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Nioh 2 Anima: Soul cores, Yokai Skills and Burst Counters explained

Nioh 2 Anima: Soul cores, Yokai Skills and Burst Counters explained
(Image credit: Sony)

Nioh 2 introduces a new system called Anima which allows you to perform Yokai Skills using soul cores, as well as the all-important Burst Counter. In this guide we’re going to cut through the jargon and explain how Anima works in Nioh 2, showing you how to build and replenish it, as well as teaching you how to perform the skills that use Anima in-game.

What is the Nioh 2 Anima system?

What is the Nioh 2 Anima system?

(Image credit: Sony)

You’ll notice the Nioh 2 Anima bar once you finish the tutorial. It’s the purple bar beneath both your health and your stamina in the top left of the screen. Anima itself is a resource that fuels certain abilities that you can use in battle. It’s well worth keeping an eye on it, especially since it allows you to perform powerful moves gained from the Soul Cores dropped by the Yokai you fight in Nioh 2.

How to get Anima in Nioh 2

You can fill your Anima bar in Nioh 2 by attacking enemies. It really is that simple. It seems to grow in battle, both when you’re getting hit and when you’re doing damage to a Yokai. This is so you can gain enough to use your special abilities and get the edge on your enemy. Anima can also be accumulated outside of battle by finding weapons and equipment with special effects that increase the rate by which you accumulate Anima and your overall Anima gauge. This can also be improved via the Titles screen, where you can commit your prestige points into skills like Anima recovery. Remember that you can also Temper your weapons and armour at the in-game blacksmith to add Anima-boosting abilities in exchange for the lacklustre base stats attached to the item.

Anima and Soul Cores

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In the early stages of Nioh 2, you'll fight your first Yokai, usually in the form of a giant monkey beast (known as an Enki) or a horse boss in the first area (Mezuki!) When you finally defeat these demonic entities, they will have a chance of dropping a Soul Core. A Soul Core contains an ability related to the enemy that you’ve just defeated, one that you can commit to your Guardian Spirit so you can use it in future battles. Each Yokai has its own Soul Core that fits into the three Guardian Spirit types: Feral, Brute and Phantom. You can use any Soul Core on any Guardian Spirit, but they will work better if they fit your personal choice. 

If you’ve got a set of Soul Cores that you’re not using, be sure to use the Resting Rites menu to break them down into fragments which improve certain skills and allow you to forge new items. Mortal Soul Cores allow you to upgrade other Soul Cores in the Soul Fusion menu, so keep an eye out for those too. 

How to use Anima to perform Yokai Skills

nioh 2 soul core

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Once purified at a shrine, you can attune a Soul Core to either R2 + Square or R2 + Triangle on your Guardian Spirit of choice. Finding which Soul Cores fit together will be a trial and error process due to the rigid attunement cost. It’s also worth bearing in mind the Anima Cost of your Soul Cores to see how much of the bar they will deplete whilst in use so you can manage them better. Keep in mind that the skills are very diverse, some could send you burrowing underground where others have you leaping in the air hurling a spear. Watch the handy movies attached to each core to get an idea of what they do before you use them in battle. Performing a Yokai Skill won’t make you invulnerable to damage either, so use them wisely and not right in front of an enemy before an unblockable move. 

How to use Anima to perform a Burst Counter

Nioh 2 burst

(Image credit: Sony)

The other key skill that is dictated by your Anima is the Burst Counter. This is a new feature for Nioh 2 that allows you to counteract an unblockable attack - indicated by a red flash - and stagger your enemy. It’s a lot like the Mikiri Counter in Sekiro if you’re familiar. Depending on the Guardian Spirit you picked at the start of the game, you will have a different kind of Burst Counter. Each counter is performed by pressing R2 + Circle, and it will drain a certain amount of Anima. The Feral Burst Counter is my personal favourite, which has you rushing towards an enemy to meet their attack and daze them. The Brute Burst Counter has you swing your gigantic bat at an enemy to stop them in their tracks, and the Phantom Burst Counter creates a shield around the player that negates an enemy attack. The timing for each is very different and tricky to master, but keep practising on small fry enemies and you should get it down soon enough!

How to replenish Anima in battle 

nioh 2 lantern fruit

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If you run out of Anima whilst fighting a Yokai you don’t have many options to replenish it, but the best way is to eat Lantern Plant Fruit. This fruit is dropped by enemies in Nioh 2 and will boost your Anima if you tie it to one of your shortcuts and crunch it during combat. This will allow you to perform more Yokai Skills, one of which may save you in the thick of battle. The other option is, as mentioned previously, to attack the enemy to regain your Anima.