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11 things I wish I knew before playing Bayonetta 3

PlatinumGames latest Nintendo Switch blockbuster lands today – and we have some spoiler-free information that might help you play the game a bit better.

If you’ve been on this site over the past week, you’ll know I’ve been banging the drum for Bayonetta 3 pretty hard. Some story niggles aside (who plays this for the story!?), Bayonetta 3 is a nigh-perfect game. The action, the combat, the over-the-top humor – it all comes together to make a game that is right up there with Platinum’s best.

But it’s not the easiest title in the world to play. You’d think, releasing on a Nintendo console as an exclusive game, that maybe it’d be more family-friendly. Nah. As you’d expect from the studio behind Nier, Vanquish, and The Wonderful 101, Bayonetta 3 can be hard at times. To really excel at the game, you’ll need to master positioning in combat, your timing for dodges and parries, and develop a good nose for sniffing out secrets.

But, in case you want to go into the game primed and ready for whatever the crumbling multiverse of Bayonetta throws at you, I’ve assembled a quick list of tips I wish I’d known before starting the game that might help mitigate any frustration you feel and, instead, let you enjoy the game to its fullest as you live your wildest hair-powered, witch-centric fantasies.

Unlock Bat Within as soon as possible

This skill (one of the first you can unlock when you get access to the Skills page from the menu) is essential if you want to nab more Platinum medals than you’re likely already getting in combat scenarios.

It basically gives you one last chance to avoid damage if you tap the dodge button as soon as you’re hit – negating the effect of the attack and letting you step back from the danger area. As well as saving your ass against bosses that are liable to take off huge chunks of health in one hit, it can also get you Platinum rewards instead of just Gold; one hit is all it takes to lower your rank per encounter.

More Platinums means more rewards. Play smart, dodge often. As a bonus, it’ll also trigger Witch Time – meaning you’ll get more shots at a boss and lower your encounter time overall, too.

Use your Demon Slaves liberally

One of the main differences between Bayonetta 3 and its prequels is the ability to summon massive demons to fight on your behalf.

In the early stages of the game, you’ll only have a few. More come, very quickly, as you progress to the end of the title. Make sure to keep your finger hovering over that left trigger on your Switch; the more you use them, the more damage you can do and the quicker you can dispatch foes. Some enemies – mostly flying ones, or those with shields – more or less require you to summon Slaves to defeat.

Experiment with them, and get used to bringing them in at the end of combos when there’s less chance of them getting bodied by massive enemy attacks.

Don’t just stick to the default weapons

Similarly to the Demons, you’ll get access to more weapons as the game goes on. Whilst your default guns are more than capable of rinsing just about everything in the game, you’re well-advised to switch it up; some weapons have better range, or can stun-lock enemies more easily.

As you go on, you’ll get weapons that also act as shields, which make late-game encounters much easier. There are also challenges that revolve around the whip, say, and you don’t want to get stuck in there with a weapon you haven’t practiced with. Variety is the friend of progress, and you should change up your loadouts often.

The Witch will see you now.

Weapons aren’t just for attacking

Many of Bayonetta 3’s secrets are hidden in out of sight places, and you won’t always be able to get there with Madame Butterfly or Gomorrah.

Sometimes, you’ll need to switch to your spider (it can walk on lava), or your frog (it can withstand poison), or your eagle (it can fly great distances without losing height). If something looks like it can be interacted with, it probably can. Get used to switching between weapons to maximize your odds of finding secrets.

Don’t worry if you miss a Verse

Each level in Bayonetta 3 has between nine and 14 Verses (give or take), and chances are you’re not going to see all of them on your first playthrough.

I combed the game for a guide and still managed to miss about four or five overall (mostly challenges that were tucked away in some god-forsaken side path).

The game has plenty of replayability value, and zipping through a level looking for a Verse you missed is quite fun in and of itself – don’t worry too much if you miss one, there’s plenty of chance to go back (and you may even want to replay the game again when you finish it, anyway…)

Use R3 to lock on

Sounds simple, but this can save you some headaches. There’s a difference in Bayonetta 3 between targeting an enemy and locking-on.

Just wiggling the right stick between foes isn’t enough; you need to click that bad boy in to lock on. This will make Bayo’s attacks – and those of her demons – hone in on the selected enemy.

Given the Demon Slaves can often be quite tricky to control (and aim), this is going to be essential if you’re facing off against distant enemies or trying to complete certain challenges.

The camera can be tricky, so do all you can to make it work for you.

Beef up your new characters as soon as possible

There will be moments in the game where control switches from Bayonetta to Viola, and vice-versa. There will also be moments when your armory expands quite significantly in one go.

When these moments occur, boot up the menu immediately and see what new skills you can unlock – the game doesn’t do a lot to show off what’s available to you (and when), so you need to make a point of going and unlocking new skills.

While there isn’t anything quite as good as Bat Within listed at the head of this page, combo extenders, parries, and other handy tools can be unlocked quite often. If you’re playing the game as intended (exploring, fighting everything you can) currency should never really be a problem for this.

Crows, Frogs and Cats are listed in order

As you go through the levels, you’ll notice each zone has a Crow, a Frog, and a Cat that you can find and ‘collect’. Though they do nothing in and of themselves, these creatures all carry Umbran Tears of Blood – special items that unlock a new level when you collect all three per corresponding level.

You can see which ones you have yet to collect in a level, and they’re listed in order. If you get the Frog, say, but notice you’ve missed the Cat, it’s worth backtracking as much as you can and trying to find it. Alternatively, you can just use our Bayonetta 3 Umbran Tears of Blood location guide.

Don’t ignore Phenomenal Remnants

Once you’ve picked up the three Tears per level, you’ll unlock a bonus side stage called a Phenomenal Remnants. These will be ‘remixes’ of existing stages that offer a new task; battles against the clock, platforming trials, massive secret boss fights, or a collection of all three together.

Most will reward you with an upgrade to your health or magic, but some give even better rewards – one of the earliest Remnants gives you a brand new weapon and summon, for instance, where others give you accessories that’ll make late game encounters a bit easier. It’s worth doing all of them as they come, basically.

Make sure you use your masquerade liberally.

Be mindful of bosses that can insta-kill summons

Towards the latter half of the game, there will be a number of bosses that will attempt to simply kill any of your Demon Slaves with one hit.

I’m pretty certain some bosses auto-kill them as soon as you summon, in fact. To counter this, either practice your high-damage melee combos (that you can augment with demon damage by hitting ZL at the end), or only bring in the big boys when you activate Witch Time.

There’s a particular boss you’ll face a few times that loves ending your summons in one hit – but luckily it’s pretty easy to trigger Witch Time against. If you do lose a summon, fret not; they time back in eventually.

Use Witch Hearts as full health restores

There are some pretty tough bosses towards the end of the game that have about 8000 different forms. If you need health, and lots of it, you can use any Witch Hearts you’ve been sitting on to give you a full restore – and it doesn’t count as using an item for the end-of-level scoring. Swoosh! You don’t need to use these as soon as you get them, and if you’re unearthing all the secrets, there are plenty to be found throughout the levels, too.

Dodging and knowing when to summon will get you far.

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Bayonetta 3

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About the Author
Dom Peppiatt avatar

Dom Peppiatt


Dom is a veteran video games critic with 11 years' experience in the games industry. A published author and consultant that has written for NME, Red Bull, Samsung, Xsolla, Daily Star, GamesRadar, Tech Radar, and many more. They also have a column about games and music at The Guardian.