Around 300 B.C., Sun Tzu wrote one of the most read books in the world: The Art of War. To this day, the book is used to guide generals, economists and company executives. The analysis into every aspect of war didn't leave anything to chance. What Sun Tzu didn't know, however, was the fact that one doesn't have to analyse how dust moves on the battlefield or how to form one's troops when moving through a mountain pass. One just has to lean back and press triangle and the right trigger a few times if they want to stand victorious.
Let's rewind a bit. Warriors Orochi 4 is the latest entry in the franchise wherein Dynasty Warriors meets Samurai Warriors. The game was originally released in 2018 to decent reviews (here's ours) and now, an Ultimate version has been released, adding new storylines, characters and game modes as well as some updates to the original menus. Thus, it's the same game that it was when it launched with some upgrades that have been added along the way. The game is still focused around missions that put the player on a battlefield where you rush and slash through thousands of soldiers in ancient, East Asian environments with some magic aspects added.
Those who are looking for an atmospheric war simulation or history lesson will do best to turn the other way; this is a rather cheesy hack 'n' slash game that offers plenty of repetition. The music hardly mirrors the era it's trying to evoke, instead, it's more like sub-par metal blasting across the battlefield, which visually looks a little dated and yet still manages to suffer from frame-rate issues.
The missions, which tend to take up to ten to fifteen minutes to complete, are wrapped up with basic interactions and a horrible story that shifts between giving you tactical insight into a war taking place on many fronts and small talk between the 177 characters, all of whom lack a sense of identity or personality. It doesn't really matter that the original game's number of playable characters landed Warriors Orochi 4 in the Guinness World Records - the characters are all essentially the same and hard to tell apart in both the narrative and on the battlefield. Apart from a few exceptions, the character roster is made up of serious, muscular dudes, comical overweight men, and half-naked yet still shy women. Listening to the characters in conversation isn't very interesting either.
The goal is, as we understand, for the player to gather all of the characters one has met along the way and collect a bunch of magic bracelets before Lu Bu finds them all. It's odd, boring and badly written and the fact that the game only supports Japanese audio doesn't make it better. We usually don't mind Japanese audio, but since most of the hectic conversations happen when you're in the middle of battle, it's hard to keep track of what's being said as one has to read every single dialogue bubble popping up on the screen.
The story hardly keeps one interested, but what about the battles? Well, the combat is actually pretty satisfying. Despite the fact that the enemies all look, sound and move the same, the tactical options one has and the challenges one can choose to complete help make the game somewhat fun. However, the game is also ridiculously easy.
After having started the game up on 'normal' difficulty, a tutorial text told us that we could change our character while, at the same time, prompting a thrusting attack to get an advantage to speed and damage. We started using this tactic and turned the difficulty level up to the max, which made our characters level up plenty. We quickly found ourselves getting the highest score on most missions without dying more than a handful of times after that. Those hoping to feel skilled while doing the absolute minimum will probably love the game, while those who are looking for a challenge may well want to stay away.
If you've already played the base game, you can upgrade to the Ultimate edition for a lowered price. If you're truly invested in the world of Warriors Orochi 4 it could well be worth making the upgrade, but if you didn't enjoy the base game, there's not enough new content to change that first opinion. We'd stay that, even more than is usual in this already niche genre, this is one for Warriors enthusiasts and that's about it.
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