Most of us probably expected Team Ninja’s follow-up to the Nioh series, Rise of the Ronin, to learn the most from the studio’s earlier action games. While this may yet prove to be true when we get our hands on it, what we’ve seen so far makes it instead look more and more like an expanded version of FromSoftware’s Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.
More specifically, the slice of gameplay we got treated to last night during Sony’s State of Play livestream had a couple of moments that definitely turned heads.
Rise of the Ronin is Team Ninja’s biggest game yet. It’s the developer’s first open world title (like Elden Ring was for FromSoft), has multiple ways of traversal, and a narrative featuring NPCs you don’t just watch in cutscenes. Based on everything we’ve seen, it’s a modern video game.
But it’s also a Team Ninja project, so everything looks to be built on solid gameplay foundations, many of which have evolved from what you may be familiar with from the Nioh series. This is where I thought it would settle, but my impressions have themselves have evolved after watching the recent gameplay video.
To be blunt: there’s an awful lot of Sekiro in Ronin, which is absolutely a good thing.
Let’s start off with the grappling rope, which appears to work in a similar way to the one in Sekiro. Yes, you can use it to quickly reach rooftops and get to vantage points, but it also lets you close the distance on enemies. Later in the video, we see the protagonist even do the ‘very Sekiro thing’ of grappling towards the enemy to capitalise on an advantage, and outright use the rope to pull a sentry towards them (though this probably only works with weak units).
The same grappling rope can also be used for stealth, in another homage to Sekiro. And how about that tall grass? Now, obviously Sekiro didn’t invent this mechanic, but something about emerging out of tall grass to grapple into an enemy/rooftop looks very Sekiro to my eyes.
Indeed, Team Ninja has never really dappled in stealth, much in the same way Sekiro was FromSoftware’s first time implementing a stealth system. I will say, however, the radar showing enemies as red dots may be a bit much. Not exactly part of the rogue samurai fantasy, is it?
Nioh’s posture system makes a return, too, but it appears to lean more in the direction of Sekiro this time, with perfect parries quickly depleting the enemy’s posture. Enemy posture can recover, too, so you may need to break it more than once to outright kill them.
At 1:30 in the trailer, we get another direct homage to Sekiro; this time to one of its enemies. Remember the Long-arm Centipede Giraffe mini-boss? Well, the one in Ronin has similar-looking claws, and attacks about as fast – likely also used to teach you how to parry fast attacks. Speaking of parrying, the developer confirmed on the PlayStation Blog that you’ll be able to deflect rifle shots! Something I’m sure we’ve all wanted to do since Mitsurugi’s excellent introduction in Soul Calibur 2’s blazing intro movie.
All of that is very much welcome, especially since FromSoftware doesn’t appear to be doing anything with Sekiro. I am certain there are many nuances in Rise of the Ronin I’ve missed, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it and find out just how much like Sekiro, if at all, it plays.
Rise of the Ronin arrives March 22 on PS5.