Ever since finishing Nioh's Alpha demo back in May, I've been waiting for my chance to get my hands on more of the title. Thankfully, during our appointment at Koei Tecmo's E3 booth, I got my chance to spend half an hour with an updated demo for the game, including 3 new areas, one of which being an all new tutorial mission. Unfortunately, I didn't personally have the chance to test out the tutorial and see whether or not it's good enough for teaching the game's numerous mechanics. However, I did get more than enough time to test out the two new levels that the E3 demo contained that April/May's Alpha did not.
The first of the two levels I played, titled "Of Withered Grass and Yokai," took place in a plateau of swaying dead grass. Unlike the two levels present in the Alpha, this level is much more linear and focuses a lot more on the combat mechanics. Instead of players spreading out over a larger area that holds a bunch of nook and crannies, this level focused on arena-like gameplay where players would battle waves of enemies in a set area before proceeding onward. This level included some new enemies, such as an Oni with a giant flaming tongue and undead soldiers. Because of the difference in gameplay between this level and the ones in the Alpha demo, I thought it was a very interesting change of pace. Time will tell how well it feels against the rest of the game and whether or not it'll be the only level of its type in the title.
The second level I played—who's name escapes me—took place in an underground city, with maze-like architecture. If there's any level in Nioh so far that seems to especially draw from Dark Souls, this would be it. Blow darts, elevators with a floor switch in the middle, and the overall aesthetic of the level leaves the inspiration blatant. I didn't get as far in this level as the other I played at the appointment, but it definitely feels more like the levels from the Alpha demo, although corridors and areas felt a lot more compact with more obvious branching paths. I liked the levels from the Alpha demo, and I felt the same here.
Combat mechanics felt more or less the same from the Alpha demo to the current demo that I played. However, UI definitely got some major changes. I noticed some unknown icons at the bottom of the screen that seemed to be a work-in-progress way of cycling through different magic items, though I couldn't find out how to activate them. I'm not sure if I just didn't notice it before, or if it's exclusive to firearms, but the new rifle item that I found had a UI option to switch out different types of ammunition. Besides the rifle, I couldn't find any especially new types of weapons during my play session. Armor and Weapons still work the same, where you'll gather them like Diablo-style loot, and constantly switch them out when you get stronger equipment.
I left my session just as excited for Nioh as I entered it. I definitely think that Koei Tecmo has something special here, all comparisons to Dark Souls aside. Players can look forward to Nioh when it launches later this year.
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