Warriors games are a staple of the hack-and-slash genre with regular worldwide releases every year. The long criticism of Warriors games have been that they don’t see enough improvement with every release, but I was impressed by all the improvements to the gameplay, graphics, and campaign I saw in Samurai Warriors 4 when I reviewed it last year. So, how does Samurai Warriors 4-II improve on last year’s model?
For starters, Samurai Warriors 4-II comes with a whole slew of new characters to choose from! The poster boy of this particular Warriors title is Naomasa Li, a strong warrior that will do anything to further the goals of his lord Tokugawa. His attacks are pretty strong! I’m definitely a fan of his running attacks, as they are quite devastating. Upgrading your character is a bigger part of this game than any Warriors title before because of the new skill system.
The new skill acquisition hexagon grid system is well conceived. It’s like a more simple version of the sphere grid, that uses tomes acquired in missions to unlock new skills and stat boosts. Each character has their own hexagon grid of skills to unlock, making character building more interesting than in the previous Samurai Warriors 4. The other big part of your character build is how you choose to set up your weapon.
The weapon’s system has been overhauled, and it is a solid improvement. There’s now a crafting system of sorts where you mix weapons together to upgrade them, the more similar the weapon, the higher the bonus stats and damage you get. You also still have to find weapons like you did in the previous game, so you don’t lose out on the sensation of finding sweet loot during the battle.
Campaigns are structured a bit differently in this Warriors title. Instead of having campaigns focused on an entire clan, they are now based more around a single character’s story arc. This is an interesting approach that really improves the storytelling aspect of the game. Currently, there are 13 different campaigns to play through in the story mode. As you clear campaigns and missions you begin to unlock new ones.
In terms of difficulty, Samurai Warriors 4-II continues on with being the most challenging of the Warriors games. Like in the first Samurai Warriors 4, campaigns are incredibly fast paced, and require you to jump around all over the map to achieve your goals. It is very easy, particularly among the later missions in characters story arcs to fail because you couldn’t protect an important character or you were unable to complete an objective in time. This level of difficulty helps to offset the share power of your hack-and-slash might! While the core of the gameplay of Samurai Warriors 4-II remains untouched, and just as fun as it was in the previous title, there is one major flaw with this game when compared to its predecessor.
Unfortunately, it would seem that Chronicle Mode was cut from this release. Chronicle mode was a single player mode created for Samurai Warriors 4 that allowed you to take your own custom character on a journey through Japan and interact with all the legendary characters from the era. During my review of Samurai Warriors 4 I sank 20+ hours into Chronicle Mode alone just because I couldn’t put the controller down. There is a new mode in Samurai Warriors 4-II called Survival mode that sees a character of your choosing fighting for survival to reach the top of a massive tower. As you clear floors of the tower you are rewarded with sick loot that can vary from incredibly power weapons, gear, or even new mounts. The challenge to survival mode is that health is rarely given, so you must masterfully dispatch your foes by taking as little damage as possible. Survival Mode is still a fun mode, but I only played it for about 2 hours before moving on to something else. I like that the developer was interested in trying another new mode, but Chronicle Mode was so good that it should really become a staple of the Warriors franchise.
Graphically Samurai Warriors 4-II hasn’t improved all that much, but that isn’t all bad because I walked away pretty impressed by the graphics in Samurai Warriors 4. Textures remain pretty flat in the environments, but character design is crisp. Metals on the characters armor and weapons have a realistic shine that comes pretty close to photo realism. Skin textures are very smooth and look surprisingly real as well. Frame rate continues to be consistent too, which is fantastic given the amount of action that takes place on screen at any given moment.
Overall, Samurai Warriors 4-II is a solid addition to the Warriors catalog. The improvements to the skill and weapons system are a much appreciated change, but the sum of this game’s parts remain very much unchanged. The peculiar choice to leave out Chronicle Mode is disappointing to see as well, as that mode added a tremendous amount of replay value to this title’s predecessor. Despite the lack of Chronicle Mode, hack-and-slash fans will ultimately want to give it a shot (or a slash) as it’s a series that continues to be a whole lot of fun! Recommended!