Warriors Orochi 4 (Xbox One Review)
It’s natural to push for progression in our most beloved franchises. We want to see them grow and prosper, but what happens when it all goes wrong? How do you reassure players that the experiment that blew up in their faces wasn’t the new norm? Well, the easiest solution is to go back to the basics and that’s exactly what Koei Tecmo has done with Warriors Orochi 4.
The titular button masher is assuredly back on form as it pulls from both Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors in the latest instalment in a hope to entice those burned back in to the fray. With over 170 characters there’s a character for everyone and then some, even boasting a whole series of characters designed specifically for Warriors Orochi 4. It’s the largest the cast has ever been and with nearly every character boasting their own style, it’s far more invigorating than the drab approach Dynasty Warriors 9 decided upon.
Adding to the depth of the cast are the new magic based attacks that sit on top of the classic light, heavy, and musuo attack based mechanics of previous games. Magic attacks are performed by holding the right bumper and pressing one of the attack buttons. The pool of magic attacks surrounding both the light and heavy attacks aren’t particularly diverse, with many of the cast performing the exact same attacks, but every character has their own unique magic attack that can be performed when the magic gauge is full at the cost of half a bar of musuo energy. The attacks themselves channel the power of gods and can be wonderfully colourful, with the added bonus of combo count contributing to their overall damage. You even unlock a combination magic called Unity Magic after a set amount of kills using magic and high combos that brings in your entire team to perform a screen clearing manoeuvre. Unfortunately it doesn’t quite have the devastating result of triple attacks seen in Warriors Orochi 3, but what it lacks in pliability it makes up for in flare.
Just as the combat retreads old ground, so does the story. In yet another cataclysmic event in which gods release an unknown evil unto the world, we find both the Dynasty series and Samurai series drawn together, bridging both timelines, to fight off Orochi as well as some Greek gods. While it’s a little contrived and predictable, there’s a welcome familiarity. We know how it’s going to go, yet you’re invested in the ride. Especially in the later stages when the stakes go sky high. They only thing holding it back is the lack of cutscenes and English Va. While the vast majority is played out in text outside combat, some key details are lost during battle as they are in Japanese and trying to focus on a text box can prove troublesome when an enemy captain is in your face.
Even if you are in for the whole ride, there’s very little outside of the five chapter campaign and accompanying side missions. In total there are about 70 missions and the usual difficulties; easy all the way up to chaotic. The replay value is then only really found on maxing out character levels, building relationships, and finding everyone’s unique weapons which is done through completing the same missions again on varying difficulties or with certain teams. It’s quite disappointing after Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate offered Gauntlet mode and the ever escalating challenge it presented.
Thankfully what is there looks great and runs just as smoothly as Warriors Orochi 3. The visuals feel more colourful and although the battlefields on offer are on the low side, they all look the part. Additionally the absolutely stellar soundtrack hits the same high notes it always does with vigour, but much like the levels the OST also lacks much in terms of diversity.
The only noticeable changes are the lack of a hub to embark upon missions from, weapon fusion being tweaked to prove more user friendly, the ability to upgrade your base with resources found in the world, and the relationship mechanic taking dramatically less investment compared to previous titles. Outside the lack of a tangible hub world, all of these changes are more than welcome and reduce the extensive grind for minimal benefits, especially the new weapon fusion that allows you to boil unwanted gear down to crystals to insert in other weapons.
While Warriors Orochi 4 doesn’t quite take the steps to define what the next age of Musuo titles will look like, it pulls together almost all of the best bits. It’s the kind of game you can get comfortable with. The button mashing is almost melodic and the story doesn’t rack your brains to the point that you’re unable to focus. I was ready to hold Warriors Orochi 4 at arm’s length after Dynasty Warriors 9, but it turns out this is exactly the titled I’d been yearning for.
Warriors Orochi 4 does have the ability to go online and play with friends, but at the time of review it was not possible to test this feature.