Steel yourself, samurai. Another opportunity to slice into the intense Nioh 2 is on the way with the Last Chance Trial (no PS Plus required). Sharpen your odds of survival with some quick and handy insights I picked up from a recent hands-on session with the game. Specifically, I dive into what make’s Team Ninja’s dark adventure a uniquely compelling, challenging action RPG within the genre.
Last Chance Free Trial
The demo for Nioh 2 showcases plenty of what’s new in this action sequel. Detailed character customization is on display. Players can summon ferocious Yokai to assist in battle (more details below). You can also wield the deadly new Switchglaive – a wicked, scythe-like weapon that shifts forms on the fly.
The trial packs three missions for samurai to test their skills. Venture out Mount Tenno and face the deadly creatures waiting there with a variety of deadly weapons. Although your game progress may not transfer to the full game later, your created character’s appearance does! So pour as much time into crafting your samurai as you wish.
Trial Start: Friday, February 28 at 12:00am PT (Midnight)
Trial End: Sunday, March 1 at 11:59pm PT
How Nioh 2 Stands Apart
Like many players, I love masocore games that test my skill and force me to improve while also building up my character. I’ve played my fair share of action RPGs set in dark fantasy worlds, where the lowest-ranking enemy can one-shot careless players. Despite my appreciation of the genre, I missed out on the first Nioh, and have anticipated Nioh 2 as a jumping-on point for the series.
After playing the game for a few hours, I walked away with a clearer picture of what makes Team Ninja’s samurai journey unique within the tough-yet-fair genre.
Nioh 2 fuses feudal Japanese history with mythological creatures called Yokai. The result is a refreshing, fantastical blend of visceral samurai combat and enchanting magic.
“Japanese people are familiar with the concept of Yokai,” says Fumihiko Yasuda, Team Ninja producer. “We’ve grown up hearing stories about them in folklore and they can appear in many different forms. Not all of them are enemies; some are friendly or are simply spirits that live in objects. We wanted to share that Japanese tradition with the world, that’s why it’s special to me.”
These spirits are much more than eye-catching set dressing – they’re intrinsically woven into combat. Bosses may summon raging boars or fiery wolves to cut you down mid-battle. Unlike the previous game, players can summon their own Yokai to perform powerful attacks, like a brutish ogre that clobbers foes with a huge club. Don’t let these powerful attacks make you overconfident, though – you’re still susceptible to deadly attacks. The layer of Yokai-enhanced combat keeps melee feeling fresh.
Every weapon swing, dodge roll, and blocked attack costs you stamina. This resource is called “ki” in Nioh 2. Mastering the Ki Pulse technique is critical for outlasting your foes, and sets Nioh apart. Tapping the R1 button with precise timing as you complete a combo triggers a Ki Pulse, quickly restoring your ki. To assist timing, pay attention to energy collecting towards your character, and the white bar filling atop your ki bar. Practice this critical technique early on, and you’ll be thanking yourself later.
The Dark Realm
Certain enemies shroud themself in the ki-sapping Dark Realm. Sometimes this manifests as a puddle-like aura emanating from a singular enemy. The effect slows ki regeneration to a crawl, but a well-timed Ki Pulse instantly dissipates this aura. In Nioh 2, some enemies cause entire rooms to be corrupted by the Dark Realm. Dispel the bad mojo by destroying that enemy. The Dark Realm wrinkle can infuse the most average battle with new challenge, so don’t rest on our laurels.
Weapon Variety & Stances
Nioh 2 features a robust arsenal of close-combat weapons. Choose a trusty katana, massive hammer, or get stylish with chained kusarigamas. The breadth of options is matched with impressive depth, as each weapon supports low, medium, and high stances. Low stance is highly defensive with short, safe, low-damage attacks. High stance prioritizes big, high-risk attacks that leave players open to lethal damage. Naturally, the medium stance is an all-purpose balance. The exciting benefit is that there’s much to master about each specific weapon, even after you master the medium stance.
Two new deadly weapons also join the lineup in Nioh 2, adding even more diversity to the impressive options.
“Nioh  had seven weapon types. With Switchglaives and Hatchets players have two new weapon types [in Nioh 2],” Yasuda-san says. “They’re all well-balanced — no one weapon type is better than another. Dual hatchets have long range, and depending on your stance they will have different range and different combos. Try them and find out what works best for you!”
Fans of masocore epics should absolutely dive into Nioh 2. Appreciation for the genre isn’t requisite to enjoying Team Ninja’s latest, however. Nioh 2 packs in enough customization and depth that players are bound to find a weapon and combat style that suits their style. Be cautious, master your ki, and prepare for a potent challenge with every step.
Dive into the Nioh 2 Last Chance Trial on February 28, and prepare for the full adventure on March 13.