The Tengu’s Disciple, the long-awaited first DLC for Nioh 2, is upon us on July 30. IGN Japan went hands-on with the new content, which features a new storyline, new weapons and abilities and more. The Tengu’s Disciple is set in the Heian Period during the Genpei War, a national civil war that raged in Japan from 1180 to 1185. The difficulty of the DLC is balanced for players who have completed the main game at around level 120, but you can play at a lower or higher level if you prefer.
The new weapon in the DLC is the Splitstaff, a staff that can be used for close-quarters combat, but, with a long press of the attack button, transforms into a mid-range weapon as the ends extend on flexible chains. It is a fast-paced attack weapon that allows you to close the gap on enemies, and seems to be a useful new addition to Nioh’s arsenal. The first mission of the DLC, meanwhile, titled A Song to Calm the Storm, takes place in the coastal location of Yashima, the real-life setting of an important battle of the Genpei War. Nioh players know to fear a coastal stage; this time, the rugged terrain and nighttime setting make it easy to trip if you don’t carefully watch your footing, and it is a location designed to torment the player. If you manage to proceed, you will encounter variations on familiar enemies mixed among others that are brand new. Ignore the gruesome crab-like Bakegani and slithering half-woman Nure-Onna at your peril.
Toe to toe with the Mysterious Warrior Monk
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The first mid-level boss is the Mysterious Warrior Monk. True to its name, this foe is a mystery – so much so that I died extremely quickly the first few times we fought. This is where the DLC really begins, and players will need to carefully observe the Monk’s attack patterns to stand a chance of beating him. A weak point glows on the far side of his shin, but despite his large size, Mysterious Warrior Monk moves fast, making it difficult to find a way to land a blow. What to do?
Relief comes thanks to an upgraded Yokai Shift system. While this skill was rather limited in the full game, here the duration of a transformation into half-yokai form is much longer and allows you to deal a considerable amount of damage, making it an essential technique to master. The top advice we can offer for The Tengu’s Disciple: When in trouble, become a Yokai.
Having beaten the Monk, I progressed through the map with little trouble, saving progress at shrines, and eventually reaching the mission’s main boss. It took about three hours to reach this point – and this is where the real pain began.
Yep, Nioh’s bosses are still hard as nails
The boss of A Song to Calm the Storm is named Uminyudo. It appears as a hideous face that fills the screen, transforming mid-battle into a sort of deformed giant penguin-like sludge monster. Both forms unleash brutal attacks in succession, and you will die over and over until you find a way to respond. Of course, your mileage will vary depending on your skill, but a key technique to use here is the counterattack performed by pressing R2 and Circle. Also, figuring out the right timing to make use of the Yokai Shift technique is crucial to success.
I won’t spoil this boss battle with the specifics of how I beat it, but it took about two hours before the creature finally fell. Even having played a ton of Nioh 2, I found Uminyudo to be a real workout. Incidentally, shrines (Nioh’s versions of bonfires) have large monsters placed nearby, allowing for convenient grinding if you need to level up between attempts.
Reading from the Demon Parade Picture Scroll
In tandem with the release of the Tengu’s Disciple DLC, the base game is getting a free update, adding the new Demon Parade Picture Scroll element. This is an equippable item that some enemies may drop on the new game plus Dream of the Strong difficulty level or higher. You cannot equip the Demon Parade Picture Scroll right away; instead, attempting to use this item will unveil a special mission (more on this below). Complete the mission and the Demon Parade Picture Scroll becomes available to use.
Additionally, while the Demon Parade Picture Scroll can be equipped after clearing the special mission once, completing the mission further times will imbue it with different stat buffs, which you can apply to either your mid-stance or low-stance. These are unlocked once each time you complete the special mission, but with a maximum number of uses per scroll. The actual limit to this number is random (the one I tried had a maximum of six uses), so your final outcome will be based on the luck of the draw. According to publisher Koei Tecmo, the drop rate for the Demon Parade Picture Scroll is low. Since it can also be found in the new Dream of the Demon difficulty level available in the DLC, buying The Tengu’s Disciple offers more opportunities to get this item.
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And what is the special mission you must beat in order to use the Demon Parade Picture Scroll? A boss rush battle, which throws multiple mid-boss characters at the player at once. In a series where it’s prudent to fight enemies one at a time, this represents an overwhelming challenge. Even with my character levelled reasonably high and attempting the mission on its lowest difficulty, I was unable to beat this mission during my limited time with the game.
After the six hours I spent with Nioh 2’s The Tengu’s Disciple DLC, I had still only cleared the first mission. To be honest, I only achieved this much by trial and error, dying a lot and repeating my attempts until I won; but when I play it at home after release, I would expect to achieve a more efficient outcome by levelling up my character properly before taking on the boss battles. In addition to the mission A Song to Calm the Storm as outlined above, the DLC contains one more main mission, and also another eight sub missions. Koei Tecmo says the DLC offers 10 hours of content, but unless your character is majorly over-levelled or your action skills are pretty remarkable, I’m sure it will take considerably longer. As for the Demon Parade Picture Scroll, I wasn’t even able to unlock it without help, so I can’t imagine how much extra time it would take to fight off all those mid-level bosses multiple times to explore its full potential. There are also new character customisation options, ninjutsu techniques and more. It’s a really beefy package.
The Heian Period 1180s setting feels markedly different than the base game’s Sengoku Period backdrop of the late 1500s, lending a new exciting edge. There are very few games set during this period of Japanese history, and the fascinating selection of detailed costumes and props bring welcome extra value to the package. The Tengu’s Disciple is the first of three planned DLC expansions to Nioh 2; its new elements are interesting, and the level of quality will delight fans of the series when it is released tomorrow.
Yoshiaki Takahashi is a freelance writer for IGN Japan.
Source: IGN Video Games All