A lot’s changed since I started playing Warriors games. I was once a summer child, not understanding the hacking and the slashing and its effects on me. I knew next to nothing about the games; I’d never played a Dynasty Warriors or a Samurai Warriors game, so the closest I had come to the genre was through Ninety-Nine Nights on Xbox 360, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
If you’re unaware, Warriors Orochi 4 ultimate is a hack-n’-slash in the absolute truest form of the phrase. It’s all about being one of a few people up against literally hundreds to thousands of enemies, often tens at a time until you get to where you need to be, or to whatever you need to do. On the surface it’s pretty mindless, but there are a lot of moving parts to consider.
For example, if you ever want to make any progress at all it’s not enough to have unlocked some of the games one hundred and thirty characters in the roster. Yes, you read that right, a hundred and thirty characters. Crazy. If you want to make progress you’ll also need to consider their feelings, building bonds between them at tea parties and by talking to them, or taking them on mission together. By doing this you will be able to change the course of history.
The premise behind the game is fairly simple, sort of. The first battle in the game is against a giant hydra, which royally kicks your ass. A goddess appears and grants you the ability to travel back in time, where you can play through the battles during the war and change the outcome with the ultimate goal of raising more allies to fight alongside you against the hydra in the final battle. You can do the final battle at any stage, mind, but without all the help you’ll be weak as hell.
There are a whole lot of missions too. There is a few choices to make regarding which missions you’ll do instead of others, but it doesn’t make a whole lot of difference. What is odd however is the fact that sometimes you’ll see NPCs die during a mission as you are completely unable to help them. But, when you later talk to other characters you’ll unlock extra missions and be able to play ‘redux’ versions of the same mission and then be able to save them. Damn I love time travel.
Slashing your way through enemies is fun but a little monotonous at times. The game does try to mix things up in the form of combos, switch attacks, different weapons and weapon synthesising (crap, I do really love crafting items) to keep you occupied. It does stem the boredom to a certain level, but it solely depends how much you want to put into it. You can get through the game easily enough without it.
Graphically things are all ok though. This is probably one of the better looking launch games, and Tecmo Koei have done amazing things removing all fog of war, but all of this comes at a price. There’s a terrible pop-in issue, where enemies close by will pop in randomly. It’s workable, but you can get surprised by extra enemies if you’re not careful.
The GamePad can be used as a second screen if that’s your fancy, but I quickly turned it off and changed it to a large mini-map, which was hugely helpful during missions. If you’ve got a Pro Controller kicking around you can use that as a second player too, so the Pro player can play on the TV and the GamePad user can play on the GamePad screen. I didn’t try it out as I don’t have a GamePad, but it seems interesting enough.
Multiplayer also comes in the form of a card game called “Duel Mode”. As you complete missions in the main story you’ll unlock cards with different stats, which can then be used in teams of up to four against other players. This is actually really good fun (and exclusive to the Ultimate edition) and I’d love to see this come to a console as a standalone arcade style game.