Samurai Warriors 4 Review
This has been the year of Warriors for me. Dynasty Warriors: Gundam Reborn, Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Complete Edition, Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate and now Samurai Warriors 4. I can't complain, I'm a sucker for these series, so naturally I was pumped to see Tecmo's newest additions to the Samurai series. And it does not disappoint.
Once again, you're thrust into the Sengoku period and you'll get to see it from many perspectives from a slew of different factions such as Oda, Takeda, and Tokugawa, as well as some new ones like Kinki, Shikoku and Tohoku. There are 12 in total and each one has anywhere from 4 - 8 stages, which can all be played on multiple difficulties. The Story Mode can be tackled alone or with a friend locally, but also with others online, which is always a welcome addition.
Chronicle Mode, which is frankly the best mode in the game, allows you to create a completely original character from a slew of different options, looks and weapons, and then ally them with a particular faction. You'll then move around Japan, making allies and enemies as you take over various regions, or help others defend from attackers. The decisions you make here will strengthen bonds with other officers who may help you with future endeavors. It's a neat system that actually introduces you to many historical figures and provides biographies for them.
However, it's the gameplay where Samurai Warriors 4 got the biggest overhaul. I've always loved the Samurai series for its more technical approach to combat, and that still applies here. Unlike the Dynasty series, here objectives pop up throughout the battle, meaning you won't always know what your main goal is, or your main goal won't be accessible until you accomplish others. For example, in one map, we were surprise attacked by three officers, which I had to stop before they reached our commanding officer. We then had to dispatch guards around various posts in order to open those gates that led to the enemy warlord's bodyguards. I could then either concentrate on the bodyguards, or attempt a secondary goal of dispatching messengers before they escape with vital information. I then switched to my secondary character who was on the opposite side of the map, and was able to quickly run to the messengers and dispatch them before they could escape. I then switched back to my original character, who was already interlocked in battle with one of the bodyguards. Needless to say, I was able to dispatch the guards and ended up slaying the warlord.
The flow of these objectives makes playing each map much more dynamic. I never feel like I know exactly what I'm supposed to do initially, and I personally love that. In a game that's mostly about mindless killing of enemy clones, it's certainly nice to have these dynamic objectives switch things up a bit.
Easily the best addition to combat is the hyper dash attack. With the press of the Triangle button, your character will dash forward and through enemies, annihilating any peons who are unfortunate enough to stand in your way. It's a great way to eliminate hundreds of soldiers in very little time. Not to mention it just feels amazing. However, this attack won't help you against enemy officers. For those, you'll still have to resort to standard combat, but even that received a new coat of paint.
Aside from your standard and heavy attacks, which expand upon leveling your characters, is the new guard break move. Assuming you have the appropriate gauge filled, you can press the X button mid combo to perform a guard break. This lightning fast move will stagger the enemy officer, and let you further extend your combo, allowing you to deal a ton more damage. That same gauge, when filled up completely is also used to unleash Rage mode, which powers up the character, makes them move incredibly fast and deal crazy damage. Unleashing the character's Musou attack during this phase will turn into an Ultimate Musou. The key here is to weigh whether it's smart to use guard break frequently to get in extra hits on officers, or whether to save up the gauge for a tougher enemy and use Rage.
There are also unique moves performed with R1, that are character specific. For example, the rifle wielding Magoichi Saika can continuusly shoot a stream of bullets, Mitsuhide Akechi will perform a counter stance and hit anyone that attacks him, Kai will summon a torrent of water spouts that hits enemies, etc.
Even though there are a modest 55 characters to choose from, which is a small number when compared to the Dynasty or Orochi series, each character does have their own unique moveset and special move, as I mentioned above. Each character also has a specialization, such as being exceptionally good at Hyper attacks, or deal more damage with Special attacks. Character growth isn't dependent on that specialization though, which is great, meaning if you continuusly use Hyper attacks with a character, that specific stat will get better.
Out of all the Warrior's games to come out this year, Samurai Warriors 4 certainly looks the most next-gen. The environments are sharper, and the character models, specifically the faces, look downright amazing. With that said, it won't "wow" anyone like let's say, other current-gen titles, such as Infamous Second Son, but it looks decidedly better than its other Warriors counterparts. The game's entirely in Japanese, which I certainly welcome, especially considering the time and setting of the game, but it's worth mentioning for those that might not enjoy reading all that much.
There hasn't been a bad Warriors game yet this year, and I'm happy to say the Samurai Warriors 4 joins the ranks of those titles as well. It's extremely polished, with fun combat improvements and a meaty Chronicle mode that will undoubtedly take up a bulk of your time. If you're a fan, it's an absolute no brainer.