Hello everyone and welcome to our second look of Team Ninja and Koei Tecmo’s Nioh 2! I know to some this could feel like it’s a little later than it should have been, but I wanted some actual time to think about the Open Beta and how it compared to the Alpha, and how it compared to the original. Let’s dive in shall we?
Back in June I had the chance thanks to Robert to take the Closed Alpha for a spin as he had gotten an invite while my inbox remained just as void as my skills in this game. With plenty of gameplay to keep one occupied, there was no reward which made sense as with it being closed, it would have been unfair to others who didn’t have the same chance.
So the Open Beta. Or at least the possible first of two if the original Nioh was anything to go by. If there is ANYTHING that I can say from the getgo short of obviously any more Nioh is a good thing, it’s do the damned tutorial. I’m not even kidding. I’ve played the Souls, I’m probably eternally going to be close to platinuming Bloodborne as I just don’t get back to it, I’ve restarted and completed the good ending Code Vein over the holidays and I’ve loved my time between The Surge and The Surge 2. Each has its own particular elements, but Nioh 2? Adds some that weren’t there in the first nor in the Alpha and without knowing that tiny little detail? You are inadvertently causing yourself to play freaking hard mode.
So what is Nioh? Nioh is a Soulsborne set in Feudal Japan around the time of Oda Nobunaga in the 1600s. Seemingly taking place before the first as Nobunaga seems to still be alive and campaigning, Nioh 2 can probably get away with a few things to differentiate it from the first as they are not happening at the same time. What does this mean for you? Realistically nothing but there’s fun and frustrations to be had.
So starting off with character creation, you are now no longer playing William, an English-man who’s escaped from the Tower of London, but instead a currently no named warrior of a miscellaneous background. This could lead to some rather interesting elements once the rest of the game has been unveiled, but in the meantime, it allows you to design your character as you see fit. Like a lot of other Soulsbornes, this lets you “be you” and not someone else on their adventure.
Still taking the biggest inspirations from Roguelikes and Metroidvanias, you’ll be exploring vast environments filled with enemies and ambushes while you explore to find your way forward as well as shortcuts back to make your life easier should you fall to an enemy or a hole in the ground that you weren’t particularly on the lookout for. The environments between the Alpha and the Beta feel just as refined as the first and keep to similar themes from the start to the finish of the stage.
Making its return is the stance system that lets you swing a weapon regularly, swing really fast towards the ground with minimum stamina but for maximum hits or swing really hard with maximum effort. Each stance has its own pros and cons depending on the situation, but it allows for a much tighter control of your weapon(s) of choice. Still able to equip two weapons simultaneously, you can switch from your primary to your secondary on a moment’s notice. Ranged weapons are still overpowered as hell and so far the most that I had a chance to get my hands on was a mediocre bow. Check. That. Headshot.
Where things start to get a bit funky is that on top of your weapon choices, you now have demon skills that allow you to summon in demons to perform attacks alongside you, or, to basically become the demon, burrow underground, and hope you don’t miss on your way back up. Two of these can be equipped at a time and unlike the alpha where each demon skill had a cooldown, now there’s a bar that recharges allowing you to use it as much as you can as long as there’s enough “energy” in the bar for it. These new skills can change things up a little bit but they aren’t game breaking which is nice. Good in a pinch, but not something to rely on or keep holding onto for a make or break moment.
What can make or break is that enemies now have super powerful attacks that if they aren’t dodged? It’s almost instant death. And and several dozen deaths and a restart to do the tutorial, it was then that I found out you have a counter to this move. Not only is it a counter? It’s a damn near reversal almost allowing you to take out powerful enemies in one go. Did it feel broken? Not really because of how hard the enemy themselves hits you. Combined with the fact that you actually have to learn the timing? It’ll take a few tries and some deaths to get it right.