LifeisXbox’s Samurai Warriors 5 review | The good old Musou genre, I fell in love with it the first time I played Dynasty Warriors in 1997. One of the most repetitive gameplay mechanics ever but it remains fun and exciting! The one fighter versus thousands simply never grows old. Throughout the years maybe variations have been introduced, from Nintendo’s Hyrule Warriors or Xbox’s Ninety-Nine Nights. Omega Force, the developer behind Samurai Warriors 5 created a few of my favorites in the genre, Arslan or One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4. With this latest release they don’t take many risks but they did manage to freshen up the franchise with a new visual style!
ℹ️ | We played Samurai Warriors 5 for eight hours on Xbox Series X. This game is also available on Playstation and Switch.
What we liked!
- New visual style, inspired by nihonga (Japanese painting) | Biggest change for this franchise since the very first one in 2004 is a completely new visual style. Nihonga isn’t very popular in Europe but this Japanese art is beautiful to look at. Omega Force used this as inspiration and created a brand-new artstyle for Samurai Warriors 5. The bright colors really bring out the best of the game engine, Musou games aren’t really the most impressive visual games to look at as they need to have hundreds and hundreds of enemies on screen. But for this one I was pleasantly surprised! You have to see it in full action though, the game’s visual appeal quickly vanishes when the horde of enemies are gone, the world is pretty empty in that case. Nevertheless, this is the kind of game where you’ll be in constant movement and if you play how you are supposed to play the game is beautifully crafted!
- Lovely story | Gone are the uninteresting walls of texts from previous games in the franchise, many cinematics explains the rise of Nobunaga Oda and after a few missions you’ll also see it through the eyes of Oda’s rival Mitsuhide Akechi. A lot of effort has been placed in making this ancient tale interesting and engaging, Long time fans will immediately notice some big design changes in character design, making them more historical accurate. I really appreciated taking control over Mitsuhide, seeing the story through the eyes of two different clans made it very unique. It is possible that a lot of the effort from Omage Force is lost though, voices aren’t in English so you’ll be reading the dialogues. This wasn’t an issue for me but I know some of you might use the skip-button to avoid the Japanese voice actors. You’ll be missing out though!
- Combat | A lot of the Musou players only do one thing, X – X – X – X and Y to end a combo. There’s nothing wrong with that but Samurai Warriors 5 combat is a bit deeper and becomes necessary if you increase the difficulty. Tactically using your powerful charging musou-attack against bosses is one thing but you also have four ultimate attacks that you can change to your liking. One of my favorites is a temporally attack-boost or doing a big ground slam. There’s also an option to spawn small units that fight for you but I found them pretty useless, the idea is neat but they hardly do any damage. New in this Samurai Warriors is that you can change your fighting style or weapon from playable characters, so if you prefer that Oda uses a bow or spear you can do that. Personally, I stuck with the default style as this made the most sense to me.
- Strange design decision regarding story mode and citadel mode | Story mode is self-explanatory but citadel mode is a crucial part of the entire package and you’ll need to quit the story mode and select citadel mode in the main menu. I honestly don’t understand why it isn’t all in one mode. Citadel mode is a sort of defense mode that tasks you to keep officers alive while defeating the opposition in a limited time. This with a co-op player or AI, this is linked with an upgrade system to improve your base of operations, officers and weapons. The repetitive nature of Samurai Warriors 5 really punches you in the face while doing many citadel fights. It was fun to play with some unique characters but these short and often super easy missions aren’t to write home about. You are forced to complete them to farm materials so you can improve your encampment. A hit and miss if you ask me.
- Always a blast to play co-op but… | There is nothing more annoying than playing a game with a friend and suddenly it is not an option anymore. That’s exactly what happens with Samurai Warriors 5, you can play the story missions with two players but some missions are exclusively playable with one player. A bit silly if you ask me, especially because this is a known and popular co-op franchise. Performance takes a serious hit too, If an Xbox Series X struggles, I can’t imagine how it must be on Xbox One when you play with two players.
- You love or hate mindless button-mashing | A Musou game is repetitive and you always do the same, regardless if you are playing Dynasty Warriors, Hyrule Warriors or Samurai Warriors 5. That’s not something you can ignore, I personally love the genre but I know many gamers who don’t understand the fun from it. As I previously mentioned the combat in this one is really hectic and fun to play, but it remains… you guessed it, repetitive.
What we disliked
- A drop in playable characters and fighting styles | Samurai Warriors 4 had 55 playable characters, for this one ‘only’ 27. Still a respectable number but not something you expect to see. There have always been clone fighters that use the same fighting styles but losing 18 characters isn’t something that goes unnoticed. A roster cut is never positive but the current playable characters received nice design changes, so that’s something.
How long to beat the story | 20 hours
How long to achieve 1000G | 30+ hours
Similar with | Dynasty Warriors – Ninety-Nine-Nights
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