Hands-On With Nioh 2 – Death Around Every Corner

We were recently summoned to the PlayStation offices in San Mateo, California to meet with Fumihiko Yasuda, Head of Team Ninja and Producer of the upcoming Nioh 2, and to get some hands-on time with it. After a brief introduction by Fumihiko, we got to see him play through the early part of the demo, showing us some of the intricacies of the gameplay and attacks. If you are even a casual fan of the series you know that the games are no walk in the park, and to staying true to form, Fumihiko himself died multiple times during his short gameplay presentation (which makes all of us feel better about how bad we are at the game).

1555 Feudal japan

While the first game in the series took place in 1600AD, Nioh 2 is a prequel set in the mid-1500s. You play as a mercenary that hunts down yokai, which are demons or monsters of some sort. Upon defeating a special yokai, you find out that you are half yokai and half-human, and require some assistance in order to control your abilities. The demo I played was set about halfway through the story and the character was boosted up to level 93 so that I could get a good feel of how the game played with a decently equipped avatar. Spoiler alert: It was still very hard and I died. A lot.

If you have the system data from Nioh, on your PS4, you can unlock the main character, William, to play as in Nioh 2.

No Easy Mode Here

The demo opened up as we are just leaving a checkpoint and entering a bridged area. I had a bow and a rifle with limited ammunition, as well as a sword and a scythe. After watching Fumihiko play through the early part of the demo, I knew what to expect, but I still died anyway, multiple times early on. There’s a hole in the bridge, and apparently the character can’t swim (maybe it’s the armor?) but I was knocked into that hole several times to an instant death. Going head-on against the bad guys was a terrible choice so I found a roundabout route that at least allowed me to single out enemies and slash through them. Once I defeated the “easier” foes, a larger bad guy appeared and ruined my day.

Once I finally got past all of those obstacles, I came to a shrine—which are checkpoints. Fittingly worded, you pray for a save point and can then unlock amulets and throwable weapons that can assist you on your journey. I picked up a weapon blessing that leaches health from enemies and another that multiplies weapon damage for a short time, added some shurikens, made sure I had plenty of health, and was once again on my way. To death. Always to death.

Death at Every Turn

The next area had multiple path options to choose from, but bad guys were around every corner, and some were badder than others. Clearing some rooms unlocked chests that held better armor and weapons, and some allowed you to create a shortcut to the end boss. I found myself heading back to the shrine and praying for more stuff after every encounter. Most of the bad guys re-spawned, so those shortcuts became the key to reaching the final boss with enough stuff left over to survive him (Just kidding. I died). I must learn from death.

Turns out, even at max stuff I couldn’t survive him but, lucky for me, one of the guys from Team Ninja introduced me to a benevolent grave. Once I cleared the room the grave was located in, I was able to summon some AI help. It required special currency and I had enough already to summon him to my side, so off we went to face the boss. Thirty minutes later, my AI sidekick was dead but so was the boss. To say that guy was tough is an understatement. He had a health bar for days and I exhausted every item in my inventory. I probably should have gone in with multiple types of health items just so that my health would have at least been comparable to the boss. I’d say “live and learn,” but death is the only way to learn the tactics required to be successful at this game.

You Will Die Many Times on Your Journey, but Not Always Alone

While the demo itself didn’t have co-op, the full release will have an Expedition mode which will make it much easier to play with a friend than the first game did. You and up to two other players will be able to tackle levels together, but keep in mind that doesn’t mean it will be easier. Just the opposite. More people means harder bosses. This is a mode I look forward to trying when the full game releases. I mean, I know I’ll die many, many times, but still, death can be fun.

The graphics for Nioh 2 were impressive set up on a PS4 Pro, and it looked and ran amazing. The game ran smooth, even when there were multiple bad guys murdering me at once. I didn’t notice any frame rate drops, stuttering, or glitches in my time with the demo. The environments were well detailed, the weapons looked awesome, and the gameplay was downright fun and deadly.

Nioh 2 will release on March 13, 2020 so prepare to die.