Enter a zen-like state of comboing and magic-casting in the latest entry in the Warriors Orochi series.
The gaming landscape is full of titles that inspire incredibly decisive opinions. You either love them or you hate them. Call of Duty is put out every year and many people enjoy it and welcome the consistent gameplay experience. Yet there are just as many people who can’t stand the “same thing” being pumped out year after year and can’t understand the appeal. Dynasty Warriors is one of these divisive titles. A spin-off of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms franchise, the Dynasty Warriors franchise has steadily put out its titles, never deviating too far from their established formula that brought them such acclaim. The franchise has also spawned seemingly hundreds of titles and spin-offs of its own. One such spin-off is the topic of this review.
The Warriors Orochi franchise is where characters from Koei Tecmo’s Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors series cross over and fight hoards of mooks together. Warriors Orochi 4 is the latest entry in this series and, appropriately, it’s the biggest one. And since it’s one of the biggest draws of this title, let’s talk about characters. Warriors Orochi 4 has 170 playable characters. Each one has its own voice lines, unique animations, different combination of weapons and magic, and that is insane. There’s so much variety in the cast, from cyborgs and boar creatures to historical Japanese feudal lords. You might not care about much of the cast, but that’s more than alright; with so many characters at your disposal, you’re bound to find at the very least a handful that stick out to you.
"Thankfully, the series didn’t continue in the direction of Dynasty Warriors 9 and harkens back to the tried-and-true formula the series is known for."
There’s a campaign mode where you’ll be spending most of your time. There’s also a Battle Arena where you can engage in a unique multiplayer game mode either cooperatively or competitively with your friends. The game is split-screen and players can easily drop in and out from almost any menu. There aren’t many options available to you from the settings menu, but it should be noted that every action is rebindable in the menus. Keyboard control is possible and can be set up in any way you want thanks to the remappable actions, but the game heavily hints toward to using a controller. When the game boots up and immediately shoves a confirmation box in your face with Xbox buttons, it’s clear what their angle is.
The campaign finds you picking up after the events of Orochi 3. After defeating Orochi the heroes of the previous title all returned to the land where they belong but without any memory of what went on. They end up getting pulled all into the same world yet again. After getting their bearings, they realize eight magical bangles are the keys to going back to their respective worlds. The story is interesting in its own way, but the real draw of any sort of cross-over property is seeing different characters chum it up with one another. In that respect, the game more than fulfills its job. Characters will constantly be talking to one another and there are also events you can watch, which are little scenes between two characters. There’s no real benefit to watching these aside from a little bit of fan-service, but that’s exactly what Orochi players are going to want.
The campaign’s gameplay is formated in the same way that you’ve seen many times before. Thankfully, the series didn’t continue in the direction of Dynasty Warriors 9 and harkens back to the tried-and-true formula the series is known for. Set loose in a map with plenty of checkpoints and chokepoints, you’re giving various tasks to accomplish, whether its to open a gate or defeat an enemy commander who’s appeared on the field. There’s thousands of enemy mooks out there to build your combos on. The only things that hope to stand in your way are other commanders or the occasional gate guard. Combat is shaken up from time to time by introducing a spirit enemy that buffs all enemies around it until it’s taken out. The gameplay loop of Warriors Orochi is never too taxing and can almost become a relaxing exercise as you see just how high you can make your combo numbers go.
"You have at your disposal three warriors at a time and can swap between them at any point during play or even in the middle of combos."
Warriors Orochi’s gameplay is much the same as it ever was. If you’re familiar with the franchise, then you know what you’re in for. If you’re looking to dip your toes into the Warriors games for the first time, you need to know that the Warriors games are all about stupidly long combos and flashy spectacle. Warriors Orochi 4 continues this tradition and adds a wrinkle with the new magic system. Now by using a combination of button presses, you can unleash different tiers of magical attacks that do tremendous damage and sweep up large amounts of enemies or even a screen-wiping Musou attack. This is a good addition to the Warriors formula and it allows for even bigger combos when paired with your regular moves. It also allows for some truly spectacular sights. Watching Lu Bu slice up a group of enemies, grab one of them by the face, then charge forward using him as a battering ram is nothing short of poetry.
The game has three types of characters: power, speed, and technique characters. Power ones don’t get interupted by weak attacks while they’re pulling off combos, speed characters get aerial mobility and attacks, and technique characters can follow up attacks with dash attacks and cover great distance while keeping up the combo.
You have at your disposal three warriors at a time and can swap between them at any point during play or even in the middle of combos. In fact, comboing into a character swap prompts a tag-in attack and combining this with your regular combos and the aforementioned magic system can see you reaching combo numbers in the tens of thousands. There’s also a skill tree available to you where you can power up your favorite characters. Different tiers of weapons can also be found and equipped, with slots open for elemental attributes. These additions don’t really change much when it comes to combat, but it’s still fun to see your favorite character get even more powerful.
"Warriors Orochi 4 is a great purchase for players who are looking for a great, polished Warriors experience."
The Battle Arena mode is a bit more hit or miss. This 3v3 mode tasks you with capturing three bases all located fairly close to one another. There is only one map and it’s a very simple area with two rows of columns separating the bases. While trying out the game mode, servers weren’t open yet and so I wasn’t able to do anything besides split screen play. There are also bots available to play against, though this isn’t any sort of challenge. The issue with Battle Arena is that the Warriors games don’t have enough depth to their combat for really creative and smart play to be had.
Oftentimes, it turns into a war of attrition waiting for one side to die before the other and then stealing a base. While this mode is fun when played with others, it doesn’t have enough depth to really tout itself as a competitive game mode. Perhaps if it had other maps to play on, it would be a more enjoyable time-sink. Battle Arena reminds me of a time back in the PS2 era when versus mode was thrown into any game, regardless of if it was really suited for the title. This game mode is best taken as a fun diversion, but definitely not something to base a purchase off of.
Warriors Orochi 4 is a great purchase for players who are looking for a great, polished Warriors experience. But like I said before, this is a decisive game. If you are not the sort of player who was taken in with Dynasty Warriors’ combat before, this title will not change your mind. Gameplay is repetitive and based mostly around spectacle. But if you’re the type of person to sit down to a game, zone out, and relax to the sounds of enemies dying by the thousands, this is absolutely the game for you.
This game was reviewed on the PC.
Love-letter to Warriors fans, magic is a welcome addition, very playable character you could ever want.
Repetition can turn players off, battle Arena can become dull
Warriors Orochi 4 is the peak of the Warriors formula at the moment and is a a great addition to any fan’s collection or even for a curious newcomer.