At times it seems like there is so much going on with the ‘Warriors’-style games that it’s now basically its own genre. When you’ve got companies like Nintendo making their own versions and even games based on huge properties like One Piece, it starts to look like the genre is going to end up going more and more places before it runs out of steam. While it is true that lots of these games have at least some input from Koei Tecmo, it is also certainly true that games have emulated the style and made it their own, such as the Xbox 360 title Ninety-Nine Nights and its sequel.
Warriors All-Stars is an official Warriors game produced by Koei Tecmo and developed by Omega Force, the team behind pretty much every Warriors game to date. It uses a similar premise to PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale in that several different characters, not just from Warriors games but from many different Koei Tecmo properties, are thrown into the same game universe together.
The story takes place in a magical kingdom inhabited by furries. Literally the new protagonists of the game are all anthropomorphic animals with different shades of brightly coloured fur. The kingdom they inhabit is magically protected and prospers based on several springs of magical energy, and they have recently started to decline. Using the last of the magical power they have (apparently), they pulled several heroes from a variety of different worlds into their world to help them re-establish the springs with their power.
Gameplay-wise, there will be nothing new if you have ever played a Warriors game before. You have to make your way across different battlefields using a variety of attack combos to destroy as many of the enemy soldiers as you possibly can while taking over their territories and destroying their commanders.
To aid with that you have a light attack, a heavy attack and a special attack, and you can also dodge and block incoming attacks. As you may have guessed, this game’s combat doesn’t stray too heavily from the formula used by most other games in the series and instead relies on the various characters to keep things interesting.
One thing that you may notice straight away is that dodging can take a little getting used to. Instead of a single button press, you have to hold the block button then press a direction and the jump button. This makes dodging feel sluggish at first, and you have to learn to compensate for the longer amount of time it takes to get out of the way of enemy attacks.
An interesting feature included is the ability to go into battle with up to 4 companions, all of whom have different support abilities (some offensive and some defensive), and all of them can be called upon to use these abilities during battle. Interestingly, you can also get different combinations of attacks depending on which characters you have with you at the time, sometimes making an already useful attack into something truly devastating. Apart from simple attack combos, these support characters will sometimes protect you from different status ailments or inflict said ailments onto your enemies.
Another interesting feature is a stat which is only active for each individual battle and gets reset when you’ve finished. The bravery stat goes up as you K.O. enemy soldiers and increases your attack and defence, meaning that if you have trouble taking on a certain enemy general or commander, you can simply go and beat up on their subordinates until you’re strong enough to take them on more easily. This stat also has in interesting interaction with the support characters’ abilities. If you get your bravery stat high enough, your companions’ abilities change into more powerful versions of the attacks they already had, which can come in really handy in some of the later battles of the game.
The way the story progresses is by completing various missions on the overworld map, although not all of them are main story missions. To unlock new story missions, you have to take on some of the other side missions which come in a variety of different ‘flavours’. You have missions to defend friendly settlements, missions to take over enemy settlements, missions to unlock new characters and so on, and so on. The frankly staggering variety of mission types is insane, giving you more content than has possibly ever been present in any other Warriors game.
As you complete these missions and level up, your characters get stronger; however, this doesn’t necessarily mean that things get any easier. Balancing in general is a little sketchy, almost certainly thanks to the bravery mechanic. While it can be easy to beat most of the levels in the game, there are certain missions with generals that are so strong that you’re forced to beat up as many enemies as possible to improve your bravery stat. This gets annoying in missions when you’re trying to finish quickly to get the highest rank possible, as the need to beat up enemies and the need to complete missions quickly are diametrically opposed.
You may also find that your so-called ‘friends’, or companions, can be the cause of a lot of stress when trying to finish side-missions. In particular, losing missions has a tendency to happen because someone you’re supposed to be supporting has died before you could reach them. In particular, there was a mission to unlock Horō in which you are expected to help several people as quickly as possible, and at least in our playthrough we failed the mission 4 or 5 times because we couldn’t be in 3 places at once. Fortunately, these balance issues are somewhat compensated for by missions having checkpoints so you don’t have to start from the beginning in the case of a failure.
The choice of characters on display is pretty huge, and there is a good chance that you will at least have heard of some of them, regardless of how many Warriors games you have played. One of the most interesting inclusions is William, the main character from Nioh and an Irish samurai. However, one of the oddest inclusions is Sophie, the main character from Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Book, a game in which she is primarily a non-combatant, or at least not one of the main heavy hitters. There are also a few characters included from properties that have never been localized to English speaking countries, so unless you’re an importer, the chances are that you’ll never have heard of them.
As with most games in the Warriors series, the combat gets repetitive after a while, but the massive amount of content and the ability to play as any of the characters you’ve unlocked for any mission does mitigate this a bit. There are very few situations where you’re not allowed to select a certain character for story reasons.
Graphically, the game is as varied as the choice of characters is, thanks to the brilliant idea of taking a lot of the enemies and environments from the various games in which the protagonists feature. While this can be a little visually jarring at times, especially with the enemies from Atelier Sophie, it does serve to make things more interesting, and if you’re a fan of any of the games included, you’ll likely recognise elements as you play through the game’s story. The music is also a bit of a mish-mash and ultimately is nothing to write home about, but it serves to fill the empty space that would have been there otherwise.
Developer: Omega Force
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Platforms: PS4, PSVita, PC
Release Date: 1st September 2017