As a warriors fan I’ve been spoiled this year what with extreme legends for DW8, Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate being brought outside of Japan and now we have Samurai Warriors 4. So the question is it any good? Well let’s see.
Now I did miss out on SW3 as it came out on Wii and the PS3 ports never left Japan so did miss out on a few things though it didn’t change to much from the standard SW formula.
SW4 however has changed a couple of things to the standard warriors formula.
So let’s get it out of the way. Yes you’re still going around beating the hell out of hundreds of soldiers with the only real challenge coming from the enemy officers and having to complete certain objectives to help win the battle. Now you still have the standard normal attack, charge attack and musou attacks but they have added a new one the hyper attack. This one is triggered as a charge attack but has you moving at fast speeds through enemies able to do a lot of damage very quickly however it’s only useful vs normal troops as officers easily counter these attacks and send you skidding back from them. This is something I quite like as instead of using AOE clears to cut down the general enemies the hyper attacks let you quickly deal with them and then you can use the appropriate normal/charge combos to deal with enemy officers.
The musou attacks have also been changed where they still do the standard musou attack each character used to do but at the end they have a powerful attack at the end usually a AOE attack or dealing massive damage to a single enemy.
They have also added in the spirit gauge which levels up as you deal damage to enemies and can level up 5 times. Each time it levels up you can execute special moves like dodges or strikes that break enemies guards and leave them vulnerable to your attacks however level it up 5 times and you go into rage mode. This is similar to the rage system in DW8 where you can beat the crap out of enemies with ease and using musou unleashes a much more powerful attack that usually one shots most things bar powered up officers as long as your officer is at a decent level. Really sucks to be a foot troop in this game now.
One thing I will say though all these additions have meant I barely ever used the characters special attacks. I just had no reason to as they barely helped much and hyper, charge and musou attacks usually did the job well enough so yeah might need to rethink those in future Koei.
Now another new gameplay feature which is kind of copied from the 3DS chronicles games is you now control two officers instead of one. Now you still only play as one at a time but you can switch when you like and the other is controlled by the AI. Now this is my biggest problem with the game the AI controlling the other character. Usually it is okay and you can command it to attack a certain enemy, protect a certain area or guard you. If you don’t it’ll just what it feels like which is one of my problems with it as that usually means it comes with you. Now if an objective triggers nearby it will usually go for them which helps you complete them easier but have you noticed I’ve said “usually” a lot. Yeah it’s not perfect and here are some things I’ve had happen.
- Sent him to attack a target and he got stuck on something half way there and I had to take control and then jump off again for it to resume moving.
- Sent him to attack a target only for him to see another enemy and go for it instead.
- Left him fighting an enemy when another objective triggered all the way across the map from him, jumped to my other character only for the AI to then take the character I left and send him all the way to the new objective I was already heading to.
Yeah you sadly do need to babysit these guys when you’re not controlling them which is a pain because they do usually work but it’s when they don’t and you fail to notice it that really kicks you as it can make completing objectives a lot harder.
Also talking of other officers let’s talk about your AI allies… they suck. Now this is normally the case but it seems now your controlling two generals instead of one the fighting ability of your allies has gone out the window as I never saw them to do anything in any matches… oh except get killed. Yeah there are a few objectives when you have to protect them and when I found one guy getting the ass kicked out of him by a single guy on normal I kind of realised these would be a chore.
Now one change and this is one I’m thankful for is that KOEI has finally made a morale system that is easy to understand and works well. When you start a battle your morale will be low and because of this areas of the map will be clear, shaded in light red or shaded in dark red. The light red means that enemy morale is high and officers are super powered and even basic infantry are pumped up and more aggressive. Dark red pretty much means you will get the shit kicked out of you by even a basic group of infantry as the damage they do and they can take skyrockets. This means you can’t just rush in otherwise you’ll get your ass handed to you but reducing morale is also made clearer as it’s done by defeating enemy officers and objectives which reduces it and once it reduces to certain point which is shown on a bar by the map the light shaded areas become clear and the dark red because light red. You can also find standard bearers around the place and defeating them instantly removes enemy morale in the area they are located though there are usually 2 standard bearers you’ll need to defeat to do this but they are pretty squishy. I love this system as the morale system has always been a bit vague on how it works in previous warriors titles but this makes it clear and actually affects how you will fight the battles
So that’s the gameplay now let’s talk characters.
So all the characters from SW1 to SW3 are back but they have also added the 3 generals from SW Chronicles 2 which was only in Japan to the roster being Naotora Ii, Takatora Todo and Muneyori Yagyu. Along with them we have Noboyuki Sanada, Yoshitsugu Otani, Hisahide Matsunaga, Kojuro Katakura, Kagekatsu Uesugi, Takakage Kobayakawa, Koshosho, Toyohisa Shimazu, Lady Hayakawa.
Now all these characters are actually good additions. I have no problems with any of their move sets or personalities though no one has managed to top Aya for me. Again Koei has taken a few liberties with where they were historically as I’m pretty sure Lady Hayakawa was not beating up Yukimura Sanda at Osaka with a racket and ball but for most of it they do stay close to what they did for example Toyohisa Shimazu died at Sekigahara and if you play as him at Sekigahara it shows an event similar to how he was said to have died at that battle. Still it’s Koei so there a few odd things here and their such as Ii threatening to beat you up and then apologising about it and stuff coming from the usual lot but Koei has definitely toned it down a bit this time compared to previous instalments and it helps the atmosphere.
So onto the modes. Well story mode is the main one and they’ve split the story into several chapters. These follow specific clans during their battles up to Nobunaga’s death and then has two stories after this. The clan that have stories are Tokugawa, Takeda, Hojo, Uesugi, Date, Shimazu, Mori, Azai, Chosokabe and the Oda. Now most of these are only 3-4 missions long with the exception of the Oda who have 8. Now once you’ve beaten the Oda and Takeda story lines two more open up which are the Sanada storyline which follows Yukimura and Noboyuki after the Takeda’s defeat at Nagashino and splits in the end following Yukimura going with the Toyotomi and Noboyuki the Tokugawa and has a couple of missions for both side. The other story is unification following Hideyoshi’s conquest of Japan after Nobunaga’s death and then ends with Sekigahara and finally the final battle between the Tokugawa and Toyotomi. Beating the unification story also opens up some gaiden stories for other clans showing some battles they were involved in around the time of Sekigahara such as Uesugi fighting the Date and Mogami at Hasedo and the Tachibana and Shimazu holding off the Eastern army in Kyushu. Overall there are a decent amount of missions but what’s really interesting is that playing certain generals on certain levels changes certain things and opens up new missions. For example in one battle you play as Nobunaga and it will give you an objective to burn down a castle and kill everyone in it, however play as Hideyoshi and instead you must target specific officers and not any peasants. This allows for some great replay ability for each stage and also certain cut scenes before and after the battle will only trigger if you are playing as a certain officer.
Now next we have free mode which basically lets you use any general in any map. Nothing new or special here.
Finally we have chronicle mode. Here you use a character you yourself have created and travel Japan trying to write stories about all the famous officers Now the create a warrior stuff is really good and there is a lot of variety but damn it Koei why the hell are half the outfit options locked and have to be bought in chronicle mode? Ugh such a pain in the ass.
Anyway the battles in chronicle mode are based off maps from story mode but are smaller with bits cut out. Now this isn’t normally a problem but one thing you will quickly learn with chronicle mode is you need to fight A LOT of battles if you want to get all the stories as to increase your friendship levels with officers you usually have to fight in a battle they are present in and of course the majority are only in specific areas e.g. the Uesugi are all in the northeast along with the Date and the Shimazu and Tachibana in Kyushu. This means that this mode will take a long time and while this does make it easy to grind you can’t play as other characters until you unlock them and while Okuni, Goemon, Mushashi and Kojiro are unlocked right at the start you can’t use any other non-created warriors till you meet with them 3 times. This meant that even before I was halfway done my character was max level, fully kitted out and I was having to play on nightmare differculty just to get a challenge… yeah.
Still as you play chronicle mode you have two main goals. Max out your friendships with each officer and right your own story. Writing your own story is done by choosing a path such as scholar, thief or swordmaster and completing objectives tied to them. These vary on the path as swordmaster is pretty much beat the shit out of people but things like scholar involve you having to complete specific missions like a quiz on history during the war and damn they weren’t easy with things like asking you who the youngest member of the mori clan was and presenting you with 5 officers and you have to beat one. Still a couple also are dead easy as they are based around the Japanese spelling of names and once translated into English these go from challenging to you get this wrong you need your eyes checked. Now with officers you max out your friendships by fighting with/or against them and meeting them on map and triggering special events. These events do vary for each hero as someone like Naotora Ii you’ll find hanging around on the map but others like Tadakatsu you have to beat in battle in order to trigger the event and the map has a day and night cycle and certain generals are only around during certain times of day. You also don’t have access to all of the map and have to impress the Daimyo of certain areas before they’ll let you leave to another region.
Overall Chronicle mode is fun and enjoyable but it will take a lot of time and will be where you spend the majority of your time.
So other things. Well it’s in Japanese. Yep they’ve gone sod the English voice acting again which I’m all for but this does mean you have to read the text boxes as they come up which does cause you to miss things occasionally still overall the translation this time is a lot better than Orochi 3 was. Graphic wise well it was originally a PS3 game in Japan and has been updated to PS4 and kind of shows but does look decent though again most of the detail is in officers with generic troops looking pretty meh as usual. Performance wise I noticed no slow down at all during the gameplay so runs smoothly. Oh and soundtrack kicks ass. Definitely my favourite soundtrack so far and getting the Anime edition which had the soundtrack I’ve played the Tokugawa attacking Osaka Castle track to death.
So overall how I do feel about Samurai Warriors 4? Overall they’ve done a lot right with this one and I think out of all the warriors games that have come out recently it is hands down my favourite it’s just such a damn shame when it gets ruined when the AI decides to have a moment and I have to admit while I do prefer the Japanese voice acting I kind of miss the English dubs they were pretty entertaining.