Rise of the Ronin: Inside Team Ninja’s diverse weapons and combat styles

Since the mid-90s, the developers at Team Ninja have earned consistent praise for their precise, satisfying combat. Look no further than the Dead or Alive franchise’s dynamic fighting system or Ninja Gaiden’s lightning-fast combat for prime examples. The developer aims to continue and expand that legacy of satisfying melee mechanics in Rise of the Ronin.

Rise of the Ronin allows players to battle through a storyline set in the final days of the Tokugawa Shogunate in Japan, known as Bakumatsu, where they can enjoy an accessible but deep combat system using different play styles combining melee weapons and firearms. This involves draining enemies’ Ki, mastering Martial Skills, and becoming proficient with multiple fighting styles. Mix and match to find your approach on PlayStation 5 on March 22. 

To help players get ready to battle through historic Japan, Team Ninja shares a new behind-the-scenes developer diary diving into the combat of Rise of the Ronin.

Ki-depleting battle actions

In Rise of the Ronin, Team Ninja combines its signature combat action with Katanas, spears, other melee weapons, and ranged weapons like foreign firearms. As a Ronin, you will battle foes utilizing these two types of weapons. 

The basic combat strategy involves performing melee attacks with Square, defending yourself from foes’ attacks with L1 to guard and Circle to dodge. When your foe’s Ki is completely depleted, they will become vulnerable and incapacitated, making it easier to deal massive damage with critical hits.

Similarly, when your Ki is exhausted, you temporarily won’t be able to attack or run, so pay attention to your Ki as you battle.

Using Counterspark and Martial Skills to damage Ki

When facing formidable foes, effectively parrying with the Counterspark action and utilizing Martial Skills can lower their maximum Ki, making it easier to defeat them.

Counterspark is an action that parries enemy attacks. To Counterspark, press Triangle to rotate the melee weapon in a large arc to counter the foe’s attack. When you use Counterspark to evade damage from attacks that you cannot guard yourself against, your foe’s Ki reduces, and they will be stunned briefly. This can create a window to deal even more damage to reduce their maximum Ki.

Martial skills (holding down R1 while pressing Square/Triangle) inflict more significant damage. They are also highly effective against strong foes.

Know your foes, weapons, and combat styles 

Each Japanese and Western weapon—Katana, spears, dual blades, bayonets, and sabers—has its own capabilities and attack actions. As you build bonds with characters you meet, you will acquire new combat styles and further evolve their capabilities to enhance your battle experience.

As you battle your foes, knowing which one of the three combat styles, Ten (Sky), Chi (Earth), and Jin (Human), is advantageous against their weapons and can help you gain the upper hand in battle—and parrying them with the proper combat style will knock them back significantly.

Main combat styles

Mumyo Style

Originating in the Kurosu Clan from an unknown master, it is a versatile martial art combat style performed in pairs. Those who mastered the style were called Veiled Edge.

Hokushin Itto Style

This style of swordsmanship, founded by Shusaku Chiba in the early 19th century, is used to overwhelm foes with a series of attacks. Their teaching is rational, emphasizing the mastery of techniques through training performed by an attacker and a defender. Their dojo, established in 1822 in Edo (today’s Tokyo), remains operational today. 

Yagyu Shinkage Style

The renowned military instructor of the Tokugawa clan founded this swordsmanship style. Starting with Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first shogun, generations of shoguns and the Tokugawa clan are known to have studied this swordsmanship.

Nine weapons will be available for battling enemies, including dual blades, Oxtail Swords, great swords, and Odachi.

Long-ranged weapons

Bows and firearms require careful aiming to attack from a distance. Leveraging silent weapons like bows, you can perform a stealth takedown on unaware foes. While firearms are powerful, the gunfire will give away your attack to your enemies. 

The timed firing of a handgun will stun foes for a prolonged period. It can be used as an attack opportunity to reduce the foe’s Ki cap limit.

Fire Pipes blow powerful flames. You can use this long-range weapon to set a group of enemies ablaze or ignite a gunpowder barrel to explode.

Ingenious grappling rope actions

You can throw the grappling rope at a latching point to gain leverage in a flash. You can also wield it to pull distant enemies in during combat. Keep the grappling rope in mind to take control of the battlefield from afar.

You can hold down R2 to wield a grappling rope to grab a nearby gunpowder barrel and throw it at enemies. The barrel will explode, setting the enemies on fire and inflicting epic damage.

There is no right or wrong way to approach combat with the multitude of options in your arsenal. Experiment with gear and master the many styles Rise of the Ronin has to offer on March 22.

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