The idea of jumping late into an iterative series of games can be daunting and in the past has been part of the justification of why I have personally not explored certain games. Fortunately, Warriors Orochi 4 allays my fears by warmly welcoming newcomers with a fast paced, crash course to the Warriors’ series that allows you to explore as much and as little of the world of Orochi as you wish whilst stacking up one massive hit combo.
As a newcomer to the whole Warriors series, the aspect I feared the most was the story. Having three prior games in the series with a whole wealth of games from the initial Samurai and dynasty Warriors progenitors, I was fearful that I would be left clueless about the narrative, adrift in a sea of characters that I new nothing about, hacking n’ slashing through battlefields with no true understanding of the goal. Fortunately, the writing team lead by Yoshitaka Murayama have crafted an engaging tale that skillfully introduces people to the characters and history of Orochi, whilst binding classical Eastern Asian charters to Greek/Norse mythology.
I was initially was skeptical of how they were going to clash these completely different worlds together but was genuinely intrigued by the winding plot, filled with alliance changes and surprise twists. Zeus brings groups of historical Japanese and Chinese warriors to another world where you win allies along your quest to find his nefarious reasoning . Though like Game of Thrones it’s easy to forget certain characters apart from your favorites the overall story is strong. For those of you who don’t like blocks of text for story exploration be warned, there is a lot of it in this game both in the main storyline and in the optional load screens. Fortunately, it can be skipped for the most part.
Each of 70 levels in the main campaign is between 10-20 minutes long and consists of you taking your team of three elite warriors though a map wiping out hordes of minions whilst targeting enemy officers until you unlock your way to the final goal whether this is a boss or an escape point. Though this can sound a little repetitive it’s made more interesting as there are convoluted paths across the battlefields, multiple fronts that allies are battling that you need to bolster an almost endless ambushes and reinforcement.
The game constantly keeps you on your toes by turning the tides of battle. For extra loot at the end of each level there are optional extra goals such as defeating certain enemies within time frames or not allowing certain allies to get defeated. The levels gallop by at an awesome tempo charged by some great techno and rock music. On normal mode you are godlike parting armies like Moses and the Red sea where the normal soldiers will barely touch you. I found it a bit too easy at this level and strongly recommend aiming for the harder modes, which reward you with greater challenges or loot.
Your warrior has a multitude of attacks to use in their path to conquest. You have standard, musou, magical and union attacks to name a few. Musou attacks are powerful attacks unleashed after charging a two tier musou meter. Magical attacks are bestowed by sacred treasures with are elementally charged. What I enjoyed about the system was how well these worked together and complimented each other. The system allows instantaneous switching between characters allowing you to combine their skills to create maximum carnage. For instance utilising a crowd control character to bring everyone together using a vortex like attack to switch to a powerful magical character to obliterate the harvested minions works perfectly and the game encourages you to find such combinations in order to beat the level at the higher ranks.
Warriors of Orochi 4 won a Guinness world record for the number of playable characters (170) and though this may sound great to some this raised multiple concerns for me prior to playing the game. Choosing my ideal team, ensuring even character progression and a lack of character depth were all potential issues with such a massive, unfamiliar ensemble cast. For the most part Tecmo has done an admirable job of dealing with those concerns with implementation of a mock battle system, character tit bits and a well-realized progression system. The mock battle system is a quick, painless way to explore multiple characters attributes and abilities before risking them in battle. Tecmo make it easy to slot forgotten or new characters back into your team due to the encompassing progression system. Active characters not only gain EXP but also a stockpile of growth points that can be used to level up any characters without the sometimes tedious requirement to go back through old levels.
I was surprised at how smoothly this played on the Switch; even with swarms of enemies being torched by my magic boar there was no noticeable slowdown. Granted the faces of the multitude of enemies are a little bland and the scenery blocky in places but this is hardly noticed as you are swept up in the tides of war. The short runtime of individual battles was great for my commute and I kept finding time to squeeze in an extra game in order to try get the elusive S Rank battle grading.
Putting aside the huge cast of characters and the long lineage of the game, you will find a fun action battle game that is easy to pick up to play in both small or long sitting that is ideally suited to the Nintendo Switch. I am unable to comment on how different this instalment is from its progenitors but as a standalone its a great game thats well worth your time.
Coffee received a copy of Warriors Orochi 4 for review.