If you look at the Warriors series, they’re a sandbox. The kind of almost childish, play around with army men fun that when you’ve had a tough day you just sit down and truly just smack the hell out of vast swathes of unnamed goons and feel pretty good about it. It’s hairography, in a way. Big flashy moves that don’t mean much of anything. This sounds like a bad thing, it’s not. These games are all about playing with cool, goofy people in a huge sandbox where they can just be big and dumb. Warriors Orochi amps this formula up to 11.

The way it turns this formula up is threefold; increasing the characters to a roster of over 170, bringing in people from Samurai Warriors as well as Dynasty Warriors roster. Next, it adds a bunch of mythical creatures and other weirdities, just to mix it up a bit. Finally, where Warriors Orochi 3 added time travel (and was all the better for it), this adds magic.

The magic thing I will touch on briefly. Compared to the time travel from 3, it certainly doesn’t have the same WHAM. As you attack (or charge your weapon), you’ll build up a gauge that allows you to either use a magic charge attack, a magic musou attack or a standard magic attack. They can be useful, and they are a bit of fun but they don’t really bring much to the table, which is a shame.

As is becoming a trend in the last few years also, and is I imagine a way to save cost (like reusing characters!) there’s also not a huge variety in gameplay. Sure, that sounds insane to the layperson, but previous titles across all of the franchise have had myriad ways to really enjoy your content. Ambition mode, the “if” scenarios, challenge castles. This one in its stead has the 50 main story missions, 20 side missions and some in-mission challenges if you want something to really aim toward, but outside of that there’s not much else going on. It’s a blessing and a curse. They didn’t fill it with fluff just to make marketing points, but compared to previous games it can feel a little empty.

The way I played this was to take the three recommended characters into the mission, level them up a smidge so they don’t get one-shot and complete the mission from there. For me, this was a good way to see a bunch of the characters (still not all of them!), but II know people who always kept the same characters throughout the missions. This makes it quite a bit easier but man, you sure do lose all the funk of levelling, which can be tedious.

I loved taking on the big weird baddies too like the Cyclops. Most of these just exist to be huge creatures that will smack you into a paste, but it’s a bit of variety from the standard grunt. Hundun is back too, the Pandemonium (difficulty) exclusive and recurring sub-boss who exists only to annoy you and beat the absolute snot out of you if you’re not paying attention. Unlocking him is quite a bit easier than previous games, but it’s good he’s back. I love me some Hundun.

The biggest surprise for me is that this runs decently well. Even on a standard PS4, I got barely any noticeable framerate dips unless I was taking down a tonne of grunts via magic or musou. It’s a pleasant change as some of those games were getting a bit iffy with their graphical stability which can really sour the experience quickly for me.

Comparing this to Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate is hard to not do, but it’s also quite a bit unfair in its own way. This game is not the third version of a game, nor is it the Ultimate edition. It’s still plenty fun on its own, but I look forward to seeing how they iterate on the formula for the inevitable final version.

Take all of these criticisms and think to yourself, “Do I love DW/SW characters? Do I want a game that’s just unabashedly stupid fun?” If the answers to either of these are yes then in truth it doesn’t really matter what I say. This isn’t an egregious sin like Dynasty Warriors 9 was, or a lazy cash-in like Warriors All Stars is. At its core it’s still a truly fun game.

Warriors Orochi 4 was played on PS4 via a review copy provided by the publisher. The entire 70 missions were played prior to review. I have played most of the Warriors series in the past.