A crazy crossover title that features characters from a bunch of different Koei Tecmo properties, Warriors All-Stars certainly feels like an attempt at celebrating the publisher's many years of success. Unfortunately, as a traditional hack and slash Warriors title, the game just isn't that great.
The PlayStation 4 has been blessed with several superb Warriors instalments since it launched. Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Complete Edition, Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate, Samurai Warriors 4, and One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 are all easy to recommend to those looking for over-the-top action, but Warriors All-Stars struggles to even come close to Koei Tecmo's best.
Let's start with the good, though. Despite its relatively small playable character roster, Warriors All-Stars does a fine job of offering varied playstyles and interesting movesets. From simplistic melee fighters such as Zhao Yun of Dynasty Warriors and Yukimura Sanada of Samurai Warriors to more complex additions like the rifle wielding Tokitsugu of Toukiden fame, unlocking new characters and levelling them up is enjoyable.
It's also refreshing to see developer Omega Force try something a little different with the game's structure. Rather than opt for a linear story mode, what we have here is a series of scenarios that have some role-playing elements to them. After selecting your starting character, you're plopped into one of several storylines, and after a brief opening mission, you're free to select your next battle from a map.
Most of these battles are entirely optional, but they provide experience so that you can level up, materials that you can use to enhance your abilities, and opportunities to unlock new playable characters. When you think that you're tough enough, you simply head over to the next story mission and push forward with the plot.
You could probably blast through an entire storyline in a couple of hours if you ignored all of the optional stuff, but it's nice to see some player choice being thrown into the mix. What's more, a hub area allows for some downtime between fights -- a space where you can chat to your allies and learn more about the game's weird fantasy world.
And it really is weird. In predictable fashion, all of these playable characters are brought to this strange realm through a magical spell gone wrong. The land's being torn apart by civil war as members of a royal family vie for power, and so warriors from across time and space and transported to the colourful kingdom to assist -- except they're all scattered to different parts of the globe. Oh, and we should probably mention that this world is solely inhabited by anthropomorphic dog people.
As you'd expect, the actual story doesn't carry much weight, and the members of the royal family -- the title's only original characters -- adhere to tired anime archetypes. You've got Tamaki, the shy and distressed princess, Setsuna, the energetic and enthusiastic hero, and Shiki, the stern and brooding older brother. There are some interesting character interactions here and there, but by and large, this isn't a release that you'll be playing purely to see what happens next.
Indeed, as with just about any Warriors game, the main focus is the action itself, but even that feels a bit below par. Alongside your standard light, heavy, and special attacks, you've got a handful of team-based mechanics. With your main character at the forefront, you're able to build a team of up to four other warriors who'll fight at their side. For the most part, these allies will be controlled by the computer, but you can temporarily switch to them in the heat of battle or summon them in for a special technique.
The emphasis on working as a unit gels with the crossover theme of the game, and fans will get a kick out of seeing the likes of Ryu Hayabusa of Ninja Gaiden team up with William of Nioh for a devastating finisher. There's definitely fun to be had with Warriors All-Stars when you're in the thick of it and blowing away hundreds of foes at once, but a number of issues sadly drag the experience down.
For starters, the objectives that you're given during combat are all too often an annoyance. Those optional battles that we mentioned earlier can play host to some particularly frustrating missions, one of which sees you dashing from one corner of the map to the next in order to protect certain brain-dead allies against waves of enemies. Another tasks you with guarding specific bases that are on opposite sides of the battlefield. There's way too much tedious running from one area to another when you should just be happily mashing the opposing army.
Speaking of opponents, Warriors All-Stars introduces a questionable system known as bravery. Every named character and enemy captain on the battlefield is assigned a bravery level, which basically tells you how strong they are. For example, the opposing commander will likely have a bravery level of 9, which means that if you were to try and fight them right off the bat with your own bravery sitting at level 1, you'd get kicked to bits. As such, you're almost forced to navigate each map in a specific way in order to level up your bravery by beating weaker opposition first. It's a system that can make some battles feel like a real slog, especially if you're unlucky enough to have foes with a high bravery level take notice and relentlessly chase you across the map.
And then we come to the biggest problem of all: the framerate. Even running on the PS4 Pro, Warriors All-Stars can't keep things stable. The framerate fluctuates constantly, hitting its target 60 frames-per-second and then dropping to what feels like half that every few seconds or so. It never quite seems to hit anything too low, so it's an issue that doesn't directly damage your ability to play the game, but things can get so choppy that at one point, we almost felt sick turning the camera. It's bizarre, and honestly, pretty unforgivable given how unremarkable the game's visuals are to begin with.
Warriors All-Stars is a colourful hack and slash title that can be fun in short bursts thanks to its varied cast of playable characters, but it just has too many problems to be considered a good Warriors game. Frustrating, tedious mission design, a throwaway story, and a wildly unstable framerate make it very difficult to recommend when there are so many better Koei Tecmo titles on the market.
If anyone has any questions I'll be happy to answer them.
@ShogunRok Its a pity i was looking out for this 1 they should have given the game a locked framerate. Rather have a lot steady framerate then all over the place.
@Flaming_Kaiser The hope is that it gets patched, but the game's been out for ages in Japan so maybe that's unlikely.
@ShogunRok Zhao Yun (or other DW characters) gameplay was revamped, cause they are very slow in comparison with SW? Or the lightning fast attacks from SW4 (triangle button) are present?
And if yes, only on characters from SW4?
And this is not a question, but after Pirate Warriors, SW4, Berserk, the upcoming Fire Emblem Warriors, and DW9 I'm a bit tired from Warriors/musou, so from now on, I'll only buy the best of.
@Frank90 Yukimura and Mitsunari kind of have their triangle combos from Samurai Warriors 4, but as far as I can tell, they're not quite as fast. I guess this was done to balance them with the rest of the cast, but having said that, the movesets vary quite heavily across all playable characters.
Still digging through Tokuiden and just bought Orochi 3 so it's off my plate for now, but I'm a shameless Toei lover so no doubt will pick this up on cheap.
Is Opoona fun to play?
@Cassetticons Opoona is mental, but yeah, definitely quite fun. Best thing about this game is how crazy the playable cast can get. Unfortunately, Opoona doesn't even appear properly in the story. More of a weird character they just decided to throw in there.
@ShogunRok I guess we play all the odd games in my household b/c the only games like this we play - and we've played a few - are the ones w/ couch co-op. Having a game like this w/o couch or online seems a bit strange, so a skip for us.
Did you not mention the lack of multiplayer b/c normally these don't have multiplayer? We honestly have played several, on various systems, and even on the Wii there was couch co-op.
I'm gonna wait for Fire Emblem Warriors methinks.
@rjejr If it's not in, I usually just don't mention it. Plus, we have that little information box to the right that says how many players a game supports.
A lack of co-op is becoming something of a trend here, though.
@ShogunRok "box to the right that says how many players a game supports."
You mean that box on the right I've been asking Ant for 3 years to put the price in as so many games these days are downloads in the $4.99-$49.99 range? The box that does NOT show up on my 7" tablet that I spend most of my time on this site or on my smartphone that I'll use occasionally. That box? Yeah, it's easy to see how many players there are when you can't see the box.
Considering how many people use mobile devices these days, both smartphones and tablets, perhaps you shouldn't' rely on info in a box that nobody can see but you. Especially for a series that historically has had co-op.
You know, for a guy who's first comment was - "If anyone has any questions I'll be happy to answer them." - your reply to my question was anything but happy. You should have written - "If anybody has any questions I'll be happy to give a jerk of a reply." If you don't want to answer questions, don't ask for questions.
@rjejr Alright calm down, feedback noted!
@rjejr What? You asked a question and I answered it...? Sorry that I didn't make it sound "happy" enough, I guess!
Anyway, if a game's got multiplayer I'm probably going to mention it in the review, simple as that.
@ShogunRok Aww, I was wodnering if there were side characters that didn't factor into the story like Hyrule Warriors, always a bit of wasted potential.
Nice to hear Opoona is at least some fun to play though, he's one of the characters I wanted to use the most.
@ShogunRok @get2sammyb "Plus, we have that little information box to the right that says how many players a game supports."
Sorry, I forget you Brits tend to be polite, but where I come from, NY in the US, that sentence can not be read without it dripping with contempt and sarcasm. It basically ends with the little voice in my head continuing "you stupid ahole". The fact is that I'm on a 7" tablet in mobile mode, which I really like, both here and NL flow very nicely, but there is no box to the right. And I don't know why but the info box at the top of the page has pretty much everything but number of players. And we'll I'm obviously disappointed this game doesn't have multiplayer.
So I'm sorry if I over reacted to what I perceived to be an unnessacerilly snide remark. It still reads that way to me, but if Shogun was sincerely trying to be helpful and not intending to be a jerk, well then I apoligize.
@rjejr Yeah, we need to add that game information to the mobile view, too. Like you say, more people are viewing on phones/tablets these days anyway.
@rjejr It's almost too easy to misread the tone of internet comments, that's for sure. But yeah, I wasn't trying to be snide at all!
@ShogunRok This one definitely seemed questionable with the odd character choices and "different" gameplay. With that said, are the newer characters enjoyable enough to outweigh the technical problems and shallow nature in your opinion?
@Nation Hmmmm. I think that really depends on how eager you are for a new Warriors game.
There's definitely fun to be had here and I did enjoy a lot of the characters (William from Nioh is great in it, as is that... guy with the sword that I can't remember. Hajime something), but the framerate and the mission design can really drag it down - or at least they did for me.
It's a tough question. I think if you're in the mood for some Warriors action and you can keep your expectations in check, you'll get something out of the game, mostly because the playable characters are pretty cool across the board.
For me personally, I think the characters are just enough to warrant a look if you're a big Warriors fan, but again, don't expect anything amazing.
@ShogunRok I appreciate the response!
I'll wait for a sale on this one, but I probably would have picked it up day one if Koei had localized the Vita port. #justsayin
looks like a "waiting for a good sale" game to me. which unfortunately could take a while considering it's a KT game.
I'll get this for cheap one day. I'm about to get my Yakuza on.
@ShogunRok With all the musuo games you have played have you grown stale of the gameplay?
Are you worried about DW9 having a terrible framerate?
Great review. Dont know how your all coping writing all these reviews tbh.
@ShogunRok "But yeah, I wasn't trying to be snide at all!"
Well that's a first. jk I think I'm coming down w/ something. I'd blame it on PMS but biology. I'm going to bed.
@themcnoisy We've been blessed with a very passionate team of writers. Me and Sammy certainly couldn't even come close to covering all of these games alone.
As for musou games getting stale, I think there might be a slight hint of that for me - I won't try to deny it. But at the same time, I just don't think we've had a truly great Warriors title since Samurai Warriors 4 or One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3. My hope is that Dynasty Warriors 9 will be another Koei Tecmo gem... and that its framerate isn't awful. If it is, I'll likely be sorely disappointed.
@get2sammyb "Like you say"
Yeah, I just need to learn to say things w/o coming off as a jerk.
@ShogunRok Recent started playing Dragon Quest Heroes II and enjoying it. Want would be a good Warriors game to start with on PS4?
@Tasuki Dragon Quest Heroes II isn't a bad place to start in itself since it's a lot more of an RPG, but if you like the hack and slash action specifically, there are definitely some similar Omega Force games that you'll enjoy.
Samurai Warriors 4 is a fine place to start as far as Warriors games go. Long and interesting story mode, lots of side stuff to do, and a great combat system.
If you want to start with a licensed Warriors game, One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 is, for my money, the best anime-based Warriors game on PS4. Really polished, the combat is great, and the character roster is probably the most fun to play in any Warriors title.
If you want to get into Dynasty Warriors specifically, then you can't go wrong with Dynasty Warriors 8: Extreme Legends Complete Edition. Or you could just wait for Dynasty Warriors 9.
Hope that helps!
@ShogunRok Yes that does help. I have heard of the series seen it on PS2 I think it was but never really played them. I will admit I got DQH II mainly cause I like DQ but the gameplay got me and my son and wanted to try an actual Warrior game. Will probaby pass on One Piece as we aren't fans of the series but will look into the others you mentioned. Might even dust off the Wii and check out Hyrule Warriors.
Glad I cancelled my pre-order. Sounds one out just for cash. Rushed. Finally got round to playing berserk but that wasn't that good either . Looking forward to dw9 thou
Eh, I'm actually having a blast with it. Just beaten Sophie's story and I'm still playing the side quests and stuff. The game is evenly-paced for me and having all these playable characters (30 of them? Whoa, man. I don't think I'll get through them all! lol) gives me every incentive to replay the game further and further. It doesn't peak to the likes of Hyrule Warriors on the Wii U for me, but I know that I definitely enjoyed this much more than Dragon Quest Heroes 1 (It was a good game, but the combat felt sluggish for me and the RPG elements felt way too phoned in, not to mention damage sponge enemies, which I hate so much).
I definitely agree with the problems, such as the annoying backtracking in side missions, making missions more of a trial-and-error and weak ally AI, but neither of that were enough to ruin the game for me. I never had a problem with the story or the framerate (Hyrule Warriors on Wii U was at a much lower framerate for me and that still became my favorite Warriors title).
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