The developers call Samurai Warriors 5 a restart of the series – the events of the fifth part unfold before what the first one told about. It is logical to assume that for a new audience this is the perfect moment to get acquainted with the series, which has existed since 2004 and has won many fans. That is why I decided to finally join Samurai Warriors – especially since I am familiar with the musou genre only thanks to Hyrule Warriors and Persona 5 Strikers .
Learning history from absurd action
Samurai Warriors 5 is about the Sengoku period, which began after a decade of Japanese civil war in the late 15th century. The central character is Oda Nobunaga, an ambitious leader who, until the last day, sought to unite the divided country. On his side is the faithful assistant and old friend of Maeda Toshiie, and after the first mission Tokugawa Ieyasu joins them, who spent his entire childhood in captivity with various rulers.
Although from a gameplay point of view, the series, of course, is not even close to realistic, the developers have paid a lot of attention to historical accuracy since the first part. I would not recommend blindly believing what is shown in numerous videos on the engine – not everything can be confirmed on the English-speaking Internet. Although, for sure, the fact is that a lot of information about the history of Japan is simply not translated, and the Koei Tecmo team has a lot of its own sources.
It’s funny that the game shows the names of the characters several times so that you certainly don’t get confused and remember them. This is sometimes lacking in the Yakuza games.
But everything that is successfully “googled” is described in the game quite accurately. For example, the battle at the Nagara River – in it really clashed the ruler of the Mino province and his son, who was shocked by his father’s decision to transfer power to his son-in-law Nobunaga. The latter learned about the battle late, nevertheless decided to go with his army to help, but did not have time. This is how it happens in the game – we run to save our father-in-law, but in the middle of the mission, his son kills him.
Or take the battle of Okehazama – Nobunaga decided to lead his three thousandth army into battle with the enemy, whose army was about eight times larger. Many dissuaded him, but he was confident in his abilities. A wonderful coincidence: it was raining heavily (because of it, the advancing army of Nobunaga was not visible), a thunderstorm was thundering (the infantry could not be heard), and the enemy soldiers were celebrating successes in their camp and were not equipped – ideal conditions for an attack. Although the cutscenes don’t go into details like thunder, this is one of the few missions in which it rains.
The beginning of each mission is designed as a historical reference with a demonstration of the characters.
Since the events are at least similar to real ones, it becomes especially interesting to follow the history – the betrayals, the appearance of unexpected allies and enemies, the decisions of the heroes. After several missions for Nobunaga, the storyline of the samurai Akechi Mitsuhide opens, who more than once intersects with Nobunaga in his story. We either look from the other side at already known events, or find ourselves in new situations. There are also several episodes with the participation of other heroes, although in fact it is possible to take the rest of the characters in many story missions – it is not necessary to run after the same ones.
One against the crowd
Well, the gameplay is exactly the same action as the rest of the games of the “musou” genre – the hero we have chosen is capable of laying down hundreds and thousands of opponents in a matter of minutes. The main damage is done with regular (“Square” on the gamepad) and strong (“Triangle”) attacks – with only two buttons. The point is that a strong attack depends on how many ordinary ones we made before it and what kind of weapon we have in our hands. With one combination, the archer will cause a rain of arrows, and with the other, he will release a powerful arrow that will knock a crowd of enemies several meters away.
The same buttons, but completely different tricks.
In the process of beating the unfortunate soldiers, we fill the “musou” scale and, as soon as it starts to shine, by pressing the “Circle” we activate the musou attack – a very powerful technique that becomes even more powerful if our character’s health is almost zero. Along the way, the scale of the spirit is filled – this process takes much longer, but with the help of the spirit, you can fall into a rage for a while and become noticeably faster, stronger and stronger.
Musou attacks are accompanied by animation with a character demonstration.
Another detail of the “combat” is special skills (in the original – ultimate skills), which are activated using the R1 buttons on the right side of the gamepad. The effects vary greatly: one skill fills part of the “musou” scale, others temporarily increase stats, and there are those that activate combat abilities like a series of attacks or cool moves. They recover pretty quickly, so you use them all the time – they are useful against bosses, and you can clear a crowd of enemies.
Because of how easy it is to make beautiful and effective attacks here, Samurai Warriors 5 (like almost any musou) is capable of captivating. I have not yet mentioned parrying, joint musou attacks and other nuances – for example, some skills are especially good against certain types of enemies, so before starting a mission, you can adjust your arsenal and better prepare. As you progress through the game, the enemy soldiers are more and more diverse: spearmen, shield-bearers, archers, gunners, ninjas, war monks – you can’t count all of them.
With such abilities, no enemies are scary.
At the same time, it is a pity that after so many years the developers could not make the game more diverse in terms of tasks and preferred to follow the beaten track. Whatever mission you perform, you have to do the same thing in it: kill officers and commanders one by one, making your way through the crowd of “minions”. Within one episode, you may be asked to defeat about a dozen large opponents – first two, then one on the other end of the map, then three more, and so on. Occasionally, the authors try to add variety, but even when you escort someone to a specified point, you still have to eliminate a couple of commanders along the way.
Here other elements of the game come to the rescue. For example, bonus tasks: even if you also need to eliminate important bumps to complete them, the developers make them more interesting – they limit the time or hide these tasks altogether, offering to run across the map on a horse and stumble upon these assignments yourself. Or let’s take the scores for the passage – at the end of the mission, the game counts how quickly you completed the episode, how many officers and ordinary soldiers you killed, and also what was your maximum combo. If you received an S grade for any point, you will be awarded a prize, but if it is lower, then nothing will be given. And you are already worried not so much about the monotony as the desire to do everything as best as possible and even replay the mission if necessary.
Is the max combo only 443? What a shame.
And the prizes for the highest scores are very useful. In the fortress menu, where we find ourselves in the intervals between plot points, there are many items – a store, and a large tree of abilities for each playable character (and there are 37 of them), and a forge for selling and improving weapons. For assessments, we receive gold, new mounts and other useful things, like spare experience points – you can pour them into any character in order to raise his level in a second and make the enemy armies a thunderstorm. So there is definitely an incentive to clear everything to the maximum in Samurai Warriors 5 – there are enough activities outside the missions.
You can also spend time in the Citadel mode. The essence is approximately the same as in the plot, but here you defend one or several points from the advancing armies. The peculiarity is that the player can call on the battlefield the soldiers selected in advance – all the same spearmen, shield bearers and others will appear right next to him, as well as earn levels for participating in battles. It is also full of rewards, including materials that allow you to improve the buildings in the fortress and unlock new opportunities. In addition, if the same heroes together defend the citadel for several missions, a bonus scene with their participation will be unlocked – these videos are not always interesting, but still.
You won’t scare anyone with such a number of enemies in Musou.
Although, first of all, I want to play for different characters not for the sake of scenes, but in order to test all types of weapons – everyone has their own techniques, and it’s even difficult to decide which one you like best. With a naginata, you can literally move through the air, swinging it non-stop, with a katana, you can make charged strikes, and so on. True, regardless of the weapon, you need to put up with the fact that the camera begins to behave inappropriately near the walls – if the enemies are squeezed into a corner, it will not be possible to understand what is happening right away.
Perhaps longtime fans of the series will find more flaws in Samurai Warriors 5 – for example, I’ve seen complaints about the small number of characters and the lack of the ability to create your own hero. But for a newbie like me, it’s fun, little thinking and perfect for listening to podcasts as you chase high grades on missions. A bright, beautiful action game in which you feel like a powerful warrior capable of throwing dozens of helpless soldiers to the opposite wall with one stroke – what else is needed for happiness?
Pros: a good story, largely based on historical facts; the combat system offers enough options to keep you from getting bored; gameplay allows you to feel like an omnipotent samurai; high score rewards encourage you to perform better in missions; nice visual style in the spirit of Japanese painting.
Cons: there is no escape from the monotony in missions; the camera behaves inappropriately next to the walls.