Yokai Shift is a mechanic in Nioh 2 that allows players to become possessed by their Guardian Spirits and enact powerful attacks and special moves. Additionally, players can attune their Guardian Spirits with Soul Cores, and these grant Yokai Skills that may be used without a transformation, and consume Anima.


Burst Counter

A Burst Counter is a special move that allows players to perform a quick action that negates or dodges an enemy's dangerous attack. Press R2+O to consume 1 of Anima and unleash a Burst Counter that varies based of the Guardian Spirit currently in use.

Burst counters can be used even if you are currently doing an attack, not only allowing you to protect yourself but also shortening your recovery.. Each burst counter has uses outside of countering burst attacks, and there are trade offs between using each one.

  • The Brute Burst Counter transforms you into a yokai temporarily and then unleashes a powerful attack. If you manage to interrupt the enemy's Bust Attack with this move, a large amount of Ki damage will be inflicted.
    • This is the slowest burst counter to use, running the risk of trading hits with whatever you are trying to counter hit, and being extremely risky against anything that grapples you. In exchange, there are certain attacks that can only be countered by this burst counter. The attack itself naturally doesn't stagger if hit during the attack.
  • The Phantom Burst Counter transforms you into a yokai temporarily, and then readies a weapon to guard against the incoming attack. Guarding at just the right moment to block an enemy's Burst Attack will stagger the enemy and inflict a substantial amount of Ki damage.
    • This is the most intuitive to use with the fastest recovery time for whiffing, only requiring you to be at the right place and timing the block correctly, It's comparable in function to the feral burst counter against burst attacks, except this is more spacing dependent and less punishing if you do it to early, as you will block the attack, even against certain grapple burst attacks, and the recovery time is faster than your other options. In exchange the recovery on hit is the worst of the three, meaning you lose or have worse opportunities for free damage after the burst counter if you don't have more Anima to spare for yokai abilities. Offensively, this is the best Burst Counter to use to remove recovery from attacks, allowing you more combo opportunities that you wouldn't have otherwise.
  • The Feral Burst Counter transforms you into a yokai temporarily, followed by a rapid dash movement that leaves an after image in your wake. If you dashed forward and an enemy's Burst Attack comes in contact with your after image, that enemy will be dealt a substantial amount of Ki damage.
    • This Burst Counter requires you to aim it at enemies in addition to timing the counter properly. It's situationally more lenient than other burst counters, especially for attacks that advance from afar, and spacing is less important, but up close you can occasionally miss. It has the worst recovery on whiff than the other Burst Counters, mainly because it also functions as a proper invincible dodge. Because of this it has the best defensive applications, allowing to cancel any attack or even your normal dodges into a longer distance dodge that costs Anima instead of Ki, while also changing directions.

 Non-Boss Yokai enemies who had their temporary Ki drained by a burst counter, or who are Burst Countered while it is gone, will be automatically put into a grapple state, even if they still have permanent Ki remaining.

How to activate Yokai Shift

Activate Yokai Shift by pressing + (BY on Xbox/Steam controller) when the Amrita Gauge is full. Activating Yokai Shift will replace your Life Gauge and Ki Gauge with the Yokai Shift Gauge. While in Yokai Shift, any damage you receive will not affect your health or Ki, depleting your Yokai Shift Gauge instead. The Yokai Shift Gauge will also deplete with time, transforming you back into human form when it is fully depleted.

Unlike the first game, you gain little Amrita Gauge by killing enemies. Instead, the most efficient ways of filling the Amrita Gauge involve using Yokai Abilities, as they fill large amounts of the Amrita Gauge upon absorption. You can also use spirit stones to manually fill the gauge, based on the amount of Amrita earned within each "tier" of spirit stone type. The smallest stone tier (for example, Small Spirit Stone) gives 13% Amrita Gauge, the middle tier (Spirit Stone) gives 33%, and the highest tier (Large Spirit Stone) gives 66%.

While Yokai Shift is active, your melee attack power will be increased and touching the Yokai Realm will automatically disperse it. Holding R1+R2 will absorb Amrita into your body charging the Yokai Shift Gauge. Alternatively,  △/Y will charge up your attack manually, while also absorbing any amrita nearby to charge it faster, increasing the amrita gauge and temporarily strengthening your weapon, while also doing a more powerful attack. While your weapon is powered up, it will release amrita with every melee attack.

Yokai Shift is the obscure art of channeling your Guardian Spirit's power in order to unleash your own, temporarily transforming you into a full-blooded yokai. master this art to enhance your performance in battle, fleeting though its effects may be.


Yokai Shift 2

During Yokai Shift, you can consume your Yokai Shift Gauge to unleash a powerful skill unique to your Guardian Spirit.

You can also end Yokai Shift by sheathing your weapon before the Yokai Shift Gauge is fully depleted. Doing this transfers the remains of the Yokai Shift Gauge to your Amrita Gauge.

The bond with your Guardian Spirit is strengthened while your body bears the form of a yokai. Finding your focus shall make the true power of this sacred bond manifest. Yet do not forget: the tide of battle is wont to turn, and one's window to retreat is best discerned.


Yokai Shift 3

Guardian Spirit Skill: + (BY on Xbox/Steam controller) while in Yokai Shift. Consumes your Yokai Shift Gauge to unleash a powerful Guardian Spirit Skill. The type will vary depending on your Guardian Spirit.


Yokai Shift 4

Yokai Shift Grapple: While in Yokai Shift, press (Y on Xbox/Steam controller) next to a human who is out of Ki or a downed yokai. While in Yokai Shift, your grapples will be stronger than usual.

You can also do a Yokai Shift Grapple by activating Yokai Shift while next to an enemy that can be grappled. Doing so greatly increases your Anima while in Yokai Shift.

You also do a Yokai Shift Grapple when you grapple an enemy immediately after they had their Ki drained by a Burst Counter.


Yokai Shift Modes

Yokai Shift: Brute


In Brute form, you cannot be staggered by enemy attacks.

A Brute you may be, but savage you are not. Your inhuman strength is only made greater by the techniques you master with your human mind.

Fang Break allows you to repel enemy attacks. Repelling an attack will inflict a heavy staggering effect on a human enemy. Yokai enemies will both be staggered and forced to release some of their Amrita.

  • Fang Break: While in Brute Form, press L1 + (Y on Xbox/Steam controller) with the right timing when an enemy attacks.
    • Pressing △/Y after a successful parry will follow up with a quick, high damage attack. Between these two attacks it gains a large amount of Anima for your soul cores.


Yokai Shift: Feral

ame-no-mitori-guardian-spirit-nioh-2-wiki-guideIn Feral form, you can dodge while performing Quick Attacks.

Executing a Quick Attack again during a dodge allows you to proceed to the next step of this attack combo.

Additionally, dodging an enemy's attack immediately before it makes contact will produce Amrita.

  • Shadowstep: Dodge (X) while performing a Quick Attack (Square).
  • Shadowstab: Execute a Quick Attack (Square) while performing Shadowstep.


Yokai Shift: Phantom

kagewani-guardian-spirit-nioh-2-wiki-guideIn Phantom Form, you cannot be staggered by enemy attacks

Blood Moon - Yin allows you to launch your weapon at an enemy. If your weapon finds its mark, you will instantly be teleported to your enemy's side.

Blood Moon - Yang also allows you to throw your weapon by tapping the command for the opposing attack while performing a Quick or Strong attack.

  • Blood Moon - Yin: Hold L2 to aim and press R2
  • Blood Moon - Yang: While performing a Quick Attack (Square) or Strong Attack (Triangle), quickly execute the opposing attack.


 Using Yokai Shift Effectively

It's important to understand that melee damage is not the point or the strongest feature of Yokai Shift, and shouldn't be the focus for the mechanic (at least until the end of the last DLC). Your melee attacks are not necessarily stronger unless you charge your strong attack, and that is only temporary and takes too much time unless amrita is already available to be absorbed. Your melee options are also more limited while in Yokai Shift, it ignores any special effect that activates based on you being at critical health, and taking a hit significantly reduces the amount of time left remaining in Yokai Shift, making melee very risky anyway. The main benefit for melee attacks during Yokai Shift is the Increased Ki damage you deal with them.

Instead, the best feature is the changes of how Anima works. Using a Burst Counter no longer costs anything to use, and instead of all your Yokai Abilities pulling from the same Anima pool, each individual soul core has it's own pool of Anima, meaning you can use up to three times the amount of Yokai Abilities. You can use this to your advantage by either using soul cores that stagger the enemy in order to stun-lock them without giving them a chance to retaliate (ie. One-legged Fury, Fiendish Frenzy, and Brutal Charge), or individually powerful Yokai Abilities for a large amount of burst damage (such as Impaling Doom).

When you gain access to two Guardian Spirits, you can switch between their respective forms by pressing L2+R2 during Yokai Shift. This costs you some your time, but you are completely invincible during the transformation, and nearby enemies will be staggered. Doing this while an enemy is in a Grapple state will also grapple them with the new form.

Gaining Anima

Gaining Anima during Yokai Shift is even more important than normal, as that is where the power of the form lies.

  • Try to enter Yokai Shift by grappling an enemy, it will give you are large head start on Anima, and potentially immediately allow cheaper Yokai Abilities to be used.
  • The main purpose of melee in Yokai Shift is to fill your Anima.
    • For Phantom, the melee attacks have such good range you can safely attack from a distance to fill Anima at low risk. The strong attack also counts as a ranged weapon, activating the Anima Bonus (Ranged Hit) effect all Phantom Spirits have.
    • For Feral, you should play in a hit and run style as you can cancel attacks at any point into a dodge, and even cancel that dodge with the feral burst counter. Dodging just as an attack would hit you releases Amrita, allowing you to absorb it to immediately counter attack with a charged attack, briefly stunning the enemy and allowing some more attacks before backing away again.
    • For Brute, Fang Break has the widest amount of parryable attacks in the game. It essentially works against anything that isn't a projectile, terrain effect, grapple or shockwave, and successfully doing it will give you a large amount of Anima while also giving you an opportunity to attack even more.
  • Pay attention to each Guardian Spirit, as there may be alternate ways of gaining Anima based on their effects - for example, Rokugezu gives you a large amount of Anima when you block an attack just as it would hit you. Similarly, consider equipping Soul Cores with easy to activate effects that give you more Anima.
  • Using a Yokai Ability that lasts a long time before entering Yokai Shift will allow you to start Yokai shift with a large amount of Amrita waiting to be used for a Charge Attack.

Extending Yokai Shift

Besides the Extended Yokai Shift effect, you can manually extend the time you have by doing certain actions. However, there is a limit to how much gauge you can refill during a Yokai Shift.

  • Absorbing amrita, as shown above, by either using a Charged Attack or holing the R1+R2, though eventually Amrita will be absorbed regardless of what you do.
  • Doing a Grapple while in Yokai Shift.
  • Hitting with a fully Charged Strong attack.
  • Activating Yokai Shift while at 30% health or lower significantly increase the amount of Time you can stay in it.


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    • Anonymous

      ive noticed something about phantom that isnt mentioned here, as long as you are hitting an enemy or boss with ranged attacks, like shurikens or kunai, your yokai shift will never end and since you cant be staggered you can keep going until you have no more kunai left, even if the gauge hits 0 the yokai shift will not end regardless of how many hits you take.

      • Anonymous

        What keyboard buttons is it to suck in Amrita while in Yokai Shift? Game supports keyboard+mouse but wiki (any website really) never explains what buttons those two are. What is R1 and R2 in actual in-game functions? Like "dodge+run" or "parry+hard hit" etc. That would make me understand what buttons to press on the keyboard. Cheers.

        • Anonymous

          I tried getting into Nioh 2 a while back. No matter what I did something felt off and I quickly lost interest. The story is much less interesting to me then the first, and I know the game is more about the mechanics, but I wasn't meshing with those either, and without a semi-engaging story I didn't have a reason to press on. But I think I get it now. I was trying to play the game like Nioh 1, but the Yokai shift is so much different then LW, and the focus is on anima. I treated anima like it needed to be conserved for burst counters, so I rarely used yokai abilities. Even when I did it was more to throw out a big attack that burned a lot of anima. I was unaware of a lot of these abilities, like the ability usage in yokai shift. I think I'm ready to give this game another shot. Wish me luck!

          • Anonymous

            I understand that LW was very powerful mechanic in Nioh 1 and some player found it to be little too good, but Nioh 2 replacement just sucks. For one, Burst counter just feels like a parry. Whats worse about Yokai Shift is there is very little variety in using it. In nioh 1, there were a ton of guardian spirits to choose from with all different elements whose status effect could customize your preferred play style. Perhaps the most damaging part of Yokai Shift is how little skill it takes to use. LW weapon rewarded user for dodging consecutive hits in order to keep living weapon up for as long as possible and the mechanic could easily be lost/misused by taking hits in higher difficulties. Yokai shift just spams Yokai abilities that outright suck or completely murder your opponent with very little skill input. Not a huge fan on mechanic change and I doubt anyone would make a build revolving this mechanic.

            • It's possible to perfom a yokai grapple without using a yokai shift if you drain the ki of an enemy with a burst counter and quickly press the grapple button. It's much easier to do this on non-boss yokais when they are low/out of ki.

              • Anonymous

                Two large spirit stonea seem to be more than enough to fully charge an amirita gauge. It doesn't seem like you can carry over a full amirita gauge from mission to mission anymore though.

                • Anonymous

                  When in yokai shift you dont get amrita instantly. It gathers in the air and you collect it very slowly. To collect faster you need to hold R1 and R2. This collects the amrita faster so do this between comboes to extend your shift

                  • Anonymous

                    Using yokai abilities as soon as I earn them is what fills the amrita gauge faster. Of course u have to hit what ur aiming at but it fills a significant amount

                    • Anonymous

                      Whilst the actual power of Yokai Shift is weaker it seems you have infinite anima whilst within it *hitting an enemy in 1-2 strings will usually unlock all abilities* This form seems pretty strong for simply using yokai abilities. Using it well just means you have to play as if you don't have the form on and avoid blows (Still much weaker then LW. But that was busted)

                      • Anonymous

                        Anyone else finding the amrita gauge fills REALLY slowly? Even with two combs equipped and pleiades+extraction it barely fills. Does it require a flat amount of amrita? Seems like that would really favor late-game

                        • Anonymous

                          Can't fill the YOUKAI gauge. Played the fist mission killing everyone (except the big youkais) without dying but that gaube is still not full. Is this a bug?

                          • Anonymous

                            Too bad there are only 3 forms , i was kinda hoping that there would be a Yokai form for every elemental type.

                            • Anonymous

                              Is the teleport for Phantom form actually a teleport now? I remember from the alpha it was just a crappy dash not a true instant teleport.

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