Rise of the Ronin early impressions: Team Ninja’s PS5-exclusive isn’t without its shonky charm

Stalking aboard an American ship and assassinating a small military’s price of the international navy is a powerful option to begin any sport. You’re a mixture of ninja and samurai, skilled and honed right into a lethal weapon, pointed at an interfering drive set on undermining your nation’s autonomy. Switching between your custom-made important character and their ‘buddy’ blade twin, as you search out your admiral goal, the stakes in Rise of the Ronin are clearly outlined from the off.

It is a essential time for Japan. The nation stands on the sting of revolution, and the solar is setting on the age of the samurai. You’re a relic, the final vestige of a tradition being compelled to adapt or die. And in some ways, that theme mimics Team Ninja’s place because it will get able to launch Rise of the Ronin. Like all compromises, the end result carries each execs and cons.

If nothing else, Rise of the Ronin seems like a fantastic entry-level Workforce Ninja sport for informal followers: this is 5 the explanation why.Watch on YouTube

I just like the Nioh video games. In reality, I like them. I feel they’re decided underdogs that make a very good scrap for FromSoft’s action-RPG crown. The issues of Nioh, Nioh 2, and Wo Long are offset by the tight, adrenaline-fueled fight that contains a lot of the expertise. So what if the degrees are a bit naff when the swordplay is so wonderful? So what if the enemies get reused in uninspired remixes when the boss fights are so extraordinary? The video games give greater than they take, and I laud them for it.

Rise of the Ronin dilutes a lot of the exemplary fight with a watered-down open world that jogs my memory extra of the spinoff Far Cry formulation than something extra thrilling like Ghost of Tsushima or Elden Ring. Sure, that lush, responsive fight remains to be the star of the present, however for each clink of katana-on-glaive fight you get to expertise, there’s an eye-roll inducing set of icons to clear. The tempo is off. The rhythm impacted. Even within the first few hours of the sport, I audibly moan once I get to a brand new a part of the map and see 0/28 completion markers on the map.


Two samurai clash blades in PS5 exclusive Rise of the Ronin.
A conflict of beliefs. | Picture credit score: Workforce Ninja, Sony Interactive Leisure

I heard the time period ‘icon janitor’ not too long ago (apparently coined by good friend of VG247, Steve Burns). It refers back to the act of ‘tidying up’ the map, systematically sweeping away go-here, do-this chaff so as to unlock new doorways to extra thrilling prospects. It sums up the loop in Rise of the Ronin completely. The foremost story beats – typically wrangled into centered missions, in closed map environs like Nioh’s ranges – are nice; little fight puzzles and a boss on the finish to check your mettle. Nicely-paced, compelling, enjoyable.

However the padding between them is tiresome firstly of the sport. You’re underpowered, it’s essential swap up our gear after each encounter to maintain tempo with the accelerating stats of your friends, and searching down rogue warriors or roving bands of bandits simply seems like busywork. It lacks the punch and energy of Nioh or Wo Lengthy’s opening crawl.

There’s nonetheless a particular sense of Workforce Ninja’s playfulness within the combine, at the very least – sneaking up on cats to pet them and sniffing out buried treasure at all times elicits a buzz of serotonin – however ticking off all the opposite open-world gubbins is rote. I’ve achieved this earlier than in a Ubisoft or Warner Bros. sport (the place it’s often realised higher, to be trustworthy). I don’t need to do it right here, in a sport with such fascinating fight that I’d at all times moderately be combating.


Rise of the Ronin's protagonist looks over the vast open world of the game.
Ronin the countryside. | Picture credit score: Sony, Workforce Ninja

I’m underneath the impression that, because the world opens up and the tutorial areas give option to a sprawling city space and lovely coastal area of Japan, that issues will get higher. As soon as I’ve achieved all the aspect stuff as soon as and nodded my means by means of a thousand textual content pop-ups telling me the right way to journey my horse to ship some sundry objects to a service provider, I’m certain the core move will stabilise, and I can concentrate on the dojos, the fights, the oh-so-good one-on-one samurai duels the advertising for the sport bought me on.

It feels much less like Rise of the Ronin was taking notes from Elden Ring – an ideal implementation of the open world setup in a hardcore action-RPG – and extra like Workforce Ninja was trying to the West; at Ubisoft, at BioWare, at Avalanche. That’s not a nasty factor, per se, it simply doesn’t actually gel with the Workforce Ninja means of doing issues. Rise of the Ronin shines in its condensed, centered missions, and loses its means within the empty fields and sparsely-populated villages of its open world.

Possibly that’s a touch upon the character of a ronin’s innate loneliness, a metaphor for the solitary journey of a samurai with out a grasp. It simply feels, in these opening hours, like a little bit of a step down from the punchy, in-your-face doggedness of Workforce Ninja’s previous efforts.


Rise of the Ronin arrives March 22 on PS5. This preview was written primarily based on the primary 120 minutes of the sport, through PS5 code offered by the writer.

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