Critic: Shaun Player
Date of Review: Oct 17, 2018
Version: Nintendo Switch
File Size(s): 12GB(NS), 17.6GB(PS4), 16.25GB(XB1), 20GB(PC)
Game Page: Warriors Orochi 4 Game Page
Review copy provided by KOEI Tecmo Games Europe.
It feels like ages since we were last graced with a Warriors Orochi title (2012 for WO3), and after an anniversary collaboration (Warriors All-Stars) being the closest we have had it isn’t surprising that many of the Warriors fanbase have been hankering for a proper Warriors Orochi title. Based on both Dynasty Warriors 8 (up to 8 Empires) and Samurai Warriors 4 (up to 4 II), the current Warriors Orochi series lineup now hits 170 unique playable characters. But does this make the game good? Let’s delve in deeper and find out!
Right off the bat, Warriors Orochi 4 doesn’t offer much varied content which we were absolutely spoilt with by it’s prior title Warriors Orochi 3. There is the core Story Mode, and then there is a side-mode “Battle Arena” – which we’ll go into more detail later down in the review.
So for Story Mode, you start out as Naomasa Ii, Naotora Ii and Tadakatsu Honda, on your way to an upcoming disturbance when all of a sudden you are enveloped in this weird mist. The trio of warriors sensing something is up become more cautious but their duty dictates they continue onwards. Lo and behold they then run into an ambush by Lu Bu’s men. Not having remembered anything of the prior Warriors Orochi events, this strikes them all as confusing, but none the less the chopping commences.
After more battles it is found out that many of the Warriors within the game had similar experiences, a weird mist enveloping them and then bringing them to this weird misshapen yet familiar world. The usual alliances form and you end up figuring out what is going on. It seems a new world has been created by the almighty Greek God Zeus, and with the power of 8 serpent bracelets he wishes to enjoy some fun time with his playthings – the humans. Perseus, the half God son of Zeus steals some of the bracelets and made his escape from Olympus, but in the chaos the bracelets he took were lost. Can our heroes unite once more, find these bracelets and stand up to Zeus and his Olympian forces?
Scattered between battles you will return to your camp. Though instead of a small area for you to traverse around, this is simply a set of (sometimes confusing) string of menus. Within your camp you can sortie your team, set up your support team (a select few characters that boost general attributes depending on your choice), upgrade their stats with skill points you earn by levelling up. Each character has a skill tree that you can upgrade including basic stats such as Strength, Defense and Health, along with increasing the amount of attacks they can perform and more. Also in the camp you can equip weapons, fuse weapons (installing skills to them) or selling / dismantle them. Along with all this your camp also has a skill tree, where you can upgrade various parts of the camp using the games currency “gems”. There is also a function from the camp where you can play a “mock battle” that lets you mess about with your chosen character – think of it like practice mode. The main thing about the camp though is initiating the next battle, where you’ll get the option to play the next story battle or some of the side-story battles that crop up over the course of the game.
Now with the story premise (which is hit and miss, but enough to keep you hooked) and camp mechanics out of the way, let’s talk the main reason we are here – the combat mechanics. Warriors Orochi 4 directly rips the characters from their respective game series, so Dynasty Warriors characters all have their EX attacks and Samurai Warriors characters have their Hyper attacks all still in tact (not edited forms like Warriors All-Stars). The big new mechanic is the Sacred Treasures, which replace the Skill attacks featured in prior Warriors Orochi titles. You are able to perform four different types of these attacks, basic magic attack (R+Y), charge magic attack (R+X), Unique magic attack (R+A) and Unity magic attack (SL+RL). Basic and Charge are depicted by the Sacred Treasure type your character wields, while the Unique magic attack is character specific. Unity magic attack is where your party of three and selected support characters come together to create a giant ball of magic that you unleash upon the poor fellas in your general vicinity (funnily enough quite a few of these look like your character trying to pull off a Kamehameha!).
These magic attacks play a vital role in the game as their are new types of enemies. These types of enemies are heavily resistant to general attacks but are weak to Magic attacks. The enemies come in the form of Wraiths, that can buff all nearby enemies with this general attack resistant forcing you to kill them (or just the Wraith) with magic based attacks. There are also mythological enemies such as Cyclops’ and Griffons, which too require to be defeated via magic based attacks. To use magic based attacks you will need to fill up a Magic metre, which will slowly charge up as the battle progresses. You can also come across weird artefacts sticking out of the ground, where if you hold R near you can charge your magic bar up fully. You also have a separate metre for Unity Magic attack, which will fill up by using magic attacks and fighting in general. All this together brings a more strategical approach to your combat instead of the standard combo attacks.
Along with the new Sacred Treasure system, there is a new Switch system, that allows you to switch to another character mid-combo to deal a boost in damage along with continuing to doll out the hits continuously. If you time things right you can unleash devastating combos upon all you face. Yet another new feature in the game (and the main focus) is the Deification system, which is what the power of the Serpent bracelets come into place. Certain characters within the game have a Deification form, which when unlocked through Story progressions enables them to transform into a Godly form. This is the equivalent to a super powered Rage mode (which the non Deification characters have). It is very stylish and looks very good and fun to play around with, though you have a limited amount of time in this mode (unless Plot dictates otherwise).
Now let’s move on to the side-mode Battle Arena. In short it’s a clearly tacked on addition to the game which really serves little purpose aside saying “Hey we have an online mode you can compete with others against”. Battle Arena is a single map with three bases, two teams of three (can be played with up to 6 players online) and your goal is to fight each other while trying to capture each others bases. You also have a limited time to do this in, whoever has the most bases or has progressed the most in conquering when the time limit ends wins. That’s it. You can play against bots in single player but they aren’t the smartest tools in the shed. Really it’s just a boring waste of time and completely lets down what is otherwise a really good core game. May be worth a laugh or two but you definitely won’t be revisiting this mode for more.
That’s about it for the game itself, we ran in to some technical hiccups with the Nintendo Switch version of the game (played in handheld mode) where the frame-rate will dip rarely and the draw distance isn’t as far as the PS4 version. Though this didn’t hamper the experience of the game at all on Switch, and most certainly isn’t anything near the problematic Warriors Orochi 2 XBOX 360 port (*shudders*). The game can be played in co-op form both online and offline with ease, with online allowing you to set up game rooms for more comprehensive fun or simply join directly to a game.
Our final thoughts? Well the game’s core is great, it brings back the essence of what a Warriors game is meant to be, but refined into a glimmering gem. However there really is only the Story Mode here to entertain you with. If you are happy to just experience that then this is a must get for Warriors or Hack n Slash fans out there, but if you are expecting more variety (like Warriors Orochi 3), then perhaps best to wait for a price drop or for the inevitable “Ultimate” edition in the coming years.