We're not ones to boast, but we sort of have to be pretty good at video games in order to do our jobs properly. We've managed to beat every Dark Souls entry there is, Bloodborne, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice -- you name it and we've probably clocked it. However, Nioh 2's open beta just kicked our arse. Playable for the next 10 days, Koei Tecmo's follow-up to the 2017 samurai spin on the Souls formula could be the hardest one yet.
Of course, we're probably a little rusty having not played the original for quite some time, but muscle memory should have kicked in fairly quickly. The open beta appears to take place at the very beginning of the game, with a quick dabble in the character creation suite enough to differentiate your avatar from anyone else on the ancient Japanese battlefield. You're tasked with making your way to a castle way off in the distance, and there's a whole host of human and supernatural enemies in your path to slay. That is if you're up to the task.
We, on the other hand, clearly aren't. Deaths were aplenty as we tried and tried our best to make any real progress through the initial level, but we came up short. Struggling to manage our stamina meter effectively and getting caught up in one too many hit animations from enemies that chewed off the majority of our health, we could only manage to get so far. This game is hard, like really, really hard. A companion is even introduced partway through to offer a helping hand but it didn't improve matters much despite the fact we thought we had a friend to fall back on. Silly, silly us.
Gameplay-wise, this is absolutely more Nioh. More of the same isn't so bad, however, because the first title was a great twist on the Souls formula. Once again you'll be kitted out in ancient weaponry with a variety of stances to pick between, and it's these that dictate the type of attacks you'll perform. The adorable Kodamas make their return, hidden throughout the environments, while a cute but mysterious cat started following us around at one point. We've not quite figured out the point of them just yet.
Besides that, it's a lot of slashing, dodging, and blocking. You'll work your way through the somewhat linear location, taking on foes when you feel ready, and picking up any items they drop. Thus improving your character with enhancements to armour and skill points that better your moves. It's the typical Souls route of inching your character closer to progress while making sure to take on enemies strategically and falling back if the going gets tough. You know the drill by now.
It's not something that's going to reinvent the wheel, but Nioh 2 does appear to be a solid sequel to the original. It retains everything that made that 2017 outing so memorable, and if it manages to introduce enough new systems and mechanics to the experience come March 2020, we reckon the experience will be looked back on fondly. Even if that goes give it another opportunity to beat us into submission.
Have you played Nioh 2's open beta? Did you fare any better than us, or was it just as difficult for you? Change your stance in the comments below.