Nioh is a personal favourite of mine and easily one of the best games I played this year. I’ve been looking forward to the DLC for a while now, especially since it’s starring the legendary One-Eyed Dragon, Date Masamune. I was interested to see how Nioh would handle this character in contrast to other portrayals such as the over-top version seen in the Sengoku Basara series. Unfortunately, the only thing more pedestrian than his character is the DLC itself.
It’s not that the DLC is bad as much as it is uninteresting. Dragon of North consists of a new region with two main missions, four bosses and a few side missions. It’s short, which is not inherently an issue, but I felt like I was just re-treading through a recycled area from the main game. The main section of the DLC takes place in a snowy region that feels just like the Falling Snow mission. There are a few new and interesting Yokai to spice things up, which I highly appreciate, but they did little to break up the monotony.
The main game was not exempt of this issue either and after a while, things did begin to feel familiar, but the environments were interesting at least. From a poison-filled mine, a castle full of traps to a derelict town, overrun by giant spiders. The new Oshu region just feels bland in comparison. This would all have been acceptable if the boss fights were exciting, but they’re just as average, for the most part.
The first boss could easily pass as a stronger variant of a normal Yokai, while the featured character, Date Masamune, feels like other humanoid bosses, just faster and more relentless. It’s frustrating because this is the fabled One-Eyed Dragon, but there was nothing done to really make the fight feel special aside from some great special effects. Thankfully, the final encounter provided the much-needed excitement I had hoped to get from the package. The last boss was simply fantastic, a battle against an enemy using a rapier who moves with mesmerizing elegance while still exuding a menacing presence. It was the type of fight I wanted from the Masamune battle, but I was happy to have gotten it with one of the bosses.
Most of the interesting gameplay changes and enhancements come from the newly released 1.08 patch, which added the new weapon type, Odachi, new difficulty mode, the ability to equip two spirits as well as new equipment effects among other things. It was much more fun experimenting with this, using the DLC as a new playground rather than making my way through the actual content. Overall though, the DLC isn’t expensive, and it is, after all, more Nioh, and Nioh is already excellent. The DLC still provides ample challenge and if you’ve been craving more since completing the game, then you’ll get some enjoyment out of it, just don’t expect too much from it.
Last Updated: May 9, 2017