Nioh 2 is a larger, more ambitious take on the classic Japanese Samurai story

Having undergone many months of development and various beta tests leading up to its official release, we now sit on the cusp of Nioh 2’s official release on PlayStation 4. It’s the latest in the long line of Japanese-influenced action RPGs that have invaded Sony’s platform, arriving just ahead of another samurai PS4 exclusive in Ghost of Tsushima. However, how Nioh 2 differs from that release is in how it takes heavy inspiration from the Soulsborne genre.

This is something the original Nioh release in 2017 also excelled at. There, players could build up their own warrior via an extensive suite of customisation options, before finally heading into battle and learning how to balance stamina management and precise swordplay. So, with the sequel set to launch on PS4 very soon, we thought it worth looking at how the sequel expands on its core tenants and features ahead of its March 13th release. Swords at the ready, here we go…

A battle system that mixes fast-paced movement with combos

With Nioh 2 placing so much emphasis on its moment-to-moment gameplay, Team Ninja has been careful to refine all the major combat options found that made the first game a breakout hit without breaking the core elements. As such, Nioh 2 is now a lot more robust and fulfilling, specifically geared towards rewarding those who are patient when engaging in enemy scenarios. You’ll still need to be quick on your feet and maintain combos where possible, but most fight mechanics have been redrawn and improved.

A good example of this is in how spirit animals now work. You see, whereas before your weapon would simply be imbued with whatever element was found in the guardian spirits you call upon (briefly making you invincible for a few seconds), Nioh 2 now grants you with an entire suite of weapons and abilities that’s dependant on said spirit animal. Suddenly, more combat options are available to you. Few other Action RPGs so seamlessly blend melee combat and magical powers in this way – and Nioh 2 uses it to great effect.

A larger prequel story set 100 years before the first game

Whereas the original Nioh took place within a fictional rendition of the year 1600, this sequel actually centres on a story that’s set a century earlier. This makes Nioh 2 the perfect game for both newcomers and veterans alike to jump in on, even more so when you consider that Team Ninja has stated that, in terms of scope, this game is almost twice the size of the first. Consider that the first game saw most players clock in at around 30 hours. Could Nioh 2 take us to over 100?

Team Ninja CEO Yosuke Hayashi is already on record as citing FromSoftware’s Sekiro as highly inspiring for Nioh 2, maintaining a steep learning curve but smoothing off some of the rough edged to still offer players the satisfaction of overcoming a thrilling challenge. The two betas leading up to the title’s release has already demonstrated this, as well as the new and improved areas that are now far more detailed and open.

Call upon other players to fight demons as a community

Soulsborne games in the past have experimented with asymmetrical ways for players to take on bosses and challenges together. Most of the time this works by being able to call upon the “souls” of other player’s avatars during tricky moments, where you don’t strictly get to fight with players side-by-side but rather alongside AI-controlled avatars that boast the same skillset. Nioh 2 does this, but again takes it up a notch for the sequel.

For instance, Nioh 2 sees the appearance of three-player online co-op in the series for the first time. This means that Soulsborne devotees no longer need go it alone, now able to join forces directly in a mode that stands separately from the main campaign. Details regarding this multiplayer mode remain scarce, but thankfully we don’t have to wait too much longer to get a taste.

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