Estimated reading time: 11 minutes
Having originally released just before Halloween in 2018, Warriors Orochi 4 brought back the merging of warriors from various timelines in the Chinese and Japanese dynasties alongside a mystic realm created just for the occasion. Stepping it up a few notches from previous entries, Zeus, leader of the Greek Pantheon, decided to have some fun and started this merging all over again which could obviously only end badly. Just over a year later, both owners of the original or those having waited it out are in for a treat as several new characters have been added like the fan favourite Ryu Hayabusa and two new chapters taking an alternate path from the original ending chapter.
Being in the digital age, and on the same consoles as it was originally released, is great for the “Ultimate” Add-on. Instead of having to buy a whole new package if you’ve already picked it up on release or sometime between now and then, you can just grab the extras and be on your merry way. Didn’t get it back when it was released? The whole Warriors Orochi 4 Ultimate package is available both in physical and digital formats. Having personally picked it up on the PS4 on release to play with a friend, I was more than happy to start back at the beginning with the Ultimate version for the Switch.
Warriors Orochi 4
Being our first review of Warriors Orochi 4, we’re going to take a look at the basics before going into the new additions that Omega Force and Koei Tecmo have brought us. Being a little less dire than its predecessor where you literally start off with the last three warriors that had yet to fall in battle, the current version starts off a little more slowly with Naosama Li, his mother Naotora Li and Tadakatsu Honda as they find themselves no longer on the same battlefield that they started off on.
Immediately going in another direction from its predecessor, while you still have a team of three warriors to swap between, they are now only present one at a time on screen so chain attacks are possible but the wider range of attack isn’t. Easily swapped between with nothing more than the press of a button, you can easily change from one character into another and back again or even to the third without ever having to stop. With plenty of warriors already in the mix and some new entries from both the Norse and Greek pantheons? Things ramped up quickly.
If we look at Orochi 4 as its own warriors experience it does fairly well. Chinese and Japanese dynasties work together and clash against one another as they come to work against a common enemy but if you compare it to the third and even Spirit of Sanada? It’s lacking a bit in the social department. on you still have the ability to bond and come closer with the other warriors, it’s mostly now all done on the battlefield instead of being able to actually invite them to tea or have a meal as a group. I honestly missed this as you could specifically target certain members to raise affection with in the third while now if they aren’t in your seven person battle group or in training? There’s no way to increase it.
Warriors Orochi 3 offered a hub in which everything was available through people manning the stations and it only grew as time passed. Warriors Orochi 4 on the other hand has everything done through top level menus so while it doesn’t take as long to before setting out on another mission, it doesn’t feel as “homy” because of it. While I personally like being able to get right back into the action, when you have a cast this size it would have been nice to be able to continue to see the interactions between them when you were off of the battlefield. Finally, as a final comparison, Warriors Orochi 4 is a lot more straightforward than its predecessor offering one mission after another in a line of chapters instead of a series of possibilities that span out and require certain members to have been recruited before being able to be tackled.
Comparisons aside, this latest entry offers a fairly solid experience as the story carries straight through from start to finish without having to go down a series of spanning storylines. Does it offer as much gameplay and story as the previous one? Not as much but it stays true to the new direction that it set out. So setting out with the mesh of characters that are offered to you, there are some other new twists as not only do the gods have godly powers, but now so did some of your own warriors.
Making a modification to the rage system, now instead of accumulating a gauge and unleashing it when you see fit, you now have to fight a little for it. Found from a specific enemy called a Chaos Origin, until you level up far enough and power up your weapons, you’re going to need some magic to tackle them on. Magic you say? Yes Magic, but more on that in two seconds. Needing to have a combo count of at least three hundred, once you’ve taken out an origin it’ll drop an item that allows a character to go into rage mode. Rage, like in the other series allows for some instant changing in the flow of battle as the level of combat prowess just jumps through the roof. Where there’s another change though is that any of the eight characters that obtain a bracelet from the scary monsters like Lu Bu and Oda Nobunaga to the poster boys of the series Yukimura Sanada and Zhao Yun, rage mode turned into Deify, and what a trump card it is.
Using the power of the gods, any of these eight like Naotara Li, Guan Yinping, Cao Pi and Mitsunari Ishida switch forms and the appearance they take on is clear that they’ve gotten a power boost past the levels of Rage Mode. Operating under a huge boost for a short time, once that boost is over, they then fall into what is almost Rage Mode levels for another duration of time before going back into their standard mortal looks. On an original cast of 170 characters, with only eight containing these bracelets, you’ll find that you generally want one of them close by to use, but of these eight? You’ll only have access to about three to five until damned near the end of the story which makes facing off against your enemies at times rather scary… because Lu Bu is a terrifying monster and he’s so, so, so, not on your side this time around.
Moving into the Ultimate edition there are several new additions that boost up the original experience. Starting off, with perhaps one of the more interesting additions, are the two new story chapters that take the “what if ‘X’” happened instead while leading into the finale. This allows for things to take a step back in the story to tell a new tale while simultaneously continuing to ramp up the difficulty because you’ve already completed the original story. Adding onto these are new sub-scenarios which are always worth doing for both experience and sometimes the hilarity such as the early on Parents vs Children and a much later everyone messing around about a banquet instead of gearing up for the final battle. These are necessary to complete the story, but without the massive grid of sub-scenarios, they add in some more content that way.
On top of the new story, new characters have also been added from some that had been hinted to over to some that, if you ask me, should have been there in the first place especially after how amazing they were in the third. Thank you for bringing back Ryu! But I still miss having Atelier’s Sterkenburg (Sterk, aka Sterky) and Soul Calibur’s Sophitia. Now that was a trio of destruction!
Getting back to the magic from earlier, there are items known as Sacred Treasures that can now be swapped out to customize your characters as you see fit. So for example, Tadakatsu Honda starts off with the ability to ride waves and crash into hordes of enemies but if you so choose now, you can switch off for a massive outward ice attack from Cerberus to freeze enemies and even gods in place as you close in the distance or just use the moment for what it’s worth and hack them down to size.
Finally, the last newly added mode is the infinity mode which hosts a series of twelve towers that host their own sets of challenges to be conquered. Zeus, being Zeus, decided to set up a bunch of challenges with the promised reward of being the ruler of Olympus. Setting out in order to take up the challenge are Ares and Athena alongside any other warriors believing that they are up for the challenge!
Now unlike the Story Mode, Infinity Mode doesn’t really have the same level of story attached to it, however, it packs in a load of quick paced gameplay under circumstantial conditions that are a load of fun and easy to pick up and put down as needed. Split into twelve towers named for each of the Zodiac, each tower has several floors that must be cleared in order to make it to the top and consider it complete. What’s really neat about these floors is that most of them have conditions like defeat 130 enemies within five minutes and then find the exit to the floor. Modifiers exist between different towers like double the counter if you defeat enemies with magic or musou attacks which really helps move things along as while defeating the amount of enemies isn’t hard, finding the exit can be. Can’t find the exit? You fail.
So to help with finding the exit, unlike the normal mode, your party of three actually act independently of each other on each of these floors. While this sounds a bit like Dynasty Warriors 8 where you could send out your allies to another point of the map and switch between them, instead, while your other two members are running around AND you can still switch between the three, you’ll never move from the spot that you are personally currently investigating. You can give orders to your other two members like explore or attack enemies, but you can never switch positions with them. It’s a neat mode that adds in some interesting new elements to the mix and if you do well enough? You can skip the floor that comes after from having just done well enough in the current one which will also greatly speed things up.
Wrapping up the new package
Now there are two things that stood out to me while replaying Warriors Orochi 4. The first is that it’s clear that gameplay had been polished because playing back through it on the Nintendo Switch was flawless whether playing with my Switch in one of my cradles on a TV or in the lunchroom with the Switch in my hands. It was simply smooth and there’s no other word for it. Where I had an issue with things however, isn’t exactly the titles fault, but the fault of the platform that it was on. Right now, playing a Warriors title online? I couldn’t find a single person to join up or join into a room in order to play one of the modes. I tried and left the game running for a bit, but as it stands now, if you’re going to want to hit that online mode? You’ll want to be on a PlayStation or an Xbox.
So overall, while it may not have the same expansive storyline of Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate, Warriors Orochi 4 Ultimate is a solid experience which adds some neat quality of life features to the base title that came out over a year ago. Adding in just a few new characters was neat, but it’s the ability to change magics and the smoothness of the experience that really takes the show making the Ultimate add-on a worthy pick up to the original title.Score: 8.5 / 10