Nioh: Samurai Skills
While playing through Nioh and showing off just how badass you can be in the face of evil spirits and well-trained warriors, you’ll earn skill points for three different trees: Samurai, Ninja, and Onmyo Magic. Samurai skills, the ones we’ll be focusing on in this guide, revolve around the five different weapon types.
While each tree certainly has great skills for players who want to use that specific weapon, there are also skills that are just overall great and all players should consider investing in as they progress through Nioh’s challenge.
We’re going to break them down into two categories: Active and Passive. This will help you map out your approach and make William the best Samurai that ever lived.
Nioh: Best Samurai Active Skills
Active skills in Nioh are abilities that you actually do. They come with several different triggers such as reducing an enemy to a specific state, performing certain maneuvers, or timing your pulses. There are a ton in the game, with each weapon having skills specifically for them, but we’ll be focusing on the best skills that all builds can and should use.
All of the below abilities can be found across each weapon tree while you’re unlocking Samurai skills. These will make your time in Nioh much more manageable as they all revolve around increasing damage and managing your Ki.
Grapple: If you deplete an enemy’s Ki, they’ll fall into a staggered state which is signified by your lock-on reticle turning red. Once it changes color, you can press Triangle near that enemy to trigger an attack that does massive damage.
Ki Pulse Heaven, Man, and Earth: Increases damage for your next attack after a perfect Ki Pulse. The variants apply to High, Mid, and Low stances respectively.
Living Water Heaven, Man, and Earth: The Ki Pulse mechanic is vital to surviving and keeping enemies off balance, as it allows you to replenish a large portion of your used Ki to keep attacks going in Nioh. Unfortunately, you have to stand still to use it. The Samurai skill, Living Water, allows you to use a dodge to trigger the pulse instead of R1, letting you get to safety, while still keeping your stamina up.
Flux: Flux is the last important skill you should invest in for Ki management in Nioh. It increases the potency of a Pulse if you switch stances immediately after.
Parry: Every weapon in Nioh has its own specific parry skill. Make sure to invest in the ones for the weapons you find yourself using. Being able to counter attack helps to deplete enemy stamina and keep you safe.
Nioh: Best Samurai Passive Skills
Passive abilities in Nioh deserve extra attention. These don’t require any button presses. Instead, they work in the background, boosting your abilities in order to make you a more formidable Samurai. They’re spread fairly evenly across all of the weapon trees, but we’re focusing on the best ones which also happen to be the ones everyone can take advantage of. Do note that not all skills are available right away.
You’ll have to complete a few Dojo missions and progress through the story, but keep an eye out for these and make sure to invest. They’ll ensure that you’re one of the most powerful Samurai walking Nioh’s world.
Next to each skill’s name, you’ll find the tree its under in parentheses:
Relentless (Sword): You’ll unlock this skill after completing the first Way of the Warrior mission in the Dojo (upgrades will unlock after completing that mission on higher difficulties). It increases your Ki, which is never a bad thing in Nioh.
Tachi (Dual Swords): Completing that same training mission also grants you access to this Samurai skill. It increases close combat damage against enemies with full health.
Cornered Tiger (Spear): Sometimes you’ll find yourself in a tight spot taking lots of damage. This ability makes it so damage increases when your health is below 30%.
Defense Arts (Dual Swords): This is an absolute must have for players who like to play it close. It increases your Ki recovery speed while guarding, allowing you to block for longer and focus on making parries.
Momentum (Dual Swords): Landing attacks reduces Ki for subsequent attacks in chain, stacks with each attack. This allows for longer combos, which in turn means easier kills and mass depletion of enemy stamina.
Firm Resolve (Dual Swords): This mystic art has attacks reduce damage taken, and the effect stacks. It doesn’t make you invincible, but it does help you play more aggressively.
Fortitude (Axe): The axe is a tanky weapon, so it’s no surprise that its tree has a Samurai skill that boosts your life. The first one adds 100 points, while each upgrade adds another 50.
Cornered Board (Axe): Incoming damage reduced by 10% when health is at 30% or less. This is pretty straight forward, and goes well with the Cornered Tiger ability we already mentioned.
Intensity (Axe): Draining an enemy’s Ki staggers them, but you can add some more oomph with this skill as it greatly increases the damage of attacks that drop enemy Ki to zero.
Inner Light (Axe): Greatly increased damage in Yokai Realms.
Full Moon Kata (Kusarigama): Increased close combat damage when you’re at max health.
Shadow Strike (Kusarigama): Increases damage dealt to enemies from behind. This should be one of the first Samurai abilities you unlock as it helps deal with sneaking up on Yokai and those pesky dwellers.
Armor Piercer (Kusarigama): Attacks like the grapple, or taking advantage of a downed enemy are called final blows. They do massive damage but don’t always kill. This ability increases damage of final blows, raising the chance of the attacks truly being final.
For more on Nioh, make sure to check out our wiki.