Warriors Orochi 4 (PS4) Review

I’ve waited almost seven years to say this, Warriors Orochi 4 Is now out for all consoles and PC. If you’re unaware of this game yet you’ve seen or played either a Dynasty Warriors or Samurai Warriors game previously, the Warriors Orochi series basically creates fantastical storylines where both games are brought together along with some legendary beings from mythology or history. Also, for those wondering, Omega Force and Koei Tecmo have opted for the mission-based approach with the levels rather than the open-world style they tried out within Dynasty Warriors 9.

So, as a long-time fan of Warriors Orochi and the DW-style franchises, having owned all of them, why does Warriors Orochi 4 fail to impress me in a number of ways? Let’s find out.

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The cause of all the trouble!

Warriors Orochi 4 begins pretty much as soon as Warriors Orochi 3 finished, which is quite nice if you’ve played the previous title as they talk about it a little bit in the opening cutscene. For those who didn’t play Warriors Orochi 3, Orochi has risen from the underworld once again, only this time he brought along a massive seven-headed hydra to protect him. Seeing as you couldn’t defeat the beast with your small number of allies, you’re taken to a mystical realm by an unknown being who proceeds to send you throughout time in order to recruit many strong warriors from Joan of Arc to Lu Bu. Once you emerge the victor, your memory is wiped and you’re returned back to your original location and time. This is where Warriors Orochi 4 begins.

It appears Zeus, the king of Gods, was watching our warriors the whole time they were building up to combat the Serpent King Orochi. He was watching on with Ares and Athena and was slightly disappointed when the battle was won and everything was returning back to normal. He has in his possession eight mystical bracelets which grant immense power and abilities to those who weld them. So, what does Zeus do in order to liven things up a little? He begins to throw them through his viewing portal so they fall to Earth and are found by the greatest warriors such as Lu Bu and Nobunaga. Before he manages to use them all, Perseus grabs the remaining ones and proceeds to go down to Earth to help our warriors overcome the real evil which has awoken.

That’s right, as the story unfolds you’ll not only be faced against over 150 characters from the Warriors Orochi, Dynasty Warrior and Samurai Warrior franchises but also a bunch of new opponents from Olympus as well as the titular Serpent King Orochi and his more powerful counter-part Orochi X. This time around there is no fun mechanic like time-travel, it’s a simple progression from point A to B within five chapters and side-missions in which you can obtain new allies, stronger weapons, materials to upgrade yourself and increase your bonds with each other. Warriors Orochi 4 may not have as much content or as many game modes as it’s predecessor, but it makes the most of what it does have.

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I’m there, in the fireball.

New moves?
Warriors Orochi 4 has taken two steps forward then around five or six step backwards in terms of innovation and mechanics – which is a shame as I’ve been waiting for this game for so long, yet it feels the team were more interested in trying to do a Smash Brothers “Everyone is here” with 170 playable characters, rather than concentrate on the thing that’s actually important – the content. But I’ll come to that later as I have a few things I need to rant about.

First up, controls. If you’ve played a Musou game before then you’ve pretty much played Warriors Orochi 4. Fans of the series will know what to expect, especially if you’ve played Samurai Warriors 4 as it uses Triangle to perform a dash attack for most of the characters as we saw in that game. Other characters use Triangle as an alternative attack or a way to charge their weapon. Square attacks normally, Cross is jump, L1 resets your camera and blocks, L2/R2 changes between your three characters, R3 locks onto officers, and L3 performs a Rage/Transformation ability. Pretty standard so far, right? But what about your horse? We’re used to having L2 as the horse calling button, so what happened to that? also, what about R1? Well…

R1 is your secondary/magical attacks. Yup, seeing as the Gods are involved and we all have acquired mystical weapons, holding R1 will change the four face buttons into various magical attacks which utilise a self-replenishing magic meter. Square is a standard attack, Triangle is something a little stronger, Circle is a unique magical attack for only your character, and Cross summons a horse below your meaty thighs and places you upon its sturdy back. That’s right, the horse isn’t called by whistling, you can summon it at any time with R1+Cross – which is mighty convenient!

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No way to get an ASS ranking this time around as you only have two things you’re scored on – Time and K.O.s

Warrior Gameplay:
Again, if you’ve played any game in any of the Warriors franchises then actual gameplay won’t come as a surprise to you. Each mission is proceeded by a cutscene and/or a visual novel style dialogue segment where you’re introduced to what your mission is and gives you a bit of exposition on why you’re here. I just want to point out here, all the vocals are in Japanese with English subtitles – most likely because we all made fun of the English within Dynasty Warriors 9. However, Warriors Orochi 4 seriously needs an English dub – which I’ll come to later. Upon finishing the dialogue, your show the map, given your objectives, shown the three bonus objectives (three on every map) and given a last look at your team. 

My issue on this screen is the inability to actually change your mind about who you wish to take into battle with you. I understand that whilst we are in this pre-battle screen, the game is loading. So it’s most likely loading in our character assets as well. But, I’ve often got to this point and then realised I wanted to try out another character, or I forgot to equip a certain weapon onto one of my guys. In that case, you have to back out by cancelling the mission, then go to the team page and make your adjustments before re-entering. I would have prefered it if we could make all pre-battle adjustments on this particular screen as well.

One thing I really like though is the ability to show each of the ‘Battle Objectives’ (secondary items) in-game. You just place a tick near each one and all three will alternate as you play to the side of the screen, advising you on what you have to do and what you have left. For example, if one was to kill 300 enemies with magic, then it will tell you exactly how many you have done so far. I like this as any form of guidance on how close you are to achieving a target is always welcome. The issue is, this isn’t enabled by default – so you have to remember to tick them all. Again, there should be an option to have all these ticked by default – or they should just be ticked by default. Who wouldn’t want to know the bonus objectives as they play?

Speaking of your choice in characters. You can take three into battle with you at a time. If you press the Options button when picking a mission, it will recommend who to take with you. Choosing these three will grant you more experience but that’s it. The three it recommends are always new characters at level one which you just acquired, so using them in a level which recommends level 30+ is basically suicide. As such, I just stuck with the same three team members and played the majority of the game with those. There is no incentive to swap the characters other than to obtain a few trophies and unlock progression on the skill-trees. It’s a shame as a forced character selection would have varied the characters you used and it would have suited the story better. This is because Free Play has been removed, so the main game is essentially Free Play mode with a story (which isn’t good).

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Yukimura Sanada became my main guy for the whole game. Why would I swap?

The spoils of war!
As you complete each mission, you’ll be rewarded with growth points, gems, materials and increase your bonds with those who you fought with. Experience points are earnt by actually playing as the character in-game. If you take someone into battle with you but they aren’t fighting, don’t expect them to grow as much as the one you currently have control of. Let’s take a quick look at these aspects.

Gems are self-explanatory, you can use these to pay to upgrade your weapons – you won’t be using them a lot though as I have over 500k which I have little use for. Growth points are basically experience points for you to distribute to whoever you wish. Just goto the Party menu, pick your desired character, and either increase one point at a time, by level or shove all your points into one person. Bit of advice, if you’ve played Warriors Orochi 3 then you get one growth point for every KO recorded in that save file – to the max of 100k. Materials are used to develop certain traits for your weapons, such as flame and shock, and crystals (which are super rare) are used to unlock progression on your camp upgrades as well as buying new slots in your more powerful weapons. 

Bonding with the other characters is something which has featured in a few of the Warriors franchises and it still feels a little off if I’m being honest. In Warriors Orochi 4, you don’t only pick out three characters and a horse, you also pick out up to four ‘supporting’ officers. Upon completing a mission, the officers in your active party, supporters, and anyone you helped in-game will have their bonds increased. As the bond increases, they will offer more support and assistance in-game if they’re set to the support portion of your team. You also unlock numerous conversations between characters as bonds increase leading up to a ‘special’ conversion once certain characters have max bonds with each other.

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I am Hell-Fire!

Rant!
I touched on it briefly above but Warriors Orochi 4 has brought back skill trees for each character as well as one for the camp! It’s not as cumbersome as the one present in Warriors Orochi 3, but the camp one is a right pain in the butt. Each officer acquires skill points which can be distributed to their own skill tree which will increase attack, defence, learn new combos etc… The camp one will increase all characters attack or defence, unlock new characters, increase XP and gems earnt, as well as giving you the ability to purchase better weapon mods in the store. Most of the points on this tree are unlocked by gems and a combination of gems and crystals. However, some require certain criteria to be met such as ‘have 5 SPEED orientated characters at level 40 or over’ and ‘be in 10 or more battles with any officer’. Sounds easy right? I’ve completed the game and put in almost 50 hours yet the ‘be in 10 battles with any officers’ is sat at 3. I have no idea what the criteria for a ‘battle’ are and there is no hints or help on this screen. 

Whilst I’m on a rant, the weapon section isn’t in my good books either. You can equip, fuse and dismantle weapons. The issue here is it’s too many menus with different things when it should be just one. There are 170 characters, you have to go through them all, by picking one and furiously pressing L2 or R2, in order to see who has picked up new weapons as you may randomly get one for a character who isn’t in your team. Remember, you can’t pick a weapon in the pre-battle screen, it has to be done here.

Once you’ve equipped them, head to the dismantle area to choose whether to dismantle (to salvage the material instead of gems) or sell (the opposite). Thankfully, in this section, as you press R2 to skip through the characters, all the ones with more than one weapon are bundled together and not spread out like they are in the equip option. I found you can basically trick the game into equipping a weapon at this point by selling or dismantling all but one weapon – the one that’s left will be the one they equip. It’s a workaround but it’s a lot faster and kills two birds with one stone.

Finally, fusing. The devs have made it harder to fuse together weapons in Warriors Orochi 4, for some reason. Level one and two weapons are fine – adding a slot so you can add more abilities just costs gems. Level 3, 4 and 5 weapons require the rare crystals. Crystals which you’ve most likely been saving up in order to unlock things on the camp skill tree. So, if you just unlocked the unique level five weapon for your favourite character which has four slots, expect to spend four rare crystals just so you can use all eight slots. I can kind of see why they’ve done it, but it doesn’t mean I like it.

Also, you don’t ‘fuse’ weapons together anymore. You simply create elements/abilities using materials you pick up and place them into the weapons as long as there is a slot. You can’t combine two weapons and swap abilities like you can in almost every other Warriors game.

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Kratos has nothing on me – Die God of War!

The final option you have on the menu is a great one – the gallery. Instead of this being full of images and concept art, it has the full soundtrack, every character along with their 3d model in various outfits and all their dialogue lines, and it even has the full chapter by chapter story of each of the three previous Warrior Orochi games. This means if you’ve not played the previous games, head on over to the Gallery and read through the stories of each faction and how they overcome the Serpent King previously. 

Multiplayer?
Warriors Orochi 4 supports both local and online co-operative multiplayer. At the point of writing – pre-launch, it’s not a populated area so I imagine the Asian regions aren’t in our pool of players, it must be limited to either EU or NA and EU only. Either that or the MP is dead, but I don’t want to think of that. Every single mission, all 65 of them, can be played solo, local co-op or Online co-op, I tried local and had no issues with it – it ran fine and played great. 

There is a second online mode, a Battle Arena. When I saw this I instantly thought it was the ‘Virtua Fighter’ style mode we have seen previously other ‘Warrior’ games, but no, it’s a very simple 1v1 king of the hill type of game. Again, the online aspect was dead but it was okay playing against bots. I don’t see this as a mode I’ll spend a long time playing, but it’s something different for you to try out and see if it’s more to your taste. 

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Boom!

Technical:
I’m not sure what the resolution or framerate is of Warriors Orochi 4, but the game both looked and ran great on my PS4 Pro. I didn’t notice any issues of slowdown, no frame drops, no dramatic drops in resolution and nothing that impacted gameplay. This is completely different from Dynasty Warriors 9 which suffered from the above aspects and caused a lot of issues for many people. Also, there are no options in terms of resolution over framerate this time around – it seems the developer has just picked the best possible combination and stuck to that instead of offering a choice. One option which is missing, which I would love to see, is a photo mode. We had one added post-launch in DW9, so hopefully if enough people ask, we can get one in Warriors Orochi 4 as well!

Sound wise, nothing to falter in terms of sound effects but there are major issues with the dialogue. All dialogue is in Japanese, which is fine, I’m okay with that, but this is a game which should be in English. DW9 was presented in full English and everyone poked fun at it, yet in-game the only things your companions said were words of encouragement. In Warriors Orochi 4, it’s all in Japanese and your allies are constantly telling you what to do next, talking about the plot points in the story, explaining things to you, and basically giving you really important information. However, if you’re mid-battle or against the clock, then it’s hard to see what you’re doing as well as read the small text and take it all in. 

This was my main issue with the game – I know people don’t like the English voices and it would have added more time to the development, but I missed out on so many plot points and pieces of information due to this. By the end, I found myself just running from flashing objective to flashing objective with no idea what I was doing or why I was going there simply because I hadn’t picked up on the character who was telling me what’s going on. I know these games are monotonous at times and you do fall into a rut as you play them due to the repetitive nature, but having most of the exposition delivered in Japanese with small subtitles really doesn’t help keep people engaged to what’s actually going on around them.

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Isn’t it pretty?!

Personal Opinion:
Okay, anyone who knows me will know that I love Koei Tecmo, I’m a massive fan of Warrior franchises and I don’t like being mean about games, but Warriors Orochi 4 really disappointed me as a fan of the series. The emphasis they have made on the number of characters for the last few months shows that the main thing they were going for was to try and make this the ‘biggest’ game so far within the Warriors Orochi franchise. However, I personally feel that the third game had a much better story, with its time travelling and numerous pathways which could be unlocked if you obtained certain people and did certain tasks. Also, the third game had a ‘gauntlet’ mode which I spent many, many hours in, as well as the ability to literally paint all of your characters in whatever colour you wished. Both of these didn’t make it into the fourth iteration with the customisations limited to a few costumes which are unlocked if you’ve played DW9 and purchased DLC. Not to mention you could make your own scenarios and play them back, creating an infinite number of missions.

However, seeing this game from a fresh set of eyes, ignoring the fact I’ve played the third game recently, Warriors Orochi 4 is a fun addition to the Warriors franchise. The controls are a lot more solid than it’s predecessor, with the new magical abilities and multitude of weapons and combos (although there is only one version of each weapon at each level), and returning to WO3 recently was hard due to its seven-year-old control scheme. There is a lot of content if you’re aiming for the platinum or not as just completing all of the story missions and the side quests should easily take you 30+ hours if you read everything and become invested within the story and the various gameplay mechanics. 

So it’s a tricky one, fans of the series may be disappointed with the lack of options and the more streamlined mission select screen, as well as the menu options and the inability to adjust your team in the pre-battle screen. However, people who may have only played the recent games such as Dynasty Warriors 9, Spirit of the Sanda, and Samurai Warriors 4 + 4-II, will most likely enjoy it more as the game has a tonne of characters for you to play as, as well as a bunch of re-used battlefields from previous Warrior games which will instantly become familiar and easier to navigate through. I just feel the amount of exposition delivered though Japanese speech may annoy people as it’s not good when all the important info is being delivered via subtitles whilst you’re in the middle of a fight.

Official Trailer:

Final Conclusion:
Warriors Orochi 4 has the biggest character roster to date (GWR), but is it the best in the series? In my opinion, Warriors Orochi 3 had a much better story and a more interesting core mechanic (time travel), but Warriors Orochi 4‘s story does get better as you get deeper into the game. There are parts of the game which annoyed me, such as the weapon and upgrade management side, but the actual gameplay is solid for a ‘Warriors’ game and delivers hours of mindless fun. I was also saddened to see the gauntlet and paint mode are absent, especially when it’s replacement is a king of the hill style game, but at least we have full local and online co-op in every one of the 65 stages.

Despite my frustrations and dislikes with the way the game has been pushed out as ‘the biggest game yet’, I still had almost 50 hours of fun with it over the last few days so it’s doing something right! You just need to be patient with the menus, remember to double check things, and occasionally take your eye off the action to read what your allies are saying. All-in-all, this is the Best Warriors Orochi game to date in terms of its combat, visuals and character roster, it’s just not quite as good as it’s predecessors story and extra modes.

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A copy of the game was kindly provided for review purposes

Warriors Orochi 4

£54.99
7.8

Final Score

7.8/10

The Good:

  • 170 characters, 65 missions, and four difficulties will keep you busy for hours!
  • Graphically the best looking 'Warriors' game and it runs perfectly with no issues
  • Each of the characters have their own unique Musou and Magic attack
  • Local and online co-op available from day one
  • Contains the full history of Warrior Orochi games for those who need to catch up

The Bad:

  • Gauntlet, Free Play, Painting your officers, Creating your own missions, and an interesting timeline are all gone
  • The menus are a bit cumbersome and could do with streamlining and tweaking
  • Unable to adjust your team in the pre-battle section. This means you have to back out to adjust things
  • Japanese voices are fine but there is a lot of exposition and info given mid-battle which forces you to stop fighting and read it, otherwise you'll not know what you're doing and why
  • Upgrading your weapons and camp skill tree is a constant grind

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