Nioh released a little over 4 years ago and at the time, it felt like a breath of fresh air. Nioh 2 subsequently released last year and it was a truly great game too. Now, in 2021, Nioh 2 has finally made its way to PC where gamers can enjoy it in all its glory with both 4K and 120 FPS support. Having previously played the PS4 version of Nioh 2, I’ve spent a significant amount of time with this title. Far too much to be quite honest and it’s still every bit as great as it was back then but now benefits immensely from higher frame rates. Koei Tecmo and Team Ninja have delivered exactly what fans of Nioh 2 on PS4 would enjoy yet somehow made it even better with upgrades to its performance.
When Nioh 2 originally released on console, comparisons to Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice were rife. This was due to the game’s aesthetic and overall setting being feudal Japan. Nioh 2 should however not be compared with Sekiro because the games play out quite differently. Nioh 2 feels as if it’s meant for co-op or multiplayer gameplay and Sekiro was a purely single-player adventure. Nioh 2 also plays out completely differently with numerous mechanics which are very different from Activision’s brutal “soulslike” game.
Nioh 2 features Yokai. These are mythical beings with immense power. The Yokai are also why the game is so challenging. Players will die in-game quite a lot. If you lack patience, Nioh 2 will be unforgiving as you will die over and over again. Nioh 2 holds nothing back and the first enemy you face off against will most likely kill you within 5 seconds if you don’t block their attacks. Back when it originally released on PS4, Koei Tecmo used the term “Masocore” and that’s still as appropriate as ever in describing the genre Nioh 2 belongs in. To further drive home this point, there’s a horse-headed Yokai beast right near the start of the game that will absolutely annihilate you while you’re still getting to grips with the game’s mechanics.
A year after its release on PS4, Nioh 2 on PC has been changed significantly from its original PS4 version. There are far more tweaks and balances and the game is finally fully complete with all the DLC included in one sweet package on Steam. On PC you can also enable 120 Frames per second from the options menu and while you will need a powerful system to run this, if you can run it, it is absolutely amazing. The game becomes a fluid masterpiece and this is truly the best way to play Nioh 2.
Gameplay in Nioh 2 involves taking on the role of a mute samurai warrior. You will be able to create your custom character through a highly extensive character creator. Amazingly, you’ll be able to access this character creator throughout the game and change (and share) your appearance freely from the hut accessible via the world map. This is great news for gamers that want to change their entire look whenever they want. I said it back when I first played Nioh 2 on PS4 and I’ll say it again. I really wish that other games would allow the same thing. Kudos to Team Ninja and Koei Tecmo for allowing players the freedom to go wild with their creativity in the character creator.
There’s a choice between “Action mode” and “Cinematic mode” in the options which allows you to stabilize the framerate or the game’s visuals respectively. The game plays significantly better with the framerate being prioritized so it’s advisable to use this setting. You can always enable cinematic mode or increase the graphics settings when you want to make use of the photo mode in-game.
After creating your character, you are thrust into the game’s world by awakening from a recurring nightmare. A mysterious blade is in your possession and somehow you’re able to shapeshift into a Yokai. Soon enough you’ll encounter a wandering merchant named Toukichiro who assists you in gaining control of your Yokai form. The story of the game is enjoyable but to get the full Nioh 2 experience, players will want to read the in-game Yokai descriptions and listen to the voices that speak to you when you collect specific items throughout levels. The world-building in Nioh 2 is excellent and should not be ignored. Now with all the DLC included, PC players can also experience the additional story and content that was exclusive to PS4 previously.
Combat in Nioh 2 is still quite similar to Nioh 1 but instead of being able to summon a guardian spirit to perform an attack or to buff you, you can now transform into a Yokai based on the guardian spirit you have equipped. This transformation ability is highly reminiscent of being able to enter demon form in Devil May Cry. Nioh 2’s gameplay changes significantly from Nioh 1 because of this ability. The addition of a burst counter move tied into your Yokai ability is a great feature that more patient gamers will master in no time flat. The burst counter system works by allowing your character to counter an enemy attack, that is highlighted with a red aura, just before it’s unleashed upon you. This means that a lot of battles in Nioh 2 can be beaten purely by being patient and attacking at just the right time. The ability to transform into a Yokai, however, does not ruin the game since at first, it’s rather lacking in power. Later in the game, however, it does get a lot more powerful once you’ve levelled it up.
The weapons on offer in Nioh 2 include all the weapons from Nioh 1 along with the addition of hatchets and a switchglaive. The switchglaive, in particular, is easily one of the most enjoyable weapons to use in the game. Nioh 2’s levels also feature a lot of “Benevolent graves” within them which allow players to summon help. The graves summon A.I controlled ghost characters of other players and these can be incredibly useful in helping you get through a level. Of course, summoning an actual human player to co-op with would be far more beneficial. Thankfully the same co-op system used in Nioh 1 exists here in Nioh 2.
Graphically, Nioh 2 has a far more vibrant look to it. Nioh 1 was dark and drab whereas Nioh 2 is a lot more colourful and has a large number of great enemy designs. The yokai you fight against look great and they each have some extremely flashy attacks on offer. The ability to capture enemy yokai and use their skills to your advantage is another addition to the game that is extremely welcome. This allows for even more customization along with your weapon choices and stances available. On PC, with every setting maxed out, Nioh 2 is breathtakingly gorgeous. The faster frame rate is great and photo mode truly excels on PC and there’s plenty of filters available.
The soundtrack in Nioh 2 is excellent with adrenaline-pumping music during boss battles and an ethereal Japanese vocal backing track that fits the game perfectly. The Japanese voice acting by NPC characters is excellent too.
Ultimately, just as I stated when Nioh 2 launched. This game is more of the same Nioh formula but with a lot of quality of life improvements throughout. The gameplay has been refined and the addition of the Yokai abilities adds another layer of complexity to an already challenging game. Should you dedicate yourself to learning the game’s mechanics, Nioh 2 will reward you with extremely fast-paced action-packed gameplay. Sure you might die a lot but once you get the hang of it, the game is rather hard to put down. We highly recommend Nioh 2 if you played Nioh 1 or if you’re a fan of the challenging action-adventure “Masocore” genre. Now that the title is on PC, players can also experience the rather challenging DLC and the sheer fluidity of the higher frame rates are extremely welcome, especially in a title as action-packed as this one.
You can purchase Nioh 2 Complete Edition here for £49.99
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