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July 2019

Warriors Orochi 4

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Developer: Omega Force
Release Date: Oct. 16, 2018 (US), Oct. 19, 2018 (EU)


PS4 Review - 'Warriors Orochi 4'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Nov. 19, 2018 @ 12:30 a.m. PST

Experience an all-new gripping narrative in the latest installment of the one-versus-thousands Warriors Orochi action game series, and face an unfamiliar mystical threat with a new arsenal of magic.

Buy Warriors Orochi 4

Dynasty Warriors 9 attempted to bring the franchise into the open-world genre, and it was met with a negative reception. That may explain Warriors Orochi 4, which is the latest entry in Omega Force's Warriors crossover mash-up. It's a safe, predictable and bare-bones Warriors title that feels like an apology tour of sorts. The game features everything that players liked about Dynasty Warriors, which also means that it doesn't stand strongly on its own merits.

Warriors Orochi 4 is set after the events of Warriors Orochi 3, where the combined forces of the Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors casts killed the evil serpent Orochi. The game ended with them returning to their homeland, but they had little time to rest before a new force appeared. Somehow, the various members of Chinese and Japanese history have been thrown together once again, but this time, they are joined by a new group: the Greek Gods, who are forced into battle by the seeming resurrection of a great evil. Of course, they do this by murdering everything in their path.

Orochi 4 has one of the largest casts in Dynasty Warriors history, with well over 100 playable characters from the Dynasty and Samurai worlds, as well as a handful of Greek Gods. Unfortunately, that's the limit of the crossover. There aren't cameos by characters in other franchises, like Atelier and Ninja Gaiden. In essence, Orochi 4 is a game for fans who really want to see the two franchises smash into each other for the third time — and honestly, that's one of its big flaws. We've already seen the characters interact a lot, and lacking some wacky characters means the game loses something.

Orochi 4 returns to the three-character combat system of the previous games. Like all Dynasty Warriors titles, it involves a lot of button-mashing and combos to kill huge swarms of enemies. Each character has a different play style; some are counter-focused, some excel at single-target damage, some are great at clearing large crowds while moving, and others are excellent at clearing large areas. Characters from the Dynasty series can perform powerful attacks that control areas while Samurai characters' powerful attacks let them mow through mooks but bounce off of officers.

Considering the absurd size of the cast in Orochi 4, the game does a good job of differentiating them from one another. A big part of that has to do with characters being loosely recycled from prior titles, but they still play well. Finding a cast of three characters who work well together is a delight, and the game also lets you bring in a small group of characters who serve as support characters and offer special buffs.

The newest addition to combat in Orochi 4 is the magic system. Early in the game, you unlock magic artifacts that have their own magic meter. Characters can use magic attacks with their magic bar in a variety of ways, including screen-clearing fireballs, surfing tsunamis, powerful earthquakes, and so on. The magic bar recharges very quickly, and magic powers up as you build your combo meter. The longer your combo, the more powerful your magic, but certain magic spells don't build a combo. It becomes a game of trying to balance a lengthy combo for powerful magic while making good use of the spells for maximum damage.

My main issue with magic is that it overshadows everything else. For a lot of characters, I would spam their basic magic spells and not even bother with their regular combos. That might sound like the Dynasty Warriors norm, but usually, half of the fun is figuring out how to manipulate a character's move set to do the most damage. In Orochi 4, I just spammed magic to build up my hit count to spam more powerful magic, and I repeated that until everything was dead. I'd only shift to physical attacks when I somehow completely drained my magic meter. It made the distinct characters feel less so because so many shared magic spells. It also meant any character with bad spells inherently became far, far worse than they would be otherwise.

Your enjoyment of Orochi 4's combat will depend on how much you enjoy the "kill everything effortlessly" element of Dynasty Warriors games. It's difficult to deny the satisfaction you get from buzzsawing through a few thousand soldiers with the push of a button. That's about all it has going for it, though. It's a perfectly competent but unexceptional implementation of the basic Dynasty Warriors combat engine. There are literally dozens of games like it, and it's tough to recommend Orochi 4 over the others.

It might disappoint fans of the franchise to know that Orochi is remarkably basic. There's a surprisingly short story mode, a few bonus missions, and that's about it. This stands at drastic odds with other recent Warriors titles, which had an excess of content. Orochi 4 is the first time in a very long time that I've felt like a Warriors game wasn't long enough. With such an absurdly large cast, you really need more to do besides replaying the basic levels.

There's still a lot to do in Orochi 4. There's an absurd amount of characters who can leveled up, customized, and given new gears, so you can take on harder difficulty modes and power up more. The basic Warriors cycle is still there and enjoyable, but for a Warriors game, Orochi 4 feels like it's missing something. It's difficult to think of Orochi 4 without comparing it to its direct predecessor, which had enough content and characters that you could probably still be unlocking things today — let alone games like Hyrule Warriors, where you could dump hundreds of hours into the side missions.

One area that looks bizarrely bad is the UI. Orochi 4 has one of the most bare-bones UIs I've ever seen, forgoing any sort of convenience or flash in favor of something that is merely functional. It's weird because most Warriors titles are reasonably good about avoiding this, but here, it's a slapped-together thing that makes it annoying to navigate the several dozen armored figures. This actually applies to much of the game. Visually, it's not a terrible-looking game, but the graphics recycle old models and visuals in boring-looking environments. After recent Warriors games have shown they can do some genuinely cool-looking stuff, it's disappointing to see what was previously the high bar for Warriors looking so average.

The honest truth is that despite being a lot older, Orochi 3 is the game I'd prefer to play over Warriors Orochi 4. It feels more fully featured, more well-designed, more interesting to play, and it has a more interesting cast. If you're burned out on Orochi 3, then Orochi 4 might give you a nice fix. It's not a bad game — just a very by-the-numbers entry in the series. Fans of the franchise will probably get their usual enjoyment out of it, but there's little to strongly recommend it over most of the recent Warriors games.

Score: 7.0

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