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Nioh 2: Yokai Shift - How does it work?

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Yokai Shift in Nioh 2 allows you to become possessed by your Guardian Spirit to increase your attack power and defensive capabilities with special moves. In this guide we will explain how to activate it, as well as the benefits it provides.

As a Shiftling, part human, part Yokai, you have the Yokai Shift ability in Nioh 2. It’s something you’ll activate when you fill up your Anima gauge, and it transforms you into a fiery brute, a swift feral, or an elusive phantom. Of course, it’s not just a visual upgrade, but a powerful one too, which may give you the tools and the damage to finish off your opponent for good.

Below we’ll break down everything you need to know about Yokai Shift.

Nioh 2: Yokai Shift explained

We’ve separated all the key elements of Yokai Shift into lovely little sections just below. First, we’ll start with what exactly it is, then move onto how you can use it to your advantage.

What is Yokai Shift?

It’s a mechanic which means you’ll become temporarily possessed by your Guardian Spirit. In this form you can perform powerful new attacks and abilities.

How do I activate Yokai Shift?

To activate Yokai Shift, you need to fill up your Amrita Gauge first. This is your Guardian Spirit icon towards the top left of the screen. To do so, you need to have your Guardian Spirit by your side. If you need to collect them from a grave, you cannot fill up the gauge. Next, it’s simply a case of defeating enemies, looting chests, or cracking Spirit Stones to earn Amrita.

Once it’s full, press [Triangle + Circle] to activate it.

Upon activation, your Amrita gauge will deplete and there will be a short animation. Your health bar will be replaced by a unique one which indicates how long you have left in Yokai form. It will tick down naturally, and will also deplete if you take damage. When it completely runs dry, you will transform back into human form.

What special abilities do I have in Yokai Shift?

During Yokai Shift, you can press [Triangle + Circle] to unleash a powerful Guardian Spirit Skill. However, it will consume your Yokai Shift gauge, so bear this in mind before using it.

If an enemy is downed while you are in Yokai Shift form, you can press [Triangle] on them to perform an extra powerful grapple move.

What types of Yokai can I transform into?

There are three types of Yokai you can transform into: Brute, Feral, and Phantom.


  • In Brute form you can’t be staggered by enemy attacks.
  • Performing a Burst Counter covers a short radius in front of you and has a very slight wind up time.
  • Fang Break allows you to repel enemy attacks for a heavy stagger effect. Press [L1 + Triangle] to successfully parry/Fang Break.


  • In Feral form you can dodge while performing Quick Attacks.
  • Performing a Burst Counter will dash you a short distance in the direction you’re moving. Time it right and you’ll heavily stagger your opponent.


  • In Phantom Form you can’t be staggered by enemy attacks.
  • Performing a Burst Counter in this form locks you in place and has zero wind up time. It’s instant, so time it just as the enemy is about to connect with you.
  • You have two Blood Moon abilities, Yin and Yang. Yin (Hold L2 to aim, then press R2 to release) allows you to launch your weapon at an enemy. If it lands, you will be teleported to your enemy’s side. Yang also you to throw your weapon by tapping the command for the opposing attack while performing a Quick or Strong attack.

What is a Burst Counter?

This is a powerful parry ability which is activated by pressing [R2 + Circle]. It requires 1 Anima to activate, and varies depending on which Guardian Spirit you have equipped.

Enemies will occasionally perform a Burst move and this is highlighted by the flash of red as they prepare to swing. If you time your Burst Counter just right, you will parry them for significant Ki damage and have a large window to attack unhindered.

More essential Nioh 2 guides:

That's it for our Yokai Shift guide, but do make sure you have a glance at our Soul Core page for an in-depth overview on how to Attune Soul Cores to your Guardian Spirits for bonuses stats and special moves.

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