Originally released in 2004, the Samurai Warriors series was loosely based on the Sengoku period in Japanese history. While being an entirely new franchise, it was essentially Dynasty Warriorsin a different era. This isn’t a bad thing for fans of the one versus a thousand format, though keeping things fresh and interesting must be difficult when the same template is used for who knows how many games at this point. Samurai Warriors 5 was announced a few months ago with claims that it will offer a new experience and revitalize the series.
Samurai Warriors 5 is a reboot of the franchise. While maintaining focus on the Sengoku period, the focus will be more limited than previous entries, putting a larger magnifying glass under a smaller series of events. This entry places its emphasis on the events leading up to the Honnō-ji Incident. Nobunaga Oda and Mitsuhide Akechi serve as the primary protagonists. In addition to cutting the emphasis into a smaller portion of this period, the amount of playable characters has been cut from the 55 in Samurai Warriors 4 to “only” 27. The theory is that this smaller scale will put a greater emphasis on the details of what has been included, and from the limited amount of Samurai Warriors 5 that was played, it’s likely this theory will be will realized in the final game.
Samurai Warriors 5 begins with the player limited to only being able to play as Nobunaga Oda. This is a young Nobunaga who is just beginning his rise to power and he hasn’t even grown his trademark facial hair yet. Different characters and co-op mode are not unlocked until after the player has completed the third battle. While this leads to a slow start and not having co-op immediately available is frustrating, there’s a lot more character and story development than we’ve seen in previous Samurai Warriors games. After clearing Chapter 1 the path starts to open up and branch out if certain conditions are met in battle.
Samurai Warriors 5 brings a few changes to the series. For one each character received a new design, though how different each one looks varies between the roster. The art style has been completely revamped, having the graphics taking on a style that’s meant to resemble traditional Japanese painting. This does give it a visual style that is distinct from previous Samurai Warriors games. A few new moves have been added to the combat repertoire such as the Hyper Attack that launches the character across the battlefield and Ultimate Skills that can do an area of effect attack, speed up the character, recharge Musou gauge or any number of other effects. But these changes and additions aside, Samurai Warriors 5 is still a Samurai Warriors game. Koei Tecmo and Omega Force have lived by the adage if it ain’t broke don’t fix it for decades, and anyone familiar with Dynasty Warriors, Samurai Warriors, Warriors Orochi or any of their other forays into One Piece, Dragon Quest, Zelda or any others I may be forgetting knows exactly what to expect in Samurai Warriors 5.
Samurai Warriors 5 gives a fresh coat of paint to a familiar formula. From what we’ve gathered from playing the first couple chapters, the new art style and approach to storytelling separate it from feeling like a Samurai Warriors 4-III but maintains enough familiarity that fans of Warriors games will be getting exactly what they want. The new adjustments to the gameplay don’t drastically change the experience, and even with the familiar story and gameplay our time with Samurai Warriors 5 was enjoyable. Samurai Warriors 5 is scheduled for release on July 27 for PC, PlayStation 4, Switch and Xbox One.