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Review: Nioh 2 – A terrific, but not a well-rounded Souls game

Almost a year after the consoles, the action role-playing game Nioh 2 appears as a Complete Edition with all DLCs for the PC. Can it convince here too?

Well finally! Almost a year after its release for the PlayStation, Nioh 2 is also available as a Complete Edition (with all DLCs) for PC. Dark Souls fans can get the sharpened blades out of the closet, but of course one question has to be clarified beforehand: Does Nioh 2 deserve such outstanding ratings as the console version on the PC ?

Because the Soulslike earned quite a lot of enthusiasm from the press and players at the time. Only a lousy port can get in the way on the computer – and actually: This is exactly where the developers should have invested a little more fine-tuning.

But before we get into that, let’s first clear up all the other important questions: What is Nioh 2 anyway? Why are Dark Souls fans freaking out about it? Where does it go its own way? And then the all-important crucial question: Nioh 2, how are you with PC porting?

Changes to the PC version

The PC version of Nioh 2 will appear about a year after the consoles, but it already contains all DLCs that have been released so far. This not only gives more story chapters but also more weapons and armor. There are also some minor adjustments:

  • Ultra-wide support
  • Support for up to 120 FPS
  • DLCs ​​”The Tengu’s Disciple”, “Darkness in the Capital”, “The First Samurai”
  • Two additional weapon types: Split Staff and Fists
  • Endgame content “Underworld”
  • More difficulty levels
  • All bonuses of the PS4 version: Demon Horde weapons (9 types), Kodama Netsuke, Demon Horde armor set, Sudama Netsuke, and more

Our test is based on version 1.24. However, an update was already released for the release of the game.

What is Nioh 2 about?

As in Nioh 1, it is not easy to answer what Nioh 2 is about. Much of the story takes place before the events of the first part in the middle of the martial Sengoku era of Japan. We get caught up in a dark fantasy story made up of yokai demons and historical rulers like Nobunaga Oda.

Nioh 2
Opponents like this huge yokai look terrifying.

 

This time we don’t play a pre-made William, but instead create our own character as we see fit. Starting with gender, hair and eye color and face shape, you can really adjust almost anything. Very commendable!

But even hours later, we hardly know anything about our main character or their motivation. We only learn through a disdainful description of the mission that we are obviously not dead after all, but rather earn our living as mercenaries by fighting the Yogkai. In contrast to the great role model Dark Souls, we do not move through an open world, but select different missions on an overview map.

This is how level design works

The story may be confusing at times, but the artistic and manual level design hits the bull’s eye. You roam through burning castles and mysterious and huge caves in which imposing archways decorate the landscape. Although the size of the levels is manageable (but larger than in the previous version), it is still fun to explore. Because the motto here is: “Many roads lead to Rome.” and every now and then alternative paths to your goal open up, or you find a hidden item.

Checkpoints are typical of souls in the form of shrines, which, to be fair, you make more easily accessible through abbreviations. This also makes you much more motivated to try harder boss fights over and over again. Because you can usually reach them again within a few seconds.

Nioh 2
Shrines are checkpoints and are comparable to the campfires from Dark Souls.

 

The highlight: the fights

The fights themselves, however, are the real highlight of Nioh 2. Because they are wonderfully complex. You beat up yokai and bandits with a total of eleven different types of weapons , which differ not only in their design but also in their use.

With metal gloves you can strike very quickly, but cause little damage. A chain of blades, in turn, lets you pull opponents. Or you rely on a huge transformable scythe and just cut everything short and sweet. There are no shields. The weapon itself is used to block.

But no matter which club you choose: The fight has to be learned. And that can be a bit overwhelming, especially at the beginning. You have three different fighting styles , you not only have to keep an eye on your own stamina, called Ki, but also that of your opponents. Then there is a trade-off between blocking and evading. There are also counter attacks, magical abilities, and, and, and. But once the basics are in place, things are always going on. And Nioh 2 unfolds its full charm.

Nioh 2
Each weapon plays differently. With the Kusarigama, for example, you can pull opponents towards you.

 

New in Nioh 2: the demon transformation

In the fight itself, however, you not only rely on weapons made of wood and steel, but also on mythical skills. The yokai skills are particularly exciting. Because regardless of whether you play a magician or not: Each character can make use of his demonic origin and, for example, conjure up a fire tornado.

Most impressive, however, is the ability to briefly transform yourself into a yokai. Because it not only looks really cool, in this form you practically become an invulnerable giant. If an enemy hits you, it will only shorten the duration of your transformation.

Nioh 2
Your demon form not only looks imposing, but is also very powerful.

 

The more often you use a weapon or your transformation, the more effective you become with it. Because you receive skill points by simply using them, which you can invest in new skills such as combos or passive bonuses such as more damage. In addition, you get experience points that you can use to improve attributes such as strength and dexterity. As is typical for Souls, you also lose not distributed XP when you die, but you can get it back when you reach the grave without dying again first.

If you find it difficult to progress, you can also summon the characters of other players at their graves as AI companions, or alternatively go into battle together in a cooperative manner via the online mode. That helps because the bosses only ever focus on one player.

Nioh 2
This gigantic horse is unimpressed by our new shape.

 

How much does Nioh 2 motivate you?

What is even more motivating than the struggles themselves, however, is their reward. Non-stop you can find new weapons and armor with different designs and about a bazillion of possible different values. Anima Charge? Ki charge? Ninjutsu Power? Not that easy to understand. The item hunt is still very motivating. Because better equipment can be found at much higher clock rates than in Sekiro or Dark Souls.

Also cool: If you particularly like the look of an armor or weapon, you can simply transfer it to another. So you always go into battle with the best values, without having to neglect your appearance. A feature that every role-playing game should offer.

Fans of Japanese aesthetics in particular get their money’s worth thanks to the setting: whether samurai, ninja, or shrine priestess. Nioh 2 offers a whole range of different clothes that you can combine with each other as you wish.

In Nioh 2 you can determine the appearance of your armor independently of the values.

Nioh 2
Shrine priestess
Nioh 2
Ninja outfit

How is the PC version doing?

Nioh 2 looks really good. Burning castles, mysterious forests and caves, grotesque enemies. From a distance, the game is an absolute dream. But if you take the magnifying glass, you notice that the textures sometimes look rather washed out. In addition, it is not uncommon for characters or details to pop up in the background. In the case of shadows, this sometimes happens only a few meters in front of you. However, the hunger for performance is out of proportion. According to the developer, you already need an RTX 3070 to be able to enjoy the game with a 4k resolution at 60 FPS.

Even more annoying: The regular frame rate drops can ruin many a fight. Because regardless of your hardware, Nioh 2 always stutters. This can be annoying, especially in boss fights! The technical problems never make Nioh 2 unplayable, but unforgivably hard games of skill benefit from a reliable game flow. And an RTX 3070 should actually be able to keep such an old-fashioned looking game running without any problems.

 Nioh 2 is great – but the PC version needs a patch!

Nevertheless, Nioh 2 remains a damn good action game that combines the exciting battles of a Dark Soul with the loot-collecting instinct of a Diablo and mixes it with a fresh setting. Friends of action role-playing games will get their money’s worth here and can easily spend a hundred hours in ancient Japan.

Conclusion

With Nioh 2 there is finally again an action role-playing game that for a change does not take me to western climes, but rather distant and somewhat exotic Japan. Here I explore old Japanese castles as a samurai and beat up the wacky yokai from the country’s mythology! That’s exactly the variety I’ve been looking for for a long time! And the gameplay is convincing: crisp fights and numerous objects whose design I can see directly on my character!

But as much as the combat system does right when I play Nioh 2, I always reminisce about my competitor Sekiro. This also boasts of its difficulty and a Japanese setting. But somehow everything fit together better. The atmosphere was not disturbed by wacky characters and the much more offensive combat system made for more exciting and nerve-wracking confrontations.

To compensate for this, Nioh 2 offers more content. This is ensured above all by the deeper role-playing system and the associated play styles. The Sekiro fights were great, but nailed me to the sword and the use of the prostheses. In Nioh, I can create a new character in each run and specialize in a different one of the eleven types of weapons. Now we can only hope that the developer will fix the technical problems so that I don’t have to watch the spectacle in slow motion so often.

 

Nioh 2

8.4

PRESENTATION

8.0/10

GAME DESIGN

9.0/10

BALANCE

8.0/10

STORY / ATMOSPHERE

8.0/10

SCOPE

9.0/10

Pros

  • atmospherically staged Japan landscapes
  • well staged cutscenes
  • many armor and weapon designs
  • exciting, extensive level areas
  • different fighting styles
  • balanced different types of weapons
  • tactically challenging boss fights
  • extensive story campaign
  • Co-op mode
  • all DLCs of the console version

Cons

  • rough textures
  • generally technically rather old-fashioned
  • sometimes frustratingly small-scale mechanics
  • unnecessarily many item values
  • confused story
  • pale main character

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