The Game Awards was quite the packed showcase of upcoming games. It ran a little over three-and-a-half hours, after all, so it’s easy to miss many of the night’s announcements and reveals. However, one you should totally keep your eye on is Team Ninja’s Rise of the Ronin, which got a new gameplay trailer showing off the combat and characters. And at the end of it, the studio announced that it’ll launch on March 22 for PS5.
This new trailer is emotional, action-packed, and thrilling in ways great samurai stories tend to be. We don’t know exactly who is who here—though historical figures like modernization advocate Ryoma Sakamoto and the intellectual Shoin Yoshida make cameos—but we see that there’s a war going on between factions that’s causing death and destruction. Throughout the trailer, there’s monologuing about time’s perpetual march, remorseless violence for ideals, and “altering the river’s flow.” In the background are explosions, fire, a swelling drum beat, and clashing steel. It’s all very exciting.
But what are we actually seeing? Well, if I had to reduce it to its components, it’s giving Ghost of Tsushima and Nioh in an Ubisoft-like open-world environment. To that last point, Team Ninja said in a PlayStation Blog post that Rise of the Ronin is its “biggest game to date.” Our protagonist, presumably the ronin (masterless samurai) of the title, runs through dark caves to skirmish with armored warriors, soars across villages to perform katana takedowns, and parries steel before firing his various guns. This looks very much like Nioh 2, which makes sense considering Team Ninja made both games. But instead of restricting itself to the Souls genre, as the studio’s done with its last games (including Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty), Team Ninja just gives you 19th-century Edo Japan and says, “Here, go explore.” Why, yes please!
A tale of the Tokugawa Shogunate’s demise
Team Ninja director and president Fumihiko Yasuda spoke a bit more about Rise of the Ronin’s narrative underpinnings on the PlayStation Blog. Yasuda said the game takes place during the final moments of the Tokugawa Shogunate, the military government established during the Edo period that kept the country in its feudal state, which was largely marked by stagnation and oppression. Our protagonist, somehow linked to many of the era’s icons, will make choices that’ll either align with or rebel against those characters and their allegiances.
While this is a samurai story through and through, swords aren’t your only weapons. Since this occurs during the end of the Edo period (which dovetails into the Meiji era that brought back imperial rule and more weapon imports), Rise of the Ronin will give you an assortment of guns, from rapid-firing pistols to matchlock-looking rifles. Yasuda said there’s a “wide range” of gear in the game, including a grappling hook and hang glider for stealth takedowns and quick traversal. Like in Tsushima, there’s also a horse you can ride.
Rise of the Ronin launches on March 22 as a PlayStation 5 exclusive. As you’re probably becoming accustomed to by now, it’ll run you $70 when it comes out. There’s also a Deluxe Edition version that’s $10 more if you want some extra goodies, like a digital art book and soundtrack, outfits, weapons, and more.