So, Samurai Warriors 5 it’s gonna be out in a week, and Koei Tecmo decided to release a demo for it, so might as well give it a hands-on, since i won’t be reviewing it at launch.
I did eventually pre-order the Treasure Edition for it (not the collector’s one since Koei basically wanted 70 more bucks just for 5 tiny acrylic stands, fuck off), so i will be playing it, but i won’t have a review out, as i would like to do a retrospective of the Dynasty Warriors series, and maybe the same for the sister series Samurai Warriors, and “do” the games in order.
MAYBE i will just do a quick EXPRESSO review, but for sure not an extensive one.
The demo offers two maps/scenarios from the first chapter of the game, and four playable characters to pick a team of 2 from Hideyoshi Hashiba, No, Eiyasu Tokugawa and Toshiee Maeda (with Nobunaga Oda playable in the story mode but not in Free Mode, at least in this demo offering), with the ability to carry over the save data to the full game when it releases.
After the disaster of DW 9 (with an Empire spin-off that was supposed to be released by now but was delayed indefinitly to “late 2021”), it’s good to be back to some proper Warriors action.
Nothing really groundbreaking, but a mostly refined musou experience, and there is some truth in the saying “what’s old is new again”, because if Dynasty Warriors 9 was meant as the future of the musou genre/subgenre, no thank you very much, shove it up your crappy open, barely functional hole.
Looks and runs fairly good on my old vanilla model PS4, i mean, it’s what you would expect after they used the engine so much on the platform, but i’m surprised Koei decided to not launch it on the PS5 (better for me since i don’t have it and don’t plan to get it this year), guess they’ll wait until they do an Xtreme Legends expansion to repackage it for the new generation of consoles.
the excellent Hyper Combo system introduced in SW 4 is retained, as the map being divided in red zones where the enemy is stronger, and in line with the latest Warriors title, there’s now a new found emphasis on action rpg style special moves assigned to combination of the shoulder and face buttons (so you can equip a max of 4 at any time), these offering ways to unleash powerful moves with effects, restore musou or give you stats boost, continue combos, etc. Each character has a unique special skill with its own effects, and now (akin to Dynasty Warriors) now each character can jump, for more emphasis on aerial combat, especially for weapons like the Naginata.
Contrary to DW 9, here this ARPG setup works actually in tandem with the main combat system, instead of against it, but i don’t exactly understand why they basically nerfed the Hyper Combo system here, letting you do hyper combos used to mow down faster the peons (but blocked by officers and medium enemies), but now the strings for that attacks are limited to repeated inputs of the strong attack”, the hyper combos themselves are less speedy, and you can use a normal attack mid-way during a Hyper Combo to start a standard combos of normal attacks, but you can’t mix and match the light and strong attack buttons like before.
And i don’t get it, i didn’t when they did for Pirate Warriors 4 (where PW 3 and previous titles had a more free form combo system similar to Samurai Warriors 4, only to go back to the basic Charge System with PW 4), and i don’t know why Omega Force is trying to make the other Warriors series more akin to Dynasty Warriors, when it should do quite the opposite. Just..why?
I understand some of the changes, like the removal of the Spirit Charge (basically a dash that worked as a way to cancel combos mid-way and break the guard of enemies) to avoid you spamming that and make you guard/block more, or how now defeating Base Captains has more tangible influence in changing the morale of that zone (and of the battle as a whole), the IA being more balanced and aggressive than previous titles, alongside some new stuff like some special attack skills being particularly effective against some types of units, like shield guards or archers.
Speaking of movesets, each characters has a revamped one, and from what i could play with, i’d say they’re fun, but there are still some traces of questionable design decisions still lingering from DW 9, like the weapons are more realistic and historical appropriate, so that means gone are the weird, exotic or absurd weapons like the bombs, Eiyasu’s spear-cannon, the claws and the likes, to make space for more generic, standard ones. Despite character still being able to launch ranged attacks with “sword waves” or do other unrealistic special moves.
This means many older characters get a different weapon than before (for example No here has a decent but fairly generic bow & arrows moveset) and, and i fear that might be overlap of characters using the same type of weapon, and thus having nearly identical movesets, a fear compounded by how the move list for the character points out how what combo moves are unique to that character, and the implied ability for each character to equip every type of weapon (like in Dynasty Warriors), instead of having an unique one that they are “stuck with”.
I could be wrong in the latter part, but if i’m not, it would feed into Omega Force already visible intention of making Samurai Warriors more and more indistinguishable from Dynasty Warriors.
For some stupid, asinine, reason.
Sadly i can’t say anything about weapon upgrades, fusion, and character skills upgrade, as they are all locked in the trial version, aside that weapon mastery/proficience is back.
while some might hate the new character design, i don’t mind it at all, it’s nice to have something different for a change, even if not enterily sure Koei needed to do a soft-reboot of the series and basically cull so many old playable characters, while adding new ones. Kinda miffed about that, and while the focus on the Nobunaga-Mitsuhide friend-to-foe relationship will help in covering a bit of the events prior to where SW usually starts the narration… i feel we could have done it without sacrifying-excusing the culling of the roster and scope of the story itself.
Overall, i’m mostly satisfied with this sampling of the early stages of Samurai Warriors 5, i have some qualms and fears i doubt the full game will dispel, but i’m looking forward to play the full thing, hopefully without having to pay much in customs.