What you’ve played up to now in Nioh 2 has been the warm up. From Azai Nagamasa onwards, the mechanical complexity of bosses really starts to click into gear. Steel yourself and press onwards, here’s how to take him down.
Like Saito Yoshitatsu, this fight incorporates elements of Yokai and human enemies and is a good lesson in what’s to come.
Azai Nagamasa tests your twitch reflexes, your ability to recognise attack patterns, and how you deal with tough situations where you need to defend against multiple things at once.
Once you suss it out though, like Yoshitatsu, this fight is eminently exploitable - unlike Saika Magoichi to come.
Nioh 2 - How to beat Azai Nagamasa
At the top of the tower, Azai Nagamasa waits - sword in hand. Below is an embedded video of a successful fight from my first blind run of Nioh 2. It shows the general strategy, but isn’t 100% perfect because I was still testing different ideas and the limits of his combos.
In the real world, Azai Nagamasa fights very defensively. With his wing shielding his body, he blocks damage from ranged abilities and is difficult to land a staggering hit on - similar to Yokai enemies throughout Nioh 2. You can use Onmyo Magic skills like Sloth Talismans on him while he’s doing this though.
He’s open to retaliation when his wing is retracted though, more like a human enemy. If you can land an unblocked series of hits with a shrapnel bomb or similar Ninjutsu tool, Azai is prone to burning, but pulling off a status is fickle.
There are a few main, basic melee combos to watch out for: where he rushes into the air and slams down on top of you, where he spins in a two-hit combo similar to a Karasu Tengu, and many variations of one, two, and three-hit combos he can mix up.
For the air slam, you need to dodge roll or step out of the way as quickly as possible. However, the pause when he’s knelt with his sword in the ground is one of the safest to punish openings in the fight.
When you dodge back, you need to be ready to dash back in to land a hit or two before he resets.
Do not attack wildly into his guard though. He’ll just parry your melee hits and retaliate with an overhead slash. If you do get parried, mash dodge roll backwards to leap to safety - it’s possible.
For the bulk of his ground melee combos, you need to dodge sideways, or diagonally towards him. This way you’re set up to return fire as he rests. As mentioned before, don’t get greedy and hit into his guard or he’ll parry you easily.
The ground melee combos you need to look for are:
- A black-and-white unblockable attack at the end of a short-range melee combo. Dodge backwards and to the left to stay out of range.
- A single spinning slash. Azai Nagamasa doesn’t really stagger from your attacks so will likely pull this out if you try to just stand and wail on him. Again, keep on the edge of its range by stepping backwards.
- A single upward slash. Treat this similarly to the single spin.
- A combo of the spin and the upward slash. Because of the extended range here, a dodge roll is more suited than a dash step backwards.
- Finally, there’s a three-hit fencing-style combo which comes out when he runs his hand along his sword. The forward range of this is much longer than the other basic combos, so definitely evade it with more sideways motion.
Outside of these attacks, he can lean back and throw a shockwave like a Karasu Tengu - block this with your primary weapon.
When his Guardian Spirit creates water puddles you need to get well clear of the affected area to dodge. This is usually followed by an aerial slam, so keep on your toes.
As for Burst Counters, there are three main ones to acquaint yourself with.
The first is a standard lunging attack which is pretty straightforward to deal with. Here, he leans back on one side and rushes about half the length of the arena. Meet this head on.
While in the Yokai Realm, he uses another Burst Counter where he stamps on the floor then glides forward. You’re looking to Burst Counter the stab after the glide, so don’t go too early or wait too long. As always in the Yokai Realm, be particularly dilligent with your Ki Pulses to make sure you have enough stamina to counter.
Finally, the last Burst Counter is hard-as-nails to deal with. First he summons a load of electric Raijin feathers to fire at your, before swooping down through them with a Burst Counter.
The best way I’ve worked out to stay with this move is to dash underneath the feathers so you only need to block one with your primary weapon. Then you’re in the best spot possible to interrupt his Burst Counter as he swoops down.
The trick to this fight is to be patient and chip on the safe combos. Keep up with the pressure of his attacks and roll into and underneath the yokai feathers before Burst Countering his dive.
When he’s in the Yokai Realm, his wing guard is down, so this is when you use your Ninja tools and Yokai Abilities to steal extra chip damage.
As his health bar wains, spam down the final nub with your own Yokai Shift for an easy finish.
Beating this fight unlocks the goose Guardian Spirit, along with some interesting items.