Rise of the Rōnin Preview – A Masterful Slice of Samurai Action

Rise of the Rōnin Preview

Over the past two decades, Team Ninja has solidified their reputation as one of the masters of combat within the industry. With acclaimed titles like Nioh, Wo Long, and Ninja Gaiden in their portfolio, the anticipation for their latest game, Rise of the Rōnin, is at an all-time high. With its release date on the horizon, I had the opportunity to experience the first few hours of the Japanese epic, and I can confidently confirm that the excitement is entirely justified.

Set in the Bakumatsu period, you play as a Rōnin, a samurai without a master. Strafing away from Team Ninja’s previous releases, Rise of the Rōnin instantly forms its own identity. The late Edo era allows for the talented developers to include several new elements that add more options to combat and traversal. While melee weapons remain at the forefront of fights, you can use guns and other range attacks to inflict further damage.

Swordplay is where the game excels. Enemies feel distinct and require you to learn how to counter their attacks. While parrying is a dangerous method due to the expert timing required, it rewards you by building to a stunned state and offering an opening for larger attacks. Certain strikes will smash through your block or parry so because of this, you must use evasion tactics to survive formidable foes. While it is tough, there is nothing unfair that occurs on the battlefield. All attacks are wonderfully signalled allowing you to react, however, learning how and when is what makes it challenging.

Die By the Blade

You can carry a range of weapons which all have different benefits. Some are faster allowing you to jump in and unleash a flurry of attacks whereas others are better at a distance. In addition to this, you can also switch stances. Doing so will give you an advantage with certain enemies so you can quickly whittle down their health and perform a stylish finisher. This creates a deep and tactical combat system that requires thought and deliberation.

While Team Ninja’s other games delve into the supernatural, this stays grounded in reality during the first few hours. Due to this, I was much more invested in the story which is stylishly delivered through well-directed cutscenes that emulate classic films in the genre. Leaning further into the RPG genre, you can also select dialogue responses at certain points to shape the personality of your character. This helps to create bonds with the supporting cast who you call upon to aid you in battle. The multiple-character system adds another layer to the gameplay as you can also switch between them so that you can take advantage of their strengths in battle. The culmination of these elements sets up an enticing premise which I’m excited to embark on.

A Brave New World

Rather than level-based missions, your objectives take place in a large open world. During the first couple of hours, it is clear to see the variety of locations on offer. Traversing the environment can be done via horseback or a wingsuit contraption. The latter allows you to glide into enemy territory and assassinate foes from the sky. You can also use your grappling hook to scurry across the rooftops and even in battle to launch barrels and other items in your surroundings at your opponent.

As you venture forth, you’ll discover Veiled Edge Banners which are basically Bonfires from the Dark Souls series. While there are similarities to the franchise with a Karma system where you lose XP upon death, that is just one aspect within the large adventure. Comparisons can also be made to Ghost of Tsushima, Assassin’s Creed and Tenchu due to the aesthetic, however, there’s a lot more in play that gives the game a distinct quality.

The first couple of hours of Rise of the Rōnin sets up what promises to be an epic journey. The story is full of intrigue and could be Team Ninja’s best tale to date. Combining this with their celebrated combat system and a diverse open world, this looks to be another slick, slice of samurai action and I can’t wait for its full release on March the 22nd.

*** A preview code was provided by the publisher ***