Nioh is a challenging title in the same vein as Ninja Gaiden and Dark Souls, and that means some players may be having difficulty getting through the Beta Demo. This article offers a few tips for the Nioh Beta Demo so that you can better understand the combat system, and how Ki (stamina) and shrines work. Once you understand how the game should be played, things become much easier. Although like Dark Souls, even when you’ve got the hang of things, it’s still a very challenging experience.

Stamina is Key

In the upper left corner are two bars. The top bar is your health and the bar right under that is your stamina, also known as Ki in this game. Unlike most games with a stamina gauge, when you completely run out of stamina in Nioh, your character is essentially stunned for a short time. If this happens while you’re fighting an enemy, chances are you are going to take a lot of damage and may even die.

Pay close attention to your Ki gauge and use the Ki Pulse (see below) to help replenish your stamina in the middle of a fight. Keep in mind, you use stamina by attacking, getting hit by enemies, dodging and running. Even if you’re not in combat, but simply run until you’re out of stamina, you will still get stunned and top moving for a short time.

Ki Pulse

Executing a Ki Pulse is imperative if you want to keep your stamina (Ki) gauge filled in the middle of combos. As you attack you may notice your stamina drops in red chunks, then a white bar slowly refills as soon as you stop attacking. If you do nothing, this white bar disappears and your stamina slowly refills like normal. However, if you press the Stance button (R1) at any point in time while your stamina bar is white you instantly replenish that amount of stamina.

To make the most of a Ki Pulse, you want to wait a second or two before pressing R1, after completing a combo. This gives the white bar time to fill up the amount of stamina you just used, so when you press R1 you’ll get all of it back. If you press R1 too early, you’ll only get a small amount of stamina back. If you press R1 too late, the white bar will have disappeared and your stamina will refill slowly like it normally would.

It’s important to remember that you must press R1 before you do anything else that uses stamina. If you dodge away or start running, your ability to use a Ki Pulse will be lost. You should get in a rhythm of performing a combo, pausing for a moment, using your Ki Pulse, then starting another combo or dodging away. Against most enemies you can attack again immediately after a Ki Pulse before they can attack you.

Stones

As you play through the Beta Demo you will find stones that enemies drop. These are very useful because you can get the attention of grouped enemies and separate them so you don’t have to fight them all at once. Set the stones to one of your item shortcuts (the dpad on the controller) so you can lock-on to an enemy, then hit the shortcut command to throw a stone at them.

Usually you want to throw a stone from as far away as possible. As soon as you see a group of enemies in the distance, inch forward until you can lock-on to one of them, then throw a stone and back up a bit. The enemy will leave the group and run over so you can fight them one-on-one instead of having to face the entire group at once.

Enemy Stamina

Depending on your settings, you can see each enemy’s health and stamina gauge just above their head. When their stamina gauge is empty, most enemies react the same way your character does. They will stop moving and look fatigued as they regain their stamina. When this happens, you can run up to the enemy and attack them without fear of retaliation. You can unlock special techniques such as the Grapple, which allows you to perform a critical strike to the fatigued enemy.

In some cases you need to hit the enemy one time after their stamina gauge starts flashing red. This places the enemy in the fatigued state so you can move around behind them (for extra damage) or go directly for a critical blow such as Grapple. If the enemy falls to the ground you can also press Triangle to stab them before they can get back up.

Be sure to check out more information on Nioh, including how to use shrines, weapons and Amrita.