During today’s new PlayStation State of Play broadcast, SIE, Koei Tecmo and Team Ninja unveiled a new open-world action RPG called Rise of the Ronin. It won’t see release until 2024, which could put it up against Ubisoft’s recently announced Assassin’s Creed Red. Both games will be compared to Sucker Punch’s excellent, measured Ghost of Tsushima.
The open-world samurai genre has suddenly, inexplicably, become very crowded indeed.
It wasn’t that long ago, players were yearning for the return of the Tenchu series and games like it. Big-budget games where you could live out a fantasy of being a sneaky shinobi or masterful samurai had dropped out of vogue. Fans begged Ubisoft for an Assassin’s Creed set in Japan for 15 years before Tsushima proved what everyone already knew: that the concept could work. It’s strange that it took Tsushima, a game criticised for feeling a bit too much like earlier Assassin’s Creed games to prod Ubi into action, but the video games industry is nothing if not bizarre in its thinking.
And now there are a bunch of samurai games on the way.
From Software’s Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice could conceivably get dragged into this too, but may escape the comparison by virtue of being a From Soft game and very much its own thing. Rise of the Ronin does seem to draw inspiration from Sekiro in parts, with its main character using a familiar-looking grappling hook to zip around unseen.
Even Like a Dragon: Ishin! is finally coming to the West! There are so many samurai games happening right now!
Don’t get me wrong, Rise of the Ronin looks quite cool and I think there’s a lot it can bring to the table. But I also think it will need to work hard to differentiate itself from the competition. Nobody can completely predict or avoid moments like these. Publishers track popular titles and look for opportunities to capitalise on trends all the time. Games go into production and live in secrecy for years before we ever hear about them. It’s only when everyone starts to announce that they find three other pubs have identified the exact same trends.
Rise of the Ronin will be a PlayStation 5 exclusive. It is currently set to launch in 2024.