Nioh was easily one of the most challenging games ever made, one that not only took notes from the behemoth that is the souls series but built on it with an exciting setting and enemy types that felt fresh and engaging.
Whilst Nioh 2 was initially released early last year for the Playstation 4, the PC version has just become available, branding itself as the complete edition that comes bundled with all DLC weapons and expansions released thus far.
Enemies are just as resilient as their prequel counterparts, demanding an equal amount of combat and mental prowess from the players. However, what satisfyingly levels the playing field this time around, are the soul powers and the ability to transform into a powerful Yokai form.
Depending on the guardian spirit you choose, you will pick a form between Brute, Feral and Phantom. Each carries a distinct playstyle, favouring either strength or speed. You can freely switch into this Yokai form, granted that you have your bar filled. It is a powerful state that can help turn the tides of battle, empowering you in the process.
How many times have you seen a powerful enemy in a souls-like game perform a devastating move that you wanted to do yourself? If you are anything like me, then it will be quite a lot. In Nioh 2, you can also collect Soul Cores that are dropped from enemy bosses on top of shifting into your Yokai forms. These unlock special moves from their respective enemy, letting you use their strengths against them.
Still, this does not mean that the game becomes easier by letting you spam those attacks whenever you want, as it takes a bit of time to accumulate enough Yokai essence to transform, and timing is still king. Of course, the powerful queen, on the other hand, is the wide variety of weapons you get to use, each with their strengths and playstyles. You can equip up to two weapons at a time, which you can quickly switch between.
Each weapon type has its own skill tree where you can unlock certain buffs or passive benefits. Unlocking these are key to standing a chance against the more challenging bosses, as they can help spec into your stamina or DPS based on specific actions you take. This is easily one of my favourite parts of the game, which helped reinforce or add to my playstyle.
That isn’t the only system which lets you improve your character build, as the shrines are back from the prequel. Shrines are the bonfires of Nioh, allowing you to recover your health as the enemies around you respawn. The overall level design features a shortcut approach to progression, usually opening up gates back to these shrines for you.
The shrines also let you level up your characters with the Amrita you can collect from enemies and pickups around the world. For the most part, as you can imagine, it’s quite similar to Dark Souls’ progression. What’s different in both the prequel and current game is the offering system, allowing you to sacrifice items for Amrita or rice, which lets you buy consumables and other boons.
Gradually, all these systems come together to offer an interesting progression for your character, empowering you more the further you progress. However, this also means with such a vast choice of skills and weaponry; you will be spending a lot of time in menus to help best optimise your character. Whilst some players might be used to this in most RPGs, there is a chance that some soul players might be put off with the amount of micromanagement.
Speaking of optimising characters, the game allows you to create your protagonist, letting you pick between an impressive range of cosmetic options. I am generally not a massive fan of mute protagonists, and whilst Nioh 2 doesn’t do anything remarkable to change my mind, the character models themselves can end up looking impressive. One thing I particularly like is how you can change your character’s look whenever you want, as well as their gender.
This is a feature I have started noticing in more games recently, especially Ubisoft titles such as Breakpoint and Valhalla, something that should have always been a norm in games that let you customise characters. In my opinion, this enables you to try out different aspects of the customisation without forcing you to make up your mind on how your character looks before you’ve even started the game.
Performance-wise, the game runs well, and I could get mostly 60 fps on 1080p, highest settings with my current PC. The specs for it are as follows:
- i7 – 6700K @4 GHz
- Ram: 32GB
- Graphics Card: Nvidia GTX 980TI
- Vram: 6GB
- SSD: crucial mx500 1TB
There are dips during the more intense sections of the game, but generally, if you exceed my current setup or meet the game’s general requirements, the game should run well for you. Whilst there aren’t many graphical settings to customise, the game still manages to look quite good due to a combination of fantastic creature designs, inspired landscapes and beautiful lighting. However, it is a shame that a lot of the options are quite binary with only an on/off setting.
Not to mention, for some reason the game draws your cursor in the middle of the screen, no matter if you use a mouse or controller. Whilst it isn’t very pleasant, I will not penalise the game for it as it’s potentially fixable via a patch.
Sadly, the controls did leave a sour taste in my mouth, as the game doesn’t correctly show keyboard and mouse prompts. I tried looking through different menus, but I wasn’t able to turn on the option to replace the controller prompts. What’s disappointing about this is that the PC controls are actually quite good, and feel much better than the first one.
I use an MMO mouse, which allows me to map a lot of essential actions to my device and it’s a shame I couldn’t fully use it for a lot of the individual actions as I see fit. PC gaming is all about customisation and preference, something which is lacking in this port. Controllers work fine, but it shouldn’t be the only playable option seeing how they’ve spent extra time working on the PC version of the game.
Lastly, I am not a massive fan of the price either, and it should not cost £50 when I can get the PS4 version for less than half the price. Even though this is a complete edition, I do not see a lot of unique or fresh content to justify the expense, this long after its initial release. Not to mention, the game is $50 in the US, which should be £40 at most for the UK. At the moment, the UK price translates to almost $70.
Overall, Nioh 2 is a solid game that offers a lot of combat variety and features one of the best character customisation systems, both cosmetically and mechanically. A seasoned RPG player can expect to get a lot out of this game due to tons of depth to its combat and character specialisation, whilst more souls-like fans will appreciate the challenge and enemy variety.
Sadly, what lets it down a bit is the game’s uninviting price which is unfairly adjusted for different regions, as well as a lacking control scheme without prompts for the mouse and keyboard players. Still, if you have a decent controller, and can’t wait to play it, you won’t be disappointed.