Whether or not you’ve played them, it’s tough not to know what the Warriors games are. A spinoff of the more tactical Romance of the Three Kingdoms series, Dynasty Warriors began as a fighting game. The sequel changed gears and became the game fans have come to know and love. While Dynasty Warriors is known for historical accuracy, Omega Force is no stranger to more fantastical outings. From anime to adaptations of beloved Nintendo franchises like Zelda and Fire Emblem, the Dynasty Warriors format works well with different backdrops.
When history and fantasy collide
Warriors Orochi 4 takes historical context and fantasy elements to create a hodgepodge of ideas that don’t really work. From a gameplay standpoint, Warriors Orochi 4 is the game you expect to play. You start each mission on the battlefield and must complete missions to win. Objectives usually task you with finding specific enemies and killing them. Finding your target isn’t tricky because a yellow circle highlights your destination. Players will hack and slash their way through countless enemies. Most soldiers are fodder and provide no challenge at all, save for squad leaders. Even with difficulty levels, Warriors Orochi 4 isn’t particularly hard.
Warriors Orochi 4 attempts to differentiate itself from the Dynasty and Samurai Warriors games. You’ll no longer roam the battlefield alone. The gimmick in Warriors Orochi 4 is that players use squads of three characters at a time. Before missions begin, you pick a party and then have the option to switch them on the fly. With a single button prompt, players can swap their fighter. Not only is this great if you’re low on health, but there are also combos that can be executed by changing characters mid-attack.
In addition to the normal attacks and Musou attacks, characters now have Sacred Treasures. These allow fighters to execute magic attacks that can turn the tides of battles. Magic attacks are strong against most enemies, but for some, it’s the only way to inflict any kind of damage. Magic is so overpowered that I used the ability way too much. Even with there being a meter for your magic, it always seems to fill up rather quickly.
A massive roster… but is that a good thing?
Changing characters is an excellent mechanic that helps players try out new fighters on a regular basis. With a game that boasts 170 characters, choosing who you want to play as is overwhelming. I used around 70 fighters from the roster but found myself gravitating to a specific set of 10 characters. Although there are some variations, many feel like carbon copies of others. That’s understandable because of the sheer size of the character list, but that doesn’t mean it’s not unfortunate. I would have preferred a smaller cast with more refined features over a vast roster that feels half-baked.
A journey to absurdity
I grew up playing Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors on a daily basis. It was a popular franchise among my social circle. As a Puerto Rican living in the United States, it felt great to learn about a culture that wasn’t my own. That’s what I’ve loved the most about these games. Warriors Orochi 4 drops most of that in favor of a weird storyline that doesn’t make much sense. While the historical figures are still front and center, the context is confusing. Let’s just say that these characters meet Zeus, Perseus, and Athena among others, and are transported to a different dimension. The premise is utterly ridiculous, and I found myself not caring at all.
More recently, I’ve had a harder time following the storylines in these games. It’s not that the narrative is confusing, but the fact that the audio is in Japanese. Cutscenes are easy to understand because of subtitles, but the same can’t be said for in-game missions. There are so many enemies on screen that trying to read dialogue while playing is overwhelming. All of my understanding of the story came from cutscenes and mission briefings. Trying to read the dialogue mid-mission felt like a lost cause.
Plenty of swings, a lot of misses
There are RPG-styled mechanics in-between missions. You can upgrade your camp, specific fighters, or party in general. Players can also send characters away to train for a while. They’ll come back after a few missions stronger than ever. The problem with this mechanic for me was that by the time they came back, other fighters I used were already overpowered. Upgrading individual characters became useless over time. After each mission, you get new weapons that you can equip or sell. I received so many weapons that I would sell them almost immediately for gems to upgrade my camp.
From a technical standpoint, Warriors Orochi 4 is a mess. The graphics don’t look particularly great, and that’s saying something because Omega Force has developed for Switch before. Hyrule Warriors and Fire Emblem Warriors look excellent and play wonderfully. It’s baffling that Warriors Orochi 4‘s quality is such a huge downgrade. The gameplay is stellar, but the technical issues mar the overall experience. I saw my characters glitch through a wall when activating a super attack in the corner of a map. There are plenty of texture issues and some slowdown as well.
Conclusion: A huge letdown
The Warriors video games are an acquired taste. They aren’t technical marvels, and the franchise isn’t incredible. Fans (myself included) tend to be forgiving of shortcomings because the games usually have the same quality. After all, if the game is fun, that should be what matters. I had some fun playing Warriors Orochi 4, but this game was the first time I felt fatigued. Omega Force should start slowing down between releases. While the massive roster will please fans, the similarities between characters, the convoluted story, the barebones RPG elements, and the technical issues make Warriors Orochi 4 a low point in an otherwise fun series. There’s so much potential with Warriors Orochi 4; unfortunately, the latest installment misses the mark on so many of the shots that it takes.
A review code was provided by the publisher.