8 Exciting Things About ‘Rise of the Ronin’, Team NINJA’s First Open World Co-Op Action RPG

Samurai narratives are well-worn territory for developer Team NINJA, and it’s easy to see the appeal. After all, there’s a special brand of thrill and satisfaction that comes with striking down enemies with a sharp-edged sword, especially in the throes of an intense neck-to-neck battle.

8 Things About Rise of the Ronin

But that’s only to be expected of the genre, which is why Rise of the Ronin offers dynamic blood-spilling action in spades – and then some. Boasting the familiar flair of the studio’s past titles like Nioh and Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty, it spices up the formula with a bold new step into open-world territory, and expands the scope for player freedom. 

Here’s what to expect from the studio’s latest action role-playing game (APRG), from exploring the wide expanse of feudal Japan and versatile, thrilling combat to co-op fun. 

1) Swing, ride, and glide, all in the name of free-roaming

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As Team NINJA’s first open-world title to date, Rise of the Ronin represents a breath of fresh air in more ways than one. Spanning three historical cities, Yokohama, Edo, and Kyoto, it invites players to discover places of interest, restore public order by defeating rogue attackers, undertake side quests, gather collectibles, and more, which counts towards the completion rate for each region.

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Travelling between these locations proves to be a seamless and straightforward affair, too. Whether it’s hopping on a horse and galloping through the lands, taking to the skies with a glider, or launching into the air with a grapple hook, exploration offers an added touch of freedom and verticality. When the going gets tough, mini-games like gambling, horseback archery challenges, and rifle shootouts serve as a nice little reprieve from the action, as well as a great way to test out your mettle.

2) Dynamic mix-and-match combat system

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Fluid, dynamic action has always been synonymous with Team NINJA, so it’s only natural that Rise of the Ronin continues to deliver the same thrill of the battle. Having things set in the Bakumatsu period, the final years of the Edo era when the Tokugawa shogunate ended, means there are plenty of katana, swords, and twin blades to wield, but that’s not all – players are also able to equip handguns, rifles, shurikens, bows, and even flamethrowers as their secondary weapons.

Essentially, the game dedicates two slots each for primary and off-hand equipment, allowing them to mix and match different loadouts. Want a longer reach? The odachi and polearm variants are the go-to choices. Fancy faster attacking speeds? An oxtail sword or a pair of twin blades will get the job done. The lack of a one-size-fits-all combination allows for more versatility, so purists can even choose to defeat foes bare-knuckled if they wish.

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Introducing more depth into the gameplay are Combat Styles, which work as a weakness system of sorts. Opponents may be weak or strong against certain styles, determined by their weapon type, that can be cycled through once unlocked. Play your cards right, and it’s game over for the enemy forces on the battlefield.

3) Engaging battles for all skill levels

Despite the intricacies of combat, Rise of the Ronin is far from inaccessible. The samurai epic comes with three difficulty options to suit players of all skill levels, and can be changed anytime during play. 

Spilling blood is made easier with other gameplay features, such as stealth gameplay and the use of items. From silent infiltration to setting enemies ablaze or blinding them with flash bangs, there are ways to gain the upper hand in battle and emerge victorious.

4) Good company, good welcome

The ronin life is all about solitude, but even lone wolves need company every now and then. While Team NINJA’s latest has AI companions, it doesn’t quite feel the same as having real-world allies on one’s side, who can be greeted in-game with emotes. 

The game’s multiplayer co-op experience lets individuals join forces with up to two of their friends and other players to complete missions together or revisit past story beats – simply head to the Longhouse, choose from the available list of activities, and jump right into action. Just make sure to be a good teammate and revive your fallen comrades whenever possible!

5) Pick choices and shape destiny

Mirroring historical events, the central conflict in Rise of the Ronin revolves around three political factions: the pro-shogunate, anti-shogunate, and the Western forces. As players progress through the story, they will have to pick a side, shape their destiny, and bear the consequences.

This choice-driven influence also extends to mission decisions. Whether it’s sparing key figures or assassinating them, every action will affect how the story unfolds and help chart the course of history, for good or for ill. 

6) Form bonds with allies of your choice

As with allegiances, the game offers the freedom to choose one’s allies and strengthen bonds. Breathing new life into actual historical figures like famed samurai pair Ryoma Sakamoto and Katsura Kogoro (later known as Kido Takayoshi), and American naval officer Matthew C. Perry, it includes an affinity system that leaves room for gifting companions. 

Doing so unlocks more of a character’s backstory, and when maxed out, a stat boost. Players can even betray their allies and make up for it later, so long as it isn’t done too many times.

7) Create the ronin(s) of your dreams

Unlike traditional samurai titles, Rise of the Ronin explores the concept of Blade Twins, a deeply-bonded pair of warriors trained to carry out missions together. As such, individuals start out with not one, but two customisable characters.

For RPG enthusiasts, the deep character creator acts as a platform to unleash player creativity and live out their ronin dreams. Expect highly detailed offerings like jaw depth, elbow / knee angle, and nose wing height, on top of body type, hair colour, and other usual options – rinse and repeat for the other Blade Twin. 

8) PS5-exclusive perks

PlayStation 5 exclusives come with tailored perks, and it’s no different here. Rise of the Ronin continues to deliver the best of gaming immersion through haptic feedback and adaptive triggers on the DualSense Wireless Controller.

What this translates to is stiff tension in the triggers when aiming down the sights of a rifle, or a vibrating buzz with every successful strike from foes. Coupled with optimised gameplay and crisp visuals, the world of feudal Japan is well worth a visit.

Bonus: Pet adorable cats and dogs

With cats scattered all around the map, the samurai adventure keeps cat lovers feline warm and fuzzy at all times. Collecting these adorable companions count towards the completion rate for a region, but more importantly, can be petted while in the player’s arms. Gather enough of them, and players will be able to unlock more gear, equipment, and the like, or loan them out to complete requests via the cat concierge service. 

Dog enthusiasts won’t be left in the dust, either. Keep an eye out for adorable shiba inus roaming the island, and give them a good chin scratch. Purr-fect and paw-some, indeed.

Rise of the Ronin is now available on the PlayStation 5.