“I’m not against easy modes at all,” says Hayashi, “When you look at Nioh and its priority, the concept is the tension of samurai combat so it didn’t quite work. It’s all about the authenticity of the combat, so not this time – but I’m not against it.”
While that may sound like a shut down that could potentially upset those who want to see such games become more accommodating to players of various skill levels, Hayashi elaborates on the team’s approach by explaining that, to the team, balancing difficulty in Nioh 2 is more about offering gameplay options.
“With Nioh 2, the biggest theme we had in the team was diversity,” says Hayashi. “There’s no one answer to defeating a boss, or going through different levels. There are so many various ways to approach things in your own way – one could be online co-op, that should make it more accessible. But it’s about trying to find a way that works for you, and the difficulty you want – it’s a samurai versus samurai game, so the tension needs to be there.”
Interestingly, Hayashi says that the team did take feedback from the Nioh 2 beta into account when balancing the game’s difficulty. He says that some parts were made easier than they were before in order to ensure that “if you die it should feel like it’s your fault.” Having said that, he won’t go so far as to say the game is necessarily easier or more difficult than what came before but rather that the team is aiming to offer an overall more satisfying experience.
That all sounds exciting, and Nioh 2 is certainly one of our most anticipated games of 2020. That said, Sekiro arguably raised the bar in some ways for the Soulslike genre, and the specter of classics like Bloodborne loom large over this style of game design. We’ll see whether Nioh 2 can build upon a very good first attempt and offer something truly brilliant.
Matthew Byrd is a staff writer for Den of Geek. He spends most of his days trying to pitch deep-dive analytical pieces about Killer Klowns From Outer Space to an increasingly perturbed series of editors. You can read more of his work here or find him on Twitter at @SilverTuna014.