Why Nioh 2 doesn’t have an easy mode (and how it could get one later)

Nioh 2 doesn’t — and shouldn’t — hide its Soulslike properties. And that also translates to its difficulty settings or the lack thereof. Nioh 2 only has one mode, meaning Team Ninja hasn’t put in an easy setting in response to the discourse that peaked around Sekiro’s launch last year. Producer and Director Fumihiko Yasuda spoke (through a translator) about why Team Ninja didn’t add difficulty settings and the possibility of adding one later as well as the game’s Ninja Gaiden roots and more.

GameRevolution: Nioh was one of the only Soulslikes to match or exceed From’s own games. Why do you think Nioh broke through like no other?

Fumihiko Yasuda: So when we worked on Nioh, it was about establishing a new IP. We did work on a detailed loot system that allowed for deep customization so players could do their own builds.

ALSO: Nioh 2 proves that it’s still the best non-From Soulslike series

And we did take some inspiration from other Soulslike games and games like Diablo and Borderlands. And also we had a good foundation and philosophy from Ninja Gaiden as well. It’s all a mixture and is what defined Nioh so I’m glad it clicked with players around the world.

GR: What specifically did you bring from Ninja Gaiden to Nioh?

FY: It’s probably the combination of very powerful, aggressive enemies very keen to kill you and also responsive controls.

GR: Speaking of what you learned from past games, what did you learn from the first game?

FY: We received a lot of good responses for Nioh. But some of the negative criticism we got was around the lack of enemy types. The game was quite long and it got repetitive in the end. So we wanted to improve that in the next game. And we also made sure the levels had some variety. Some can be complex while others are more simple along with more vertical and colorful levels so you will see a lot more variety and diversity in Nioh 2.

GR: So does that push for variety transfer to the weapons and Yokai abilities?

FY: We are quite proud of the combat system we established in Nioh but we wanted to give it another layer of gameplay and add the Yokai abilities. I think that was a good way to give the gameplay depth and give more colorful visuals as well.

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GR: I remember talking to Sucker Punch about Ghost of Tsushima and how Sony, with its Japanese heritage, had some pride in making a game set in Feudal Japanese times. Being a Japanese studio, how do you approach making a game set in that period?

FY: Growing up and living in Japan, it’s easy to visit different places all over Japan like Kyoto, which has a lot of history. And also the Sengoku period, which is the most popular era in Japanese history, everyone in Japan is familiar with the basic parts of the history so it is easy to explain what we want to do with it. And people grew up with the Yokai as well as folk tales so we know what Yokai are so it’s easy to play with the visual appearances when we design the enemies or characters.

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GR: Every time a Soulslike game releases, there’s always a conversation around them not having easy modes. Nioh 2 doesn’t have one as well and that seems like a conscious choice. So what is your reasoning of not having one?

FY: Personally, I’m not against having an easy mode or different difficulties. It’s good to be able to give the player the ability to choose the difficulties they want to play. But with Nioh, we wanted to keep the identity of making it a hard game to start with. It’s a samurai game.

But in Nioh 2, more so than Nioh, we prepared different ways to approach it. If you want the game to be hard, you don’t have to use the Yokai powers. You can just face the enemies head-on. Or you can use a lot of the customization to build your character to your liking. Or you can use online co-op, which works much better in Nioh 2.

So we provided different routes for the players to choose. But we wanted to give one goal so people can take different routes but they all get to the same place so they can experience and share the same level of achievement in the end.

We have planned a lot of post-launch DLC and updates. They could do with difficulty or anything. We want to hear what the players think and with the players, we want to keep improving Nioh 2 to give it a long life.