I've been thoroughly enjoying my time with Nioh (stay tuned for the review for specifics). A big reason for that is the games many challenging yet rewarding boss battles. People who play these types of games always want to know which bosses people are finding the most difficult in their playthrough. Today, I would like to share my personal difficulty rankings.
Keep in mind that this is highly subjective. Some bosses lower on the list you may find impossible to beat, while some of my top choices you may laugh at. This is all very dependent on an individual's playstyle and skill (or lack thereof, in my case). MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD.
Without further ado, let's jump in and see who the easiest boss in Nioh is.
#24: Derrick the Executioner – Winner of Easiest Boss
It's no surprise that the tutorial boss comes in as Nioh's easiest. In his first phase, Derrick is basically just another run of the mill enemy that you've fought in the Tower of London already. Even after Kelley (the main antagonist) revives him and makes him look like a badass, he's still incredibly slow and easy to dodge and punish. If that wasn't enough, once you get him down to about 75% HP, you can activate your Living Weapon to trigger a cutscene that defeats him for you.
I know that Derrick is more of a tutorial and less of an actual boss fight but come on Team Ninja. From Software gave us the memorable Asylum Demon in Dark Souls. Why'd you have to make this guy a total pushover?
#23: Honda Tadakatsu
Gimmick fights in these types of games suck more often than not; a statement that the Honda Tadakatsu fight exemplifies perfectly. Admittedly, it has a cool premise. Kelley has set crystals all throughout this castle to control the minds of soldiers. One of these soldiers is Honda Tadakatsu. Sounds like you're in for an epic battle, right?
Well, you'd be wrong. All you have to do to defeat Honda is destroy three crystals that are in the boss room; one of which can be destroyed without even entering the room. You can fight Honda if you want to, but doing so would be an incredible waste of time. You do eventually get to face Honda one-on-one where you actually have to damage him, but he's pretty damn easy in that fight too. Come on Honda, get yourself together.
#22: Tachibana Muneshige
The first human warrior you face in Nioh is also one of the game's biggest pushovers. This is mostly due to the arena that you fight him in. There are two pillars that are just OP at blocking his stronger attacks; such as the powered up running slash he loves to do. Tachibana runs out of stamina quite often too, so make sure you capitalize on that to get some quick and easy punishments.
It should be said that you fight Tachibana again in a side mission a little later on. He is definitely 100x harder in that version (and better in my opinion) but that doesn't change the fact that in the main storyline he is just a small hurdle. It also doesn't help that the boss before him in the same level is much better designed and harder.
#21: Obsidian Samurai
Obsidian Samurai is pretty much one of those fights with a Revenant of a human player. He uses an ax for most of the fight, which makes him slow as molasses. It is so easy to punish his slow attacks at the beginning that he's almost a joke. He can attack with his bear guardian spirit which actually does some good damage, but it isn't too hard to avoid.
In this second phase, he actually pulls out a sword and gets pretty fast. He will occasionally switch back to the ax though for some easier punishes. An overall uninspiring fight to say the least.
To be honest, this boss is actually really well designed. Joro-Gumo has this massive weak spot, and that's the booty (like most ladies, am I right fellas? No? Okay…). What's great about this fight is that Joro will recognize that you found her weak spot and will use her extra legs to cover it up. That's a really neat mechanic, but it ultimately doesn't help her in the difficulty department.
Joro-Gumo really only has one way of being a threat to you. She will attempt to slow you down using her web spit, then try to overwhelm you with some quick successive jabs. This sounds like it's a good strategy, and it would be if the web wasn't extremely easy to dodge. Not to mention that she still takes decent damage if you attack her from the front or side, so her covering up her weak point doesn't really matter. She's a well-designed boss, but ultimately an easy one.
Anyone who's played the Nioh beta knows this boss all too well. I hope you like it too because you'll be fighting it many times in several of the game's side missions. He's actually a pretty decent challenge for new players, but people have already fought this dude to death since the beta, so there's really not much to say about him.
He attacks mainly using the balls and chains that are attached to him. The arena you fight him in is tiny, so it can be tricky to avoid his swings. Once he gets to half HP he breaks out of the chains. This phase is actually easier since he loses a lot of range and his attacks are pretty easy to dodge. Just keep the greed in check and he'll go down with ease.
As if Kelley wasn't already a lame villain, he provides a boss fight that's just as lame. You've fought so many warriors up to this point (especially in the ending half of the game) that anything Kelley does you've seen people do better, stronger, and faster. His difficulty does go up a little bit in his second phase, but it's never anything overwhelming. It just makes you wonder how THIS is the guy that stole your guardian spirit and made you fight all these yokai while also partaking in a war amongst the people of Japan.
Seriously, THIS GUY DID ALL THAT?!?!
This fight is actually pretty well set up. On your way to the second region, this strange looking yokai Umi-Bozu attacks your ship and makes things just overall more difficult for your journey. Luckily, his boss fight is manageable if you know what you're doing.
You can actually get to the fight very quickly in the level if you want, but you will be bombarded by mini versions of Umi-Bozu the whole time you try to fight. What you must do is light three torches found in the level to activate bonfires that will keep the little buggers away.
Umi-Bozu is also extremely weak to fire (even though he's made of water…?). You can use the bonfires that you lit to coat your weapon in fire, or just use a fire talisman. If you take these precautions Umi-Bozu should be relatively easy as long as you avoid his instakill laser move.
This is one of those bosses where it's a really good fight, but it just isn't super difficult. After facing the total laughing stock that is Honda Tadakatsu, we see that the ninja Okatsu has also fallen under Kelley's spell. The arena you fight in is small, which perfectly compliments Okatsu's speed and agility. The whole thing feels like a dance.
The problem is that Okatsu struggles to do any damage to you. Aside from one attack where she strikes from the air and can combo off of it, Okatsu really can't hurt you. While the fight isn't that difficult though it is undoubtedly one of my favorites. Sorry I had to hurt ya, Okatsu.
Gasha-Dokuro may look pretty intimidating, but he is a perfectly manageable encounter. He has a lot of moves that can one-shot you, but you also have a lot of power on your side. For starters, you get two helpers in the fight. There are also large rings of energy that'll charge up your Living Weapon in a flash. You don't have to use it the whole fight, but it certainly does make things easier. Either way, it's still a decent fight in my eyes, both in terms of quality and difficulty.
#14: Great Centipede
Ugh. This fight isn't bad perse, but it will grind your gears a bit. For starters, this centipede has those annoying poison rock creatures as a body. Once you do enough damage to them, they'll all scatter and try to set themselves up to overwhelm you with poison. With them off of it, the Centipede becomes faster and more aggressive.
The Centipede will charge at you for what seems like days and damage you should you even touch it. Besides that, though, the Centipede doesn't really have that many attacks that are difficult to manage. He has really good damage output though so just play careful and avoid getting poisoned at all costs.
This is definitely the most depressing boss in the whole game (as well as one of my favorites). She's also a decent challenge as well. You fight in a smallish arena, with complements her huge claws that come at you from across the whole area. This fight is more about being consistent. Her moves aren't that hard to dodge, but one mistake can cost you the whole fight. Another one of my personal favorites, but just misses the half-way mark in terms of her difficulty.
It may surprise you to see a boss that makes their appearance early in Nioh this high up the list, but Hino-Enma provides a decent challenge for the early game. Her best tool has to be her paralysis moves. She will generate a blast of paralyzing energy that, if hit, will leave you in a paralyzed state for what feels like weeks. Hino will also be able to use whatever move she wants afterward, so you could be in for an instant death.
The other noteworthy ability is a grab that will drain your health and restore hers. The grab is pretty quick so make sure to keep your distance if you're too close. Another good fight in both terms of quality and challenge. The real Nioh starts here.
Just missing out on the top ten we have Nue. This boss is easily the hardest early game challenge for new players. He has a very well-rounded arsenal of attacks: lightning that can strike you anywhere, a fast rolling attack that can chase you down, but also keeps you away from it by lightning strikes following Nue as he rolls, and even a snake tail that can poison you if you aren't careful.
Nue is a very well rounded boss, but he also doesn't excel at anything. The best strategy I found to take him out was to use a high stance and/or a heavy weapon (such as an ax) and strike only when you're truly safe. Be sure to learn Nue's tells and avoid some of its heavy hitting followups. The arena is big enough so you can run around for a bit to learn his patterns and moves, so take advantage of that.
#10: White Tiger
I never really gained much confidence against White Tiger. He's sort of like a much faster Nue. His tells are really difficult to pin down, and he doesn't give you the chance to slow things down to try and learn them. If you try to take on this boss from behind, he can use his tails to grab you and take away half your health. I honestly feel lucky to only get past this guy in 3 tries. But if I can pull off a win without fully knowing what I'm doing against a boss, then it must not be as hard as it looks.
That all being said, White Tiger is still a very challenging boss. If I had more trouble with him, I probably would have rated him higher, but I still feel he is top 10 most difficult material.
#9: Otani Yoshitsugu
Otani is a boss that can easily be trivialized if you want. By using the slow down talisman, Otani becomes extremely easy. If you don't use this tactic, you'll find Otani to be quite a challenge. He strikes fast and hits hard. His floating allows him to be quite swift as well. It can be difficult to find a good window to attack, but you'll get the timing down if you stick with it. Or you can take the easy way out and use the slow down talisman. I don't think many people would blame you for taking the easy way out on this one.
#8: Saika Magoichi
I'll admit it: Saika Magoichi is probably my most hated boss in Nioh. This dude just loves to spam his rifle shots and mess with the camera. The fight is very dependent on RNG. In a best case scenario, Saika will fly without attacking, or even jump into the fire that's in the arena for easy fire damage. Worst case scenario, he spams his teleporting flying move and messes with the camera so much that you'll get grabbed and thrown for half of your health without you realizing it.
Unlike a lot of bosses in Nioh, Saika is the only boss that I feel is difficult for the wrong reasons. His teleport completely screws the camera. If you are unable to fix it in time, you could get grabbed and wrecked. Other than that, the boss is still challenging. He has a great technique where after he blocks some of your attacks, he can read your dodge away and punish with a rifle shot. But god damn, that teleport needs to be patched ASAP Team Ninja.
#7: Giant Toad
Easily one of the best bosses in the game, Giant Toad provides a very challenging fight. You never really feel like you're safe when fighting him. He starts out simple enough using his spear to close the gap between you two by thrusting it towards you, doing a devastating three hit combo, and a jump attack. It's certainly not easy, but not too unmanageable. But then he enters his second phase.
Once Gian Toad enters his second phase, he gains the ability to use paralysis bombs, delayed bombs, and regular explosives. He also can use his pipe to lay down yokai corruption spots, and even use his tongue to grab you and promptly destroy you. His attacks are so varied that you truly feel like you're up against a master warrior. It'll take all your focus to come out victorious in this bout.
For a boss that you fight relatively early in the game, Yuki-Onna is a damn hard boss fight. She gives you so little down time that you have to heal at just the right time or get punished. Yuki has a plethora of distance attacks to keep the pressure on you. Her up-close game is a little lacking in terms of moves, but she is able to close the gap between you two rather quickly.
At 50% HP, she gains more distance moves and a charge attack. This charge attack is extremely quick, so be sure to keep an eye out for it, otherwise, you will feel the hurt. I'm honestly kind of surprised that a boss this difficult is so early into Nioh, but it's also one of it's finest.
#5: Ishida Mitsunari
Kelley should have just stuck to this form because it is much more effective than him pretending to be Tachibana or even just being himself. Ishida LOVES to grab you as he has 3 different types of grab attacks. They're not too hard to dodge, but if you mess up and get grabbed, go ahead and kiss at least half your HP goodbye.
Ishida is also really fast. He won't hesitate to approach you, so be aware of that when facing him. Don't be afraid to use your Living Weapon to finish him off quickly, because he too won't hesitate to finish you quickly when you're on low health. Come on Kelley, why couldn't you fight more like THIS form and less like…well, yourself?
#4: Hundred Eyes
This secret postgame boss is kind of a bitch to fight. At first, he seems pretty easy. All you have to do is stay in close and Hundred Eyes can't really touch you. At around 75% health he'll gain the ability to summon a bunch of eyes (get it cause his name is…nevermind). Hundred Eyes will stay down until you kill the eyes shooting beams at you. But then at around 50%, Hundred Eyes will be able to move around while the eyes shoot beams.
The difficulty of this fight is kind of dependent on RNG. Sometimes Hundred Eyes doesn't summon the eyes that much, and other times that simply all he does. This fight isn't bad, but it isn't necessarily good either. But there's no denying that Hundred Eyes is one of the most challenging bosses in the game.
#3: Oda Nobunaga
Oda is a bit deceptive with his difficulty. He's the only boss in the game that has free rein over every elemental attack. He hits decently hard and can punish you greatly if you mismanage you Ki or get overly greedy. He's really another one of those bosses where he does not excel in anything but is so well-rounded that he doesn't have a glaring weakness. The difference between him and the other well-rounded bosses is that he seems to be aware of this fact.
Oda is not afraid to use every tool in his arsenal. Bosses like Nue have this sense of "if I get good enough RNG, maybe he won't use that annoying attack a lot." Oda utilizes his tools so much better that it doesn't even feel like RNG plays a factor in his fight. I actually got past this boss in only 3 tries, but man I feel lucky about that.
The final boss of Nioh's main game is also one of the hardest. The fight starts out with just one serpent head. Its attacks are pretty damaging, but it isn't too bad to start. Then, after some time and damage, a second head joins the fray. Luckily their damage goes down, but it's still difficult to dodge both heads while still doing damage.
As if that isn't hard enough to deal with, get ready for its next phase: that being several MORE heads popping up! In order to beat them all, you have to get the serpent heads to destroy their corresponding crystal so you can damage them. Once only one head remains, the boss regains all of its health and gains a damage boost.
It's a long fight and more of a test of endurance than anything else. Yamata-No-Orochi's attacks don't take too long to learn how to dodge, making this more of a matter of limiting mistakes while still outputting a lot of damage in order to progress. No doubt this is a good contender for hardest boss in the game. But there was one boss that I found even more difficult.
#1: Shima Sakon – Winner of Hardest Boss
The winner of hardest boss in Nioh, at least for me, has got to be Shima Sakon. He might not have the endurance as Yamata-No-Orochi, but Sakon is one of the most deadly bosses if not the most deadly boss in the game. I think a good boss to compare him to is the Nameless King in Dark Souls 3. His attacks aren't too difficult to dodge once you get the timing, but one slip up can cost you your life.
His spear is great at coming in close or keeping his distance from you. The combos he employs last a long time as well. Unlike most other human bosses, Shima Sakon is pretty difficult to stagger. He seems to have a better sense of when to back off and let his stamina regenerate. The first phase is indeed hard, but it's not the worst. Then his living weapon comes into play.
Don't even try to be super offensive against Sakon when he's using his living weapon. His attacks do a ton more damage (as well as lightning damage) and he gains a super quick ground slam attack that he can swoop you up in if you aren't careful. Try your best to play defensive and only throw out an attack if you think you're safe (but most likely, you won't be).
So those are my difficulty rankings for every boss in Nioh. What bosses did you find particularly easy and/or difficult in your playthrough? Be sure to comment, because I would love to know how your experience differs from my own! Thanks for reading, and be sure to be careful when traversing these yokai infested lands.
Wanna know my full thoughts on Nioh? Click here to check out my in-depth review!