Nioh has its’ first of 3 planned DLC installments released with Dragon Of The North. With this DLC you really get more of the same, but that’s hardly a negative if, like me, you absolutely loved Nioh’s base game. Nioh is Team Ninja’s love song to hardcore action fans while mixing in souls-esque RPG elements to appeal to your masochistic side that enjoys level grinding, stat building, and enemy farming. Dragon Of The North builds on these elements as well as managing to make an incredibly difficult game somehow a little bit more vicious.
Nioh is one of the hardest games of recent memory and this DLC is definitely post-game content. If you have not finished the main game and done some extra missions and farming for divine equipment, I would not recommend tackling the new content just yet. Tip for that as well, with the new Way Of The Strong difficulty being something you can toggle between, head for missions like Battle Of Ohashi Bridge to farm other players gear by defeating their revenants.
Dragon Of The North adds the Tohoku region for William to travel in search of Date Masamune, also known as the One-Eyed Dragon who, just like William, can see guardian spirits and seeks to manipulate Amrita to wage war on Japan. This new area takes place on the side of snowy mountains and does compliment the aesthetic of previous regions in Nioh, however, it does have the same sort of monotonous corridor problem other places in Nioh had. This does take place after the main game and includes a couple of returning characters from the base game.
As far as content goes what you really get is three new story missions with four new bosses and a handful of submissions that reuse the main environments just as the base game did. You also get a couple new enemy types and one new weapon called an Odachi, basically a new heavy weapon and giant sword. The game also gives you a new ability for Dex/Ninjutsu builds like I have, called Storm Kunai. This ability is very over powered by the way. Seriously, this DLC is crazy hard, look at what this guy did to the first boss with a 99 Dex build for Ninjutsu abilities.
My personal biggest complaint with Nioh was the lack of enemy variety and the short list of available weapons. Being a huge fan of Team Ninja’s Ninja Gaiden series, I sorely miss the weapon choices in Ninja Gaiden 2. I would be willing to bet you’re going to see some of those weapons in future Nioh expansions. Claws and scythe, please and thank you.
The new enemy types and bosses do break up the consistency of fighting the same damn 5 Yokai you’ve been fighting the whole game. A new hybrid human/yokai is particularly interesting design-wise as it transforms by popping a long snake-like head out of the body once you engage them. Hopefully, we’ll continue to see more unique designs like this in the next two DLC’s.
The bosses are a whole different beast. Definitely some of the more intense encounters even compared with the base game’s content. In short, tons and tons of one shot and two shot abilities that can be super frustrating and take a lot of time to conquer. The final encounter was an incredibly hard boss with a lot of moves that completely destroy stamina and health. These are also the best parts of Dragon Of The North. The boss designs and story are great, and fighting them was a genuine pleasure to overcome.
The most disappointing aspect so far is the new PvP (Player vs Player). Nioh is a game that had me stupid excited for the idea of PvP, hardcore ninja fighting game with difficult controls and crazy builds and abilities? Sign me up. With this expansion, PvP is there, but it needs a lot of work. The network sees a lot of laggy connections, teleporting players and just bugs and glitches in general. Not to mention the balancing is crazy off with some of the builds possible with the new patch. This can hopefully be remedied soon with some updating as PvP could keep me coming back forever.
Dragon Of The North is good. I enjoyed every minute of it, although all those minutes added up were only a couple hours total, unfortunately. Really kind of lacking in content for a $10.00 DLC, but I must admit I am now eagerly awaiting the next installment, especially since the final mission is a cliffhanger pointing towards a large war in the future. Dragon Of The North is available for download now, either through the Season Pass or as a standalone expansion.