Why are games that bring together characters from numerous other titles so much fun? – Warriors All-Stars Review
Dynasty Warriors has been one of my favorite franchises since the original I played on a PlayStation demo disc at Fry’s. Something about taking on massive hordes of enemies is just a lot of fun. The games of progressed dramatically with each iteration, and I love the franchise spin-offs like the Gundam series, Zelda series, and my personal favorite, One-Piece Warriors 3. It feels like honorable and possible interpretations of the franchise that not only respects the source material but also makes for ridiculously fun games. This time around Dynasty Warriors franchises themselves and, like always, they made a game that is fun, adapts the IP well, and pushes the series forward.
Warriors All-Stars takes place on a whole new world with human-like wolf creatures. Their world is in peril and so Tamaki uses magic to summon heroes from other worlds/dimensions to aid them. You then select a hero and appear in the nick of time to help Setsuna, the supposed true heir to the throne, from being defeated by a character from another KOEI TECMO game. You save him and agree to help him take the throne since he’s the only help you have to get back to your world, but you don’t fully trust him. The story is kind of confusing since the game begins with Tamaki summoning the heroes to their world, using magical cards, but you end up aiding Setsuna and he’s against Tamaki. What’s even weirder, Tamaki’s mom is with her when she summons the heroes but is later on Setsuna’s side. It’s a lot to take in at the beginning, but it all makes sense as you get deeper into it. It’s kind of a cliche story, but it is done well and does create an interesting and engaging narrative that pushes you to continue playing to understand more. I will say that the localization is okay, as it still heavily uses lines like, “I won’t forgive,” and “I won’t let you do as you wish/do what you want,” which I’m sure is better said in the native language, but for some reason Asian translations always default to those lines. It might only bug me since I deal with it all day at my day job, but come on! How many scenarios are mortal enemies going to have a chance to forgive another? If that scenario is possible, why are they mortal enemies? It’s not the translator’s fault, but this is why companies should have a translator and a story editor/localization specialist.
Warriors All-Stars is for the most part, like any other Dynasty Warriors game, in terms of gameplay. You fight your way through hordes of enemies, defending and conquering bases, while defeating generals/bosses along the way, with the occasional side missions to attempt to complete. It’s the experience you expect and it is done well. However, I feel the side missions don’t really affect the game as much as it has in other games. I didn’t replay many levels, but the ones I did, the completion of side missions did not seem to affect the general level play, just my score. Which is kind of disappointing, but then again there are so many missions to complete, it makes perfect sense to not emphasize the side missions.
Warriors All-Stars introduces some very fun, and addictive, gameplay features that perfectly emphasizes the “All-Stars“ portion of its title. While in game, you are able to summon your teammates, like in a lot of the other games, but you are also able to call them all to fight in a horizontal line where all of you attack in unison and sweep the floor clean. It is EPIC! Easily get 300+ kills in the allotted time. Something about seeing the screen literally being swept clean by your hero group really makes this game stand out from the others. Then there’s, what I call, the cheerleader attack; because your main character goes on a rampage where your other characters stand on the sides of the screen and cheer you on. In this mode, which is a lot like a rush mode, your character takes on a tries to get as many kills as possible, gaining the cheer and admiration of your teammates the more enemies you kill. You also gain extra time, and your allies eventually throw in a few attacks to assist you. It’s like a perfect little mini-game that can help you out in a struggle, or change the pace of play. The weird part, to me, is that it kind of makes all the enemies look like they’re in neon body suits and more and more enemies appear out of nowhere. They disappear when time runs out, and it kind of doesn’t make sense to the reality of it all. However, it’s a video game, it’s fun, and don’t over think it.
Where I don’t really know how I feel is the RPG system of the game. You have battle cards that increase/boost/augment your characters’ stats. These cards can be leveled up through the collection of more cards and materials throughout the game. I do like being able to fine tune my characters to my playstyle, but I hate that in large it’s mostly a time waster. This is a personal preference and one that many seem to not share or care about. I am all for it when it’s something like new moves, gradual stat increases from leveling up, new armor/gear, and even temporary boosts from consumables. But I feel most games go way too far and just add layers of more stat augmentation to cover up lack of quality content or needlessly extend playtime. It’s also in part some of the logic behind it, that you can search for some mystical item that you can combine in bulk to increase your attack power. Why not just create training aspects of the game to do so? Instead, I have to do the same thing over and over so that the number that pops up when my character attacks is higher. While there is 0 change to the gameplay, visuals, and controls. I just really hate pointless grinding that yields no tangible results. Oh, and if you RPG system includes a random chance of an upgrade, your game is absolute trash. If I have to collect stuff, then pay to have it converted into an upgrade (which itself is needlessly time-consuming), and there is only a marginal chance that it will turn into an upgrade and will take my money regardless, it is no longer a game, and borderline gambling. Warriors All-Stars does not do that. If any game does that, I wouldn’t give the game any thought give it a big fat 0.
Anyway, sorry about the tangent. There are some aspects of the game that do take away from the fun of it all. First off, the camera. Something about the camera this time was like they took a step backward. It seemed like PS2 Dynasty Warriors, where the movements seemed jarring in comparison to say One Piece Warriors 3. Some tweaking in the options did help, but it just seemed to not be as good as it usually is. Secondly, the tutorial is way too long. There are some new systems, and I understand the need to introduce them, but it’s done very forcefully and sporadically. The first three levels you play are interrupted by a new feature or a new move that you probably figured out on your own way before it popped up and ruined your combo. Give me the option to say I’ve played other Dynasty Warriors games or that I don’t want the tutorial. Instead of letting me go wild and learn everything on my own, then interrupt my badass combos for the next hour. The only way it could be worse is by adding pointless walking to trigger another pop-up or cutscene. Lastly the side missions. They kind of pop-up out of nowhere and aren’t intuitive or easy to keep track of. I mentioned it earlier, but I want to go into a bit more detail since this is the strongest writing flow I’ve had in a good while. The side missions often adjust the play/flow of the level in other Dynasty Warriors games. If you fail to complete them, there may be far stronger bosses, or multiple bosses, or something that can really change the way a level is played. It keeps players on their toes, forcing them to make impactful decisions in high-stakes situations. I really enjoy that added intensity, and having the choice to often lose a battle to win the war. It doesn’t feel like the side missions ever have that impact in Warriors All-Stars. Also, it is really hard to tell when and where they occur in this game. You get a notification about it, via overlayed dialogue on the screen, but you can’t easily see them all on the minimap or on a checklist without pausing the game. It just doesn’t mesh well together and having to look for it rather than being able to immediately see it while you’re playing ruins the immersion and flow of gameplay. Also, it doesn’t feel impactful so the extra effort feels wasted.
Despite some minor shortcomings, hand-holding tutorial, and an unnecessarily robust RPG system, Warriors All-Stars is everything you’d expect from a Dynasty Warriors game. The characters from the different franchises are all used organically and never feel forced to be in the same scene, and their moves and fighting styles are all perfectly translated into the Dynasty Warriors system. The story isn’t anything to brag about, which might be due to the cliche localization tropes that I am painfully much more aware of due to my day job, but it is easily engaging enough to make you want to keep playing. Which is, for all intent and purposes, great. If you are looking for a fun beat-em up, action style game, or enjoyed any of the other games in the Dynasty Warriors franchise, Warriors All-Stars will provide you with beat-em up gameplay you’ve been craving. My Warriors All-Stars review gets a 7/10.
Developer: Omega Force
Mode: Single-player video game
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Microsoft Windows
Genres: Hack and slash, Action game