Samurai Warriors 4-II Review – Angle Slash (PS4)
Has it really been almost a year since Samurai Warriors 4 released on the PlayStation 4? Time sure flies when you’re killing enemies by the thousands. If you felt Samurai Warriors 4 had too much emphasis on Nobunaga’s story, then Omega Force has a new entry that is more character-driven, Samurai Warriors 4-II. Is it worth your time though? Can history be fun to learn? Let’s take a look.
A More Ambitious Core
At its core, SW 4-II remains the same game as before. You’re given control of a strong officer, and tasked with defeating the enemy. Occasionally, you’ll have to escort someone important, or defend a control point, but for the most part you’ll be hacking and slashing your way to victory. Some objectives require that you defeat an enemy with a certain character, and army morale can come into play on harder difficulty levels, but for the most part you know what to expect with 4-II. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? Omega Force knows what fans of the series want, and have kept the series’ formula intact, with a few changes.
The first notable change is in the campaign. The story still takes place during the Sengoku era of feudal Japan, around the 16th-17th centuries CE. However, Nobunaga is not a notable character this time around. The campaign focuses on a handful of characters, but each mini campaign centers on that singular character and supporting cast. It’s a different take on the same story, and for the most part the game remains true to history — if you know that one daimyo was betrayed by his retainer in real life, then you can expect something similar to happen in the game. Bits of romance, drama and humor are of course added in, because history can be somewhat boring after all.
The next notable change with 4-II lies in the upgrading systems. Whereas in SW4 you could upgrade only certain weapons with certain gems, in 4-II you can upgrade any weapon by fusing other weapons of the same type, giving up the inferior weapons in the process. It’s a subtle but much-appreciated change — I can’t count the number of times in SW4 I was annoyed by receiving an inferior version of a weapon that I already had in my possession, and my only recourse was to sell it for a pittance. To top it off, you can now perform the same procedure with your mounts (horses), and level them up more quickly than would normally be possible.
Omega Force wasn’t content with only updating the weapons upgrade system, either. The attributes leveling mechanic has been revamped. Instead of only upgrading your level and hoping to pick up an item that you could take into battle, you now have multiple options and can build your own repertoire of skills for use on the battlefield. While your character gains experience and becomes more powerful in the traditional way, you now find and earn Strategy Tomes on your adventures. These can be used to unlock abilities and new skills in a grid-based attribute system. Tomes are in limited supply, however, and are shared amongst the entire large cast of characters, so you either have to ration the Tomes out carefully, or replay levels several times if you want to unlock all abilities for each character. It’s simple, easy to understand, and even elegant. This is by far the best upgrade that 4-II brings to the table.
Familiar External Factors
Graphically, I can’t say I’ve noticed much of a difference compared to last year’s entry. The graphics are serviceable, and while any body of water looks oddly flat, you’ll hardly notice as the action stays fast and furious. Characters in non-rendered cutscenes still move rather robotically, and textures remain at moderate resolutions. But when hundreds of enemies are onscreen, even in split-screen, you can imagine that it must have been a decent challenge to get the game to look even this good.
Speaking of things that remain the same in this iteration, all voice work is done in Japanese, as usual, with translations available for you to read as you follow along. I’m not sure English dubbing would have helped, here, because it would likely take away from the intention of the developers to recreate feudal Japan, and as such it is understandable.
A Worthy Upgrade
The control scheme and Rage mechanics have not changed, either. Hit enough enemies or take enough damage, and you’ll fill up a Spirit gauge as well as a Musou gauge. Press R3 (click the right thumbstick) to enable Rage mode, and press Circle to unleash your deadliest attack. Combining your weapons with elemental effects thanks to the new attribute grid helps to keep combat a little more interesting. If you and your teammate are close enough to see sparks between one another, initiating this move triggers a devastating combo that is worth holding onto until you face the mission’s boss.
Samurai Warriors 4-II is a fun game for those who skipped out on the previous entry, as well as for those who can’t get enough Musou-fueled carnage. With an emphasis on more characters and an intuitive new upgrade system, alongside the robust Free mode and Endless Castle mode, and there is a lot of new content to go around multiple times.
Review copy for Samurai Warriors 4-II provided by publisher. Reviewed on PlayStation 4. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.