The Nioh 2 open beta has been out for a few days now, and as players attempt to learn and fight their way through the two(-ish) levels and dominate Yokai, some strategies are coming out on top. Well, for players looking for the best ways to utilize their weapons, it really comes down to a choice between the three basic ways that the game can be played, with varying degrees of customization.
Those three basic strategies in Nioh 2 can be separated into three different builds: Power, Speed, Balanced. The obvious differences between these builds involve the speed at which the player attacks, as well as the amount of damage dealt with each attack. So which weapons are best for each build?
The Power Build has two different weapons available to it, the Odachi and the Axe. Both the Odachi and the Axe are capable of landing powerful blows which can melt enemy health bars, especially when used in a high stance. However, since the attacks all have a large wind up, these weapons aren't the most adept at taking down enemy stamina bars and quickly drain the player's, which can be especially taxing in the Dark Realm that Yokai transport the player to.
Of the two weapons for this build, Odachi easily comes out on top, due to its versatility between all stances, attacks that more easily close the distance between the player and enemy, as well as the connected attribute for raising its damage. Odachi's work well with the Strength stat, which has the added benefit of raising heavy armor effectiveness. Since heavy armor has higher toughness that reduces the amount of stamina damage players take while blocking, this allows players to capitalize on the passive style that goes hand in hand with high attack/low speed builds.
The first attributes that should be ramped up for an Odachi build should be Strength and Constitution. Once the benefits begin getting soft-capped, generally around level 10 or so, then the next two targets should be Heart and Courage, which increase the Ki gauge and its recovery respectively. Basically, the best bet for a Power Build is to min/max into damage and health, leaving most other attributes generally untouched and focus on finding opportunities to land punishing attacks one at a time.
The Speed Build has a lot more options when compared to the Power Build, including the Dual Swords, the Kusarigama, the Tonfa, and the Hatchets. This vastness of options is largely due to Nioh 2 favoring high-speed combat that focuses on draining stamina over the slow, calculated movements required of heavy hitters that focus more on health, and leaning into this design can make the Nioh series easier. While all four weapons have their benefits and drawbacks, it's the Tonfas that stand out the highest among the quicker weapons.
Tonfas stand out against the other weapon types in the Speed for similar reasons as the Odachi in Power. Namely, the Tonfas are the most capable weapon for closing the distance between the player and the enemy, as well as their connected attribute being Courage. This means that most attacks from a Tonfa are more likely to hit their opponents than other weapons (a marginal difference within the category) and Ki will naturally recover quicker with a proper build, which is a great way to get started in both Nioh titles.
Courage becomes the most important Attribute for Tonfa users, with Constitution taking a comfortable second place. Again, min/maxing those skills before moving on to Heart will make sure that players are getting the most out of the weapon. An honorable mention for Speed Builds though should be the Kusarigama, which has a slower attack speed and more complicated combos than most weapons in this category, but has the added bonus of being perfectly paired with Ninjutsu by connecting it's primary attribute with Dexterity.
A Balanced Build is somewhere between speed and power, where attacks do strike fast enough to string together combos and do decent damage, but aren't quite as adept at shredding stamina or dropping enemy health at quite the same rate as Speed and Power Builds. Balanced weapons include the Sword and the Spear, with the Spear coming out as the clear winner between the two. These Balanced weapons do feed into the intense combat that Team Ninja excels with from Nioh to the recent Dead or Alive.
Swords in Nioh 2 are fine, but the Spear has a wider range for better crowd control, are better at closing distance, and the attribute paired with the Spear is Constitution. This boils down to Spears being better at fighting multiple enemies at once, which sometimes is unavoidable, and making sure that enemies can't evade attacks. While the Sword has more varied stances, the upsides of the Spear completely outclasses its competitor, something that anyone who made it to the end of the beta can learn first hand. Swords were better in the first Nioh, which players can check out now that it's free for PS Plus members in November.
Since Constitution is the primary attribute for both health and the damage on the spear, players can focus on the single stat first before moving on to Heart and Courage to better upgrade Ki. With a heavy emphasis on health from the outset, the Spear also allows for greater diversity in customization, where other attributes like Skill, Strength, or Magic can earn more attention. However, now that Magic is on the board, that can open up a completely new build.
Bonus: Magic Build
This is possibly the best build available in Nioh 2, and while it might seem similar to the Balanced Build, it has attributes of all three builds centered around a single weapon, the Switchglave. Whether this will beat the builds that led to some impressive speedruns in the first Nioh is yet to be seen. However, the Switchglave is the only weapon of its kind, in that it transforms when changing stances, with each transformation swapping the Switchglave between all three of the main builds depending on the situation.
Additionally, the Magic attribute that the Switchglave is paired with opens up the utility of Onmyo Magic, which can help balance Nioh 2's enhanced difficulty it inherits from its predecessor. This allows players to cast powerful, offensive spells as well as buffs that vary from adding elemental damage to weapons, all the way to increasing defense and stamina management. All of these factors together makes the Switchglave the most versatile weapon in Nioh 2.
Nioh 2 releases on March 13th, 2020 for PS4