From Omega Force and Koei Tecmo comes the Ultimate edition of Warriors Orochi 4 which for better and worse gives you the same thing that the franchise has offered for 2 decades.
When it comes to the various Warriors games, you're either on board with them or you're not. Since the franchise first popped up around the turn of the millennium, it has had more installments, spinoffs, and crossovers than the majority of game series and they all follow the same beat more or less. You have a character who can effortlessly smash through huge numbers of enemies and occasionally fight a slightly more powerful character at different points of a map. It has improved its graphics and mechanics over the years but the core principles have remained the same and you're either all for it or you're not. Sadly, I am decidedly not.
For what it's worth, the plot is a follow-up to Warriors Orochi 3. The franchise itself is a crossover of the Dynasty Warriors games and the Samurai Warriors series which are themselves games that are very loosely based on historical characters and events from Ancient China and Feudal Japan, respectively. Here, the characters from both franchises are put into a single environment together and the heroes of both series have to team up in order to take down a greater opponent. In Warriors Orochi 4's case, it's due to the meddling of the Greek gods who decide to put all of these characters together again for reasons that are not immediately made clear.
The issue with Warriors Orochi 4 and its franchise is that there is no scale of escalation or rising of tensions. Right from the get-go, you're thrown into a map full of a massive number of enemies and have to fight through them before getting to a stronger opponent and dispatching them. The basic concept is otherwise rather fun. The action of tearing through literally hundreds of opponents with ease is rather satisfying and makes for a decent time. The issue is that it gets rather monotonous after doing it for about half an hour.
The techniques that you use to defeat the first waves of enemies in the initial few missions or so can be applied to literally any group of enemies throughout the entire campaign. You mash the attack button to destroy their health bars and use magic to dispatch larger crowds even quicker and this carries on from start to finish. It's essentially a giant crowd control game that never makes the crowds any tougher or more difficult to dispatch. Even the stronger opponents that you face fail to offer any real challenge. You can simply catch them with whatever crowd control ability or technique that you decide to employ then whittle down their health rather quickly which makes every battle fairly easy, especially because enemies never seem to have a way to break free of this thus making them just another enemy in the mass. It's not poorly done by any means but it fails to retain one's interest for very long.
Warriors Orochi 4 Ultimate's storyline and characters sadly do not help matters at all. As a newcomer to the franchise, it was abundantly clear that the story relies on the player already knowing these characters and their back-stories. We get very broad outlines of the characteristics and personalities but it feels like most of their plot points and more important arcs are reserved for the main Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors games. There is a system where if characters fight enough on the field beside one another, they'll eventually interact with each other in the base mode. The banter is fun enough but that's really all it is; just fun banter that provides moments of amusement but fails to develop the characters in any meaningful way.
It's not at all helped by the fact that most of the characters simply blend together. Many of them have their own unique abilities and such but they mostly fall into categories shaped by their aesthetics. While a lot of them have complicated stories after their introductions, you'll have trouble remembering their names or what they do and you'll end up just sticking to using a handful of the characters.
The storyline itself isn't exactly a page-turner either. This time around, the Greek gods and goddesses have decided to throw all of these people together just... well... because. It's up to the heroes on both sides to take down a common enemy before taking on an even greater cosmic foe. It's basically every comic book crossover storyline ever written with the sole source of originality coming from the fact that the gods of ancient Greece speak Japanese in this for whatever reason.
Speaking of which, none of Warriors Orochi 4 Ultimate features English dialogue. While this isn't that bad for the cutscenes, it's next to impossible to read what the characters are saying in the middle of combat while you're trying to focus on taking on giant hordes of enemies. The result of this is that you miss out important story context as to why a particular point needs to be captured or why a certain character needs to be taken down thus turning otherwise important plot points into mere objective points with no story weight. It's a minor detail but one that takes away from the experience and makes it all the more unbearable.
What fun there is to be had in Warriors Orochi 4 Ultimate is pretty much all experienced within the first hour or so. From what I've gathered, it's not the worst Warriors game to come out but there is absolutely no reason to play this one if you've played literally any other game in the franchise. To be honest, you're probably better off with one of those.
In the end, Warriors Orochi 4 Ultimate is a mediocre Musou title. The action of wiping out giant hordes of enemies is exhilarating at first and the gameplay is rather polished but unfortunately, that's all there is to it and there's no feeling of escalation.
- + Combat is exhilarating at first
- + Gameplay is mechanically sound
- - Characters all blend together
- - Gameplay gets repetitive and old fast
- - Japanese dialog causes you to miss out on key events while in combat