Home ? Articles ? Game Articles ? Rise of the Ronin is Closer to Ghost of Tsushima Than You Would Think

Rise of the Ronin is Closer to Ghost of Tsushima Than You Would Think

Ever since Rise of the Ronin launched, many people have been drawing comparisons to Ghost of Tsushima due to the open world nature of the two games and similarities in setting. When Ghost of Tsushima launched, it was met with universal acclaim including in our review, and a completely baffled gaming community gushing over the graphical limitations that Sucker Punch seemed to completely demolish. In contrast, Rise of the Ronin has launched with mixed criticism from the community, with many calling it a “downgraded Ghost of Tsushima”. With Ghost of Tsushima launching on PC, we’re going to cover why that is not the case, and how Rise of Ronin is actually a better contender than you think against the 2020 Game of the Year nomination.

Rise of the Ronin or Ghost of Tsushima?

The main reason for comparison between Ghost of Tsushima and Rise of the Ronin is because of the historical Japanese setting, with Samurais and Ronin. However, I think that another large reason for the comparison stems from how they are both the same genre, open-world action RPGs, yet each have a different focus.

The Fundamental Differences

Ghost of Tsushima was a graphically unique game with an amazing art style paired with great graphical fidelity. It looks like a movie, and even plays like a movie with a minimalistic hud and Sucker Punch’s choice to exclude a lock on feature in combat. Everything is made to look like an Akira Kurosawa film, and immserse you into the world of 13th century Japan.

In Rise of the Ronins case, instead of aiming for a cinematic style that immerses you into the world, the combat is meant to feel flashy and at a much faster, twitchy pace that Team Ninja are known for. The moves are less methodical than Ghost of Tsushima and more unrealistic with attacks not humanly possible, providing some elements in the combat which blur the line between fantasy and reality.

So whereas Ghost of Tsushima attempts to make the game look like a cutscene and push the limits of graphics and immersion in gaming, Rise of the Ronin focuses more on gameplay and feeling like a badass ninja. The main problem and reason why Rise of the Ronin is the subject of mixed criticism is of course, it’s presentation.

The Importance of Graphics in Gaming

The unfortunate truth of the gaming space is that graphics always sell. It doesn’t matter if your game has the best content to ever exist, because if your graphics are subpar, people will assume the quality of presentation matches the quality of the content. This is marketing 101, and is a big reason why so many companies spend so much money on high budget trailers. First impressions are EVERYTHING.

To give an analogy, if a master tier chef creates a dish with terrible presentation and posts it up on the menu, people are likely to never try it, assuming it tastes as garbage as it looks. Conversely, if the dish appears as an exquisite delicacy, unparalleled to any cuisine on Earth, people will want to try it out, led by the assumption that its great presentation correlates with an amazing flavor.

The same thing applies to Rise of the Ronin. When people see the lack of graphical fidelity and washed out artstyle, they immediately assume the gameplay has had as much effort put into it as the presentation. While it’s definitely true that the graphics are completing disappointing, especially considering its an open-world game, Rise of the Ronin itself is actually an extremely enjoyable experience despite of itself.

Ghost of Tsushima is still leagues beyond Rise of the Ronin when it comes to graphical fidelity and animations, even on its original PS4 release, while still being able to deliver good gameplay. However, I am of the opinion that there is much more depth to Rise of the Ronin’s gameplay than would first appear.

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Combat Complexity

Though the combat of Rise of the Ronin definitely isn’t Team Ninja’s best work, it can still create incredibly satisfying sequences with a lot of experience. Ghost of Tsushima opts for a simple combat system with a single weapon choice, a Katana, as well as a stance system which makes Jin’s attacks more effective against certain enemies. He gets a few upgrades from the skill tree to diversify his moveset, with extra moves for each of the 4 stances, but it was all in all linear combat which was extremely fluid thanks to the animations.

The combat of Rise of the Ronin is some kind of middle ground between Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty and the Nioh series, opting for something more complex. The basics include normal attacks, heavy attacks, guarding and a Ki meter representing your stamina. Your moveset is diversified by the various Combat Stances for each of the 9 different weapons in the game. Each stance has up to 4 Martial Skills which are special abilities which do significant Ki damage, meaning you can have up to 12 unique hot-swappable skills in combat, as well as ranged weapons, your grapple hook and of course character swapping.

The entire system is based on the Counterspark, a parry system to deflect attacks and cause enemies to Panic, providing an opportunity to do some damage and reducing their Ki meter. Once that meter is depleted, you can do a critical hit dealing massive damage, with a couple unique animations for all 9 weapons as well as Critical Hits with ranged weapons.

Like Ghost of Tsushima, equipped stances are effective and ineffective against some enemies, forcing you to switch up stances and your weapon often in order to deal the most damage in large group fights. However, one thing I think Rise of the Ronin does better here is the character swapping mechanic in missions; it always makes you feel like you have the upper hand and can help you bounce back from bad Countersparks or Martial Skills easily. It’s always frustrating when you pull out a cool combo, only to whiff it and ruin the entire sequence, so this system provides a good solution to those scenarios.

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Rise of the Ronin’s Content Surplus

To start, lets go over what you do in Ghost of Tsushima. There was a fantastic main quest with a well written, tearjerking script that could be called peak cinema. There were also fantastic side quests, Mythic Tales which had you fight an incredibly unique boss to get some dopamine-inducing loot, my favorite part of the game. However, outside of that, the game didn’t have much else to offer with the combat and the smooth graphical animations in it mostly carrying its gameplay. The only other content available were some side quests, fox chasing, writing a haiku, bamboo splitting and hot spring bathing. A basic open world is not anything out of the ordinary in the genre, but Rise of the Ronin outclasses Ghost of Tsushima in this aspect.

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Rise of the Ronin has all of the stale Open World aspects and sidequests, but still manages to add more. In the open world, you get cat collecting, defeating fugitives to unlock new stances, photography, gambling, gliding races, horseback archery and a Dojo where you can hone your craft against around 20 acquainted bonds in boss battles.

While you could say these aren’t necessarily better than haikus and bamboo splitting, the fact is that the content doesn’t end there. The Bonds system is a massive example of this, easily accounting for around 30% of a playthrough. You can actually form relationships with over 50 characters in the game, and progress your relationships with them by giving them booze or going on their bond missions. Some of the bond missions are the best content in the game, providing interesting scenarios and backstories for various characters, like Izo Okada developing as a character in Ryoma Sakamoto’s bond quest. Upgrading your bonds yields you rewards like extra stances in combat, and a bunch of RPG stuff that felt like a genuine progression in the game, unlike rewards from collectibles on the map.

That leads us to the next big part of Rise of the Ronin; the heavy lean into RPG aspects. Ghost of Tsushima is relatively simple in this regard, whereas Team Ninja had the amazing template of Nioh 2 to go off of. There are a variety of skills which completely change how you approach combat, a bunch of customization from the 4 secondary stats for each equipped item, weapon proficiencies for all 9 different weapons and the scaling from your stats on each individual stance in the game. Its overwhelming, but in exchange it makes the game more complex and thus longer-lasting.

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Final Thoughts

So, all in all, is Rise of the Ronin better than Ghost of Tsushima? Absolutely not. Even with all the extra content and the deeper combat system Rise of the Ronin has, its still hard to say that it can outclass a masterpiece like Ghost of Tsushima. Despite some of the Open World being stale, everything else in Ghost of Tsushima had that signature Sony quality seen in the likes of God of War, Last of Us and Uncharted, that was almost good enough to make it 2020’s Game of the Year.

It does a better job than Rise of the Ronin in many areas. The music is incredible, the story is deeper and more grounded thanks to the preset character, and of course the graphics were considered incredible back when it launched. However, Rise of the Ronin does put up a fight, with more content and replayability in the endgame making it a better value for it’s price while boasting a more customizable combat system. Rise of the Ronin is simply held back by its graphics, and had the potential to be much more than just another solid open world ARPG.

Regardless of which you prefer, I hope this article convinced you that Rise of the Ronin is not the mediocre game that it’s art style and animations presents itself to be; it’s a game that one can thoroughly enjoy once you can look past the issues of presentation, and genuinely find yourself becoming engaged in.

However, just a reminder again that Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut launched on May 16th for PC, so if you have not played it yet because you don’t own a Playstation or live under a rock, make sure you have this on your list of games to pick up this spring!


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