Omega Force is a master of its craft. Want to kill literally thousands of enemies in a short space of time? It’s got you covered. The Warriors series has gone everywhere, from spin-off series collaborating with other franchises like Dynasty Warriors Gundam, to having their own kingdom management simulators built into them like Dynasty Warriors 8: Empires. But with the recent negative reception of Dynasty Warriors 9, has Omega Force lost touch with what its fans really want?
The short answer, no. Warriors Orochi 4 likes to boast a high character count, fusing the Samurai Warriors and Dynasty Warriors cast, giving hardcore players a bit of a treat when it comes to the character selection, which consists of 170 characters – more than double what you’ll get with Super Smash Bros Ultimate.
In practice, this doesn’t really mean much. Whoever you’re playing as, the core gameplay remains the same, and each character is simply just riffing a basic move set based on their weapons and skills.
This makes Warriors Orochi 4 the first time I have really felt tired whilst playing a Musou game. Sure, you can switch between 3 characters on an absurdly large battlefield and assert dominance and win that way, but the game does not really consist of much more than mashing out combos and skills.
At this point, we’ve seen it all. Warriors in Hyrule, Warriors in Gundams, Warriors in Berserk – at this point the formula feels worn out. As someone who usually enjoys the romp and mindless squashing of enemies, Warriors Orochi 4 feels like it needs a little more than the basic combat loop it offers.
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The story mode is actual nonsense (but that’s not really a bad thing). The Greek gods have schemed to mash together the worlds of Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors, and as such, they have ludicrous magical abilities. The story is played completely straight, and while there might be hundreds of characters, the actual plot leaves them in the dust. Maybe your favourite will get one or two lines? Maybe not. It doesn’t really matter, as the story seems packed to the brim with bloat. The game knows what it is about,
The one area where Warriors Orochi 4 attempts to rock the boat is combat. As mentioned before, you can select up to three characters in Warriors Orochi 4, and switch between them at any time with the flick of a shoulder button. As well as breaking up the action, this means you’ve got the opportunity to juggle some poor sap between your crew. Start racking up a combo on an enemy captain, switch characters and continue the pain.
However, since killing literally thousands of people is not enough, you’re also able to use magic to become a literal force of nature.
Magical attacks are fuelled by a magic meter that builds over time and is shared between the members of your team. When the time’s right, a deft press of R1 will unleash anything from a tidal wave, to your character turning into a giant flaming boar.
The more I talk about this game, the more ridiculous it gets. Murdering scores of people, some interventions by Greek deities, character-specific magical abilities. Somehow I think Omega Force have slightly deviated from the history books. It does blend together in-game, but never manages to eke out any feeling from me aside from simply being serviceable.
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It’s good that Omega Force want to introduce new tricks to switch up the tried-and-tested tropes, but it never really adds up to being a significant shift to the usual formula. Upgrading mechanics to get new weapons feels basic and the user interface feels clunky.
When it comes to finding your favourite warriors, for example, there is no way to pin your regulars to a list, which would make them easier to select from a huge 170-strong pile.
This is exacerbated when you want to play with a friend over multiplayer. Warriors Orochi 4 aims to keep up a silky-smooth 60fps, but with the amount of special effects onscreen, combined with the sheer amount of characters on the field at any one time, the game falls victim to frequent frame drops and screen-tearing.
Koei Tecmo has made a valiant attempt at reinvigorating a somewhat stale formula, the introduction of character switching and magical abilities does somewhat alleviate the feeling of just mashing out the same combos over and over again, but the game fails to keep you engaged on a fundamental level, if everything is fun and ridiculous from the get go, where do you really go from there?
Warriors Orochi 4 is not a particularly bad game, but it does feel like it’s trying its best to innovate on a tired formula, but those new additions might not be enough. Compounded with finicky menus and performance issues, it leaves the game leaving a little bit more to be desired than what it offers currently. And no, that doesn’t mean they should add more characters.