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Rise of the Ronin’s combat feels fresh in an open world

PlayStation 5’s next big exclusive game features deep challenging combat reminiscent of Sekiro’s
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I played a few hours of Rise of the Ronin, and it looks clear that combat is where it’s going to shine. Team Ninja’s latest features a challenging combat system closer to Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice than Ghost of Tsushima. It might be an open-world setting, but combat is deep and relies on perfect timing.

The game’s not afraid to make some changes to your typical soulslike recipe. It comes complete with a pause button, and you can save anytime you want while exploring the open world. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s an easy game, however. Not only do you have to time those parries exactly right, even for lengthy enemy combos, but every mechanic has some kind of sub-system to delve into. Don’t go in expecting the hack, slash, and turn your brain off of Assassin’s Creed.

Rise of the Ronin Shinto Munen-ryu

Tense and bursting with pathos, it’s mainly based on deflect, a fairly extreme concept reminiscent of Sekiro. It’s incredibly risky, since every blow suffered causes big damage. But it also comes with high rewards: you can execute regular enemies right away once you break their will.

This even extends to projectiles. When an enemy fires a flaming arrow at you, you can deflect it. That causes your weapon to catch fire, allowing it to dish out extra damage for a limited time.

Rise of the Ronin Maita Castle

Combat can also be quite gory, with decapitations and chopped limbs accompanying every death. And, while enemy detection might be a little too simplistic, a stealth system allows you to thin out the enemy ranks before a fight.

Rise of the Ronin is a true open-world game, with a map, various areas to explore, and a horse to do so. As any enemy encounter could potentially be the last, you can visit checkpoints at your will, whether it’s little towns you set free from raiders or on the road. Once you do, you can use them as fast travel points.

We’ll go deeper into that in our final review, but the setting is fascinating. You’ll immerse in some sort of Japanese Red Dead Redemption, where the old world is slowly giving way to a new one. As a ronin leaving their clan behind to seek revenge, you’ll have to find your path through ancient Feudal Japan as it struggles to open up to Western influences.

Rise of the Ronin - Yokohama - combat finisher

But while the setting is refreshing, it’s technically rough. The game comes with three graphics modes - Graphics, Performance, and Ray Tracing. All three have noticeable issues. Even on Graphics, it pales even compared to Ghost of Tsushima and how inspired that game looks. Character models, the open world, and buildings look flat, some proportions are off (look at the rabbits), and animations are questionable. On Performance, the graphics take an ever bigger hit, while the frame rate can still feel inconsistent. Of course, there’s still time before launch, but it’s unlikely anything will be done to make Ronin look like a triple-A game on the current gen.

We’ll discuss the game in more detail in time for our Rise of the Ronin review, coming March 21, 2024, at 4:00 a.m. PT / 7:00 a.m. EDT / 11:00 a.m. GMT.