It's been seven years since the last mainline Samurai Warriors game, and Samurai Warriors 5 is attempting to revitalise Koei Tecmo's hack and slash series with a number of innovations. To find out more about the upcoming action title — which launches for PlayStation 4 on the 27th July — we asked Koei Tecmo president and producer Hisashi Koinuma to tell us all about Samurai Warriors 5.
Push Square: For anyone who might not be familiar with the Samurai Warriors series, can you briefly tell us what Samurai Warriors 5 is all about?
Hisashi Koinuma: Samurai Warriors 5 takes the story from the first entry in the series and rewrites it with a new setting. The story and characters have been reimagined, and the story is set during the Sengoku period and features 1 vs. 1000 action that players can enjoy.
I hope fans of the series can enjoy this fresh take on the first Samurai Warriors. For new players, this is a very easy title in the series to pick up and play so I hope you look forward to it and try it out.
A lot of characters in Samurai Warriors 5 have a younger look to them. Nobunaga in particular isn't the same intimidating warlord that we know from past games. Why did you decide to go in this direction, focusing on characters in their youth?
This title takes place before the original Samurai Warriors, and we are aiming to focus on Nobunaga Oda and Mitsuhide Akechi, while going into more depth into their stories this time around.
Nobunaga acts as the main character of the story, and we are making sure he is a fully fleshed out character that the player can easily have a lot of empathy for.
Will we get to see the likes of Nobunaga Oda become the character that we know from previous games? Or does Samurai Warriors 5 focus on just one point in history?
Yes, it is more like a reboot as he isn't exactly the same as before, but after he experiences many different occurrences in the story, he grows to be something close to the Nobunaga Oda that was called ‘The Demon King’.
Is Samurai Warriors 5 something of a prequel to the other games? Or is it more of a 'reboot' for the series?
Samurai Warriors 5 takes place before the first entry in the series and the story goes into depth into the stories of Nobunaga Oda and Mitsuhide Akechi.
The story, character visuals, and action system from the first Samurai Warriors have all been reimagined this time around and we have created a new setting for the title for players to enjoy.
Samurai Warriors 5 has a bold new art style. What was the thinking behind this change in art direction?
The main focus of this entry in the series is that we are rewriting the story of the original Samurai Warriors and changing many aspects of the title as well.
These aspects include the story, characters, action system... And the art style and visuals as well. The team was very much inspired by Japanese pop art, which has become very popular around the world
Some returning characters (like Nobunaga and Ieyasu) seem to have completely different weapons and attacks. Has every character been rebuilt like this, or do some characters return with their old weapons and fighting styles?
In Samurai Warriors 5, we have implemented a system that allows players to switch out their character's weapons.
However, each character has a weapon they are proficient with, so there are some specific actions that will cause the character to transition into one of their unique attacks. We set the weapons they are proficient with based on the image of the character and also based on what they used historically.
Can you tell us anything about overall gameplay changes in Samurai Warriors 5? Can you still swap between characters during battle, like in Samurai Warriors 4, for example? And what was the thinking behind the new 'Ultimate Skill' system?
The game has changed greatly due to the system we have added which allows players to change the weapons that each character utilizes, as well as a lot of movements that have been reimagined as well.
The ability to switch out characters is still included, and there are battles where you can choose another character from the story, and others where additional characters will be added mid-battle that you can choose from as well.
Ultimate Skills along with the addition of the ability to swap out your character's weapons will allow the player to have more freedom to customize how they play the game, and they can also enjoy choosing what skills they want to utilize based on the enemies that will appear in each mission.
Will the story mode in Samurai Warriors 5 be split across different 'chapters' based on clans and characters, like it was in previous games?
The story mode will be broken up into two stories, one focusing on Nobunaga Oda and one focusing on Mitsuhide Akechi.
The two stories will intersect with one another, and the details that are not brought up in Nobunaga's story will be made clear in Mitsuhide's... As well as other developments in the story as well.
Can you tell us if there's a character creation mode in Samurai Warriors 5?
We don't have any plans to include one in Samurai Warriors 5. I would like players to experience the redesigned story, characters, action and visuals as Nobunaga and Mitsuhide first before we implement that feature.
It's been around seven years since the release of Samurai Warriors 4. Since then, we've had Samurai Warriors 4-II, Samurai Warriors 4: Empires, and Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada. Have those games inspired any of your decisions when developing Samurai Warriors 5?
Each of those particular games are off shoot titles of other entries in the series, so they didn't have any particular influence on the development of Samurai Warriors 5.
However, we are taking into account how each of those games were balanced and the aspects that were well received.
The Samurai Warriors series now has a rich history, stretching all the way back to the PS2. Is there a certain kind of pressure that comes with developing a brand new instalment in such a long running series?
While we do feel some pressure as we try to ensure that fans of the series will enjoy the content of this particular title, we are always looking forward and are trying to determine what we can do in order to increase the fan base for the Samurai Warriors series when developing each new game.
Can you tell us about your favourite character(s) in Samurai Warriors 5?
I of course really like Nobunaga, but looking at the series as a whole Nō is one of my favourites. I also think the designs we put together for Katsuie Shibata and Toshiie Maeda are really cool as well.
Lastly, do you have anything you'd like to say to fans of the Samurai Warriors series, as well as anyone who might not have played the games before?
This is the first numbered title in the series in seven years, and our team is working hard to create a new setting that reimagines the story from the first Samurai Warriors. We have rewritten the story and reimagined the character designs this time around, and are focusing on the Sengoku period along with 1 vs. 1000 action the series has come to be known for, which I think players will really enjoy.
For players that have been following the series up until this point, they will be able to experience a fresh new take on the Samurai Warriors series. Players new to the series will also be able to easily pick up and play this title, so I hope they will look forward to trying out the game for themselves.
Are you a fan of Samurai Warriors? Will you be blazing onto the battlefield in Samurai Warriors 5? Become the Demon King in the comments section below.
Huge thanks to Koinuma-san for taking the time to answer our questions. Special thanks to Nathan Mills and the team at Koei Tecmo for making this interview possible.