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October 2023

Nioh 2

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Developer: Team Ninja
Release Date: Feb. 5, 2021


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PC Preview - 'Nioh 2'

by Cody Medellin on Jan. 19, 2021 @ 6:00 a.m. PST

Prepare to be overwhelmed with intense action and experience the ultimate sense of accomplishment with the Sengoku masocore title, Nioh 2!

With the exception of first-party releases, PC players don't usually fret over PS4 exclusives. When a big PS4-exclusive game is released without a PC version appearing on the same day, it takes roughly a year before the PC version is released. Most of the time, the port ends up being better since it has all of the previously released DLC in tow in addition to the standard cadre of options that make the title look and perform better than its console counterpart. That trend is happening once more with Nioh 2, which hits the PC and PS5 in early February, and we checked out an early build of the title.

For the most part, Nioh 2 closely follows the formula set up by the original Nioh. This is a Soulsborne-style game where you manage a stamina meter while you dodge and block enemy attacks while you use light and heavy attacks. Praying at shrines is the only way to save your game and replenish your health, and dying means trekking back to the spot where you died to regain everything you've lost — before you die again. Every enemy, from the lowly bandit to the largest yokai, can kill you with a few hits.

Like the original game, there's plenty of loot to grab in Nioh 2, with the ability to upgrade each one through normal use. Items that might seem useless at your current level are still valuable, since you can trade them for stat points. Stances are still present, which has a significant effect on the speed and stats of your defense and offense. You can temporarily change into a yokai to fight with near-invincibility for a brief period.

Aside from the usual upgrades in things like weapon sets and skill trees, the sequel features some new changes that deepen the experience. Summoning AI players is still available, but you can now summon two at a time, which should help tremendously since the game feels much tougher than before. Compared to the first game, you'll likely feel like you're speed-running the title since you have to dodge and run away from foes due to how quickly they can maul you.

There's also a new collectible in the form of Spirit Cores that let you inherit an attack from different yokai and incorporate it into your attack repertoire. The ability to choose your own yokai spirit becomes more important when you can unleash a burst counter to respond to an enemy burst attack. As expected, precise timing is needed, and to progress in the main campaign, it's essential to learn when your burst results in a dash, parry, or attack interruption.

Aside from having all of the DLC content available immediately after beating the main campaign, the PC version of Nioh 2 comes with four new weapons. Hatchets are similar to the double swords, except for the fact that you can throw them at enemies. The witchglaive can be a giant scythe if you take a high stance, or it can be a naginata if you take a middle or low stance. Pick the splitstaff, and you can live out your fantasies of becoming Maxi and Kilik from Soulcalibur; your stance and attack type can determine if you're using a triple-segmented nunchuck or a long bo staff. Finally, you have the fists, which can turn the title into a martial arts-style Souls game, since you can execute hand-to-hand combos and flying attacks while getting way too close to enemies and leaving yourself wide open should you run out of stamina.

The PC version of Nioh 2 matches up with what's planned for the PS5 version, namely 4K support and a new frame rate cap of 120fps. Beyond this, the PC version is loaded with options. Full keyboard and mouse support is available from the beginning, so there's no need to wait for a patch to play the game this way. You can have the game display damage numbers for yourself and enemies and show life being recovered. All of the meters can have numerical values, and you can customize the font sizes for UI and subtitles. You can change lock-on behaviors and whether weapons are displayed at all. There are many graphical elements that can be changed, but the cap is at 120 and not unlimited. This is pretty granular stuff and a huge change from what passed for an options setting in the original game. Nioh 2 doesn't have any ray-tracing support, but DLSS is available, as is Nvidia Shadowplay, which activates whenever you find a small sprite but mostly works as a way to automatically record every death.

At the moment, there is one glaring issue plaguing the PC version, and it has to do with the mouse cursor. Outside of the main menu, controller users will see the cursor when selecting every other menu option. The cursor remains present in the center of the screen during gameplay and acts as a crosshairs even though your ranged weapons already have their own on-screen crosshairs. There's no way to get rid of it, and moving the mouse does nothing, since the game automatically thinks that you want to use your keyboard and mouse as a controller and moves the camera instead. You'll eventually ignore it once the fighting gets going, but it remains such an odd issue since the original game's PC port didn't have it.

So far, the impressions of the PC version of Nioh 2 match up with what we said about the game in our PS4 review. Like the first game, this is a Souls title with a samurai skin, and while the presence of yokai and the alterations to historical characters give it a more fantastical feel, the emphasis on attacks makes it feel different enough. PC players who were fans of the original have waited quite a while for this sequel, but all signs point to it being worth that wait.

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