One Of Nioh's Best Fights Is The Most Realistic

Dat mustache, tho

Nioh pits the player agains a variety of foes. Deadly yokai and horrifying beasts rage about the countryside eager for blood. The boss fights are often grand battles against monumental foes but the best are surprisingly subdued.

Combat in Nioh is a fast and furious affair. It is full of shifting stances and last second dodging. It's some of the most fun I've had in an action game. The bosses are particularly challenging, with mammoth beasts and stomping demons. Which is why I was surprised that my favourite fights thus far have been the simplest.

Warning: I am about to spoil some early game bosses. Avert your eyes if you want to go in without foreknowledge.

A few missions into the game, you are sent to explore the castle of a lord who has gone missing. It's a remarkably designed level with pounding rain, cyclops demons, and ambushing ninjas. In an open courtyard, you encounter the lightning demon Nue. They can summon lightning strikes and cover the ground is dark energy that increases their damage. There's a nice emphasis on spacing. In the best moments, it goes something like this:

I am the goddess of the katana!

But Nioh is a game that doesn't just thrive on powerful bosses. Often, they have sudden and fatal attacks that can shut down a fight in an instant. This can distract from the interesting dash and slash action. In the worst moments, the fight against Nue goes something like this:

Well, shit.

There's a good sense of accomplishment to slaying a huge demon but Rue turned out to be my least favourite boss of the early game. This was made readily apparent as I progressed further into the level. Descending deep into catacombs, I sliced up skeletons and bashed living statues in search of the lost lord.

Eventually, I found him but he was guarded by the game's antagonist, a sinister looking mage who probably mains Reaper in Overwatch. Using his magecraft, he took on the appearance of the lord and we engaged in a sword duel. It was a straight up samurai showdown and it was awesome.

Oh yeah, that's the good shit!

The fight wasn't the most visually dynamic. It wasn't full of flashing lightning or flaming sword attacks. Was made it remarkable was how purely it distilled Nioh's core mechanics. Nioh is a game of positioning. It's about flanking, recoveries, and setting up for the perfect counter. This fight focused on all of those. I would dash in for a chain of spear strikes before regaining stamina with a well timed button press so I could dash through the enemy's guard.

I think Nioh will invite a lot of comparison to Bloodborne. Both games share an emphasis on fast action. But while Bloodborne's regain system encourages desperate and appropriately visceral aggression, Nioh feels more considered.

In fighting games, there's a concept called 'footsies.' It refers to the moments of action when opponents are outside of each other's combo range and engage in a mid-range positioning game full of pokes and baiting.

Nioh is full of footsies. The enemies often play on your zeal while you'll also test the waters with light attacks before learning the best times to attack in earnest. This boss fight was filled with such dynamics. It was wonderful.

Another early game boss emphasised dodging and positioning as well.

While I appreciate battling giant centipedes and bizarre water beasts, I think Nioh works much better when the focus is on smaller enemies where it can highlight the game's dazzling movement mechanics. Slaying strange spirits is nice but I'll take a straight up swordfight any day of the week. And when Nioh offers those? They're some of the best boss fights I've ever had.


    Not the beat sword sim I've played over the years, but the best in a long time no doubt.

    I liked Nue, though I felt the struggle was more with the terrain than with anything else. Too many times I got stuck on a gravestone and if you're close and not travelling the total distance with the dash roll you get stomped.

    Also, you should be hitting him in the mouth as soon as he does the ghostbuster beam from his mouth. That will immediately stun him and you can slash him as much as you have stamina before backing off.

    Muneshige is a good fight, but far too easy. The sidemission featuring him is better, but way too hard, since his iiajutsu quickdraw slash has ridiculous tracking and is an insta-kill.

    Hino-Enma -- grrr, tough. It took me a while to get the timings down from what I remembered in the beta. A single distraction and its all over. You have to watch her and nothing else. But a really great fight regardless.

    The centipede gave me a lot of trouble till I switched my gear and used a water sword. Possibly my least favourite fight.

      Hino-Enma was tricky at first. She killed me once but in the second fight, I got her. Fighting Hino-Enma is all about timing. Side dodge her projectiles, as well as her dashes, backwards dodge her melee attacks.

      I forgot what they're called... but be sure to have some of these needle things in your inventory. It cures paralysis, which is exactly what happens when Hino-Enma hits you with her purple projectiles.

      I also found that if you get paralyzed and are desperate, you can activate your guardian spirit, which automatically breaks you free from the paralysis.

    I've been watching people play and the combat in Nioh doesn't really look that in depth or interesting. Seems to be your typical "Dodge around waiting for an opening or a moment of recovery after a big attack then whale on them for a bit then wash, rinse, repeat." type combat popularised by Dark Souls.

    Personally I was expecting that with a stance system and umpteen billion skill trees dedicated to weapon styles and nuanced combat within each, that combat would be more of the kind of thing that For Honour seems to be going for with an ebb and flow of parries, ripostes, counters and tense moments of trying to read your enemy's attacks. Perhaps that's what Team Ninja was originally going for and then ended up putting too many systems in until it became irrelevant. Most people seem to just go for dodging and high stance attack combos. I guess I'll find out if I'm just missing something when I play this weekend.

      Bring back the old Samurai sword games from the PS2 era for a good sword sim.

    I really enjoyed this boss fight, but in all honesty, I found it the easiest boss encounter so far. Honestly, Nue gave me a bit of trouble at first and was quite intimidating, but I quickly figured him out and was able to defeat him on my first go.

    So uh, possible spoilers? :P

    I have a light build of a character, using spears, dual swords and light armor (against Nue though, I'd use a spear). I'd run at the guy and as he attacks, I'd dash just past him, dodge his attack and will now be behind him, enabling counter attack. Strike him a few times (maybe two or three times) with my spear. Normally I prefer using a low stance, but in this fight I used a medium stance because I wanted the extra range.

    Another key factor is the guy's ki (or stamina). He uses a charge attack where a sword symbol appears next to him (I'm guessing his attack power is raised?) and then tries to charge at you. Use and abuse the pillars in the room to your advantage and he won't be able to hit you.

    This charge attack really drains the hell of out of his ki. With his ki low, don't be afraid, just run up to him and attack. He'll block your obvious strikes but that's exactly the point, as each strike he blocks will drain his ki and since it's so low, it'll stun/exhaust him, making him vulnerable for a critical strike (hit triangle/strong attack). He may even fall over too, enabling you to do a killing strike (again hit triangle/strong attack, it won't kill him but just deal a lot of damage).

    If you get too far away, Hue will do a left or right roll and at the end of the roll, he'll use a bow and fire three arrows at you, spreading in an arc, which happens to be quite accurate too. I found these arrows were too hard to dodge, so if I ever saw him roll, I'd just hold L1 and block the incoming arrows. If you move left/right whilst holding block, you might be able to stand in between the gaps of the arrows and avoid them that way. Traditional dodging didn't work for me.

    When his health is low, he'll start using what I'm assuming is a stronger, probably lethal attack. His hand glows with an aura and he'll try to grab you. He'll also attack you with his sword, glowing with the same aura. I reckon the grab probably kills and the sword most likely really, really hurts? :P

    Since his health was low enough, I activated my spirit guardian (the green hawk), hit him with it and then finished him off with my living weapon. When I first started playing Nioh, I often opened up boss fights with the spirit guardian but honestly, that was foolish of me. I use it now as a finisher.

    A fun, but really easy boss fight.

    Last edited 13/02/17 10:02 am

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