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I can’t get enough of Rise of the Ronin’s intense and addictive combat

Packing both blades and bullets, Rise of the Ronin’s Souls-inspired combat is as diverse as it is satisfyingly slick on the PS5.

Rise of the Ronin combat: A split image with a masculine samurai on the right, with a determined expression as two swords cross over his face, while on the right side is character slicing an enemy as they fall back.

Rise of the Ronin takes Team Ninja’s Souls-inspired action to a bigger scale than it’s ever done before. Although its open-world ambitions do fall somewhat short, I’ve found the sword-swinging, gun-toting Rise of the Ronin combat to be the new PS5 exclusive’s greatest strength.

While it’s not strictly speaking a Souls-like, Rise of the Ronin’s gameplay takes clear inspiration from the popular genre – something I picked up on very early in my Rise of the Ronin preview. For anyone expecting its combat to take a laid-back approach like many of the best RPG games and open-world games on PS5, you need to think again. Rise of the Ronin is fast-paced and challenging, demanding your attention if you want to carve through Bakumatsu-era Japan without being met by the game-over screen repeatedly. Most importantly though, the new PS5 game pairs that difficulty with some excellent and impactful diversity.

Rise of the Ronin combat: A stance shown in the equipment menu, with the character showcasing the stance on the right side.

This starts with the stance system. Similar to Ghost of Tsushima, another of the best PS5 games, Rise of the Ronin lets you swap your weapon stance to counter certain enemy types more effectively. While there are tons to choose from, giving you new animations and attacks, these stances are split across categories. Up against a foe with a heavy weapon? Swap to a Chi stance. Facing off against someone with a katana? Use Ten. There’s more to it than that, but you get the idea. This means you have to be vigilant of your enemy’s weapon and your own, changing your stance to take them down with the brutal swiftness befitting a samurai. While this added layer to combat is great in of itself, I also think it just looks incredibly cool.

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Rise of the Ronin also gives you a great variety in the type of weapons at your disposal, not just how you use them. Of course, you’ve got your standard katanas and paired swords that you’d expect from a roaming ronin, but you can also use sabers, oxtail blades, bayonets, bows, and guns. That’s right, guns. From fanning the hammer on your revolver to blasting a foe with a rifle, Rise of the Ronin even lets you be a gunslinger. In fact, one of my favorite moments was playing as the dastardly gunslinger Ryoma Sakamoto for the first time and unloading a volley of incendiary revolver shots down range. You can even hurl enemies and objects with your grappling hook.

The level of challenge and precision Rise of the Ronin delivers brings this all together, encouraging you to use all the tools at your disposal – and use them well. There’s nothing else quite like nailing the perfect counterspark parry against a boss before returning the favor with a slick sword combo and unleashing your revolver on their nearby buddies.

Rise of the Ronin combat: The player perched on a roof overlooking an enemy camp, with several other buildings and enemies ahead.

However, this challenge also encourages you to avoid combat unless it’s entirely necessary. Since even a small group of enemies can get overwhelming, especially if there is a formidable foe, it’s often best to use stealth. While it’s not quite as in-depth, it is incredibly satisfying to sneak up behind a bandit and assassinate them. With a glider and grappling hook stashed away in your back pocket, repositioning and setting up the perfect plan is a blast.

Although its open-world activities and story aren’t quite as stellar, particularly when compared to other PS5 exclusives, I’m still always down for getting into a fight just to see my Twin Blade do what they’re best at. While you’re taking a breather from clearing camps, take a look at the leaked PS5 Pro specs and how they could impact your experience. Otherwise, find out why Sony is slamming the brakes on PSVR2 after just one year.