Nioh 2’s new DLC follows the exploits of Minamoto no Yoshitsune against the Tiara clan. Much like the rest of the characters in the game, they’re loosely based on their real life historical counterparts, and here Yoshitsune is a Shiftling much like the protagonist of the game, as the two team up together for a brief adventure.
There’s not much I can really say about the story. While I felt that Nioh 2 really improved on its storytelling due to its characterisation, here the narrative feels inconsequential. The DLC doesn’t last long enough to really connect with anyone and it unfortunately feels like a throwaway side story even though it is building up to something bigger.
It’s unfortunate as Yoshitsune and his companion Benkei are pretty interesting characters, at least from a design point of view, but there’s not much done to really have them make any sort of impact. That being said, it’s not that big of a detraction as story was never truly Nioh 2’s strongest point. The gameplay is where this sequel has always shined brightest, and it’s no different here.
The level design this time is even more solid, due to it feeling like a derivative of earlier locations, with the main missions taking place in a coastal area atop numerous shipwrecks as well as in an Amrita mine. There’s a strange sense of déjà vu going through each level, as the coastal area feels pretty similar to the harbor in the original Nioh and one boss fight even feels like a straight copy of the Umi-Bozu fight, but it manages to feel fresh enough by adding a few new Yokai into the mix and putting forth honestly some of the best showdowns in the game.
Seriously, these boss battles are amazing.
There are only three main boss battles in the DLC so I don’t want to give too much away but it ranges from slow, up to intimidating then to downright frantic. The final boss encounter of the DLC might be my favorite in the game, as it’s not only visually stunning but it also tests your reflexes against an enemy who’s quicker than lightning.
Aside from the bosses, there are also a few side missions and a new difficulty setting for players to tackle. There’s also a free update that adds a bunch of stuff such as the new Demon Parade Picture Scrolls, which is a new accessory that you can equip but also brings along a special mission that you need to complete before you can use them. Everything considered, there is a lot of content on offer and this is without even getting to the new weapon that was added in The Tengu’s Disciple.
The Split-staff is the new weapon that comes with the DLC and it’s an interesting beast. Unexpectedly it scales off of the Omnyo stat so it fits perfectly into my build and it was nice to have a secondary weapon to accompany the Switch-glaive. It’s not really a pick up and use kind of weapon and there is a bit of a learning curve to really bring out its full potential. Being a staff type weapon it’s much more focused on crowd control due to its range, but it really excels in its role due to its special gimmick.
By holding down the attack button, the ends of the staff separate, further extending its range and adding a bunch of extra hits. Most of the active skills are also focused on wide and fast hitting attacks. This isn’t a weapon that does particularly well against single target enemies or even bosses due its damage being locked behind the large number of hits that have to be successfully landed, but there is an ability that allows you to use the staff to dodge in any direction while using a Ki Pulse. That can be activated from within a combo and allows for some nice maneuverability.
Overall it’s a fun weapon to experiment with even if it does at times feel very situational.
When it comes to Nioh 2, I would say the true gameplay loop only really starts after you complete the main story. Grinding and farming resources to improve your build while working your way through harder iterations of existing content becomes the bread and butter of the experience. The DLC alongside the free update provides a plethora of new things to play around with and work towards, and that’s where its true value lies.
Last Updated: August 12, 2020