The Nioh series is an interesting take on the souls-like hack-n’-slash action adventure genre. With Nioh, Team Ninja has pretty successfully pursued a style that mixes the winning elements of games like Dark Souls with the stylistic pedigree Team Ninja has featured in games like Ninja Gaiden. At the start of February 2021, Team Ninja is prepared to release remastered versions of its games on PC and PS5 that will include all DLC and make use of next-gen technology to improve the games drastically.
With the release of The Nioh Collection and Nioh 2 - The Complete Edition in mind, we had a chance to speak with Team Ninja and Nioh Producer Fumihiko Yasuda about the improvements to Nioh 2, what influenced the various designs and balancing in the game, and even what comes next for Team Ninja and the Nioh franchise.
Shacknews: With the game moving up to PC and PS5 editions of the game, what was the priority in Nioh 2’s improvement for these platforms? What was the most exciting opportunity in approaching PC and PS5 that might not have been available for Nioh 2 in its original release?
Fumihiko Yasuda: The priority for us was allowing for higher framerate and 4K resolution support. We also made good use of the PS5's SSD in order to speed up load times and create a more enjoyable experience for the player.
Shacknews: It’s interesting that Nioh 2’s main game steps entirely away from William to explore an entirely new story with the Shifting Hide. Where there are still historical figures, what inspired the approach to a player-created character in the main role as opposed to another figure or staying with William?
Yasuda: As we included a character creation system in Nioh 2, we took the approach of having the story revolve around the player's protagonist so that they would feel like they themselves were moving the story forward.
Shacknews: There has also always been a very interesting focus on spirits and enemies throughout Nioh in the form of various creatures, demons, deities and other figures of Japanese mythological and religious origin. How did the team approach which sort of fantastical elements they might incorporate from the first game and the use of new figures in Nioh 2?
Yasuda: We built upon the concepts and way that yokai appeared in the first Nioh, and chose new yokai to include based on how well their signature movements and unique traits would result in fun new gameplay elements for the player to enjoy.
Shacknews: When it comes to classes of weapons, each new class adds a vastly separate approach to combat in the game with a whole style and set of moves. How do you go about keeping each of these weapons classes balanced for different playstyles and ensuring a certain weapon class doesn’t outshine the rest?
Yasuda: Regarding balancing specific Active Skills, Yokai Abilities and player builds, we always keep in mind that there were already players enjoying those specific aspects before we balanced them. As a result, we made sure not to implement simple adjustments that did not take into account each item being balanced. Our goal instead was to fully re-examine the performance of each aspect in order to properly balance everything.
Shacknews: DLC content has been a major part of both Nioh 1 and 2 in offering new scenarios, weapons, spirits, and foes. What’s the team’s philosophy behind what appeared in the main game’s content vs. what was pushed to possible inclusion as DLC later?
Yasuda: We felt it was necessary for the DLC expansions to be developed with a special emphasis placed on feedback we received on the base game as well as what the game still needed. For example, "Amabie" was considered as a Guardian Spirit as we were developing the DLC due to the societal response this yokai received in Japan as a result of the spread of COVID-19.
Shacknews: Nioh has been a quality approach to an arguably Soulsborne style, though Team Ninja is no stranger to hard games with the Ninja Gaiden series in its portfolio. With such a history on the approach to challenging, yet engaging games, is there anything particular that Nioh and Nioh 2 incorporated from the success of games like Dark Souls while also remaining true to its own pedigree from games like Ninja Gaiden?
Yasuda: We referenced the Dark Souls series in regard to the level design and RPG aspects of Nioh. While some of the action aspects are more restricted than what is possible in Ninja Gaiden, the way the controls and response feel are a continuation of the NG series. I think the high level of variation in the way enemies think is also something that is very representative of Team Ninja's design philosophies.
Shacknews: With Nioh 2 having finished its DLC with The Final Samurai and the Complete Edition coming to new platforms in 2021, is there anything in particular that comes after Nioh 2? Will we see more content or is Team Ninja prepared to move onto its next project?
Yasuda: Our current plan is to put the Nioh series on hold for the time being, and instead focus on a number of new projects. I want to get a lot of experience from these new titles and then start working on Nioh 3 at some point in the future.
And there you have it. The Nioh Collection is coming to PlayStation 5 while Nioh 2 - The Complete Edition will be available on PS4, PS5, and PC via Steam on February 5, 2021, with PC and PS5-specific upgrades. Stay tuned for more coverage as we get closer to the launch of these remasters and collections.