Reviews

Warriors Orochi 4 review – Musou-ver, Gods

For the uninitiated, here’s the drill: Koei Tecmo’s forever expanding hack & slash Musou/Warriors universe has brought together the characters of Dynasty Warriors (largely based on a fiction which itself is based on real events) and Samurai Warriors (largely based on fictional takes on real-life events and people) in a parallel universe for the fourth time. Each game however is standalone in its story, which means allegiances, and thus warrior combinations, differ each time. Your team will battle just about anyone over just about anything. And this time you’re taking on Gods, too!

Mobile Suit Zelda Quest Heroes Orochi

So, personally speaking, I’ve experience with one of the Samurai Warriors games, a couple of the older Dynasty Warriors jams, dabbled in Dragon Quest Heroes and spent a great deal of time playing co-op Hyrule Warriors. Oh, and endless hours in the Dynasty Warriors Gundam series with my son (I can still hear 3’s menu music), but let’s not get into that right now. I’ve only ventured into the Warriors Orochi series for the third entry’s Wii U release and I had a pretty good time with it. So what am I getting at? Well, I’ve played various spin-offs and mainline entries but it’s been fairly sporadic so, I’m just going to write down a short comment and casually leave it here on the table… they’re all very similar.

WO3

You’ll hear plenty of shouts of a ‘play one, play all’ and it’s hard to disagree for the most part. Conversely though, you know what you’re getting. Warriors Orochi isn’t going to draw in a new audience as there’s little to make the title stand-out that we’ve not experienced several times before. That said, there’s nothing wrong with using it as a starting point because whichever way you slice, you’re not going to get your head around that roster. Core gameplay involves limited nuance and a hell of a lot of button mashing.

Stand Firm with Justice and Love

Basically, with the roster, you get a load of women of a certain, uh, physique and men with, uh, kissable lips who can be loosely grouped into light-medium-heavy types. A lot are based on known figures, many of whom have stylised looks that are common across all media, like Japanese war staple, Oda Nobunaga, for example. The sheer volume of characters is staggering (170 in total), and plenty come with their own fighting style and weaponry. It’s fun to mix and match styles and the ability to switch between your selected team of three characters on the fly (including mid-combo) adds a touch of depth, especially if you avoid similar-feeling warriors. The operative word being touch.

WO4

The differences aren’t particularly noticeable once the unavoidably repetitive nature of Musou gameplay sets in. However, if you turn the style on, with flashier special moves, it can make for some great set pieces. To change pace, Warriors Orochi 4 gets experimental with magic. Someone’s grabbed a five-finger discount on the Gods’ tools and once you’re equipped with the Sacred Treasures there’s even more to feast your eyes on. Spells can offer ranged attacks and charged attacks among others and each character gets a nice personal range of choices mapped to face buttons. And you can summon a horse.

Stripped for the Occasion

The game wasn’t built for the Switch and that’s not a problem in itself. For a mid-tier multi-format title on a portable console it won’t be a surprise, nor should it be, to hear this version suffers with plenty of pop-in, slow down and a generally scaled-back look. It’s not drastic for what you’re getting on-the-go, but it takes some adjusting. And it can be fairly off-putting when your enemies look like they’re undressing – one minute looking like they’re wearing a t-shirt, the next they’re in a vest. I mean at least in split screen you can’t even see it happening so… bonus?

WO2
Cut scenes look pretty and if you can overlook the many graphical blemishes, you’ll start to forget they exist once the hours go by. And my word, are there some hours in there.

Switching to handheld is an absolute blessing though. It just works. Pop-in is less noticeable and framerate appears to hold up better as far as I can tell, and the whole experience becomes far more intimate.

Committing Sudoku

To gain the biggest rewards in weaponry royalty, you’re tasked with completing optional objectives. Your mileage will vary depending on how much Musou gas your tank can hold because the fair-weather fan will likely not have the patience for the wealth of content on offer. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; if you find the whole 1 vs 1,000 deal to be your bag than there’s a lot to do.

Strengthening your team involves the usual blend of level-grinding and gearing up. Gear can be broken down into parts which can be fused, as with the previous entry. Skill trees are present but you will find, if you enjoy mixing your team up frequently, it will feel like you’re starting over ad nauseum. You’ll need a lot of time on your hands if you plan to become a hardened veteran with more than just a small handful of characters.

WO5

The scope of content should be greatly approved, if not expected, by returning fans. It’s basically more of the same so your preferences could quickly knock my score up or down a notch depending on taste. Warriors Orochi throws out any grounded elements of the mainline games it’s riffing on and just knuckles down on the crazy. For me though, it’s just not quite crazy enough to sustain it for long playthroughs without turning to co-op, which, unfortunately requires a half-an-hour ‘tune-in’ period to accustom yourself with the jank-fest.

I love the setting, I love the character’s ornate clothing and I love the fast-paced button mashing spectacle of the whole franchise but I’d be lying if I said it felt refreshed or upgraded. I do, however, find it almost cathartic to watch hoard after hoard fall while building up ludicrous KO counts.
WO7

Age Appropriate


After handing the controllers over to my wife and 5-year-old daughter, I sat to observe the chaos for a while. Moves are suitably over the top, the crowds are as large as ever but holy moly, does this game run terribly in split screen. You must realistically accept a sizeable drop in fidelity and performance, especially from a game with this many enemies. However, on the Switch, Warriors Orochi 4 handles split screen as smoothly as rubbing sandpaper on gravel with a glove caked in grit. It’s bad. Thing is, I still think it’s the most fun way to play, 15fps and all (I’m mostly exaggerating). There’s something inherently cool about the communication breaking down to ‘YOU GO THAT WAY, I’LL GO THIS WAY’, while entirely ignoring what you’re being asked to do just so can you continue to wail on the 100s of lemmings waddling around, to enable you to beat your partner’s KO count.

WO6

Choice Quotes

“Mummy, I don’t understand’, “you don’t need to understand, just FIGHT!”
“Where are all these baddies coming from?”
“I think it’s really cool because you can fight on the horse and it’s impossible to fight on a horse”.

My daughter’s verdict? Well, she thinks it’s good. She enjoyed playing as ‘the big guy’ (Tadakatsu Honda). Awwww.

Verdict:

Graphics & Presentation: 2.5
Sound: 2.5
Gameplay: 4

Overall Score: 3/5

There’s technically a lot to pull apart but you don’t really need to if you’re already taken by the series. Because it’s more Musou on Switch. And it has online play. And it’s damn fun. And it’s portable. And the spells are cool. And…

Formats: Nintendo Switch (reviewed), PS4, Xbox One, PC
Price: £54.99 (Switch eShop)
Publisher: Koei Tecmo Europe Ltd
Developer: Omega Force

Release Date: 19/10/2018 (Switch eShop)
Age Rating: 12

Review copy provided by publisher

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