Review – Nioh 2: Complete Edition (PC)

I’m a huge Dark Souls fan. Its tough, challenging yet fair combat makes for one of the most satisfying gameplay experiences of all time. When Team Ninja’s original Nioh came out a few years ago, I was a little bit skeptical after playing the beta, but ended up really enjoying it, as it ended up being much more than just a simple Souls clone. When we first reviewed Nioh 2 almost a year ago we thought it was an excellent sequel that built on its predecessor’s already great gameplay. Unfortunately I haven’t had the chance to dive in back then, but I’m more than making up for that issue with the PC version. 

Nioh 2 takes a slightly different approach to its story compared to its predecessor, being a prequel instead of a sequel. In it, you play as a custom character referred simply as Hide, a half-human, half-Yokai shiftling with unique powers. You will still meet the occasional historical figure throughout your journey, and a great second half awaits, but I still found myself less invested in this one. 

Side characters are the ones that push the story along this time.

The gameplay is where the first Nioh shone the most and once again it’s brilliant in the sequel, taking the same core that made Dark Souls such a hit and expanding on it exponentially to the point of becoming its own thing. Weapon stances  return as the biggest mechanic this game offers, giving each of the six weapon classes three different movesets and even further customisation the further into the skill trees you get. There’s an impressive amount of variety on display in the gameplay. 

If you have neither played the original Nioh, or if you have already forgotten or repressed your traumas, then Nioh 2 will be unforgivably brutal, especially earlier in the game. It’s this level of brutal difficulty that had me thinking “yeah, I’m playing a Team Ninja game”, reminding me of the good old (and borderline sadistic) days when Ninja Gaiden ruled the world. This level of difficulty does wear out over time with the regular enemies, but bosses will, time and time again, absolutely destroy you, punishing every little mistake you make, forcing you to rethink your strategies. 

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Nioh 2. The level design is excellent and the overall boss quality is actually a step up from the original, but the same bizarre difficulty curve is still present. The game’s level structure and overworld allowed a great level of variety whilst giving plenty of side content and a simple way to replay missions, grind gear and fight your favourite bosses. If you liked the first you will very much like this one, but if you didn’t, then nothing will change here. Although I’m disappointed that the same cumbersome inventory and loot system is still in place with seemingly no changes. 

Not going to lie… this guy took me much longer than I’d like to admit.

Being a Shiftling is where the biggest changes lie. You’re able to change into one of three different Yokai forms when your spirit gauge fills up: they function pretty much like living weapons. On top of this, all of the major Yokai you encounter will drop a spirit core. Infuse these onto your character and you will be able to perform special attacks. It takes the already varied gameplay to an entirely new level. Best of all, you don’t really need to engage with the Yokai gameplay to succeed. If you want a more traditional Souls-like gameplay, you can still play it like one. 

Nioh 2 Complete Edition comes packed with all DLC introduced over the year since its original release. Some additional armour sets and weapons are nice but the meat comes in the story content. Nioh 2 Complete Edition includes the Tengu’s Disciple, Darkness in the Capital and First Samurai expansions, each with their own locations and bosses. All in all, there is a ton of content in here, and the replay value is incredibly solid as well, due to the sheer insane amount of builds you can come up with. 

On an RTX 2060 and Ryzen 5 3600X, it was easy to reach 60+FPS at 3440×1440 resolution most of the time. The only instances in which the framerate dropped noticeably was in Yokai infested zones which featured a lot of particle effects. Interestingly enough, I had similar drops at 1080p, and while there have been a couple of crashes here and there, they were very few and far between. The biggest issue though is with the occasional microstutter and frame pacing issues which can occasionally get in the way when moving through the environment. Thankfully during combat the performance is as solid as you would expect with support of up to 120FPS if your PC can handle it. 

Boss fights are plentiful… and often brutal.

It’s a fantastic looking game and it holds up really nicely with some greatly designed locations and visual effects. A rather nice treat to see is ultrawide support for 21:9 monitors. From my experience, this worked remarkably well during gameplay, making Nioh 2 look a tiny bit better than it did before.  Though as many of you with ultrawide monitors already know, things such as cutscenes and some menus will revert back to 16:9 when triggered. Finally, there are a couple of other issues: having an Xbox controller plugged in will still display Playstation button prompts, and a weird bug that causes the mouse cursor to appear on screen behind your character. 

The PC release of Nioh 2 may not be perfect but it’s still well worth visiting. The locales are stunning, the combat is as great as ever and the boss fights will have you on the edge of your seat most of the time. I’ve died much more than I’d like to admit, but I’ve loved every minute of it. 

Graphics: 8.5

Higher frame rates and ultrawide support are here in this PC port.

Gameplay: 9.5

The sheer gameplay variety on display here separates Nioh 2 from other Dark Souls-inspired clones.

Sound: 9.0

Great all around sound design with fantastic boss themes and decent enough voice acting that pushes the story along nicely. 

Fun Factor: 8.5

Nioh 2 may not be a perfect PC conversion but it is certainly good enough. It’s still a Nioh game, and that can never be a bad thing.

Final Verdict: 9.0

Nioh 2 Complete Edition is available now on PC, PlayStation 4 & 5. 

Reviewed on PC.

A copy of Nioh 2 Complete Edition was provided by the publisher.