It is a constant lament of mine that I don’t seem to really make the most of my Nintendo Switch. I’ve had it for over a year now, and I still have a relatively paltry collection of just five games for it. This has been down to a combination of little on the console really grabbing me to give it a try and also the fact that, when I often do have a go on it, it’s normally just to spend a few minutes on the NES and SNES emulators that come with the Nintendo membership. Deciding that there had to be more to the Switch than this, I perused a list of games for the console to see if anything would leap out at me as a potential purchase, and I ended up settling on Warriors Orochi 4 Ultimate.
I’ve always quite enjoyed the Dynasty Warriors series of games and have played pretty much every one (not counting all the spin-offs and whatnot) since Dynasty Warriors 2 back in the sixth gen. I’d never played a Warriors Orochi game before, but getting the chance to have huge battles whilst on lunch breaks kind of appealed to me, so I decided to give Warriors Orochi 4 Ultimate a chance when I saw it for a reasonable price online. Going in blind to what was happening in the games, I kind of struggled to follow the story, but it was nice to see a lot of familiar faces from the Dynasty Warriors games, and I was soon having fun slicing and dicing through enemy armies with vicious glee.
In that regard, Warriors Orochi 4 Ultimate delivered the fighting fix I was after, with the combat being what you would normally expect if you’ve ever played a Dynasty Warriors game before. You select three warriors and then switch between which one you wish to control with a press of the shoulder buttons. With whichever warrior you have on the battlefield, you then have to batter opposing foot soldiers and general, in a manner not unlike the classic side scrolling beat-em-ups of yore. Your warrior will have a basic attack that can be activated via the Y button, with you being able to combo these attacks, along with a special heavier attack they can deliver when you press the X button.
As you get to grips with the characters, you can start adding X to some of your Y combos, which will lead to you pulling off some even more damaging attacks, such as Guan Yingping smacking all in front of her with a ruddy big boulder (the gimmick being that she’s super strong and doesn’t realise it). Eventually, you will be able to fill up your special bar and deliver a destructive Musou attack with a press of the A button, which will often see you blow all of the opposing soldiers into the atmosphere. Indeed, sometimes if you time presses of the Y button correctly with presses of the shoulder button, you can keep switching between warriors and turn the opposing armies into a human tornado of punishment.
As the previous paragraph has no doubt rammed home to you, Warriors Orochi 4 Ultimate is not really built around realism but rather arcade and almost cartoonish-like excitement and zaniness. As a result, it’s probably not a game that will appeal to everyone, but if getting to take apart an entire army all by yourself armed just with a pair of tonfas sounds like something you’d enjoy, then this game might just be your boogieman. The gameplay loop itself can become pretty repetitive if you sit down and play it for long sittings, but I also can’t deny that I found Warriors Orochi 4 Ultimate to be a supremely addictive experience that I often didn’t want to put down.
From a story perspective, I often didn’t really understand much of what was going on due to not playing any of the previous games in the series. Indeed, Warriors Orochi 4 Ultimate kind of just assumes that you know the backstory already and doesn’t really take much time to explain what is going on. As someone who has never played the Samurai Warriors games before, I often didn’t really have any clue who any of the people from those games were. However, I must also confess that when it came down to it, that honestly didn’t really bother me that much. I partly play the Dynasty Warriors games because I’m interested in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms narrative that the games have, yes, but honestly I mostly tend to play them for the gameplay and the wacky enjoyment they provide. It would have been nice to have a bit more backstory on the characters I didn’t know, but I spent most of my time just enjoying smashing the place up and smiling when a Dynasty Warriors character I liked showed up.
The story is actually reasonably interesting if, like me, you enjoyed learning about Greek mythology in your younger days as the narrative centres around Greek god Zeus bringing all these warriors together just so he can have fun at humanity’s expense. Anyone who has even a mild knowledge of the source material will know that bringing together warriors from different worlds to tear themselves and the world apart just so you can put your feet up and enjoy it all as a spectacle is 100% in the wheelhouse of things the gods of Mount Olympus would do to amuse themselves. As far as reasons to bring all these people together, it works well enough and at times gives this the feel of a comic book crossover where characters from different universes get to meet up.
Indeed, one facet of the game I really liked is that certain warriors will bond with one another as they are added to your party, which gives you the opportunity to team them up in battles to grow that bond. Once the bond bar has been filled, they will not only work better together, but you will also get to see bond events between them where they will have interactions with one another. This often led me to replaying battles I had already completed, firstly to try and complete them more efficiently so as to accrue a better rating, and secondly to grow the bonds between my warriors. You can also send three warriors away to train together to grow their bonds, increase their skills and also earn new weapons. This can be handy as levelling up becomes very important as the game progresses and the battles become more difficult.
I think it’s a testament to Warriors Orochi 4 Ultimate that I’ve sunk an inordinate amount of time into it in the past week, and I’m still not only just coming up to the halfway point of the story because I’ve been continuously going back to replay previous levels. Each level has its own set of individual targets that will reward you with gems, skill points and growth points, so I’ve found myself going back to levels again and again to try and S rank them all and collect every bonus I can. The gems will allow you to purchase things for your camp, whilst the growth points will allow you to raise a warrior’s overall level without having to put them into training or battles, which is handy when you need to bump a warrior up from a level 22 to a level 26 so that they will be capable of tackling the next level.
Graphically, I’d have to say that Warriors Orochi 4 Ultimate looks pretty good both in handheld and docked form. I personally found it a bit easier to play it docked with my Pro Controller as constant button mashing doesn’t work so well on the Joy-Cons, but I could still get reasonably comfortable playing it on the sofa or in bed, provided I didn’t play it for too long. There is the occasional issue with the frame rate due to having that many people on-screen at once, but for the most part, the game runs well, and it looks good. I don’t think you’d get a huge jump in visual quality if you played it on one of the other eighth gen consoles, which isn’t always the case with multi-platform games on the Switch, so I’d have to consider it successful as far as being a faithful port goes.
At the end of the day, your enjoyment of Warriors Orochi 4 Ultimate will come down to whether you get a kick out of games like Dynasty Warriors or not. If you enjoy those sorts of games, then you should be able to pick this one up pretty quickly and have some fun with it as it’s a competent port that delivers from a technical standpoint. However, if these sorts of games aren’t your thing, then it’ll be all but impossible for Warriors Orochi 4 Ultimate to change your mind as it really doesn’t do that much different aside from throwing in some magic aspects to the gameplay. If, like me, you’re looking to beef up your Switch collection and have enjoyed yourself the odd fracas on a Dynasty Warriors title before, then this will probably tickle your fancy, and I could recommend it if you saw it knocking around for a reasonable price. You’re best off giving it a wide berth otherwise though.
The Urban Dictionary defines “The Fitzgerald Scale” as “A scale used to measure the awkwardness of a situation. The Fitzgerald Scale is divided into ten subunits, called ‘Geralds’. Each Gerald is in turn divided into ten Subgeralds, which gives 100 possible levels of awkwardness. One Gerald is a commonly awkward level, where a ten Gerald situation would be a scarring event.”
Man, the atmosphere of that party was off the Fitzgerald Scale when we decided to leave