Team Ninja’s hardcore action-rpg Nioh, has just released its’ second of three planned DLC expansions with Defiant Honor. Defiant Honor was a conflict for me. I loved (almost) every minute of it, but I managed to tear through the content so quickly I’m already hungry for more. Certain aspects of what you get are certainly awesome, while the brevity of the whole thing calls to question whether any of these add on content packs are worth the $10 you spend on them, assuming you bought them separately and not part of the $25 season pass.
Content Vs Cash
DLC in general is such a large part of modern gaming that the subject is almost becoming a moot point in most cases. No amount of discussing the ups and downs of add on content in gaming will change the practice, it has proven a lucrative venture time and time again for publishers and developers. It’s hard not to call these things into question though, when your experience is a couple hours long at best, despite the fact that the content in question is incredibly fun and challenging.
The real problem I had was not having quite enough to satiate my desire for extreme ninja action, but can that still be considered a problem when your biggest issue is wanting more? It speaks to the quality of the base game in Nioh. Defiant Honor adds two main story missions that take William to Osaka Castle, which opens with an awesome, but frustrating sequence of hundreds of fire arrows descending upon you throughout the level. There are a handful of side missions that don’t stray far from the Nioh formula you might be used to, but add a bit of extra fun. The story of Nioh doesn’t seem to be really evolving into much, with men of honor fighting wars and being manipulated by evil mages and beasts, but it maintains the realism of the time period well, despite the supernatural elements and the return of angry dogs with throwing knives, which was a staple of Team Ninja’s action masterpiece series Ninja Gaiden.
New ways to dress and kill
The Tonfa are basically two brutal bone smashing batons, and they are easily my favorite weapon in the game. These first appeared in Ninja Gaiden 2 and I could not be happier with their choice to bring it back. They bring with them their own skill tree, and plenty of awesome variants which includes a boom stick style set that explode in enemies faces at the end of combos. It’s as radical as it sounds. The new armor sets add some interesting buffs, and it seems that set bonuses are becoming more important now that the level cap for characters is at 500. Some of the missions in the new difficulty go upwards of 900 so gear will be very important I imagine.
Defiant Honor also adds some new spells for Onmyo, or mage builds, that are pretty great elemental attacks, as well as a leaf item that creates gusts of wind that fling enemies around in a fun way.
The new rarity type is another bit of frustration here though. The ethereal type of rarity for items becomes essentially the new best items in the game, but they are only available on the new difficulty type. Again, catering to the most hardcore of their fan base, but at least that gives you something to aim for.
Despite the lack of overall content to pour over, Team Ninja seems to know their audience. They’re catering to the hardcore action fan. They are expecting you to replay these missions to farm gear and weapons. They want you to play the game again to try the new difficulty which is essentially NG+++. I’ve only done NG+ myself, but I must admit I’m eager to see how hard this game can get considering how crushing it already is. As irritating as it might be to get content that does not take very long to run through, I want Nioh to succeed. Every bit of content so far has been more of an excuse to perfect the art of combos and ki pulses. Nioh is the single best action game on the market currently and if my biggest problem is that I just can’t get enough of it, Team Ninja is certainly succeeding in my book. Hopefully the final DLC Installment has a little more in store for us, but either way I can’t wait to see what comes next.
Defiant Honor is available now for PS4 and Xbox One for $10 separately or for $25 as part of the season pass.