7 Things I wish I knew before playing Ni No Kuni 2

Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom is a traditional JRPG with all the style of a Studio Ghibli movie. It's gorgeous, funny, and oh so naive. But beneath that bright and warm exterior are some seriously ambitious systems. Not only can you build your own kingdom, choosing what shops to build and what upgrades to research, but you'll also command a small army in battle to defend it. While Ni No Kuni 2 is sometimes too easy, it can also be daunting and complex.

That's why Austin and I have rounded up some things we wish we knew before we sunk dozens of hours into it. Once you've played through the prologue and are ready to unite the world under your banner, here are the best ways to get your kingdom off to a good start.

Here are the best settings on the Tactics Tweaker… 

As I already said, Ni No Kuni 2 is often too easy. Combat is still flashy and fun, but you'll breeze through a good chunk of the battles without ever breaking a sweat (or cracking open your inventory of healing items). That said, Ni No Kuni 2's Tactics Tweaker, a menu of dials where you can spend Battle Points earned by leveling up to unlock various passive buffs, is still worth investing in. Not only can you increase basic stats like how much damage you do to certain enemies or your resistance to certain elements, the Tactics Tweaker also lets you prioritize what kind of loot baddies drop.

The Spoils Settings and Arts of War are where you should spend your early Battle Points. For Arts of War, each of the dials is useful but consider upping Brutality and Untouchability first. Then move on to buffing Durability or Dynamism next. These will respectively buff your heavy attack damage, dodge frames, block reduction, and MP regen.

Under the Spoils Settings, go for Finds vs. Finery, which ups the drop rate of crafting materials and wearable equipment, or Cash vs. Kit, which increases the amount of money enemies drop as well as gear. Don't bother upping your experience points—you really won't need to worry about staying leveled up too much.

The Tactics Tweaker's most useful settings are on the bottom half.

Take the time to explore and gather twinkly resources 

Early on, Ni No Kuni 2 opens up and lets you wander the world map. These areas are vast and home to all sorts of hidden chests and twinkling resource gathering points. Taking the time to find them is absolutely worth it. Early on, the resources you gather will seem useless, but hold onto them until you start building Evermore, your kingdom. Special citizens will often want obscure resources as payment for joining your faction, and you'll need a good number of crafting and building resources to boot. If you take the time to do this now, you'll save yourself the headache of having to run out to fetch a specific resource later.

Build a Spellworks so you can unlock blue chests 

Almost immediately after accessing the overworld, you'll probably stumble upon a blue chest that is locked with no immediate clues as to why. These chests have some great rewards, but you'll need to build a special facility before you can access them.

There's no right answer about what to build first (we'll cover that in more detail in a second), but if you want that blue chest loot one thing you shouldn't neglect is the spellworks. As we've already covered in another more detailed guide, when upgraded to level three the spellworks offers the 'spring lock' spell that can instantly pop open all the blue chests hidden around the map. Even if you don't care about the blue chests, the spellworks is also where you upgrade your skills, so you're going to need it. Apart from the spring lock spell, you can also use your spellworks to learn spells that let you talk to animals and spirits, most of whom have interesting and helpful things to say. 

Always upgrade your coffers when you can 

Building and upgrading Evermore costs kingsguilders, a special currency that you periodically earn from your citizens. Of all the resources you'll need, kingsguilders is the one you'll always have in short supply. So, why not upgrade your coffers so you can have more?

Tab over to your castle itself and you can upgrade Evermore as a whole, increasing the amount of space to build. From the same menu, you can also upgrade your coffers, increasing the amount of kingsguilders you can hold before redeeming them and adding them to your wallet. There's no limit to your wallet, but you have to empty your coffers every so often to avoid maxing out and wasting the kingsguilders your citizens generate. A good rule of thumb is to keep track of your kingsguilders per hour (the game tells you this, put those calculators away) and make sure your coffers can hold at least an hour's worth.

While it might be tempting to spend all your kingsguilders getting your shops maxed out early on, investing it in expanding Evermore will pay off down the road—especially if you don't mind gaming the system a bit. See, the rate at which you earn kingsguilders happens in real time, but if your coffers are full you'll be wasting tons of potential money. If you leave the game running (it can't be minimized), you can earn kingsguilders and periodically stop by to collect and spend it. That way, when you are playing you can spend your time on adventuring and not worrying about cashflow.

Don't neglect your Skirmish army 

About eight hours into Ni No Kuni 2, you'll experience your first Skirmish. This weird little game mode plays out like a real-time strategy battle, with Evan commanding a small force of soldiers against an enemy army. It's a bit silly, and I wouldn't blame you for wanting to skip the optional battles in favor of adventuring—but that would be a big mistake.

Like your party, your army becomes more powerful with experience and as you recruit more units from the barracks in Evermore. Down the road, you'll eventually come up against some mandatory Skirmishes, and if you neglected to upgrade your army you'll be in for a frustrating time. Instead, knock out a few of the optional Skirmishes on the overworld now and again, and be sure to build a barracks to tend to your army. It might seem like a needless distraction, but you'll be grateful when you have a veteran fighting force at your back later in the story, to say nothing of a few optional Skirmishes which provide big boosts to your kingdom.

Focus on building one of everything first  

Managing Evermore can be overwhelming at first. Even when you're just starting off, your kingdom is filled with buildings to plop down and bonuses to research. Luckily the simplest plan of action is also the best one: build one of everything. Start with utilities like the armor shop, weapon shop, spellworks, general store, hubble-bubblery and Higgledy workshop. You're going to use all of these countless times, so it's best to get them early.

From there, set up gathering points to get some items flowing for crafting and upgrading gear, strengthening Higgledies, and completing fetch quests the easy way. There are a few types of gathering points available: mining nodes, lumber yards, hunting lodges, fisheries and bazaars. Build the level-one versions of each before building multiple mining nodes or fisheries or what-have-you, that way you'll accumulate a good variety of resources. Everything is useful, so get a little of everything to start, then double down based on what you need immediately. 

Building different gathering points will also let you make efficient use of citizens who excel at gathering certain things, and building multiple points gives you enough gathering slots to assign citizens who aren't actively researching something. Apart from uniquely suitable citizens, everyone is just as effective at gathering, so feel free to mix and match. Gathering items is also a great way to level up your citizens, improving their stats and special abilities, so never let anyone idle.

Tainted monsters drop incredibly powerful gear 

You'll encounter exceptionally difficult monsters called 'tainted' monsters in your travels. These are technically just big, angry versions of normal monsters, but they feel like mini-bosses and have loot to match. Do not ignore these guys. Each tainted monster is a guaranteed loot drop, and you earn bonus gear at certain killcount milestones. This gear is good. Like, stupid good. I got a chest plate at level 20 that I didn't take off until level 50. Nothing else I found even came close. That's an extreme example, but the point is tainted gear is strong and worth chasing. 

Most tainted monsters are found on the world map, but there are a few hidden in dungeons. Thankfully all the tainted monsters you've encountered and their drops are recorded in the library available from your main menu, which makes it easy to revisit monsters that may have kicked your ass the first time you fought them. That happens a lot, by the way. Especially with slimes. Screw tainted slimes. If you're having trouble, upgrade your tactic tweaker and pool your points to exploit their monster type and resist the elements they use.