Nioh 2 Full Game Impressions - Ni-Doh!!!tut

I was a huge fan of the first Nioh game, a souls-like game with a much deeper combat system and a combination of Diablo-style loot thrown into the mix. The game was surprisingly good, and it came from out of nowhere. It seemed like a niche title and I was actually really surprised when they announced a sequel at E3 2018. Having Platinumed the first game, I was down for another go around.

Which is why is pains me to say that Nioh 2 is not a good experience. Which is interesting to say, because it IS NOT a bad game, but instead it is a bad experience.

You see Nioh 2 takes the "hard game" forumla of it's predecessor and cranks it up to 11. Nioh 2 is so difficult it borders on insanity. Even people who love hard games, would probably find this game frustrating.

In Nioh 2 the deep combat system from Nioh 1 is still in place, but they've added some more additions to the combat to make your options incredibly diverse. Now you have to not only juggle three combat stances (high, med, low), but you also have to remember to be ready to use burst counter. Burst counter is the first new feature in Nioh 2 that the game forces the player to over rely on. Every enemy in the game has a dangerous attack that you know is coming because the enemy will flash red before they use it, these attacks are your que to Burst Counter the enemy to ruin their stamina. Burst Counter is done by pressing R2+circle, a tricky input to have to execute suddenly in a fraction of a second. If you miss this counter, you die. Alternatively you could dodge these deadly attacks, but the vast majority of them go on forever and chase you down so you are more likely be backed into a wall or corner than you are to successfully evade these attacks. Nioh 2 forces you to master this move.

Nioh 2 in general seems to assume you have already mastered combat from a game you might not have played for nearly three years since the first game released January of 2017. While there is a small tutjuorial that teaches you basic button inputs, there is no tutorial level. Nioh 2 does not ease you into the game, the second enemy you fight is a giant bull demon with a club that has a mile long reach and impossible tracking. And the game just wants you to go for it. This demon most likely kills all but the most stubborn of players before they give up and run past it to possibly try later. But the rest of the level is no joke either.

Nioh's combat runs into further problems when you realize that the hit stun and tracking of enemy attacks is just unfair. If you get hit by an enemy, you better hope they have no follow up queued because if they do....you die. If you block an enemy combo, you will run out of stamina and be stunned for 5 seconds. If you are stunned for 5 seconds you die. Many of the demons in the game, have very little recovery time on moves as well. You might evade or block their attacks and move it to get your counter attacks in thinking that they'll have at least a second or two of downtime before their next attack.....this is wrong. Many of the Demons (the human enemies in the game are push overs even the beefier ones are really simple) will hit you with little or even no wind up the moment you dart in to take advantage of their last whiff. Sadly demons are the most common enemy in the game, at least in the first ten stages or so.

Then there are the bosses, bosses in this game are epic, but they are very much not fun to fight. Their damage, and really the damage of everything in the game, is tuned way too high, to the point where you are either perfect, or you are dead. And as you learn the bosses patterns and know how to handle their bullshit, they gain new attacks when under 15% life throwing curveballs at you that are only designed to frustrate and demoralize you as you are hit with something you never saw before right before you claim victory.

Look the moto for Dark Souls games has always been "Tough but Fair". 99% of Dark Souls enemies, obey the same game rules you have to follow. This yields that rush of satisfaction when you finally defeat a boss. Nioh 2 doesn't follow that rule, enemies can attack you even if they don't have stamina (you can see their stamina bar at all times), they have several attacks that track to an insane degree, or attacks with no wind up or warning and often times they have grapples that will teleport you into their grip even if you dive out of the way.

I spend three hours on one of the early bosses in the game (second or third boss), and when I finally beat him I didn't get that joyous rush of victory that I've gotten from every Souls game I've ever played. Instead I felt dread because not only did I know that this was a very early boss, but I knew that the next level would have even more bullshit for me to deal with.

The level design in Nioh 1 was not very good, but at least there were very few sections where they expected you to fight a dangerous enemy without room. Nioh 2 likes to throw some of the most assinine bullshit at you while on a two foot wide path surrounded by death drops. Every aspect of Nioh 2 feels like the developers had only one goal, two make the game damn near impossible. Brutally difficult for the sake of being brutally difficult.

So after 12 hours of playtime and only defeating three main missions and five sub missions (which don't have bosses), I can't take stress of Nioh 2 anymore. In my mind it has crossed the line between challenging and frustrating. While it has moments of enjoyment as you figure enemies out, it never lasts because even a slight screw up can ruin 15-20 minutes of progress. Levels are so difficult it's hard to find joy from the victories you might achieve because you just more brutal difficult crap on the next stage.

If you are interested in Nioh 2, go get Nioh 1 instead and make sure you are a master at that game first, because Nioh 2 will ruin any thoughts you might have had of being good at games.

This game is absolutely godlike. Couldn't put it down the entire weekend. Fixes every issue I had with the original and improves upon everything else. Yokai burst counters are a cool addition and have a large tell in the form of glowing red eyes so I picked it up pretty early. The combat is absolutely divine even more so than Nioh 1 because of improvements like more enemy variety(espescially Yokai including half human/Yokai) and even more weapons and movesets. They really cleaned up the skill trees as well which is much clearer now. Team Ninja has really outdone themselves with this game and showed they are absolute masters of their craft.

This is a really great video about the production of Nioh 2. Has a really neat conversation between Nioh's producer/director and Bloodborne's producer as well.

This to me sounds like the early days of Sekiro when people were calling it difficult because they didn't known how (or didn't want) to parry and tried to play it wrong, when in fact you get to become an unkillable ninja god once you learn how to play Sekiro even with no resources and items.

How's the enemy variety in this? That's prolly my only issue with Nioh 1. A few too many samey enemies.

Dreiko:
This to me sounds like the early days of Sekiro when people were calling it difficult because they didn't known how (or didn't want) to parry and tried to play it wrong, when in fact you get to become an unkillable ninja god once you learn how to play Sekiro even with no resources and items.

How's the enemy variety in this? That's prolly my only issue with Nioh 1. A few too many samey enemies.

There are more enemies in this game because all the enemies from the 1st game are back, plus a few more. But it's not terribly more diverse. I've seen five new yokai so far, not counting bosses.

Also in comparison to how people viewed Sekiro...I don't think that's a fair assessment, because Sekiro was an entirely new game that people assumed would be like Dark Souls. This is a direct sequel to the first Nioh (which I Platinumed) and combat is functionally the same, though the difficulty is far superior to the original game.

The thing is, is that i don't think the instant attacks and recovery is intended because I have been noticing animation skip on enemies in which their models snap suddenly into new attacking animations before completely finishing the previous attack.

Honestly the difficulty is not the biggest issue i have with Nioh 2, it's the unrewarding feeling that winning actually brings. I can't really explain it, in Soulsborne games I revel in defeating the bosses....but I guess in Nioh 2 when I beat a boss I don't feel like I won because I got good. I feel like I beat the enemies due to luck, like the AI took it easy on me with certain attacks or whatever. It's strange.

The 3rd boss felt like that in particular, a snake demon that on my winning attempt simply spammed the same attack for 90% of the fight. So I won, but I feel like the game fucked up somehow I suppose?

CritialGaming:

Honestly the difficulty is not the biggest issue i have with Nioh 2, it's the unrewarding feeling that winning actually brings. I can't really explain it, in Soulsborne games I revel in defeating the bosses....but I guess in Nioh 2 when I beat a boss I don't feel like I won because I got good. I feel like I beat the enemies due to luck, like the AI took it easy on me with certain attacks or whatever. It's strange.

The 3rd boss felt like that in particular, a snake demon that on my winning attempt simply spammed the same attack for 90% of the fight. So I won, but I feel like the game fucked up somehow I suppose?

Totally disagree with this. I found the bosses so far super exciting and they really require you to pay attention and learn their moves to search for openings. I absolutely loved the snake boss. It definitely didn't spam one attack but had a wide array of moves that all flowed neatly into one another. I always tried to do as much damage before it's Ki was depleted and the Yokai realm detached it's snake arms. Yokai burst in particular was high risk/reward in this amazing boss fight because the particular attack would most likely one shot you. She also has an incredibly powerful Yokai core once you defeat her. It actually reminded me a bit of the Hino-enma boss fight from the first game with the diving attacks and spear throwing and the stage is also a bit similar.

It's challenging yeah but I personally think it's on the same level as Nioh 1. Yokai burst and Yokai shift can easily turn the tide of battle if you're not very good at the combat. Maybe not to the same degree as Living Weapon and the way sloth was OP in NG in Nioh 1 but still good enough. Old enemies return but they have more move sets and also longer reach and more erratic behavior. It was very easy to fall into a predictable pattern with the first game but the sequel really mixes it up. Some of the Yokai designs are also really monstrous which I really, really love. It's all just more creative.

I don't think it's fair to compare Nioh's broad scope with the laser focus of Sekiro. Nioh has to count for much more variables so yeah it might not be as pristine all the time as Sekiro but with Sekiro people also complained about there being just one playstyle. Both are near perfect games in my opinion but for different reasons.

stroopwafel:
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Interestingly enough, despite the potential of the burst counter, I don't use it much. It's nice when you are too close to a red attack to get away, but I don't ever jump into harms way to use it.

The snake boss for example, when it did it's red slither attack, I side stepped and beat the shit out of it as it slithered past.

What I have been getting a lot of use out of is the Yokai soul core abilities. Specifically the Monkey leap and spear throw, that move has put it SO much fucking work it's dumb.

I maybe am rusty, or just am having a hard time adapting to Nioh 2 for some reason. The game is getting great reviews from basically everywhere, but I can't help but find myself frustrated because the difficulty feels cheap to me. I'm working through the game though, slowly.

Although this morning was interesting because I reached the first Human boss and I found that fight a LOT of fun. He was punishing if you fucked up, but he felt like a tough and fair challenge and I thought it was a great fight.

A Team Ninja game with sadistically unbalanced difficulty?

I wanted to provide you all with some updates now that I'm over 30 hours into Nioh 2.

While I have gotten better at the game with time, a lot of my original criticism still stands. Many of the bosses are simply not fun to fight due to the mechanics of the game being "Master it or GTFO" with no middle ground. Making beating them not feel like an accomplishment, but more of a relief that the nonsense is over.

But for the most part the main missions are a fairly tough but doable design. However where Nioh 2 really really falls into "go fuck yourself" territory is with the side missions. In the first Nioh most of the side missions where short straightforward events, fight a couple of waves of bad guys, fight one boss-like dude, or zip through the level to find the quest item. With very few exceptions, these missions weren't super challenging.

In Nioh 2 the side missions are bullshit. While they mostly fall under the same categories as the first game, Team Ninja has decided to go with a "fuck the player over" mindset it seems.

Now when you fight enemy gauntlets, you fight up to five enemies at once which is insanely hard since the combat system doesn't support fighting lots of dudes at once (Dark Souls and Bloodborne had the same problem to lesser degrees).

Additionally in the missions that act out as short versions of the main missions, they've decided to place enemies pretty much where ever they want. One of the side missions in the 4th area, has a short cliffside section where you climb a very narrow winding path up a cliff. On this path they put a Monkey yokai in the way, a screaming banshee yokai, and a couple of archer yokai. Under normal conditions in a regular level, none of these yokai are tough on their own. However trying to get by, or fight them with no space to move around their attacks, or dodge freely, and you get a bullshit recipe.

And this stuff happens in almost every side mission, as if to deter you rather than give you bite sized content that can help gear and level up your character.

I get the feeling like Team Ninja thought that the players didn't think Nioh 1 was hard enough so they just cranked everything up to 11 in Nioh 2 with no regards for balancing.

I am overcoming the game, but it isn't fun, and it isn't rewarding when I do succeed. I'm forcing myself through it because I'm hoping to break through the wall. The wall in which I figure out some key thing I'm missing, some mechanic or combat technique that suddenly turns this game from frustration to enjoyable challenge.

Sadly I'm just not having fun with the game. I want to, and I want to like the game but I'm just not and I can't figure out exactly why.

Then let's talk about the multiplayer. So multiplayer in this game is stupid and amazing at the same time. It's stupid because you cannot summon a friend to multiplayer any level if the player you summoned has not already beaten that level on their own. Which means you can't experience the game with a friend like most other souls games. Instead you and your friend must experience the game on your own (or with a stranger you already beat a given stage) before being able to play together.

While I do not like this policy, I kind of understand it. Because for as hard as this game is, how utterly bullshit the bosses and some sections of the game get when you are on your own......They are completely stupidly easy with another player. The AI in this game will kill the fuck out of you instantly if you so much as blink at the wrong time during a fight, but when the AI has multiple targets to choose from it just breaks and can't figure out what to do. I've had bosses that took hours to kill alone, stand there and do nothing as three people beat the shit out of it in 15 seconds flat. I've had entire Yokai realm portions of levels stand in T-pose (or demonic equivalent) because too many players in game just confused the AI.

It's gotten to a point where I'll just summon a random player and turn any boss that was proving to be too hard, into a complete joke of a fight.

And I think that's the best evidence of how something is wrong with Nioh 2. In all Souls games the game can get much easier with a buddy sure, but in Nioh 2 the AI is relentless against you unless there is another player with you. It turns an overtuned bastard of an AI into a confused mess and that's not right either. In other Souls-like games the bosses do a pretty good job of swaping attack strings against whatever player is the closest at the time, giving both players chances to be offensive and defensive during the fight. Yet Nioh 2 you can almost see the AI changing who it's targeting back and forth rapidly without really doing anything, as if it can't decide what to do against more than one target.

This problem with the AI also applies to the Computer controlled friendly AI companions you can summon from the blue graves around the level. These blue graves summon a friendly NPC version of another player to fight with you, but their AI is also completely dogshit. They do not avoid attacks, they barely attack themselves, and serve as only momentary relief during hard boss fights or standard level encounters. I don't think I've ever seen one of these AI players do a weapon combo, mostly they attack then pause for a long time, then attack once more and pause. Over and over again, and usually during these pauses they are getting hit by every attack that happens to pass their general direction. They run into attacks too.

So Nioh 2 needs work. Somewhere along the way, the team lost sight of the fun and replaced it with overwhelming difficulty at the cost of everything else in the game.

It's a shame but I'm disappointed in how this turned out.

Oh and the living weapon replacement "Yokai shift" is fucking worthless. Like int he first game you summon your guardian spirit to turn into a Yokai demon for a brief period of invincibility and damage boost to try and finish fights or by yourself a window of some kind. But Yokai shift sucks in all areas, it doesn't last nearly as long as living weapon did, it doesn't do any damage and even heavy attacks do no stagger to anything, and it's only real benefit is you wont die if you get hit and you will get hit pretty much the moment you activate it. Living weapon has another thing it did, when you activated living weapon all enemies around you staggered back including every boss in the game. Yokai shift doesn't stagger, so you have this long four second animation and none of the enemies are staggered so they get to line up super attacks, or throws, or whatever bullshit that by the time you get control of your character back it's too late to avoid the attack and you just have to eat it, which ends up leaving you with 2 or 3 seconds of yokai shift form left before it's gone.

Blasted through this over the last week stuck inside for the lockdown, & finally completed the main story on Thursday. Love it to bits, just as I did Nioh 1.

Difficulty is steep, but I wouldn't change that. I had a much easier time with it than I did playing Nioh 1 for the first time because I've got that experience now. Managed to take down a fair few bosses (including the Mezuki) first try, to my own surprise.

I was hoping for a stage as epic and similar to a large-scale pitched battle as the Sekigahara stage in Nioh 1 or the Siege of Osaka in the DLC, and there wasn't really that, which is a shame. But some brilliant memorable stages nonetheless (mostly later in the game).

CritialGaming:
So Nioh 2 needs work. Somewhere along the way, the team lost sight of the fun and replaced it with overwhelming difficulty at the cost of everything else in the game.

I don't know what you're talking about the game looks really easy and a ton of fun...

Phoenixmgs:

I don't know what you're talking about the game looks really easy and a ton of fun...

Critical brought up the placement of the Gozuki as the second enemy encountered, too, but it was pretty obvious to me it was supposed to be avoided. I didn't engage it first time; the area is clearly laid out to block his view and allow you to sneak past.

Using that as evidence of unbalanced difficulty is a bit like using the first encounter with the Asylum Demon in Dark Souls 1 to make the same point about that game.

Silvanus:

Critical brought up the placement of the Gozuki as the second enemy encountered, too, but it was pretty obvious to me it was supposed to be avoided. I didn't engage it first time; the area is clearly laid out to block his view and allow you to sneak past.

Using that as evidence of unbalanced difficulty is a bit like using the first encounter with the Asylum Demon in Dark Souls 1 to make the same point about that game.

I got to NG+ and the game is WAY more fun in NG+.

 

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