It's safe to say that Dynasty Warriors 9 didn't go down very well with fans for a number of reasons, but the Musou series is too strong to stay down and has bounced back with Warriors Orochi 4, bringing characters from the Dynasty and Samurai Warriors series together once more. We've been getting stuck into the adventure, and we've got good news - it's not more of the same as Dynasty Warriors 9, but it is more of the same of the traditional format.
These games aren't exactly grounded and super serious as it is, but the story of Warriors Orochi 4 turns the craziness up to new levels, as the factions of China war over several magical bracelets that have come from the gods of Mount Olympus (yes, the very same with Greek gods like Zeus and Perseus). That means not only fighting against one another over these bracelets, but also fighting against the gods, and it's all as ludicrous as it sounds. Not that we're saying that's a bad thing, mind you - these stories are why many love Warriors games.
That said, it would've been nice to have some localisation. The English dubs of these games aren't always of the highest quality, but it would've saved reading subtitles for the entire experience, which becomes especially frustrating when they pop up on the left-hand side during an intense battle you're trying to focus on.
What you're doing in this story is essentially going from place to place, then battering people before you recruit them to join your cause. After all, it's only united that you can take on the gods, and it's classic Warriors in the sense that you progress through each level, tackling named characters and gatekeepers to eventually get to your desired target in an epic battle to end the stage.
The combat is also what you'd expect from the series, as you'll be massacring hundreds of grunts with one swoop, saving your best tactics and attacks for the named characters like the infamous Lu Bu. It's still as fun and satisfying to take down tons of enemies in one burst, and retains what makes the series so unique, especially since these levels constantly keep the battle going as you move from one packed area to another.
One niggle we have though is that at the end of regular attacks there is a little pause as part of the animation, cutting the flow and momentum, which is exactly what you don't want in a Warriors game. Not all attacks had these, but the regular attacks were the prime offender for this, making us want to avoid them altogether.
Lucky for us we didn't have to use them a lot, as Magic has been introduced this time around. By discovering magical items, all characters get magic attacks by holding R1 (we played on PS4) and pressing the same buttons as you would for regular attacks - square for light attack, triangle for heavy, and circle for special. By pressing cross you could even summon a horse to ride around on.
These magical attacks are total chaos and exactly the breath of fresh air to make Warriors even more fun, as they range from launching projectiles from the sky at your foes to turning into a giant flaming boar to mow people down. They're powerful and devastating and satisfying to use, but it's a shame that some of these abilities are repeated over several characters. Even if there are 170 playable characters (five of which are new), a bit more variety to these attacks wouldn't have gone amiss. You do have the option of creating a humongous explosion with R2 and L2 though, which makes up for it a touch.
The game is separated into different levels that you take on one at a time, but there's plenty of things to do when you're not in the fight, which can even become overwhelming and it's a bit busy in the menus at times. On one tab you can play online and offline, while on another you can form a team, choosing which three fighters you want as well as four supports. Here you can also test officers out in a fake battle, and check their stats and attacks.
You can also upgrade your officers and camp for various bonuses in another tab (like increasing the gems you earn after battle), while on the Weapons tab you can assign weapons to fighters, fuse them to make them more powerful, or dismantle and sell them. After that you've got the Gallery and Settings, the former of which lets the real fans dive into the lore.
There's a lot to remember, but once you get your head around what you do and don't need to concern yourself with, you'll find yourself picking and choosing what you need to do each time. A lot of content also means a lot of depth as well, as there's tons of stuff to tweak and fine tune, even if you might not notice it during the intensity of battle. It's also worth constantly trying new fighters as well since there's a hell of a lot of choice.
If you're a fan of the Musou/Warriors series it's safe to say that you're going to have a good time with Warriors Orochi 4, whether that's because of the wild story that places you alongside Greek gods or the intense combat you know and love that this time is spiced up with magic. There are a few bugbears of course, but we went in expecting classic Warriors carnage and got exactly that, and short of a total overhaul of the system that's really all we can ask for.