Team Ninja just concluded their last free trial to try out Nioh 2 and it’s in a better position than ever.
After trying the first two betas for Nioh 2, I was just content that I was playing what felt just like the first game but with new enemies, locales, and NPCs. Even with the final beta I had a rage-fueled blast. What Team Ninja did was preserve what made the Nioh formula great in the first place and just refined some areas and expanded upon others. This isn’t the final product so things are bound to change.
I had mostly positive experiences in each beta, with minor concerns along the way. To start with the positives though, character customization is going to be a huge thing. Not only will players have the ability to create their own characters from scratch or presets, but the details to customization are actually quite generous in terms of variety.
Nioh already had good character customization with refashioning weapons and gear along with the option to transform your character into one of the many NPCs you met in the campaign. Customization goes beyond just cosmetics too.
After Nioh had all its DLC released, you had 7 weapon types to choose from. They all had their own unique play styles, armor sets to accompany them, and builds to accommodate them with. With what’s coming to Nioh 2 (at least at launch) are two additional weapon types to further dilute the loot pool in a heavily loot-based game. They’re both even more interesting than the latter, but it isn’t to say they’ll make the other weapons obsolete.
The combat in this beta felt the same as it did in the first Nioh and the previous Nioh 2 betas, and that isn’t a bad thing. The gameplay loop in Nioh was its strongest suit. You have the mobbing, fast-paced movement, and several combos you can do like you would do in a Dynasty Warriors game. However, you have the stamina management, negative repercussions for dying, and sheer difficulty of a Dark Souls game. As for the loot and customization it’s very reminiscent of Diablo games; you’re swimming through pools of loot left and right.
Nioh 2 differentiates itself in its gameplay with spirit animals. Admittedly, they are that kind of panic button you press if you’re close to killing a boss and you’re all out of curatives. They do make the game not as legendarily difficult to something like the Soulsborne games or Sekiro. The first game would simply imbue your weapon with whatever element your spirit animal has and make you invincible for a good few seconds (depending on your build, that is). In the second game, you turn into a full-fledged Yokai and have this whole new set of abilities for a set time. Every spirit gives you a different set of weapons and elemental properties all tailored around the stats you give to your character.
Along with your spirit animal, you can acquire soul cores. These can be equipped to your spirit animal which allows you to turn into an enemy or boss you acquired them from for a short time to deal damage or get out of a dicey situation. They can be summoned depending on how much anima meter you have, which is displayed under your health and stamina bars.
The only downside to this game as far as I’ve experienced in these betas are the storytelling and the massive grind for an ideal build. The story was easily forgettable aside from a few notable deaths or cool fight scenes. I hope that since this is technically a prequel to the first game, there will be more backstory to certain characters who simply pushed the story forward without their own true development.
As for the grind, sure, soul matching and reforging weapons at the blacksmith can reduce the grind to get the right stats on your items. What I’m not looking forward to is the fact that it’s not only weapons, armor, and accessories we have to grind certain iterations for. With more weapons diluting drop pools as well as soul cores dropping with their own attributes, it’ll add more onto a tedious grind in the late game (I still think about not having the best Yasakani Magatama to this day).
I’m more than okay to sink more than a few hundred hours into the full game. The first one was good, this one adds onto what was already there and then some. Perhaps the grind won’t be so bad for the new drops, but time will only tell. With only two weeks until launch, I’m once again finding myself going back to the first Nioh to prepare myself for the second game.