Game Informer talked to the developers from Team Ninja about their upcoming project Rise of the Ronin, which became a pleasant challenge for the studio.

Set in 1863, players will take on the role of an unnamed ronin, a samurai without a master, at a time when Japan is loosening its isolation and beginning to transform from a militaristic Tokugawa shogunate government to a modernized empire.

“Nioh was set in what’s called the Sengoku period, or which is sort of the Warring States period, where there were samurai who fought in the very traditional style,” says producer Yosuke Hayashi. “But we wanted this new Bakumatsu, which is sort of the end of the Edo era, …it’s a lot more modern, so we thought it allows for a unique setting when we were thinking about creating a fiction story inspired by a certain moment in time.

Another difference between Rise of the Ronin and previous Team Ninja games is the lack of supernatural elements. The studio wanted to tell a more mundane story to better immerse the player. Thus, during the passage, you will be able to meet real figures of the time, such as Commander Matthew Kelbraith Perry, who broke the isolation of Japan.

Rise of the Ronin will be something new for Team Ninja

But despite the fact that the developers took real events as a basis, this is not a historical game, and players will have the opportunity to decide how to move through the story. Thus, Rise of the Ronin will have dialogues with different answer options that will affect the further progression and the ending.

Although the developers immediately say that you shouldn’t expect a wide variety of opportunities for passing, they will still be there. Completing side quests related to the main story or building relationships with certain characters will have an impact on the ending.

By the way, building relationships with other characters will be one of the most important elements in Rise of the Ronin. The developers even say that Bond Missions, in which these relationships will be created, are the central theme of the game.

“So you have a lot of characters that you meet throughout the story that you can develop bonds with. And a lot of side quests are also tied to these historical figures. And they’re also the system of forming bonds with lands and different locations. So, by helping out people in certain lands, you can deepen your bond with them. A lot of motivation for exploring the world is centered around these systems of bonds with characters and locations,” explains the game’s director Fumihiko Yasuda.

The decision to move from more linear levels or closed locations to open-world game development was a pleasant challenge for the developers. According to producer Yosuke Hayashi, it was a natural next step for Team Ninja.

He also said that the studio was so used to creating level designs where the player needs to kill everything that moves that the transition to an open world with civilian characters was a challenge for them.

Rise of the Ronin will be something new for Team Ninja

Rise of the Ronin will have 3 major cities: Yokohama, Kyoto, and Edo (now Tokyo). While traveling between these cities, the player will encounter groups of bandits and other dangers, as well as have access to a variety of side quests.

There will be several ways to travel between cities and within them. Players will have access to a horse to ride, a bird-shaped glider to fly quickly around the city, and a hook to quickly lift and take off into the air.

They also told us a bit about the game’s combat system. Rise of the Ronin will have similar elements to Nioh. Players will have access to several fighting styles, pairing will also be important, and several tricks will be available during the battle, such as setting a katana on fire for more damage.

However, one of the important differences will be the fact that the game is set in a period when firearms are beginning to appear in Japan, which means that the ronin will be armed with a pistol, which will add more variety to the gameplay.

Game Informer also asked whether players will receive the same punishment for dying in Rise of the Ronin as in soulslice games, and the developers answered that yes and no. The game will have a Karma system that players will lose when they die, but there will also be a habitual experience system that will remain unchanged. More details about this system, as well as the game in general, will be revealed in the future.

The game will be released on March 22 exclusively for PlayStation 5, and pre-order started on December 14.