Warriors Orochi 4 (Switch) Review
The Switch has seen more ‘Warriors’ games based off of other franchises than the more traditional Dynasty Warriors (in fact there are none in Australia until this entry), so it’s about time for one. Although this isn’t your usual Dynasty Warrior entries. Once again the worlds of Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors have combined to form Warriors Orochi. In short, nearly 200 characters across these franchises have been crammed into this game. Worlds are colliding as the Gods themselves have mashed time and space together to create this warriors all-star team up.
For fans of the Warriors series, you’re probably not even checking this review because you’ve got the game already. If you haven’t, rest easy knowing that outside of some of the features mentioned, a lot is still the same (for better or worse). For newcomers, those with limited experience with the series, or you’ve played the other franchise games given the Warriors treatment, there’s a lot of prior knowledge assumed in this game but none of it really matters.
Like any Dynasty Warrior game, or games like Hyrule Warriors or Fire Emblem Warriors, Warriors Orochi 4 is a Hack and Slash, or for fans of the genre, a Musou game. The main gameplay involves you hacking and slashing your way through hundreds to thousands of soldiers to accomplish goals that move the story along. The main mode of Orochi is the Story mode, involving newly added characters and God Zeus sending out items into the world that give great power to whoever is chosen by them. Characters from Samurai Warriors and Dynasty Warriors wander through a mist only to find themselves in a different time and place. Can they work together and find out what’s going on and why it feels like they’ve done this before. Villains from these franchises such as Lu Bu and Nobunaga clash with the heroes. Nobunaga has notably gotten his hands on one of the artifacts and it’s going to take a lot of fighting and a love and justice to get back to everyone’s right time and place.
I’m unsure if the story for the Orochi games is a big draw. While it’s not a bad story, it feels far from fresh and almost feels like a story Omega Force has already put in one or more of their games. While the overall story feels a bit done, it’s the interactions between characters that are enjoyable. I’ve played my fair share of ‘Warriors’ games, but my attachment to the characters from the franchises doesn’t run deep enough to know all the different connections or relationships between characters. I still found this part interesting, I can only imagine the fans will enjoy it even more.
To help add more to the characters, you can build up ‘bonds’ between them by having characters battle together. This can unlock brief interactions between them in a ‘skit’, fleshing out of the characters. Kind of a shame though that it’s largely used to have two characters admiring each other’s skills more often than not. Once again, fans of the game are more likely to get something fun out of these interactions of their favourite characters over brand new people to the franchise.
Something I hadn’t experienced in past Dynasty Warrior games has been the ability to pick 3 characters you can switch between seamlessly. Games like the latest version of Hyrule Warriors or Fire Emblem Warriors would allow you to swap between characters on the field. In Orochi 4 I could have two Liu Bei running around. It can be surreal being tasked with saving Liu Bei and fighting alongside him while simultaneously being another Liu Bei, but I digress. The 3 characters team up with Switch Combos occurring when you continue on switching from someone who’s attacking, that allows you to do more damage as you continue the combo. It was quickly possible to rack up over 1000 hits as you keep clearing a path through constant waves. It works best to have a nice balance between the three battle types; Power, Technique, and Speed. Personally, I spent a lot more time using the Technique and Speed types, as the Power types tend to wind up being a bit more unwieldy. I did enjoy being able to swap between the characters so easily. If I was having trouble with one ‘General’ then the next warrior could usually fight them back.
Due to having three fighters to alternate between and three health bars to fall back on, I found it made stages even easier than usual for these kinds of games. If a named warrior nearly knocks you out, just switch until they heal. Overall this game is never really difficult. The only difficult objectives to achieve are the additional ones, such as defeating a high number of soldiers using one kind of attack or defeating someone in a certain amount of time. The only real loss for missing these side objectives is not getting as many gems or upgrade orbs.
Another notable feature of Orochi 4 is the amount of characters. 8 levels in and I had access to about 28 fighters and it just kept growing. Even 4 levels in and the amount of choice became overwhelming. Short of grinding old levels, you would never be able to keep many of the fighters up to a comparable level as the main team. At a point, I just picked my favourite three and stuck with them through the missions, while making the odd level upgrade for new warriors that look like they’d be fun to play.
By now it seems like it would be much more optimised to have lowest level warriors level up somewhat along the way. Players looking to get the most out of the game will have many many hours leveling up as many characters as they can. To help find the ones you enjoy, there is a mock battle option to take your warriors out onto the field and make sure you’re not stuck with a weapon that clashes with your playing style.
Orochi 4 also introduces Magic, taking the forms of Normal Magic, Charge Magic, and Unique Magic. They also keep Musou special attacks for everyone, but the magic will be what you have more access to. Magic seems easy to build up, and there’s unity magic which combines the might of your chosen team to blast the battlefield and knocking out large numbers of soldiers.
Deity Powers are one of the new forms of attacks, thanks to Zeus’ meddling, transforming warriors into super-powered god-like beings. The bad news is that only 7 characters in the whole game actually get these powers. You’re already a hack and slash machine with a decent grasp of the button combos it feels unnecessary unless you want to see the cool ‘deity’ designs.
The stages in Orochi 4 feel like they could’ve been pulled from any other Dynasty or Samurai warrior game, and far as I can tell they have to a degree. There are elements of feudal Japan and Dynasty era. A lot of the environments blend together and just act as mazes to slow you down as you fight to the next objective.
Something that is inconsistent across Warrior titles on the Switch is technical performance. The good news is Orochi 4 runs alright on the Switch, but the frame rate can vary a fair bit. More often than not it runs decently, and it never got to unplayable. Even on the handheld mode, it holds up, and the game generally looks alright (or at least the warriors do). Stages are bland and some of the big magic attacks can look a bit average. There is graphics pop-in with enemies, but this is pretty commonplace for the franchise given the number of enemies there are to handle – it’s hard to really judge it. This game isn’t a graphical marvel and it never intends to be. Honestly, it’s just good that it runs as well as it does when undocked.
One unexpected issue that came up is that Warriors Orochi 4 only offers Japanese spoken dialogue. Within a mission, characters communicate amongst each other including about the objective. The text is hard to pay attention to when you’re also fighting a large group while running around trying to beat time-limited side objectives. It’s a game I wouldn’t expect them to go all out and add English dubbing, but it does make the story and objects harder to follow.
Online was unavailable at the time of reviewing. Closer to release I could see there were other rankings but I was unable to find a game. To my understanding, it is 6 player online fighting to capture bases. You can create or join friends rooms by entering a code, if you’re hoping to just jump into a random match it might be a bit harder. There is also offline two-player co-op with a split screen where you can even use a Joy-Con each to play with less buttons. It’s not the most ideal way to play but it is manageable.
The Warriors franchise has gotten a reputation for being button mashers, Warriors Orochi 4 won’t change people’s minds. For fans, this game is the biggest gathering of characters from two series and it’ll be a joy to see them all interacting together. For new or less invested fans into Warriors games, there’s less to draw you in. There can be a relaxing, zen-like quality to hacking through large numbers of enemies, but ultimately it feels like there is little substance outside of the oversized roster. Warriors Orochi 4 and the Warriors series itself aren’t bad games. Between the story campaign and leveling up your warriors and camp, you could be busy for a while.
+ Everyone is here
+ First dynasty warriors game on Switch (outside of japan)
+ Cool moments between warriors
- Too many warriors to manage can overwhelm
- Story a little stale
- No English dub means missing out on plenty of in-game dialogue