Good news! Koei Tecmo and Omega Force finally decided they are done porting and updating Warriors Orochi 3. Which is great, because the companies were running out of words to append to it. (It already had Special, Hyper and Ultimate.) This means everyone finally gets to move on to Warriors Orochi 4. Which is largely a good thing. While it is not some massive renovation, it makes some positive changes that shake things up after Warriors Orochi 3’s many ports and results in a more solid game.
Warriors Orochi 4 gives its characters and players a blank slate. While it is a successor to the previous game, everyone has forgotten past adventures and knowing everyone else. Zeus and the gods have decided to create eight Ouroboros bracelets from Medusa’s snake hair for reasons, each with the power of a god inside of it. They had “intentions” for them and brought characters from the Dynasty Warriors, Samurai Warriors and Warriors Orochi series to this land consisting of many locations also plucked from such worlds for a “purpose.” However, Perseus, a demigod responsible for slaying Medusa, heard about these plans and stole four of the bracelets, scattering them to this realm. Characters like Nobunaga and Lu Bu have already found such bracelets and discovered overpowered, deity-forms as a result. The others are acting as a rebel force to find the bracelets first and fight back.
Basically, warriors are but playthings of the gods.
Basically, warriors are but playthings of the gods. Which is as good a reason as any for Omega Force to bring all of these iconic characters together for Warriors Orochi 4. This means we have 170 characters, compared to Warriors Orochi 3’s 145. Five of them are gods from different pantheons, while others are existing characters from other series making their debut here. Adding such supernatural elements means we also get two new features for different characters, with everyone able to suddenly use magic and certain characters able to undergo deification when Awakened and in Rage mode, allowing them to take on traits from various gods to become godlike.
These new gameplay features are implemented well into the normal Warriors Orochi 4 moveset. Before heading into a mission, you choose which three playable characters, which horse, and which four support characters for bonuses join you. (You can press a button for an Elite Team suggestion.) When on the field, your general goal is to beat up anyone whose name is in red (or occasionally yellow). Going after named individuals is the general idea, though other directives can be issued while you play. For example, you may be told to escort someone to a certain place or guard someone as they run and attempt to leave the map. You have standard attacks, Musou attacks, Aerial Musou attacks and magic attacks. Combos are king, racking up killstreaks that get into the hundreds are normal and making sure you have a balanced team of characters representing the Power, Speed and Technique classes is a key to succeeding.
I really liked the way magic attacks were implemented in Warriors Orochi 4. While this does mean characters lose secondary special attacks they normally may have had in their source games, Omega Force implemented this new sort in a way that sometimes makes them necessary in certain situations or give you the ability to control the area that will be damaged. For example, there will be ghostly Chaos Origin wraiths in the field that can only take significant damage from magical or rage attacks and can offer blanket protection to enemy forces around them. You have to switch tactics and use magic on them. Also, you may come across anchors that allow you to recharge magic in the field, instead of building up gauges via beating up thugs, which is another way to encourage people to maybe give it a try.
Having something new and fresh is especially nice since, well, a lot of Warriors Orochi 4 is going to feel familiar. The story is pretty good, with an interesting turn to it. The new magic system works and makes you do more than continually plow through hordes with melee attacks. But a lot of these people are the same old folks fighting through the same old Dynasty Warriors, Samurai Warriors and Warriors Orochi maps. A few do change things up by mashing up Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors stages together, but everything looks similar. Not to mention, some stages set at night are exceptionally dark, especially if playing on the Nintendo Switch in handheld mode. A lot of the game feels like “this is an enjoyable game for people who already know and like these things and want them in one place,” like how people who like chocolate and peanut butter would probably find a peanut butter cup just as enjoyable.
Having something new and fresh is especially nice since, well, a lot of Warriors Orochi 4 is going to feel familiar.
But even though a lot does feel familiar, Warriors Orochi 4 handles things in a very efficient way. New characters are doled out quickly, with at least three joining after every mission. You have a lot of people with different sorts of weapons and movesets right away, so it is not like you are starting off your adventure with one-handed sword guy, two-handed sword guy, one-handed sword girl, katana guy, and she has two swords girl. There is a lot of diversity here, it is very easy to get characters you are not using up to par via doling out growth gems and improving the “camp” to get bonuses that improve every character in the roster and the games does it all with menus, rather than wasting your time in a hub town where you run from NPC to NPC so you could access said menus.
I am also a fan of how Warriors Orochi 4 handles multiplayer. It feels like a game that very much wants you to play with others. It is exceptionally easy on the Nintendo Switch with a moveset that is not entirely terrible on a Joy-Con. (Though I would recommend using a different controller.) You can have a second player pop in with a push of a button, and it is easy to start up the Online Mode in the campaign or head into the Battle Arena. If you want to play with others online, it lets you search to play with any people who might also be in Online Mode looking for a buddy or Create a Room. I was unable to find anyone online to play with on the Nintendo Switch, but found the local multiplayer worked well enough.
Unfortunately, the Battle Arena element is separate from the Warriors Orochi 4 campaign. This means you do not carry over characters, weapons or anything. The only offline battle option is a mock battle with NPCs. As such, I can not really speak to how well it works online. But the idea, where you briefly battle an opposing player with your duo of characters for control of three bases, is a novelty that some might end up enjoying.
Warriors Orochi 4 is absolutely a step up from Warriors Orochi 3 and a welcome change. The story has some different cues and themes, which allows characters to have access to new forms and attacks. There are lots of people we can use, and the game is good about giving us access to new people and making it easy to bring recent acquisitions up to snuff. It also makes it very easy to play with others, which is perhaps the best way to play any Musou game. In the grand scheme of things, it does not drastically change the formula and still relies on the same old engine, maps and mechanics, but what is there is likely new and shiny enough to impress and please people looking for a new Musou game to play on their systems.