Warriors All-Stars Review – A license leech?
Platforms: PS4 (reviewed), PC
Developer: Omega Force
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Release: 29th August 2017 (NA) / 1st September 2017 (EU)
For their 20th anniversary, a quite impressive time, Omega Force and Koei Tecmo wanted to give their fans something a little more special. Instead of a new “generic” Warriors game, we´re brought one of those pretty much essential cross-overs, all big companies need apparently. Offering the biggest stars of not only the Warriors series but also Koei Tecmo´s bigger games like the Atelier series or even Nioh, Warriors All-Stars wants to offer us a unique, long-awaited experience, uniting pretty much everything we love about Omega Force´s and Koei Tecmo´s games. However, does it offer enough new things or is it just leaching off its characters?
Unlike other Warriors games, Warriors All-Stars story doesn´t revolve around historical battles or huge japanese wars. Set in a fantasy world, which is inhabited by cat/dog-like people, it´s hard to describe them honestly, Warriors All-Stars seeks to provide an at least somewhat understandable explanation, why all these characters collide with each other. Said world finds itself at the brink of extinction when their life-giving spring begins to dry out, leaving them no water nor power. In order to determine a new leader, that will sacrifice his life span to replenish the spring, the three different king sons and daughters summon a huge array of heroes, to help them claim the throne for themself. These heroes are indeed famous Koei Tecmo characters and the last hope of this world, at the same time.
As crazy as it may sound, it´s an awfully refreshing setting for the Warriors series. We no longer fight dozens of battles in a historical japan or get bombarded with historical names. Instead, the plot around the three ambitious siblings fighting over the throne, set in a furry inhabited world, might not be the most unusual one but definetly interesting. While the pure story is nothing too amazing, filled with ideas and characters we all have heard of before, like the mature brother who wants everyone to be happy, the selfish brother or little childish sister.
Even the early ondiscovered plot twist makes it simply more cliché-y, who didn´t expect an almighty evil in the background? Still, Warriors games never had great stories and I prefer a more childish, silly and furry one over the ever same historical war plots. The whole atmosphere is so refreshing, due to its absurdity, I found myself enjoying it quite a lot during the first few hours. Considering you only need around ~10-15 hours for a play through, it’s exactly the right length.
Surprisingly, the best thing about Warriors All-Stars and its weird cross over story, are the dialogues and interaction between the different characters. At the start of each play through we can choose which character we want to play from a little selection of the 30 playable heroes. Yet, our selection also determines the faction we´ll join, our enemies and allies, since all are divided into these three factions by default.
By keeping the control over all encounters Omega Force was able to not only offer three very different main plotlines but also customized dialogues. For example, in my first play through I chose William (Nioh is one of my favourite games of 2017 after all) and because Ryu Hayabusa was part of my initial group he sometimes hinted at the spirits accompanying William and other supernatural things. Simply put, in exchange for a bigger character selection, the cast interacts with each other in a unique way. As a result, the dialogues are a lot more believable than in most other cross overs, since the heroes themselves react and act in a believable matter during their unbelievable trip.
Additionally, Warriors All-Stars brings up the courage to add a lot of new gameplay system as well. Naturally, the base still remains the same Musou game, where you slash your way through thousands of enemies, level up your character, unlock new skills and improve them in every way. However, this time Omega Force came up with a ton of enhancements for their repetitive but fun game.
Besides the known special moves, combos and rage mode, Warriors All-Stars widens our options to slay even more furries by giving us the so-called rush mode. Once activated we summon the other members of our pre-selected team to build a wall of swirling weapons, cutting through enemies like butter, feels and looks great. Oh, yes, you can build your own team of different heroes before each battle now! Depending on your selection they will be able to assist you with special skills, like healing or fire attacks, as well as helping out in some combos.
In combination with the Fever mode, a special move that seemingly triples the enemy count for a timed sequence to collect kills which will then determine the strength of the following special attack, Warriors All-Stars may not improve the base gameplay but adds a ton of options to expand upon it. Not only are the new modes and abilities to cooperate with your team refreshingly great, they also work perfectly for a cross-over. Especially the Fever mode looks and feels absolutely amazing.
On the other hand, the pre- and post-game actions are still quite limited. After every battle we get new upgrades for our heroes, this time in the form of hero cards, not everyone uses a weapon now after all. These cards can then be equipped to boost our damage or various other things. On the other hand the relation system, indicating your friendship to other heroes and giving you bonuses for them, is a rather randomly seeming one. Often influenced by story events and the amount of missions you take them on, it doesn´t add much to the game, particularly because the rewards are very meager I couldn´t find myself caring about it that much.
Luckily, the ever-present world map and selectable missions got hugely improved, making Warriors All-Stars lacking relation system not too big of a let down. Rather than pushing us through story battles spiced up by occasional side battles, the world map practically bombards us with optional battles and missions. Most of the time, story battles are way less central now and we have more options to branch out of the path. Besides little battles, that only serve as experience booster etc but are plenty in numbers, Omega Force added hero battles, through which we unlock new heroes for our team.
Often pending between 10-15 minutes these ones are something in between story and side battles. Yet, due to the fact we are rewarded heroes for their completion, they become a lot more appealing and rewarding than simple farming missions. Unfortunately, they´re still as repetitive, offering us nothing more than a battle with some in between dialogue. In contrast to the high quality campaign, full of great looking cutscenes, both, outside and in battles, I wished to see more effort put especially into these hero missions. Generally speaking, you shouldn´t expect a ton of diversity of Warriors All-Stars, like BERSERK it doesn´t offer a whole lot of different mission designs and mainly focuses on pure Musou action and cutscenes.
Obviously, Warriors All-Stars also features a little hub world, similar to Spirit of Sanada´s town. Divided into different shops and buildings, we can upgrade our hero cards, buy items, access the world map, all this basic stuff, nothing too surprising.
Technically seen Omega Force delivers a very solid product on the PS4 with their latest game, looking nearly as “good” as Spirit of Sanada. Cutscenes feature some cool facial expressions, action and graphical power, while levels are bursting with enemies. If you played any recent Warriors game, Warriors All-Stars shouldn´t impress with its graphics. Only the sheer mass of spawned enemies in the new Fever mode is absolutely crazy and actually really surprising, considering the non-existent frame drops. However, I found the presentation a lot more appealing because of the colourful, silly theme. Overall, it features a lot more visual diversity in comparison to recent titles, making it refreshingly appealing.
Warriors All-Stars is definitely a surprisingly innovative game. Instead of a bland cross over Omega Force took the extra mile to deliver a somewhat fitting story, mixed with lively, unique dialogues, sometimes specifically written for our chosen character. In combination with the silly furry inhabitants of the new-found world, new special enhancements for the gameplay and solid, bright graphics Omega Force´s cross over can definitely achieve its own atmosphere. Because of the new gameplay enhancements and enjoyable yet cliché story, that lives off our beloved heroes, Warriors All-Stars is a great Warriors game, which is more than just a simple license leech.
Also, it´s great to slash through enemies as William or other Koei Tecmo characters.
[A Review Code was provided by Koei Tecmo Europe]