An almost overwhelming number of Warriors games from Omega Force and Koei Tecmo have flooded the gaming market. In 2015 alone, we’ve seen Dynasty Warriors 8: Empires, Samurai Warriors Chronicles 3, One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 and now Samurai Warriors 4-II. You may have trouble deciding which title to take home with you. I mean, why would Samurai Warriors 4-II, which is a revised version of Samurai Warriors 4 be worth your time?
Well, a big part of it has to do with how this game works compared to other Warriors games. Samurai Warriors has always been a more character driven branch of the series. It focuses on individuals, rather than a broader view of the period. It’s still a historical affair, but tends to single in on specific characters. People who get lost in other Warriors titles might appreciate that, since there’s less chance of getting lost in dates or a sea of faces of characters with similar names and styles.
This is especially true for Samurai Warriors 4-II, since it banishes the Chronicle Mode from the original Samurai Warriors 4 and tweaks the Story Mode. Usually, the games cover the Sengoku period of Japanese history. Last time around, people either went through Regional Stories or the Story of Unification in Story Mode, unless they had their custom character act as a mercenary in the Chronicle Mode. But here, every tale told focuses on one specific character and his or her life during this particularly tumultuous time.
This personal touch makes it easier to identify with each of these historical figures. It humanizes them. Koshosho is a good example. I decided to go through her story first because her appearance was so ridiculous and unexpected. (There is no way anyone in the Sengoku period looked like that, even if she was a concubine.) I thought it would be a lighthearted affair. Instead, it was a surprisingly touching story of a woman who saw every man who loved her die, and her fear of getting close to others as a result. There was genuine character growth.
Takatora Todo’s story highlights those same sorts of connections. Instead of him being another pawn in the war, we see his connections with Oichi and Yoshitsugu Otani. It helps us better understand why he decided to live and survive in a time when so many skilled individuals were casualties of war. It may even make players fight harder for his sake. You root for him, because you know he’s trying to live for the people who mattered to him.
These vignettes offer better opportunities to see how the characters relate to one another. In other Warriors games, even other Samurai Warriors, it’s a given that some people know or are important to others. We’re told that such relationships matter, but don’t get to see why. Samurai Warriors 4-II remedies that with its Story Mode. The events between battles provide new insight into situations, and even the asides between characters during fights help. That is, if you manage to pay attention during the frantic mashing of buttons.
This focus extends to each character’s builds and abilities. Leveling up has a purpose, as it unlocks new weapons skills and combos for characters. Reaching new levels means getting to access new spaces on a character-centric a grid that allows improvement in specific areas. If enough specific strategy tomes have been collected on maps and a high enough level reached, a character could get an ability like improved stability when attacked. People get to build up people the way they want.
Samurai Warriors 4-II is a game about connections. Rather than keeping people bogged down in specific battles, dates, and factions, it pulls players in with personalities. You get invested in these character, because you’re seeing their stories firsthand. Each player gets to decide what their cast’s stats and abilities are like, and that humanizes them. The battling may feel mindless, but the people do matter.
Samurai Warriors 4-II is now available for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita and Windows PC.