So in between Outer Worlds and Resident Evil 3 Remake I played through Warriors Orochi 4 Ultimate. Now, often Warriors games are pretty crazy, but given the premise of this game can be summed up as “Odin faces off with Zeus as a group of Three Kingdoms era Chinese warriors and some Samurai from the Japanese Sengoku period get caught in the middle”, this might take the cake. Bloody fun though! Let’s take a closer look…
Pfft, I still don’t fancy any of your chances against me, tiny red health barred fools!
The original Warriors Orochi 4 was released in Japan on September 2018, the US in October 16th, and Europe on the 19th of October for the PS4, XBOX One and Switch. Rumours swirling that this game was in response to the rightfully poor reception “Warriors All-Stars” got are unfounded, as it went into development around the same time, with the idea that All-Stars would be the big crossover and this would just be Dynasty / Samurai Warriors only. That changed with the release of…
Warriors Orochi 4 Ultimate was released as both a downloadable add-on to those already owning the original, as well as its own physical release (though the physical release was just WO4 but with a the Ultimate add-on downloaded alongside its installation). It was released in Japan on December 19th 2019, and in the US and Europe on February 14th 2020. Among new modes and characters, several cross-over characters were added back into the game, which was probably was a response to the reception All-Stars got…
In Warriors Orochi 4 Ultimate there are 177 playable characters, from Dynasty Warriors (apart from new characters introduced in DW9), Samurai Warriors, plus single characters from Ninja Gaiden, Bladestorm, Warriors of Troy, and a whole bunch of Orochi exclusive characters from Chinese, Japanese, Greek and Norse mythology.
Chaos Origins are all over the maps. Killing them with a high enough combo meter gives you the item you need to achieve Awakening Mode.
At its core it’s still a Warriors game. Square, square, square is one combo, square, square, triangle is another, and so on. You build up a meter that can let you unleash a Musou attack, or a powerful special move, that’s either one big attack animation, or a string of attacks that can go on longer if you hold the button down depending on whether you’re playing a Dynasty character or Samurai character. You can also enter a special Awakening Mode if you pick up a specific item where you do more damage and then can active a “Rage Attack” that does a hell of a lot of damage than a regular Musou attack. Health bar, jumping, riding horses, all the normal things you associate with pre-DW9 controls. The maps also match pre-DW9, so no free roaming to find side missions or jumping straight in, it’s an enclosed map and you follow the directives to win, with a little bit of flexibility if you’re not worried about bonuses.
So enough of what’s old, what’s new? Or at least, not something that’s like most Warriors games. For a start you select a trio of fighters to play as, able to switch them out at the press of the button, and each character is either a Speed type, a Power type or a Technical type. All that really does is give characters small boosts, like Speed characters can double jump and are generally quicker, Power can tank small damage, that sort of thing. You can also pick four characters as support characters, but really all that does is give you a tiny stats boost and have those four characters appear when you do a special Unity Magic Attack. These are all things found in WO3, though there were four categories previously and Unity Magic Attack was called Triple Attack and far less… magical.
Zhao Yun unleashes the power of the “Deification Form”.
Actually, that brings me to the biggest addition to the game: magic! Each character can be equipped with a “Sacred Treasure”, and each Treasure can give you access to a Normal Magic, Charge Magic, and Unique Magic attacks. Normal is often just a plain projectile or juggling move, Charge is normally a bit more devastating but it consumes a good chunk of the new Magic gauge, and Unique Magic is basically a new Musou attack for each character based around their default treasure, and consumes the entire magic gauge and half of the regular Musou gauge. The previously mentioned Unity Magic Attack has its own Unity Gauge that gets consumed when you use it. Some characters also have “Deification Forms” that last longer than the aforementioned Awakening mode and give you unlimited Magic attacks (including the Musou-like Unique Magic Attacks) for the duration. It sounds like a lot of meters and transformations, but after a few maps I found myself really enjoying it.
In terms of modes, the main is obviously “Story Mode”. Much like previous games you get main chapters and side missions, and you level up your chosen fighters by playing as them or using points collected during gameplay. Thankfully as you progress in the game you gain access to Training, where you can send fighters off to train for three-to-fives map playthroughs in length and they gain Exp. points and level up. This meant when I unlocked a new character I wanted to play as halfway through the game (where every mission had a recommended level a lot highter than 1…) I could send him or her off, quickly run through Mission 1 in 3 minutes five times in a row, and then he’d level up enough to be usable. That on top of just have some people be on Training legitimately while playing and by the end of the very long expanded Ultimate storyline I had a group of about 30-40 characters who I could switch between and still handle anything the game was throwing at me, plus one or two character that’d levelled up to death to tackle harder situations. There is also a skill tree to fill out for each character as you level up, as well as a base camp “skill tree”, so to speak, where you can upgrade facilities and unlock characters that don’t appear in the main story for use.
Mythical monsters of various sizes also appear throughout the game. It’s a good thing I took a picture of one as I’d forgotten to mention them in the review!
You can also earn new weapons during play, and then either level them up or sell them. They made a bit of an error here though, as you can add statuses like Fire or Lightning, or the all-too-deadly Slay by using material named after each affect either earned in play or from breaking down unwanted weapons. Given I only wanted strong weapons I can get to good efficiency with (by using it uninterrupted) I sold so many weapons after each map that, again, about halfway through I could find a naturally high-rated weapon, equip it with the cheaty combo of Absorption (absorb health as you land attacks), Slay (gives you extra damage on the first hit and a chance for a one-hit-kill) and Wind (makes all you attack unblockable and do more damage), plus several free slots for whatever you want (more speed, freeze foes, and many more!). Later on you can easily buy “Windslay” as well, which gives you a free slot or two more on top. Basically the Chaos difficulty that appears when former hidden boss Hundun randomly decides it was a breeze as I just kept mowing down peons and wasting generals while immediately regenerating health to an insane degree.
As for other modes, some of which are exclusive to Ultimate (but since I’ve only played Ultimate I can’t remember which is which), there is a Challenge Mode where you can do things like “Get as many K.O.’s as you can on this tight bridge in a certain amount of time”, that sort of thing. Infinity Mode is similar to WO3U’s Guantlet Mode, where you run around in a formation rather than switching characters in maps full of randomly spawning generals that gets harder the longer you’re on it, and you win by reaching the escape point. Finally there is Battle Mode, which is an online mode that’s basically capture the bases, where you have to stand next to several points to capture them, and then defend them from the other team before the time runs out. The team with the most captured bases wins. Sounds fun, but as I’ve said before, I’m not much of an online player…
To be fair, as long as you enjoy the actual gameplay, there is an awful lot of content here. Hell, I just played through the story mode (plus replayed some levels to unlock Perseus) and that took many, many hours. I only scratched the surface of Challenge and Infinity Mode before I stopped (for now, I’ll probably come back to it), so if value for money is your concern, don’t worry. Frankly, as already mentioned, there are 177 playable characters, so just setting yourself a target of playing as all of them will take up a good chunk of your time!
Graphics and Sound:
Three of the seven warriors in the middle of the “Unity Magic Attack”. How they all knew how to do this so quickly is never explained, beyond “it’s a game mechanic, shut up!” …. Which is fair enough!
The graphics are fine. They won’t blow you away, but there is detail to be found on clothing and the environment, just not as great as DW9 (or more expensive AAA games, obviously), but at the same time, with the amount of characters and action on screen, it’s still impressive in its own right. Effects like lightning and other elements do stick out nicely and cast shadows well, that sort of thing. Basically imagine a really good PS3 game getting a basic HD polish re-release, those sort of graphics.
Sound-wise? Well, there isn’t any English voice acting, which given the character count can’t be surprising to anybody (even if everyone voiced two characters they’d still have to hire over 80 voice actors…), but the Japanese cast is good and varied. Music is great, back to the weird Orochi style techno beats, including the always catchy as hell theme that plays during Stage Select. They all get the job done and get the blood pumping when you’re in the middle of battle. Soundeffects are fine too.
Er, yes. That’s one way of putting it…
The various warriors from Chinese and Japanese history were returned to their respective eras with no memory of the battles they had with Orochi. One other entity was watching this battle though, and his name is Zeus. Zeus soon creates some magical bracelets and calls all those warriors to a new world of his creation, claiming all he wants to do is fight strong opponents, something his daughter Athena and son Ares take offense to. With the help of their old allies from the Mystic Realm, the warriors beat back Zeus, only to find out he was merely testing them so they could help in the up-coming battle with Odin, who had escaped his fate from Ragnarok and is now seeking immortality by using Yggdrasill. This also leads to the revelation that Perseus, who had been helping the humans, was actually Loki in disguise. … Oh and Orochi was resurrected as well.
This then leads to the arrival of Hades, who reveals that he allowed Odin to escape Hell out of curiosity so he wants to help… BUT it turns out that he just wanted Odin to collect all the power of Yggdrasill so he could take it and finally show he’s better than his brother Zeus. It goes without saying that Hades is stopped and Orochi is re-destroyed. Plus is classic Warriors Orochi fashion, enemies like Orochi and his followers, Zeus, Athena, Ares, Loki and even Odin end up as playable allies in the old “Enemy of my Enemy” way. At the end of the day it’s a loose reason for fighting on a large variety of maps and having different boss-level characters to chase down. It works well enough, even if some of the Warriors-ised versions of some of the mythological classics are a bit weird (Why is Gaia, mother of all Earth, a young girl with pink hair?)
Using the bow Sacred Treasure turns the game into Panzer Dragoon!
DLC is pretty standard Koei Warriors stuff. Extra music tracks, new weapon sets and lots and lots of new costumes. There are also new sets of side missions that can net you extra points and materials, but obviously don’t impact the plot.
Oh and while not DLC, I want to mention that when I booted the game up it detected that I had save data for both Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate and Dynasty Warriors 9 and gave me some bonus points and new costumes as a reward. That was unnecessary, but really nice! A good way to build loyalty (not that they need that from me at this point…)
The most anime-ified version of Hades you’ll see this week!
When Warriors Orochi 4 got released it was in the middle of games like Red Dead 2 and Spider-Man, so I decided to wait, thinking “they’ll probably be an Ultimate version anyway”… and sure enough! Warriors Orochi 4 Ultimate was a blast to play, so much content that if felt overwhelming at first, but soon I just got into a groove and loved every minute of it up until the end of the story. While I’m sure I’ll go back to the other modes, that was more than enough value for money for me. If you like the Warriors style combat and aren’t looking for a complex story, this is damn good fun!