9 Things To Know Before Starting Rise Of The Ronin


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A Rise of the Ronin samurai, in a blue demon mask and blue garb, holds aims a pistol at the camera.

Rise of the Ronin is Team Ninja’s most ambitious game to date, one that takes the studio’s best elements and combines them into a kind of “Greatest Hits” album. It’s also the developer’s biggest game thus far, with an open-world environment replete with side activities to complete and map markers to chase. There are a lot of mechanics to acquaint yourself with here, especially if you haven’t played Ninja Gaiden, Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty, or Nioh. But don’t worry, I’m here to make the on-ramp to Japan’s Bakumastu period easier with some advice from my dozens of hours exploring Rise of the Ronin’s vast, gorgeous world.

Look up

You’ve no doubt seen the glider in the various gameplay and reveal trailers. This gadget is a great way to get around Rise of the Ronin’s three cities. It effectively turns you into a bird as you soar above the houses and pagodas and trees, but you might be wondering just how and when you can deploy it. Well, you do need to be a certain amount of feet off the ground to press X for your glider wings to extend. However, if you look up, you’ll notice that not only are there grappling points for you to easily reach the rooftops, but those very same rooftops will have launch points allowing you to immediately use the glider. The best part: you can chain together grappling actions. So, if you see a launch point while in mid-flight, you can use your grappling hook to zip to that point to then launch yourself into another glider hang with a burst of speed. It’s almost like sitting in a biplane, taking in the beautiful scenery from on high.


Bring allies

Some Rise of the Ronin samurai draw their swords against a snow-covered stone structure.


During certain missions in Rise of the Ronin, you’ll be thrust into a linear level not unlike those found in Nioh or Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty. These stages are, in some cases, completely cordoned off from the rest of the game’s open-world, and allow you to recruit up to two allies to make any difficult enemy encounters a bit more manageable. And you really should bring a gang with you, not just because some goons are tough, but because you get some bonuses for having allies in your party. Some provide passive benefits, like increasing the amount of damage you do or making healing items more effective, and all of them add temporary buffs to your various stats. More than that, though, it gives you a chance to increase your bond with them, which is good when it comes to improving your effectiveness in battle.

Make some friends

Speaking of increasing your bonds with your gang, being kind to Rise of the Ronin’s various characters is important for your created character’s progression. When you invite someone on a mission, give them gifts, or say something nice and reasonable, and you’ll deepen your relationship with the characters. Doing this, in turn, increases their effectiveness and stats in battle, making them stronger and more resilient the more often you lean on them and treat them right. Further, increasing your bond with certain characters, such as the anti-Shogunate samurai Ryoma Sakamoto and Genzui Kusaka, deepens your understanding of their combat style. This allows you to not only unlock new moves in that fighting style, but also increases its damage and performance. So, as much as it might pain you sometimes, be sure to get along.


Find cats, kill fugitives

There are a bunch of activities to undertake in Rise of the Ronin. From horseback archery training to gambling dens, you’ll find that your time can get quickly sapped by trying to do it all. If you’re looking to prioritize any optional objectives, though, it should be the cats and fugitives. Outside of the cute snuggling animation that plays, finding and petting cats can yield skill points for the Charm attribute, which allows you to influence people and smooth-talk your way through conversations. Meanwhile, hunting and killing criminals—the complete opposite of finding and petting cats—can give you skill points for your Strength attribute. There are other ways to gain skill points for the other two attributes, Dexterity and Intelligence, but since much of this game is about combat and chitchat, I’d focus on getting your Charm and Strength up first. Don’t worry, you can reallocate your skill points later.


Take advantage of ‘auto’ settings

A Rise of the Ronin character cowers in fear as people drop dead to his left and right during a village raid.


Rise of the Ronin has a number of settings to tinker with, but the most convenient ones are all those that do something automatically. Under User Accessibility in the Options menu, there’s a toggle for myriad automatic in-game actions: aiming, combo-ing, crouching, item collecting, ladder climbing, and rope grabbing. Turning them on saves the frustration of having to remember how to perform these actions. They aren’t cumbersome to do on their own. Crouching, for example, defaults to L3. But having it be done automatically for you allows you to focus more on the environment and the gameplay rather than the minutiae of the mechanics. It’s a nice little quality-of-life option.

Always return to Veiled Edge Banners

Rise of the Ronin has some Souls-y elements to it, such as the upgrade resource called Karma that you lose when you die. You’ll wanna pay attention to this, as you can have a bunch of Karma and not even realize it until you return to a Veiled Edge Banner, this game’s version of Dark Souls’ bonfire rest points. When you make your way back to a Veiled Edge Banner, the Karma you’ve acquired, which is displayed at the top right corner of the screen, is banked. It gets transformed from this unusable resource to skill points for your character and their attributes. Of course, when you lose your Karma, you lose your chance to increase your stats. But if you kill the enemy that killed you, you’ll get your Karma back, plus a little bonus on top for completing the vendetta you had. Remember, though, all that Karma is useless if you don’t get to a Veiled Edge Banner, so always make it back to one.


Don’t give money to those damn beggars

As you journey through Rise of the Ronin’s three cities, you’ll come across some old-sounding beggars. Ringing their little bells in dilapidated villages or random forks-in-the-dirt-road, they’ll plead for an absurd amount. Don’t do it! It doesn’t matter how much you give them because eventually, they’ll turn on you, fed up with the minuscule amount of money you’re handing out. I gave one of these beggars heaps of money three times in one sitting and he still whipped out a huge sword, saying “Hand it over, I know you got more!” Clearly, these guys just want the bag, and they’ll do whatever it takes to get it. The worst part is that not only are these dudes tough as shit, you don’t even get all the money you gave them back for killing them. They’re a literal money pit.


Make use of the different difficulty settings

A Rise of the Ronin character kneels with his arms bound by rope.


Yes, Rise of the Ronin has difficulty options that you can change as long as you’re not in the middle of one of those linear levels. Under Game Settings in the Options menu, you’ll see a toggle for the three difficulty choices: Dawn (easy), Dusk (medium), and Twilight (hard). While I played most of the way through on Dusk, I did experiment with the other two options and, let me tell you, Dawn is not a cakewalk. Enemies are still fierce and you’re still liable to die on easy, just not as often. So, let it be known that, yep, you can have a Souls-inspired game with difficulty settings. And I recommend you make use of it because, trust me, this game gets pretty hard.

Your starting class isn’t as important as you think

Like in most Soulslikes, choosing what class you start with isn’t something you need to sweat over. After you’ve created your character at the start of Rise of the Ronin, you’re given the option to choose your Blade Sharpening Origin, which affects your starting stats and recommended weapons. It’s not that serious, though. Once you unlock your longhouse (your customizable living quarters) about an hour or two into the story, you’ll get the option to adjust your Blade Sharpening Origin so you can focus on a different set of weapons. Further, in this safe house of yours, you’ll also get the chance to reallocate skills, change your character’s gear and physical appearance, and decorate your living space to gain passive buffs while out in the world. So yeah, don’t fret too much about what you look like or what your starting class is. It’s all changeable and customizable. You just need a little bit of patience.


And there you have it. Nine tips to get started on your journey through Rise of the Ronin’s take on 19th-century Japan. Of course, this is a massive action-RPG that I’m still not done with despite putting over 55 hours into it. There are undoubtedly things I missed, but these nine tips are a great place for beginners to start, so venture out into the Bakumatsu period armed with solid advice to establish a new Japan.


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