I hated Rise of the Ronin at First, but then…


I struggled getting into Rise of the Ronin at the start, but the game grows on you the more you play it, and the better you get.

‘Rise of Ronin,’ the latest PlayStation 5 exclusive, has ignited varied opinions within the gaming community, marking itself as a title that deserves a thorough discussion. This exploration begins with the game’s visuals, which, while initially appearing somewhat outdated—reminiscent of late PlayStation 4 titles—should be appreciated in context. When compared to high-budget Triple-A titles like Ghost of Tsushima,’ it’s clear that ‘Rise of Ronin’ was crafted with fewer resources. Understanding this, the artistic consistency and thematic depth of its world become more appreciable. The game’s seasonal dynamics and robust character customization add layers of visual richness that extend beyond sheer technical prowess.

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The gameplay of ‘Rise of Ronin’ invites mixed feelings with its expansive yet sometimes shallow exploration mechanics. The vast open world promises freedom and adventure, though at times it may feel as if it only skims the surface of potential depth. This breadth of exploration, however, allows players the freedom to engage with the game’s universe at their preferred pace, uncovering hidden narratives and challenges.

Narratively, the game sticks to a conventional plot which may not stand out as groundbreaking but provides a familiar foundation for players to engage with more deeply through combat and exploration. This backdrop is crucial as it enhances the focus on the game’s standout feature: its combat system. Intricate and demanding, the combat in ‘Rise of Ronin’ challenges players to think tactically and react with precision, offering a rewarding depth that is both engaging and fulfilling.

Rise of the Ronin PS5 graphics
I hated Rise of the Ronin at First, but then…

The combat experience begins as a formidable challenge, with even minor foes presenting significant hurdles. This steep learning curve can initially seem daunting, but as players acquire and master new skills, such as stealth tactics, the gameplay evolves. What begins as a series of punishing encounters gradually transforms into a complex, rewarding battle system that encourages and rewards mastery and strategic thinking.

Certain gameplay mechanics in ‘Rise of Ronin’ could use some refinement to enhance the overall user experience. One such issue is the absence of automatic character lock-on during boss fights, which, when coupled with the need to manually select weapons and fighting styles before battles, adds unnecessary complexity. This can be particularly problematic when entering a mission unaware of the challenges ahead. For instance, if players experiment with a new weapon loadout or inadvertently sell their most potent weapons, they might find themselves unprepared with no prior warning. In the heat of battle, equipping the appropriate weapons can be cumbersome and risky—pausing to switch gear might lead to significant health loss from enemy attacks. Once the preferred weapon is selected and combat resumes, the player must then quickly lock onto the target and regain their momentum, which disrupts the flow of gameplay. Currently, if a mission proves too challenging, players cannot exit; they must either see it through to the end or revert to an older saved game. These areas of the game could be streamlined or made more forgiving, encouraging learning and adaptation rather than punishing players for unanticipated difficulties or choices in equipment. Suggestions to adjust the difficulty level, although intended to help, might also detract from the sense of achievement and undermine player confidence.

Ronin combat
I hated Rise of the Ronin at First, but then…

The design choices in ‘Rise of Ronin’ initially led to significant frustration, pushing me to the point of abandoning the game for a while. After an especially challenging mission where I felt unprepared and overwhelmed, I switched off my PS5 and didn’t touch it for two weeks. The game’s steep learning curve and lack of a forgiving system for managing equipment mid-battle made it all too easy to walk away. However, the allure of mastering its complex mechanics eventually drew me back. This time, I restarted the game and decided to focus not just on accumulating skill points, but on refining my actual combat skills against lesser foes. With no prior experience with Ninja Theory’s titles, I dedicated time to practicing parries, counters, and combos against petty thieves—an informal training ground where I could learn at my own pace.

Once comfortable with these fundamentals, my perspective on the game changed dramatically. I began to appreciate the depth and intricacy of the combat system, which is both rewarding and skill-enhancing. However, this experience highlighted a significant gap in the game’s design: the absence of a dedicated dojo where players could practice without consequences. Such a feature would have significantly lowered the entry barrier by allowing newcomers to familiarize themselves with the combat mechanics in a controlled environment. This oversight seems particularly glaring in a game that otherwise prides itself on deep and tactical combat. Once I overcame these hurdles and gained a deeper understanding of how to effectively engage in battles, my appreciation for ‘Rise of Ronin’ transformed from frustration to genuine enjoyment.

RotR Twins
I hated Rise of the Ronin at First, but then…

‘Rise of Ronin’ may not make the best first impression, but it holds a wealth of depth and intrigue for those willing to explore its complexities. It serves as a reminder that perseverance and engagement can transform an initially daunting experience into one of rewarding mastery and enjoyment.

For those considering embarking on this journey, ‘Rise of Ronin’ offers a robust platform for both challenge and discovery. It is a game that rewards the patient and the persistent, and for those players, it might just prove to be a captivating experience.

Disclosure: I received a free promotional copy of Rise of the Ronin.

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