by the three stances: high, mid, and low.

William deals extra damage on high stance but uses more stamina, mid obviously offers balanced defense and attack, while you’ll get the least stamina drain on low and you tend to move more quickly. There isn’t necessarily a “best” stance — try them all until you find the one that works best for your style — but starting with low is a good idea with its mobility and defense focus.

Low is also particularly useful for many bosses, since the focus should be more on avoiding their one hit kill attacks than on landing your own blows. High stance meanwhile tends to be most effective against slower enemies. Learn to quickly switch between and practice with all three. If you can’t get past an enemy, swapping to a different weapon or stance is a good bet for succeeding.

Pay attention to stance!


Always be on the lookout for the collectible Kodama, and spend some time searching each level to make sure you’ve got them all. After picking up a set number of the same type you get helpful passive Kodama Blessings, while every five Kodama grants you an extra elixir.

Collect these little guys!

Those are the basic game mechanics you need to know to get started! What other Nioh tips would you recommend for new players? Let us know below!

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Ty Arthur
Ty splits his time between writing horror fiction and writing about video games. After 25 years of gaming, Ty can firmly say that gaming peaked with Planescape Torment, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have a soft spot for games like Baldur's Gate, Fallout: New Vegas, Bioshock Infinite, and Horizon: Zero Dawn. He has previously written for GamerU and MetalUnderground. He also writes for PortalMonkey covering gaming laptops and peripherals.