Are you wondering whether Nioh 2 is harder or easier than Nioh 1?
The answer: Nioh 2 is definitely easier than Nioh 1.
There are a few reasons for this which we’ll break down in more detail below and compare Nioh 2 difficulty against Nioh 1 difficulty.
Why Nioh 2 is easier:
- Nioh 2 lets you summon AI partners from blue graves. These fight alongside you and draw the attention of enemies and bosses.
- A lot more missions feature AI partners by default and those can never die. In the original Nioh you had to play a lot more on your own without having AI to help you out. Now you can let the AI take all the damage while you lean back and attack from behind without risk.
- Bosses’ Ki (Stamina) is easier to drain now / drains faster. With most Yokai (Monster) bosses their Ki barely recharges. Monster Bosses now go into a “Yokai Realm” multiple times throughout the fight and during this time their Ki is more easy to drain. Draining their Ki leaves them completely unable to attack while you land hits on them. Meaning you can do a lot more damage without any risk.
- Bosses do less damage. Meaning you can take a lot more hits (there are exceptions to this – the early bosses still hit hard but many do less damage than the average non-boss enemy, e.g. “Kamaitachi” or “Azai Nagamasa”).
- Boss attack patterns are a bit easier to predict. They are slower and don’t jump around as much as many of the Nioh 1 bosses. For 90% of fights you can simply run sideways to evade all attacks, do a single high-stance counter-attack after they miss and repeat.
- Burst Counters (pressing + while enemies do red charged attacks) lets you stun them instantly. While this new mechanic takes some practice to get the timing right, once you learn how to do it, it makes fights a lot easier. You could exploit just those Burst Counters against some bosses. This new mechanic is completely optional too, you can also outrun or block all attacks if you have trouble with the timing.
- Without farming anything you are usually 10-20 levels above mission requirement all the way throughout the game. In Nioh 1 I had to farm Amrita (XP) for hours to stay sufficiently leveled. This time leveling is much faster and no farming is necessary. Being constantly above level requirement certainly helps to make things easier.
- A lot of enemies and bosses are copy & paste, so if you played Nioh 1 you will already be familiar with a lot of them.
- More weapons, which means more ways to break the AI.
- More overpowered and game-breaking skills that can easily exploit the AI. For example the High-stance spear skill “Spear Flourish” can stunlock human enemies and bosses for the entirety of the fight, leaving them unable to attack you even once. For most human bosses all I pressed was in Spear High-Stance and the enemy was unable to move or attack (see video example).
- Fewer traps in the game environments (in first Nioh you had lots of enemies standing behind corners or bats flying at you from cave openings and pushing you down cliffs – some jumpscares are still there but far fewer).
- No insanely overpowered double bosses like Nioh 1 had. There are some double bosses but their health and damage is that of level 1 enemies. By the time you encounter them you’ll be level 100 or so, so they hardly do any damage and are quite slow and easy to separate. In fact, a lot of bosses are 2v1 in your favor (an AI partner that cannot die fighting for you).
- Shrines are closer to the bosses in Nioh 2. While this in itself does not make the bosses easier, it allows you to retry them more quickly and waste less time walking.
- The developers have confirmed after feedback from the Alpha and Beta that they have downgraded the difficulty of Nioh 2.
Personally, I did most bosses in Nioh 2 first try without any trouble. The most tries a boss took me was 5 and I did everything 100% solo without even summoning AI partners from blue graves. In Nioh 1 some bosses took me dozens of tries and hours to beat. Nothing like that is even remotely the case with Nioh 2.
How does Nioh 2 difficulty compare to Nioh 1?:
- For new players who played neither game before, I would rate Nioh 1 difficulty 7/10 and Nioh 2 difficulty 5.5/10 as an average for the entirety of the game. New players to this genre who never ever played any other “Dark Souls-like” game will probably find it to be a challenging 9/10 for the first 2 bosses and the difficulty goes down as you get more familiar with the combat (it gets progressively easier the further you get).
- For Nioh 1 veterans who are experienced with the game mechanics I would rate Nioh 2 a 4/10.
That’s not to say there isn’t still plenty of challenge. The new enemies are punishing on first encounters and you will suffer some deaths by them until you’ve memorized their move sets. The bosses still require good reflexes, but if you played Nioh 1 you’ll find the bosses much easier in comparison, for the above-mentioned reasons.
The above is based on 200 hours+ of playtime with either game, having cleared all missions in either game 100% Solo, and having also played through New Game+.
What is your difficulty rating of Nioh 2 after having beaten it? Did you find it easier too? Which bosses did you find the hardest? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
More Nioh 2 Guides:
- Nioh 2 Wiki & Strategy Guide
- Nioh 2 Boss Guide (All Bosses)
- Nioh 2 Walkthrough
- Nioh 2 All Kodama Locations