Samurai Warriors has seen plenty of action since its first release in 2004. The hack-and-slash combat game has been a staple of every PlayStation console since the PS2, even including the handhelds (and, we’re sure in time, including the PS5). Hard to believe, then, that it’s been nearly seven years since the last numbered entry. But Omega Force and Koei Tecmo have finally produced a sequel, featuring some new battle mechanics, a cel-shaded art style that really stands out, while re-imaging most of the franchise’s characters. Most Warriors games suffer a bit from feeling the same every time, but can this one break the mold? Time to see if that’s the case in our Samurai Warriors 5 PS4 review.
Samurai Warriors 5 PS4 Review – A Great New Look
The most obvious change in Samurai Warriors 5 is the game’s art style. A cel-shaded-esque look has been applied, and it mimics Japanese artwork. Expect to see heavy brushstrokes, a wide-ranging color palette, and hyper-stylized Kanji characters in any given battle. Thankfully, this new stylish look doesn’t cause the frame rate to dip, which appears to hold steady at 60 FPS even with a screenful of enemies and effects going off. Honestly, it feels like the series should have always used this art style, but with hundreds or even thousands of characters on screen at once, perhaps it wasn’t really technically feasible until now. At any rate, this is a most welcome change. It almost looks like a whole new game, and no doubt fans of the series will want to buy it based solely on the merits of this refreshing paint job. Not such a bad reason, I’d say, because the rest of Samurai Warriors 5 falls in line with expectations.
The basic premise is so familiar, it hardly bears repeating, but Samurai Warriors 5 takes place during the warring states period of the Sengoku Era, when Japan saw multiple warlords fighting over territory, with no single daimyō claiming victory. That is, until Nobunaga Oda entered the fray, and began to show the country why this “Great Fool” would soon be known as the “Demon King.” In this instance, the story starts during the younger years of Nobunaga’s rise to power, which helps to flesh out the reasons behind some of the leader’s actions later on. While it follows history, there are plenty of interesting and outlandish characters in the campaign, including 16 who have not yet been in a Samurai Warriors game.
Samurai Warriors 5 PS4 Review – Familiar Fighting
Combat is also basically the same as in the last entry, and the one before that, and the one before that…Samurai Warriors 5 is a hack-and-slash 1-vs-1000 combat game where you play as a powerful commander, who takes down thousands of peons along with an occasional captain or enemy commanders. While you can get away with simply mashing the square and triangle buttons, which launch standard and new Hyper moves (moves which allow you to cross large distances while keeping your combo alive), new Ultimate moves can help move things along and really give the player an advantage against tougher enemies. By holding R1 and pressing a face button, one of four equipped moves can be performed. Each have their own cooldown timer, and otherwise have no requirements to use and reuse. These can include attacks with varying range and damage, or buffs such as temporarily increasing defense, speed, attack power, etc. They also help to break up the monotony that previous entries often suffered from in between Musou recharges.
The main campaign is accessed from a My Castle mode, and consists of multiple storylines. Nobunaga Oda is the main star, as usual, but Mitsuhide Akechi’s campaign can also be unlocked, as can alternate stories that help to elucidate on all of the happenings of such an eventful period in Japanese history. Every single cutscene is fully voiced, with English subtitles, and quite well done. They can also all be skipped for the impatient person or someone running through the mission again in an attempt at achieving an S rank. The entire game can also be played in splitscreen mode! While this isn’t new to the series, it is still a feature that is woefully absent from many games these days, and worthy of a shoutout here.
Samurai Warriors 5 PS4 Review – Get Ready To Grind
A separate Citadel mode plays like a skirmish, though instead of Ultimate moves players can summon friendly combat units which attack the opponent and can also level up. This mode is mostly used to collect materials to upgrade buildings for use back in the Musou campaign, because materials are usually fairly rare within the story mode. Dojos can only upgrade characters’ weapon mastery so far before needing more materials, after all, and grinding it out in the Citadel mode is the preferred way to do this. Both game modes can be played online if no one is available to join you in split screen, though they are manageable to play solo, and in levels where multiple commanders can be controlled by the player, the touchpad button is used to swap between characters at any time.
The Hyper and Ultimate attacks help to freshen things up a bit, but Samurai Warriors 5 remains a Musou hack-and-slash game. If you didn’t like the mindless slaughtering of drones before, you probably still won’t like it now. Even with an engaging, fully voiced campaign and plenty of objectives to complete, expect to mash the buttons a lot while not worrying too much about pesky things like health levels, at least on Normal mode or lower. This is the kind of game you play to unwind at the end of a long day, or on the phone with someone – it doesn’t require much thought to tackle, even with bonus missions since everything is clearly drawn out on a map.
Samurai Warriors 5 is like comfort food for gamers. It’s just like you remember, only this time a bit flashier, and with a few extra tweaks to play with. Since it covers Nobunaga’s younger years, it’s also a great entry in the franchise for new players to pick up. Veterans will no doubt rely on muscle memory to power through the Hard mode, but otherwise this is a fun Musou that anyone can play. Grab a friend and get to slicing!
Samurai Warriors 5 review code provided by the publisher. Version 1.01 reviewed on a PS5. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy.