Warriors Orochi 4 Ultimate review for PS4, Xbox One, Switch and PC

Platform: PS4
Also On: Xbox One, Switch, PC
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Developer: Omega Force
Medium: Blu-ray/Digital
Players: Multi
Online: Yes

I think most people are familiar with what a Musou (or Dynasty Warriors) game is at this point. It?s the very definition of Hack ?N Slash, focused on mowing down waves of nameless enemy soldiers with flashy, simple combo attacks and even flashier specials. In that regard, Warriors Orochi 4 Ultimate doesn?t break the mold in any way. It?s still very much that type of game, for better or worse, and if you?ve played any of the titles from the Warriors series in the past decade or so then nothing about Warriors Orochi 4 Ultimate will come as much of a surprise to you. However, I found my overall experience with the game to be sort of middling, if not downright boring more often than not. As someone who genuinely enjoyed Warriors Orochi 3 I was expecting to dig this follow-up a bit more than I did, and overall felt fairly disappointed once I was done with it.

Warriors Orochi 4 Ultimate is the ?ultimate? version of the original release for Warriors Orochi 4 which came out in 2018 for consoles and PC. The Ultimate version of the game contains a handful of new things, including additional story and side-missions that go beyond the five-chapter structure of the original game. Ultimate also adds new playable characters, including guest characters like Ryu Hayabusa from Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive. There?s not a lot of new characters, 7 by my count, 1 of which is unlockable through a series of special missions that will see you revisiting previous stages with new objectives..

Ultimate also includes additional ?Sacred Treasures? (which I?ll touch on shortly) along with the ability to swap out the default Sacred Treasures for each character. Other important additions include an Infinity Mode which allows you to grind out materials for unique weapons, and the reincarnation system from Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate which lets you reset a character that has hit max level while obtaining additional bonuses and skill unlocks to make them more powerful on the second go around.

As far as ?Ultimate? editions of the Warriors games go, Warriors Orochi 4 Ultimate feels about par for the course with its additional bells and whistles. If you hadn?t played through the original release already but were still planning to, then there would really be no reason not to give the Ultimate version a shot. But if you?re someone that?s already exhausted the content in the base game, I?m not sure there?s enough here to be a big enough draw to revisit the whole thing again. The additional story missions are more of the same talking head conversations that made up the original five chapters, and the scenarios, maps, and combat are still largely unchanged. The additional characters are enticing (I do love me some Ninja Gaiden) but only 7 in addition to the 170 already present isn?t exactly a huge draw, especially when characters like Achilles and Joan of Arc are being pulled from Tecmo Koei?s lesser-known properties.

As far as the actual game goes, I have a few issues with Warriors Orochi 4. For one, the new magic system makes the game remarkably easy, even for a Musou game. Magic is effectively three special attacks that all characters can perform by holding down the R1/right bumper button in combination with one of the attack face buttons. The type of magic you unleash is dictated by the Sacred Treasure your character has equipped. While Ultimate ups the number of available Sacred Treasures slightly, you?ll find that it?s not quite enough variety to support the massive roster of available characters, meaning you?ll see the same types of attacks repeat over and over again. Also, the normal magic attack makes it remarkably easy to break defense and juggle enemy combatants throughout most fights. The only enemies that tend to not be affected are the larger wraiths, cyclops, and griffin enemies, but their attacks will still get interrupted. And the meter that dictates magic use refreshes at such a quick rate that you?ll rarely have trouble spamming normal magic attacks in conjunction with basic attacks. What this means is that pretty much every combo string with every character will play out the same way, at least if you want to be effective at completing missions. It basically makes the already surface-level combat even less deep, and more mundane by default.

The other big issue I have with Warriors Orochi 4 is how often the game wants to pause the action in between objectives getting completed. If you?ve played any of the Warriors titles before, you know that most of the stages involve multiple objectives that change over time. Generally, locations are highlighted on the map for you to hightail it to, killing an enemy officer, triggering a new event, and giving you a new location to move to. Warriors Orochi 4 does this too, but I found a remarkable number of missions would require you to wait idly by while the game catches up with your actions. This is often due to blocked passages or locked doors that need to be unblocked, but you have to sort of stand around while dialogue plays out before moving on. It really breaks up the action in a way that becomes very noticeable over time. Granted, all of these games have had this issue in the past, but for some reason Warriors Orochi 4 seems to lean into it a little more than I remember from previous titles.

On the plus side, the game runs great. I played through on the PS4 Pro and had no issues with framerate throughout, which is a plus. Enemies do tend to pop-in from a distance in a way that?s not always seamless, but it?s not an uncommon thing for these games. Also, what little support there is for online co-op works pretty well here too. And, while I?d be willing to argue the size of the roster is sort of unwieldy at this point, at least you won?t have to worry about your favorites being present.

I can?t really argue for Warriors Orochi 4 Ultimate as a must-play Musou title for fans. I think developer Omega Force has certainly done better work in the past, and I?d be willing to bet you?re better off holding out for One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 in the near future if you?re looking to get your fix. Still, there are certainly dozens upon dozens of hours of playable content here, so if you?re jonesing for a mindless button masher, Warriors Orochi 4 Ultimate can likely satisfy that itch.


Note: Koei Tecmo provided us with a Warriors Orochi 4 Ultimate PS4 code for review purposes.

Grade: C