Hey All decided to try my hand at doing some blogging, never tried it before and I thought it'd be fun to try and get into.
The subject of this one being the nioh beta.
I haven't exactly been subtle about my love for how the developers have handled the game, the alpha demo was of better quality and less buggy then some actual finished triple A games and the devs immediatly took the criticism's players had at the demo to heart and fixed it in the beta. It's pretty much rocketed it's way up as my most anticipated game in a long time.
That all being said onto the demo itself.
Combat & Mechanics
Nioh is very much like a souls game, it takes a lot from the series such as it's brutal yet rewarding learning curve and death mechanic, but the combat depth in Nioh seems like it'll be far greater then souls simplistic yet effective approach.
At first Nioh's can be very overwhelming, especially if you go in expecting dark souls combat.
There are 5 main weapon types(Spears, katana's, duel katana's, axes, hammers) and 3 gun types(cannons, guns, bows) and there are also ninjutsu/onymo magic weaponry and items.
There are three stances for each weapon which can be changed on the fly(neutral, low, high) which each all have advantages and disadvantages, same for the weaponry.
Changing between stances takes some time to get used to but it's the stamina system where it gets very interesting, Nioh's gameplay has a huge focus on managing stamina or ki as it's called here, the meter itself runs like souls however if you're hit when your ki is low it puts you into a fatigued state where you cannot move for a few seconds and the enemy can get a critical attack in, you can do the same to your enemies and their ki bar is visible, there's also an important feature called ki pulse which allows you to regain a lot of your ki immediatly on a well timed button press meaning after practicing this you could go to town with a hammer and regain most of your ki in a single click.
This makes nioh's gameplay a bit of a balancing act since attacking uses up ki but if used right can also break an enemy's guard, similairly you can dodge and block attacks to lower their ki as well, it's a mechanic that makes the game feel really unique and I love it.
Ki does work differently then it first did in the alpha though, in the alpha losing your ki immediatly put you into the fatigued state whereas in the beta you have to be hit with low stamina, i'd be lying if I said I did'nt prefer the former, in the beta it feels like it could lead to a lot of broken ki builds and it allows the player to be more reckless, I actually managed to beat an entire twilight level(I'll explain these later) without dying up till the boss because i'd overlevelled ki a bit, it's also just a lot more fun fighting regular enemy's in the alpha since getting cocky can lead you into this state and get you killed by anything keeping you on your toes, damage output even on nioh's weakest enemys is pretty high.
However the original ki mechanic was a big criticism so perhaps I'm just in the minority on this.
A lot of people had issue with the games lack of a tutorial for these features back in the alpha and the devs responded by putting in a tutorial stage, it does'nt teach everything but it does a good job of explaining the basic game mechanics.
During my time with the demo I mainly played with the duel weild katana's and solo katana's, as a duel wielder in dark souls I really enjoyed duel wielding here especially how you can keep slicing up enemy's after death it serves no purpose but damn it's a fun little detail thats especially satisfying after beating a troublesome enemy.
I messed around with the other weaponry a bit and it all felt very different from one another and it seems swapping out different weaponry frequently and for different situations is a thing the game actively wants you to do, the game has a skill system which allows you to upgrade new moves and features for your different weapons, the skills points you get from one weapon can be used on different types.
Now the interesting part is weapon familiarity, this came about as a replacement for durability in the alpha and it is a genious solution, essentially each weapon has a meter and the more you use that weapon the stronger the weapon will get until you max the meter however you also get more skill points for using a weapon you don't use often or at all, whats great about this is unlike durability it's not forcing you to change weapons and is instead incentivising you to swap them around. If you so please though you can still stick to one weapon type and get all the benefits since the familiarity applies to each weapon rather then the type of weapon(so swapping between two hammers would work just as well as between a katana and hammer) but the game is trying to get you to experiment more.
I can't say much about guns bows and cannons, they mainly seem to work as secondary weaponry like in dark souls, though I'd be interested to see if they could be a viable build, this could just be me but i have noticed that getting a head shot with a gun on some weaker enemy can result in an instakill which could be useful, the drawback being guns make a lot more noise then bows, cannons are essentially the strongest gun with infrequent ammo, they make a lot of noise but they also pack a massive punch that can send enemy's flying back.
Ninjutsu and Onymo magic are very interesting and I wish I'd found out about them earlier and found more time to experiment with them.
Ninjutsu are basically ninja stars, powders and a group of item based weaponry that you can always replenish at a shrine(this games bonfire checkpoints), you can level them up as one of your stats and from what I've heard these can be used as a focus of your build which I'm really happy about, it'd be a unique build and I'm thinking of trying it myself after watching the protagonist of the anime Rokka(a character who relies on that sort of trickery), I'm hoping ninjutsu affects the strength of regular items as well, an issue with the souls series is how a lot of items such as firebombs become useless 5 minutes into the game so it'd be nice if everything here could be used with the right skills.
Onymo magic like ninjutsu can be leveled up as a separate stat and replenishes at shrines, I've had the least experience with these but from what I've heard you use them to play as a sorta buffing based build, it allows you to ready talismans which are essentially type based buffs like electricity and fire to your weapon(like dark souls resins) and other utility based items, not something that appeals to me personally but it sounds like it'll be fun for some players and I'd love to fight players like this if the game ends up having pvp in its final version(which it really should), overall I'm really happy with the potential for build variety in the game, it seems to be accommodating a lot of different types.
One other thing to mention briefly is spirit powers, you can choose a guardian spirit whenever you're at a shrine and these can be leveled up in your stats, they mainly apply different passing bonuses based on which spirit you chose(my own being Kato because it reminds me of amaterasu but the interesting part is the special attack they give you, there's a meter you raise by killing enemy's or getting hit(I think) that when full allows you to use a special ability such as an invincibility form in Kato's case which helps a lot in a tough spot. Using it or dying twice and losing all your loot like souls will reset the meter.
World & Story
It's kinda difficult for me to talk about the story given it's only a disjointed demo but safe to say it's more story based then souls lore approach, the cutscenes make it appear the game will have a bigger plotline then souls.
An interesting aspect of it though is that it's being based on real life people, William the main character is actually based on the real first western samurai and I ran into two other characters based on real life samurai as well.
I was actually disappointed at first to find the game's been split into levels rather then one continuous world but given it's storytelling it makes more sense, however the levels in nioh are for the most part gigantic and will take a good hour or more to get through each, they allow for plenty of shortcuts (a lot of them hidden) between shrines and plenty of secrets, these also include kodama little green guys which when found will disappear back to a shrine and allow for you to buy a temporary buff from them such as increasing health drops, it seems the more you have of them the stronger the effect, I might be wrong but I think it also affects your starting health items as well, nioh's health items work similarly to souls estus flasks where you get them refilled at shrines however throughout the game I found myself gradually starting with more at shrines and I wonder if this is due to them, I also found a few fake walls which work a bit differently to souls and I always look forward to finding these kind of secrets.
Nioh's loot system works similarly to the likes of borderlands, you will accumulate a ton of different weaponry and armour throughout the game some of which will be basic and some special weaponry with different properties, my favorite in the demo being a lightening katana, a reward for beating a very difficult boss.
The game made keeping track of weapons and armour easy since there is a ! marker next to any new pickups meaning you can sort through them quickly and sell what you don't need, the game also colour codes items based on rarity.
One of the most pleasantly surprising features of the demo were the twilight missions, these are more difficult variants of the regular missions with only some being available each day, it's not just harder though they remix all the enemy placements making for a very different playthrough of the levels, I even found enemy's that weren't shown in the normal levels which is cool. it also changes the time of day to twilight which is a nice aesthetic touch.
One thing about these levels I didn't agree with though was the effect on bosses where they just add a few regular enemy's which can either be a pain in the ass for some bosses or just a little nuisance, it feels like a cheap way of increasing difficulty and I'd rather they just upped the boss damage and health, if they wanted to go really far they could give bosses moves or properties only used in twilight mode which would be a great way to throw of players and change the battle dynamic.
The enemy and boss design in the game is fantastic, it felt like every enemy had a different useful strategy to fight them such as using low stance for crawling enemy's and some weak enemy's can still be a threat later on in the demo if you're not careful, human enemy's are as you'd expect simplistic but they are still fun to fight against.
Now the Oni types by god they are cool, generally they spawn in two different ways as regular enemy's which respawn on your death or they spawn when you enter misty area's usually blocking your path these Oni's do not respawn and can be considered minibosses in some ways.
There are generally 3 different oni types that appear in the demo with different variants, there are the main oni seen in most screenshots and these can vary from using fast ninja weaponry to axes which even later on can cause serious physical(and probably mental) damage, there's also these little one eyed oni which run away from you and if given enough time will evolve into a massive behemoth, sometimes you'll find this oni already in this form though, there were also oni which I can only describe as lickitung on an all steroids diet, I can't remember much about fighting them though honestly since they were so infrequent but they were fun.
Oni's also have an interesting ki meter, they cannot naturally recharge ki but instead can drop down mist which slows your ki recharge but allows them to recharge even bosses do this, a well timed ki pulse erases the mist cloud, unlike regular enemy's oni also do not become fatigued when out of ki instead they become stunnable which can lead to some quick kills.
Oh right they also brought back the wheels from dark souls and threw gasoline on them..be very very afraid.
Bosses I really don't want to spoil, like the souls series being careful and looking for holes in their attacks is the way to victory, design wise they are really cool and I like how some of them seem to change their tactics drastically midway through the fight, I did have an issue with the final boss of the demo though despite being the funnest it did have one or two attacks that I'd describe as cheap mainly being a charge attack which ignores armour and cannot seem to be blocked if he initiates it too close to you....which he does...a lot, that being said I was very underleveled on my first few(Several hundred..I don't know when to quit) tries where he was almost instakilling me with this attack so that definitely contributed to my dislike of some of his attacks.
I didn't get to spend too much time playing around with the multiplayer but it seems to have two different methods of play, summoning people in your level and playing the entire level co-op by starting it from the menu, I didn't get to play around with the former however the latter worked pretty well, unlike souls death doesn't immediately kick you out of the level instead you can be picked back up by your ally however there's a shared meter at the top that decreases each time you do when it's empty it's all over, if both players are knocked down it's also over.
There's also an interesting alteration of souls bloodstain mechanic, in this game when a player dies they leave a samurai sword in the ground if you touch this sword you can actually fight a cpu controlled version of the player and if you win you get free gear(possibly the gear they are wearing but I can't confirm it), in twilight mode it sometimes even forces you into these fights. It's a cool little mechanic however the A.I does seem very off, they are, someone pissed in my cornflakes level of angry and will keep on attacking you sometimes even when you're blocking eventually wearing themselves out and allowing for an easy kill, I'm not sure if it's a bug or what but they are way to aggressive in their current form.
There hasn't been any sign of pvp yet which is saddening given the high variety in builds, though I'm fairly sure it's a feature being saved for the full game, I've got nothing to back this up but it seems extremely odd that they'd leave out a feature like that.
Overall I think it goes without saying that I love the beta, better quality then a lot of finished games and even though it was a timed demo the amount of content put the likes of glorified paid demos like mgs ground zeroes to shame.
- Two wrongs don't make a right, but three lefts do.
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