Will Rise Of The Ronin Fix Team Ninja’s “Superb Combat, Flawed Balancing” Image?

It looks like Team Ninja's raising the stakes, so I'm hopeful.

Story Highlights

  • Rise of the Ronin’s trailer showcases brilliant combat, crisp traversal, and an engaging gameplay loop.
  • Team Ninja was always the master of combat, but a compromise in other departments was evident.
  • Rise of the Ronin features much more than just good combat, and I hope it stays that way on release.

When deciding to get a game, what are the factors that matter the most to you? Do the visuals have to be hyper-realistic? Is it the gameplay that needs to be refined and enjoyable? Does it need a highly stable framerate and buttery smooth performance? Or do you look for anything else in particular? I’m sure everyone has their preference regarding these, and they might consider a game great that others find less appealing.

If I speak about myself, I think I’ll put gameplay slightly above other things. Performance issues are deadly and optimization is important, but a game with poor gameplay mechanics is the hardest for me to go through. I’ll be honest, the graphics don’t mean that much to me. Even if a game compromises on visual quality but is a masterpiece in gameplay, I’ll be picking it up. And that’s why I’m ready to dive into Rise of the Ronin.

YouTube video

Rise Of The Ronin Shows Off Impressive Combat And Much More

Rise of the Ronin is the next Team Ninja game, and we’ve known about it for quite some time now. The recent PlayStation State of Play provided a deep dive into the title’s gameplay and presentation, and that is what I wish to analyze today. Since it was a Team Ninja game, there were some things I was expecting, and then some things that surprised me, and I’m happy they did.

First, I’m sure you know about the setting of the game, so I’ll be cutting right to the combat. I don’t know for sure yet, but it looks like Rise of the Ronin will feature a stance-based combat similar to Nioh. On top of that, the game puts a heavy focus on parry and mixes in grapples to create a combat system that looks pretty appealing to me. It simultaneously gives that Team Ninja feeling and also feels something new.

If Rise of Ronin combines Nioh and Wo Long gameplay, I will never leave my house.
byu/quickbrownfoxmanzero inriseoftheronin

Moving on, we have the world design and traversal. The mix-and-match of grapple mechanics and glider seems to be creating a faster, more enjoyable traversal. Plus, the way they combined it all into the combat looks pretty well done to me. The only complaint I have is the visual quality. They look very dated and since the game is almost here, we’ll have to live with them. But honestly, it doesn’t bother me as much as other people.

Combat Has Always Been Team Ninja’s Strong Suit, Looks Like It Still Is

Yes, Rise of the Ronin looks pretty backward when it comes to the visuals, especially for a 2024 game, but trust me that’s nothing new. All of Team Ninja’s games have always been that way; the graphics were never the focus. But there’s one thing I feel Team Ninja is unrivaled in, the combat. I’m quite fond of its combat mechanics and feel like they hold a ton of potential, just look at Ninja Gaiden.

The Ninja Gaiden series might have many problems, but combat is certainly not one of them
The Ninja Gaiden series might have many problems, but combat is certainly not one of them

Nioh might not have been an exceptional souls-like, but its combat certainly was. Different stances and mechanics created a very steep learning curve, but once you mastered it, it felt impactful and pretty satisfying to execute. This further improved with Nioh 2. The first game had its fair share of problems, but the combat was never one of them. Nioh might be overlooked by many, but its combat deserves praise.

nioh 2 combat is underrated
byu/PooferLlama inNioh

A similar case is observed in other Team Ninja games. I don’t know about you, but I thoroughly enjoyed the Ninja Gaiden series, the borderline unfair difficulty spike aside. The combat was the highlight for me. And as weak as I might consider Wo Long, it was due to other reasons, but the combat formula still felt good to me. All in all, Team Ninja never stumbled in the combat department.

Yet, The Developer Couldn’t Break Into The “Big Leagues”

So, if the combat in these games is so good, why aren’t they among the best game lists? Well, it’s because Team Ninja hasn’t been able to fix some of its other issues, like the crippling design problems and the execution of these mechanics. And because of this, Team Ninja’s games have always been overshadowed. Rise of the Ronin is looking better so far, but I hope it stays so.

Team Ninja is really terrible at balancing
byu/DrGunjah inNioh

Back when Nioh was released, it was a pretty solid souls-like and also featured impressive combat mechanics. But you know what went wrong? Its weak level design and traversal, over-reliance on loot-based systems, and a ton of complicated mechanics with little explanation piled on top of each other made a pretty bad impression. Thus, the combat didn’t get to shine as much as it deserved

Nioh 2 is sort of an outlier. It was a well-rounded game that fixed many of the prequel’s issues. Credit where due, I think it was pretty neatly done. Next up is Wo Long, which is honestly on Team Ninja, they made stuff like the Morale-tied spells and the flag hunting which were both illogical and tedious. The developer figured out the combat, but not the overall appeal and couldn’t overcome the pioneers.

The flag system is one of my biggest complaints with Wo Long
The flag system is one of my biggest complaints with Wo Long

So Far, Rise Of The Ronin Looks Distinct And Complete Enough To Me

And so when Rise of the Ronin was announced, people first said, “Here comes a Ghost of Tsushima clone.” It has been called an Elden Ring copy, open-world Ninja Gaiden, and many other things. However, the gameplay showcase trailer presented a different picture. I know it’s too soon to say, but so far I think Rise of the Ronin is not another “exceptional combat, weak overall game.”

Rise of the Ronin New Info: A Mix of Assassin’s Creed, Ghost of Tsushima, and Dark Souls, Romance Options Planned, Numerous Side-Quests.
byu/Party_Judgment5780 inPS5

It is an open world, yes, and it gives off Ghost of Tsushima vibes, but at the same time, it’s pretty distinct. The combat looks much more complex and a lot more fun to execute, with fast-paced action featuring multiple weapons and stances. As I mentioned, the combat is much closer to Nioh and Ninja Gaiden, and I love that. It incorporates parries and staggers, yet no overcomplication was evident.

Moreover, the game features creative traversal and there is very little jank in the gameplay. The glider and grappling hook seamlessly transition into each other. Open-world design looked creative enough, and plenty of exploration incentive seems to be present thanks to the fun traversal. All in all, it looks like a Team Ninja game that has much more than just combat and has already set itself distinct from the competitors.

Rise of the Ronin's traversal mechanics set it apart from all the comparisons
Rise of the Ronin’s traversal mechanics set it apart from all the comparisons

I Hope The Final Product Is As I Hope, But The Launch Window Has Me Worried

As I mentioned, Team Ninja was either suffering from severe design issues, or staying in the shadow of the bigger hits, and never quite recovered from either of these. Rise of the Ronin looks like it might finally break the developer away from the shadow of all these big names, and it has enough potential to stand on its own as one of the strongest titles of 2024. Just a little problem, take a look at the release date.

Rise of the Ronin is releasing on the same day as Dragon’s Dogma 2, the sequel to one of the most underrated action RPGs, and a long-awaited Capcom title; it has a ton of hype on its side. Rise of the Ronin on the other hand is a new IP. It doesn’t have any prior fanbase. An established series with a track record is bound to attract more attention. I just hope Team Ninja’s latest adventure receives the recognition it deserves.

Rise of the Ronin releases exclusively for the PS5 on March 22nd, 2024.

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Hanzala is a dedicated writer who expresses his views as opinion pieces at eXputer. He's always been fascinated by gaming and has been an avid consumer of many different genres for over a decade. His passion for games has him eager to encounter the latest RPGs and actively look for new Soulslike to challenge. He puts forth his experience and knowledge of gaming into captivating opinion pieces.

Experience: 8+ months || Education: Bachelors in Chemistry.

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