Team Ninja’s Nioh 2 came out a few days ago and since the first part was a very challenging action RPG, I was curious about the sequel. I immediately started playing the first part again to relive the storyline and better understand Nioh 2.
Nioh was challenging with tough battles against the normal enemies, complicated battles against the Yokai and the almost impossible battles against bosses. With enough weapons, magic and ninja skills, you can get a long way. Does Nioh 2 offer a similar challenge or has the game lost its edge? Here is my Nioh 2 review on PlayStation 4!
BACK TO JAPAN
Nioh 2 is again set in Japan. Oda Nobunaga is about to unite the clans in the country and Toyomi Hideyoshi, one of Nobunaga’s staunchest allies, assists him in this venture with his cunning and strength. The missions take you all over Japan with its interesting history and different landscapes. Unlike the first part, Team Ninja’s Nioh 2 does not have a specific character, but it is possible to create your own character.
This character creator gives you enough options to customize almost every detail and make your character your own. As a silent protagonist, you are not very sympathetic, but you are also not unsympathetic, rather meaningless. Your travel companion, the trader Tokichiro, tries to make covenants and searches for spirit stones to sell them to the military. He encounters the protagonist in his Yokai form and calms him down.
In my Nioh 2 review for PlayStation 4, I noticed that the story is interesting and gives some insight into Japanese history, but it is certainly not the most important. The game really revolves around the challenge of fighting enemies, Yokai, and bosses. These battles in the main missions and side missions take a lot of thinking, and it is not a simple hack and slash game. You must study your enemies and look for an opening to defeat them.
THE FAMILIAR ELEMENTS
Just like in the first part, you have several weapons with which you can attack the demons. In this Nioh 2 for PlayStation 4 section you can choose from nine different weapons. This gives you access to the familiar Katana, dual swords, kusarigama, spear and ax, but they expand this with the switchglaive, twin hatchets, odachi and tonfa. As before, you can again choose between a high, medium or low position, which you can always switch.
The high attacks are extra powerful, your defense is strongest in the medium position, and you are fastest with the low position. It is wise to try out which weapons work best against certain enemies and which one you prefer. Keep in mind that by defeating enemies you unlock the skill points for that weapon. Maybe it is wise not to switch too much once you have found your favorite to unlock some techniques that will help you with your supernatural task.
Once you become more familiar with the enemies, you can try out the other weapons. However, when you encounter an enemy that you cannot defeat, it is wise to switch positions, try a different weapon or invest in Onmyo magic or ninja skills. The enemies drop a lot of loot so it is useful to regularly check whether you have better equipment or weapons in your inventory. This may take some time, but it is often more effective.
Keep in mind about the weight of your equipment, because if you are overweight, your stamina will run out in no time, you will not be able to move, and you are in a riskier position to die. Sometimes it is tempting to choose a thick armor, but your stamina is more important, otherwise you will be too slow and become a prey. In my Nioh 2 review for PlayStation 4, I noticed that you can also use ninja skills and Onmyo magic again.
CUSTOMIZATION GOES DEEPER
You can expand each of these to your specialty, but it is also possible to choose the happy medium. This allows you to select your favorite skills from both groups to give you the best chance against the monsters. In the beginning you have to do without it, but soon you use items from both categories and you get skill points for this. This obliges you as a newcomer to first become familiar with the weapons, so that the new skills do not distract too much.
With magic, you can give the weapon an effect for extra damage, making them suddenly a bit easier to defeat. By developing the ninja skills, you can throw shuriken or shinai and increase your sneaking skills for a silent kill. Since you are also half a Yokai, you can also develop your Shiftling skills which will make your Yokai side stronger and stronger. This way you can stay in the Yokai form longer and you learn techniques that strengthen your attacks.
You can upgrade all the weapons and skills. Upgrading was possible in the first part, but now the customization seems to go even deeper. It is sometimes difficult to determine which upgrade will yield the most, and it can take quite some time. I don’t want to say too much about the bosses of the levels, because you really have to discover them yourself. What I can say is that they are very spicy, cause wet hands, and often surprise you.
IS RENEWAL AN IMPROVEMENT?
In addition to the old recognizable skills and difficult fights from the first part, Nioh 2 for PlayStation 4 has a few surprises in store. As if it’s not difficult enough, there are also Yokai Realms in the levels. In these areas your stamina recovers less quickly and the enemies are extra strong. If you defeat the strongest enemy from that area, the dark realm disappears. Normally, all enemies respawn when you die or visit a Shrine, but luckily Yokai Realm stays away.
Often you will receive a Soul Core from this Yokai, making it definitely worth it despite the increased difficulty. With the Soul Core you can perform a special move of a Yokai yourself and use it against them. You get two slots (R2 + square and R2 + triangle) to place a Soul Core. If you have defeated enough enemies, you can activate them. This gives you a small advantage, and it is nice to defeat a Yokai with his own (hammer) attack.
In my Nioh 2 review for PlayStation 4, I noticed that there are plenty of Soul Cores, so you can find your favorite and merge the double for more effectiveness. Just remember that you can get hit if you use these moves, otherwise you will have an ax in your forehead just like me and it will be over with one blow. Perhaps the most important change in Team Ninja’s Nioh 2 is the addition of your demonic side.
The ability to take advantage of the Yokai special moves is useful, but one of your most powerful attacks remains your Guardian Spirit attack, making you immune to damage. In the previous part, the choice of Guardian Spirit determined the shape of your special attack. You still have it, but the choice of your Guardian Spirit now also determines your character’s Yokai shape (powerful, fast, and teleporting form).
The element of your Guardian Spirit is the decisive factor, but you can always change this Spirit for tactical reasons at the Shrine. New and perhaps more important are the Burst Counters (R2 + circle) that allow you to counter an enemy’s special attack. The enemies have one or more special attacks that you can see. This is reminiscent of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, and you’ll be punished just as much if you don’t handle it right.
TWO HEADS ARE BETTER THAN ONE
Even a simple soldier caught me, and I could barely escape. This makes sense that you want to avoid these attacks, but it’s better to force an opening. Just don’t forget that they sometimes have a different special and you have to time it a little differently. Since the game is quite challenging, you are somewhat supported by NPCs including Kodama, Sudama, Scampuss and fighters that you can summon to the Benevolent Graves by using Ochoko cups.
Ochoko cups can be obtained by defeating the red graves with fallen predecessors (Revenants). By using the Righteous Jasper you can also create a grave for yourself with your current stats, allowing you to assist another player in his game (and receive a small reward). Scampuss is a Yokai cat that will give you a buff when you come across it. It is also possible to get active help by offering an extra Ochoko cup in the Shrine.
Then an active online player will come to help you for a short period of time (at least until he gets killed or when you leave the level). That’s how I beat the first boss and it certainly helps if you don’t make it on your own. The disadvantage of the help is that you have to adjust your playing style, because the enemies sometimes respond to the NPC, which can just ruin your attack. It is also possible to play the game with two friends online so if you really can’t figure it out, there is always hope if you have two friends who love a challenging action RPG.
In my Nioh 2 review, I noticed that the addition of the Yokai Realms, Soul Cores and the Burst Counter makes the game more difficult than the original, but Nioh 2 also offers plenty of options to make it fun. In addition to the upgrades and special moves, the Benevolent Graves, the online help, and the possibility to play with your friends are a good addition, making the game challenging, but accessible to everyone.
If you are struggling, just go back to the previous levels, so that you can practice some “techniques” with your overpowered character to boost morale. To answer the third main headline: yes, innovation is an improvement in this case and the game is a worthy successor. There is also a new game + so you can keep yourself busy for hours with Team Ninja’s Nioh 2 until the DLC comes out.
Have you tried Team Ninja’s Nioh 2 on PlayStation 4, or even the highly acclaimed first Nioh? What do you think of my Nioh 2 review? Leave your thoughts in the comments.
Nioh 2 preserves and expands the good elements from the first part. Sometimes you die very cowardly, but the new weapons are a good addition and offer even more variety to keep the gameplay fresh. Finding the right build for your character can take a long time, but it pays off in the end. All in all a great game!
- New weapons
- Challenging bosses
- Burst Counter and Soul Cores
- Co-op play
- Better than the original
- NPCs are useful, but sometimes distracting
- Sometimes you die very wimpy