Warriors Orochi 4 started to made headlines before its release. It achieved the record for the number of playable characters in a hack-and-slash video game; which is admittedly impressive if you glance at it one way. For those who have played other games in the franchise, this seems par for the course. Warriors Orochi 4 is essentially the most feature-rich and complete package released so far. Technically, it also avoids the usual clutter and lack of polish that was prominent in most of the recent hack-and-slash games. This already places it a step above the rest, but there is more to it with trivial changes made to the combat system leading to a more enjoyable experience overall.
Warriors Orochi 4 offers the same hack-and-slash gameplay that you can expect from the Musou genre. The playable cast is just one of the factors that broaden its appeal. The combat system has also undergone some minor but subtle changes which allow you to dish a staggering amount of damage to enemies. Keeping a combo chain going is pretty easy now, and doesn’t virtually take skills to achieve this task. The game, therefore, lacks the appeal of fresh gameplay elements even if it attempts to refine and execute the old formula efficiently, there is no big incentive to try it out as a fan.
The story, as usual, is completely bogged down by unnecessary conversations where they don’t add anything meaningful to it. I have never been a fan of the story in most of the Musou games, and this is no exception here. I feel like the story could be cut and this could still end up being a decent experience. The huge character roster is part of the appeal, but it doesn’t help enhance the experience in any meaningful way. In other words, content is not the problem here, but the pacing and execution where Warriors Orochi 4 starts to demonstrate its flaws.
Warriors Orochi 4 is trying to introduce all the cast from other ‘Warriors’ series under one umbrella. You have fighters from the Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors constituting a sizeable part of the character roster. There is actually a neat detail added in the game by limiting the characters to their own special abilities from their respective series. The overarching plot deals with the same ‘shared’ multiverse trope with the Greek Gods acting as the main culprit of causing this mess. To return to their own world, these Warriors have to join forces together to get eight magical bangles which will aid them in this task. The story is something that never manages to stick around enough for you to care about it, so it feels more like a filler.
There are an estimated 170 playable characters, which is unquestionably a sizeable number. Do they all play differently with a unique move set? Not really. At a certain point, you realize repetition of the combat as you unleash the same combo and special moves on slaying hundreds of enemies in each mission. The storytelling is a letdown and lacks big cinematic moments even if it is not that great. You are merely picking missions from a list divided by chapters, so it drags down the pacing of the story significantly.
The combat system is basic with most of the characters lacking a unique move set. You can additionally use magic which attempts to spice things up a little but doesn’t manage to succeed with it. Magic is sometimes forced by making enemies vulnerable to all other attacks aside from magic, but it is typically an effective way to disperse a large crowd easily. If you can chain a big combo count together, it improves the power of magic as well.
There are three party members that you can switch at any point during the battle. You will select them from the full fighter roster which includes secondary supporting characters that can help during battle. Depending on who you pick, they will gain experience points or you can try to use the growth points given after missions to level them up for when you unlock a new character with no experience. The character switching is seamless with no interruption during combos, and in fact, they can help execute powerful moves together.
Other side activities include a bonding mechanic that lets you manage a friendship level. It can lead to some optional conversations between characters that have a strong bond together. Another customization option is for weapon upgrades which are not that deep or strategically important to have an impact on the game. Each character will gain skill points after leveling up, which can unlock new abilities or stat boosting enhancements for them. Once you have a formed a party and feel satisfied with your choice, you can attempt missions from a list to either repeat them and improve rank or advance the story.
After the disappointing performance of Dynasty Warriors 9, this one feels a lot more polished technically with 60 FPS support that manages to stay stable even if you are performing all types of crazy moves. The magic effects look absurd at times, but I never felt the frame rate affects considerably during it for the single-player mode. Although if you attempt it in multiplayer, where it offers a split-screen co-op, things start to get ugly as the visual quality and frame rate takes a hit. It is a compromise for split-screen support which is unfortunately made here.
Ultimately, Warriors Orochi 4 is a victim of its gameplay loop. The more you play, the easier it is to identify the flaws of its same old tired formula. It is enjoyable for fans of the Warriors series, but if you are a newcomer, there is nothing fresh to offer here. The combat is undoubtedly fun with the mix of magical attacks and ordinary special moves, but you can get burned out easily after slaughtering hundreds of the same looking enemies while trying to run and capture bases.
Warriors Orochi 4 Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: Warriors Orochi 4, released as Musō Orochi 3 in Japan, is a 2018 hack and slash video game developed by Koei Tecmo and Omega Force for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.
Final Score - 7/10
This has been technically the most polished Warriors game so far. Despite the overwhelming number of playable characters, the combat is fun even if it iterates on the same traditional dated formula. As a whole though, Warriors Orochi 4 lacks an engaging story and directly serves more as a fan-service game.