Koei Tecmo has released multiple Warriors games this year, and this is the third one I’ve reviewed and the fourth one I’ve played. I love button mashing, and Samurai Warriors 4 delivers countless enemies for me to wail on.
I hadn’t been too impressed with Dynasty Warriors 8 or Warriors Orochi 3, although both are great games but felt as if they were lacking in areas, but absolutely loved Hyrule Warriors and have been hugely enjoying Samurai Warriors 4. It might be that SW4 manages to tell a more engaging story with likeable characters, a sense of humour and a better realised Japanese setting, but I found myself having bundles of fun as I slayed thousands of enemies.
There are multiple story routes to play and many of them intertwine into the campaigns overall bigger picture, and even though the story itself isn’t deep or complex, I still enjoyed seeing each respective clan battle for their own reasons. Some of the characters in particular I was very keen on, with much of the humour being relatable, bubbly and sarcastic; I can’t speak for how accurate their behaviours and attitudes are, but Koie Tecmo managed to get a good few laughs out of me.
Sadly, the emotional moments of the game fall flat as sometimes an important character would die and I wouldn’t even realise it until it’s mentioned later, or their deaths are just very sudden. I understand that the Warriors games are heavily gameplay-focused, but it wouldn’t hurt to bring depth into the story to create a stronger game overall.
I was surprised to see that the gameplay genuinely feels more fluid and slick compared to Dynasty Warriors 8 which was pretty smooth itself, but SW4 seems to go one step further in creating a seamless experience. One thing I loved in particular is you can buy a variety of horses and now they don’t feel sluggish when running or jumping, as this highly irritated me in DW8 when it felt like it was easier just to run; however, there’s no ability to sprint in SW4.
Playing SW4 is as easy as mashing square and triangle, then circle to perform a Musou attack to inflict major damage in a wide area; if you enter your rage state, you’re then able to perform your Ultimate Musou attack which is an explosive move that’ll devastate those around you. Whilst it all sounds very similar to past Warriors titles, the triangle button is now assigned as a ‘Hyper’ move, which allows you to dash around quickly in succession to defeat multiple enemies; some enemies, especially officers, are immune to this and so you’ll need to lead with a square attack.
Other than the campaign, which can be played online or locally in 2 player, there’s also free mode to replay any beaten mission, the Dojo which acts as the main hub for customisation and in-game extras such as art galleries, and Chronicle Mode which sees you create your own character as they begin their own journey. This allows you to learn more about characters that don’t get to stay in the spotlight in the main campaign, and there are choices you can make that’ll affect your relationships with them. The game is pure distilled fun, and it doesn’t become tiring (although your thumb may disagree!)
The customisation mode is a bundle of fun, with a huge array of options to create a character with to better help create a virtual you, or maybe you want to create a character from another game. I particularly enjoyed the weapons customisation though, as you earn gems during battle that allow you to increase a weapons strength, defense, speed, etc, depending on what abilities it already has; many weapons grant different buffs, so make sure you check your new acquisitions after each battle.
It’s graphically beautiful with character models being highly detailed and vibrant, just like the environments that surround them. The character designs are top-notch, and the Japanese battlefields are beautifully created and littered with cherry blossoms, sacred buildings and thousands of people. The character cut-ins during Musou attacks are brimming with personality, and then they’re followed up by a colourful and visually appealing attack; these vary from fire, ice, earth and even spiders!
Being a game not exclusive to the new consoles, Koei Tecmo have done a great job in disguising this, something I felt that they failed to do with DW8 which was quite bland visually. The characters they’ve created will always look better than the characters you create though, which seems to be the case with any game that has a customisation system.
Koei Tecmo seemingly put more effort into the soundtrack too, as I found myself really enjoying the tunes that played and felt them to be simultaneously relaxing and adrenaline-pumping; I could happily listen to some of these as I study. It’s a shame that there’s no English voice-over again, but the Japanese voice-over is spectacular and I felt that they matched the characters perfectly; the banter between characters is enjoyable and the liveliness in the voice-acting really helped it to stand out.
It goes without saying, but the amount of content in SW4 is staggering. The campaign itself is lengthy, and you might find yourself revisiting it due to the 2-player co-op, and even then you have Chronicle Mode which presents you with hours upon hours worth of extra gameplay; with choices and plenty of characters to get acquainted with, you may want to play through it several times with different created characters.
All in all, you won’t find yourself at a loss as to what to do next in Samurai Warriors 4, and I highly recommend it if you love the Warriors series’ or perhaps felt that Dynasty Warriors 8 and Warriors Orochi 3 were a little lacking. This is the best Warriors game to release in quite a while which focuses on Japanese wars, and I think I’ll be looking forward to Samurai Warriors 5 more so than I will do for sequels to Dynasty Warriors and Warriors Orochi.
Update: Samurai Warriors 4 is out now. You can still grab the Anime Pack from us here!
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