Nioh 2: Which Starting Weapon to Choose - Strategy Guide
Nioh 2: Which Starting Weapon to Choose - Strategy Guide

So you decided to pick up Nioh 2.

Whether it's your first rodeo, or you're a veteran returning from the original Nioh looking for some tips, this is the right place to get a comprehensive breakdown of each weapon class, and their strengths and weaknesses. As experienced players would know - weapons are only half the battle. The rest of the combat depends heavily on the situation - your stance, the enemy's attributes, your build, etc. The weapon plays a central role in all of that, and it is complemented by everything else. Your ninjutsu, your magic, elemental imbuing, status imbuing, armor burden - everything gets taken into account when making your build around a weapon. Some weapons thrive with heavy armor, while some are useless without a lighter one. Some favor the use of magic over ninjutsu, while some favor ninjutsu over magic. Some can be used up close, while some require you to be at a certain range.

In essence, while it isn't the entirety of your focus, it IS a hugely influential part of your kit while you tackle the various oddities in feudal Japan.


Katanas are fantastic beginner weapons. They're the classic weapon, era-appropriate for your roleplay needs (if any), as well as providing a good combination of style and substance.  They thrive in all three stances, letting you dish out some amazing combos, and have fairly strong attacks. They're not very useful for guarding against incoming attacks, but they do a good amount of damage to break the enemies' guards. Katanas scale with Heart and Skill, making them great pairings with dual swords and hatchets. They also have no strict armor requirement. Depending on your playstyle, you can choose to go with light or heavy. All in all, they're wonderful, versatile weapons and are usually the standard starter choice for people who have no clue what to expect. The katana gameplay in Nioh 2 translates from years of similar games with katanas in them, so they're definitely a great starting point.

STRENGTH: All-rounder; good DPS; armor type matters little
WEAKNESSES: Lack range; not very good at blocking incoming attacks

Dual Swords

You might be thinking - if one katana is so good, then surely dual katanas are just double the benefits?

Unfortunately, that is not the case at all. The playstyle differs quite a bit from the single katana, wherein dual katanas rely on multi-hit for DPS as each individual hit does less damage. However, this opens up the opportunity for use of elements and status effects. Multi-hit allows a better chance to proc status/element, so that's where dual katanas shine. They pair best with single katanas or spears, owing to their Skill and Heart requirements, and they definitely need light armor as you will need to be swift. They are better than single katanas at blocking incoming attacks but do a terrible job of breaking enemies' guards.

STRENGTHS: Good DPS; multi-hit allows for status/element proc
WEAKNESSES: Light armor is not that good at absorbing damage; low base attack damage.


Spears are a great weapon for starters. Keeping yourself out of harm's range, zoning enemies, and a high potential for poke damage make this weapon a very solid choice for starters. While it is not very useful in certain areas where there isn't enough room/closed-off spaces, spears thrive in more open areas. Their main scaling attribute is Constitution, which can make you a very tanky adversary for enemies. Spears have a high blocking potential for incoming attacks and they can do a good amount of ki damage to blocking enemies.

STRENGTHS: Great at zoning enemies; tanky builds; poke damage potential; good range
WEAKNESSES: Terrible in closed spaces; slow playstyle; timing combos feels counter-intuitive.


Axes are very strong in Nioh 2, allowing you to split enemy skulls as if they were eggshells with ease. This class of weapons scales primarily with Stamina, which means that you will have plenty of swing potential allowing you to dish out immense amounts of damage. These weapons are massive as well, which reflects in the raw damage numbers. They are, however, very sluggish and slow compared to other fast attacking weapons. Paired with heavy armor and a big mid-range weapon such as an odachi, axes enable you to you to thrive as a DPS tank. They don't block incoming attacks all that well, but you won't need to when you can absolutely shatter enemy guards with ease.

STRENGTHS: High DPS; very useful in breaking guard
WEAKNESSES: Limited range; slow attacks leave you vulnerable.


Kusarigama are one of the unique weapons designed for Nioh. These are very versatile, providing you with a wide range of attacks and combos in all stances, and at various ranges. They are very strong up close, allowing you to get a multitude of hits in, but they are also very effective at mid-to-long range. Owing to their fast attack speed, they are also very useful in applying status effects. Since they scale with Dexterity, they pair with ninjutsu skills very efficiently. While all these are very attractive features, it is absolutely useless at blocking incoming attacks and breaking enemies' guards. They do, however, incorporate slash damage as well as blunt in their moveset, making them great match-ups for most fights.

STRENGTHS: High DPS; fast attacks; ninjutsu usage
WEAKNESSES: Low defense builds; low raw damage


This massive weapon is super effective in zoning enemies. Its mid and low stance combos can make light work of lesser enemies, be they alone or in crowds. It has incredible range as well, making it a good choice for most boss fights. Potentially one of the strongest weapons in the game, it has the strongest potential to break enemies' guards. However, it is terrible at blocking incoming attacks. It scales with Strength and Stamina, making it an excellent pairing with axes and spears.

STRENGTHS: High DPS; High raw damage; incredible damage potential with a very good range; elements viable
WEAKNESSES: Slow combos, awkward timing; although not unusable, it doesn't pair well with light armor against strong enemies.


These fast attacking weapons require you to play as a glass cannon. You need fast movement, and rapid attacks to use these weapons effectively. They scale primarily with Courage. They have mediocre potential to block incoming attacks and to break enemies' guards. They also have very little range. They do, however, pair well with weapons that require you to be tanky as you can use the constitution boost.

STRENGTHS: High DPS; fast moveset; ninjutsu complementing weapon
WEAKNESSES: Non-conventional playstyle; not very useful with heavy armor; need to be up close and personal all the time.


Cousins to the tonfa, these are the cooler dual-handed fast attacking weapons. These weapons scale with Skill and, weirdly enough, Magic. This works incredibly to their advantage, allowing you to apply status effects as well as use elements. This simple attribute makes them a very useful, versatile choice for starters as they are great at any match-up. Unlike their cousins, they are decent at blocking incoming attacks and breaking enemies' guards. They are also useful as throwable weapons, adding a whole new dimension and range to their moveset. They pair excellently with spears and dual swords.

STRENGTHS: High DPS; fast attack speed; elemental damage
WEAKNESSES: Do not pair well with ninjutsu as they are magic-centric.


This weapon is the dark horse of this game. For those wanting to be edgy and cosplay the reaper or their Bloodborne characters, Team Ninja did a fantastic job designing the switchglaive and making it an actually useful weapon. Flashy moveset sets them apart from all of the others. They aren't very good at blocking incoming attacks, but they are pretty good at breaking enemies' guards. They primarily scale with Magic, which is bizarre. Onmyo magic and the mid-stance movesets are the bread and butter to usual switchglaive playstyles. They can be paired with dual swords or hatchets owing to their secondary Skill scaling. The armor will have to be focused on light as movement is a core part of this weapon's utility.

STRENGTHS: Very, very cool; Magic hybrid moveset
WEAKNESSES: Relies on offensive magic instead of supportive; can't be paired with heavy armor.


There are a wide variety of playstyles to choose from, and the choice pool of weapons itself is fairly vast. I advise heading to the dojo and whacking some weapons around for a while to see what sticks the best with how you want to play the game. Nothing beats personal experience, and the moveset variation between the stances is detrimental to playstyle.

While this guide is intended to be a good indication of what to expect, please do not consider it to be the end-all-be-all of weapon usage in Nioh 2. It is a fantastic starting point, but certain enemies will put all your skills to the test - most importantly how well you adapt to the challenge presented by the enemies. There is no guide to teach adaptability, but for everything else - we got you covered!

That's it for our guide on the best starting weapons in Nioh 2. Feel free to check out our other guides on our website!

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