The game follows the story of real-life Western Samurai, William Adams as he hunts for an adversary in Japan near the end of the Warring States Period.
Throughout the campaign, fictionalized versions of other real-life historical figures also make an appearance, including Tokugawa Ieyasu, Hattori Hanzō, Tachibana Muneshige, Tachibana Ginchiyo, Kuroda Nagamasa and Kuroda Yoshitaka. As his trek progresses through the mystical landscape, William is forced through a crucible, surviving not only against bandits and ruthless ronin, but also supernatural threats such as yokai and oni who have crossed over from the Underworld.
Nioh’s gameplay has been compared to that of the Souls series, primarily because of its semi-realistic, high-stakes swordplay where one can die very quickly if not careful. Combat takes place in real time and features various weapon types such as katana, spears, axes, bows and Tanegashima rifles. The player can switch between three main stances for any melee weapon: ‘low’ which is fast but weak and has an effective dodge ability; ‘mid’ which has the best blocking techniques but is neither fast nor specially powerful; and ‘high’ which causes the most damage with slower movements. Players can also use their fists, utilizing an open-hand parry that catches a human opponents weapon and turn it against them.
Attacking, dodging and blocking in Nioh cost ‘Ki’ (stamina). When the player runs out of Ki they are briefly incapacitated, leaving them open to enemy strikes. To mitigate the high stamina cost of various abilities, players can use the ‘Ki Pulse’ mechanic to regain spent stamina immediately after finishing a move. Ki Pulse is mapped to the same button as changing stance and weapon, allowing players to build larger and more complex combinations of strikes, dodges, stances and weapons while sustaining their Ki as long as possible. Players also earn ‘skill points’ for displaying proficiency with various tools and these can be used to purchase new moves for weapons, new ninjutsu techniques (ninja tools such as shuriken, bombs and caltrops) and new onmyou magic (passive buffs such as giving weapons elemental properties). There is also a hub world, where the player picks their next mission as well as visit NPCs for upgrades to equipment and weapons.
Nioh will release worldwide on February 9, 2017