Preview: Nioh 2 heavily improves upon while adding brand-new features

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After spending quite a bit of time in Nioh, we’ve decided to jump into the ongoing Open Beta for Nioh 2 and we were quite impressed with what we experienced, but we also hope for minor improvements in the future. Here’s what we thought.

I’m not going to lie: I’m a fan of the ARPG subgenre known as Soulsborne. I absolutely love quite a few of the games that have been spawned because of the Demon’s Souls. I’ve managed, since its establishment, to smash my way through almost every single title in the genre, minus a few I’ve yet to get my hands-on at this time.

I’m still working my way through the insanely difficult challenges that await me in both The Surge 2 and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. I’m even going back and taking a trip through Nioh on my PlayStation 4 in my downtime when I’m not working my day job or night job on the weekends. Now, here I am, distracted by a new shiny toy in the shape if Nioh 2 and its ongoing open beta that concluded this weekend.

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“These are subtle changes that have improved the game and taken away the semi-linear feel of its predecessor”

For the next few days, you can be guaranteed I’ll be spending more time with the open beta follow-up to the 2017 samurai-filled experience that will be available for the next few days exclusively for PlayStation 4.

As you might expect, Nioh 2 is a shining example of how to do things right. They’ve kept everything we loved about the original, allowing us to use our Guardian Spirit, but improving upon that, enhancing the gearing system, and making gear feel as if it has some added weight.

For those who haven’t played Nioh in quite some time, Koei Tecmo hasn’t opted out from adding a tutorial system, one that quickly walks you through some of the added features. These features include a new system for the Guardian Spirit, which doesn’t work as it did before, but there’s a good reason why. These are the subtle changes that have improved the game and taken away the semi-linear feel of its predecessor

This time around, the Guardian Spirit shifts the payer character into a Yokai form, allowing players to find brand-new abilities unlike before. The Living Weapons, essentially, have been altered to fit these new forms, each one coming with their own combat styles and secondary abilities.

This time around, you’ll find that Makami (fire spirit) is all about brute strength while increasing a player’s fire resistance, allowing you to be aggressive as possible. This spirit emphasizes its brutality through its damage and when you activate its secondary ability before it leans, Makami dishes out serious fire damage, sometimes burning foes to a crisp.

You’ll even find that Ame-no-Mitori increases a player’s Ki recovery rate, allowing players to do increased damage while Kagewani increases a player’s life, allowing the Yokai form to deal ranged damage to a foe. All of these supernatural features do drive the overall artistic nature of the previous game forward, giving a never-before-seen to the bigger picture that Nioh left behind due to its linear vision of an Oni-infested Japan.

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“This only emphasizes on things to come as Nioh 2 is not small by any means and it has a lot to offer.”

Alongside the new Guardian Spirit system comes an even bigger one in the shape of a brand-new weapon called the Switch Glaive. The Switch Glaive functions much as you would expect and it benefits heavily from players who pace themselves in burst-based damage in low-stance, medium-range damage in mid-stance, and extremely heavy-hitting damage while in high-stance with it as a scythe.

During my time with the beta, I spent quite a bit of time using this weapon-class, hitting as many enemies as I could without eating through my stamina. The weapon itself does require timing, some stamina, and patience to use. Its learning curve is rather moderate and it could require you bouncing back and forth with a secondary weapon such as an axe or a spear.

Among the new weapon types is both Yokai and Blessed weapons. The most unique aspect is how these weapons work. They are quite different from other weapons in how their weapon elements actually work. One of the main elements of this weapon is that its element activates through weapon us, attacking enemies, and even taking them out. The Yokai stat itself is almost like a living weapon, if you will, which brings it out the best of its abilities.

You can almost instantly take an enemy out once the element itself activates, allowing you to move through two-to-three enemies at the time. As the beta does seemingly take place at the beginning of the game, you can expect tutorials for both Yokai and Blessed weapons to be introduced rather quickly, which honestly, is quite spectacular. This only emphasizes on things to come as Nioh 2 is not small by any means and it has a lot to offer.

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“Nioh 2 is an impressive experience thanks to its massive maps that are sprawling labyrinths”

Overall, Nioh 2 is more-or-less a shining example of how to grow your franchise without having to overhaul the entire experience, which includes the ability to get fragments from your enemies that allow you to obtain abilities that the Oni have. It’s an added feature, one that makes the Guardian Spirits have more depth to them, each one being able to be set up as something entirely different.

You’ll find that some of these abilities include defensive capabilities while some will come with defensive uses. You’ll be able to obtain abilities such as the Kappa’s shell, a Enki’s spear throw, and many more. One takeaway from this open beta isn’t just the newly added features to Nioh 2, which I’m certain we’ll have a lot more to talk about in the future.

The next step is how much the game has actually evolved from its predecessor, to talk about the evolution outside of under-the-hood appeal. One of the biggest changes comes in the scale of their maps which aren’t small at all. Maps themselves are absolutely massive and I mean massive. You’ll find that it’s hard to fully clear one within an hour decide to their scope and scale of the project before you.

Each one also scales based on your level. You will still find revenants to be optional encounters that can come with rather high-tier gear based on what the person was wearing when they were wearing it. You’ll even find that if you can’t find a cooperative play partner, that you CAN actually summon their benevolent spirit, sharing any Amrita you earn with them in order to let them level up – or however that works.

However, the maps are huge, their benevolent spirits have limited timers that can run out rather quickly. You’ll find that time management is of the utmost importance when exploring through Japanese forests that are filled-to-the-brim with Oni and their human collaborators. I can’t say it enough: Nioh 2 is an impressive experience thanks to its massive maps that are sprawling labyrinths.

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“Design-wise, Nioh 2 shows a lot of promise”

Most importantly, however, isn’t just added features or minor changes to the game. It’s about performance and graphics as well. Nioh 2 is great in this aspect. It runs as one would hope. In performance, you’ll find that the framerate on a PlayStation 4 Pro is set to variable, which means it will stay rather smooth, but it will lower from time to time depending on the content as well as how much is going on around you.

Another aspect is that graphics themselves don’t take a massive hit whether or not you play the game with HDR on or not. It runs as smooth as one would expect in Quality mode. You’ll be locked to 30 frames per second, which it will dip from time to time, and doesn’t always hold steady. You have to remember though: You are opting for higher graphics over higher performance, which is where your major trade-off comes into play.

During the Twilight versions of both missions, this becomes beyond apparent due to how much is going on in the background as well as the foreground itself. You’ll find that performance does remain, for the most part, rock steady though. With many of the game’s design systems being from Nioh, you can expect a rather smooth experience, one that’s beautiful, alluring, and rather promising.

Design-wise, this is Nioh. Nothing about it has changed. Blacksmithing returns, item crafting returns, even many of the same items and weapons have returned. To put it bluntly, this is a subtle upgrade that features character creation, stat prioritization based on starting weapons, and even an easier-to-access menu system. That being said, Design-wise, Nioh 2 shows a lot of promise as an upcoming addition to the franchise.

For the time being, it’s definitely a game to watch out for and since Nioh 2‘s announcement, it’s all we’ve really been able to talk about behind the scenes. Now, we just have to hope that it will still hit its March 2020 release date.

About the Writer(s):


Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.



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