Samurai Warriors 5 Review
Y’all ready for a little history lesson gamers? Because the story of SW5 is based on real-life historical events! The story of SW5 focuses on the prolific rise of one of Japan’s “ Three Great Unifiers”, the Oda Nobunaga. While the other two, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu are playable characters in this installment of the franchise, it should be noted that they do not have their own stories as seen in past installments.
Oda Nobunaga, a charismatic boisterous young aspiring leader has dreams of bringing peace to the country amidst the bloodshed and carnage of the Sengoku Era (戦国時代 or warring States Period) of Japan. As the feudal system collapsed, an elite class of highly acclaimed swordsmen rose to power. A class of men like no other, Samurai was extraordinarily skilled swordsmen whose loyalty knew no bounds. Bound by a specific code, Bushido, a code rooted in Confucian and Buddhist principles, dictates that Samurai must remain fearless in the face of the enemy, frugal, honest, and loyal. These Samurai formed clans and waged war over territories under the leadership of their daimyo out of faith and loyalty, ushering in the Sengoku Era.
Waging war with goals of conquering that land and ushering a new age of peace, Oda Nobunaga astonishes his enemies and captivates his followers with his might, skill, and endurance; nearly escaping death at every turn and turning the tide in battle conquering territories, and bringing his enemies to their knees or an early grave. As his empire grows, so does his clan of loyal subjects devoted to their almighty leader and his. Or so it seems. Discontent with the lengths (read, amount of ruthlessness and bloodshed) Nobunaga is willing to go to bring in peace and unify the land, a snake lies among the ranks, waiting for the opportune moment to strike while Nobunaga’s guard is down. So who is the wolf in sheep’s clothing? Will they eliminate the great Oda Nobunaga? Or will Nobunaga once again emerge victorious, slaying the traitors in his vain attempt at an assassination?
One of the more interesting approaches to Samurai Warrior 5, is that the developers at Koei/Tecmo decided to do a throwback Thursday, and go back to their roots with the Samurai Warriors series. Allow me to explain. The plot of SW5 is similar to SW1 in the sense that the story focuses on a select few warriors responsible for one of the most prolific time periods in Japanese history. As a seasoned warriors fan, one of the defining aspects that set SW1 apart from its predecessor Dynasty Warrior was its roster. Compared to DW, SW had a far smaller roster, which allowed for more dynamic storytelling and dynamic characterizations. And that’s just what Koei has done with SW5.
Scaling back on the characters in SW5 worked extremely well for this installment. Characters received complete redesigns, new weapons, and new moves sets, so even season players are getting something fresh with SW5. Alongside the revamped characters is more dynamic gameplay with tons of extra unlockable content that will keep players glued to their controllers for hours on end. In recent years Koei/Techmo has been going the “DLC Route ” with its extra content. So it is truly refreshing to see them go back to their roots by making unlockable extra content unlockable again.
The revamped battle system is another refreshing addition to SM5. Players can equip their warriors with “skill moves” which give warriors an edge in combat. The skill moves replace the item drop, so players no longer have to scour the battlefield looking for attack and defense up. While players still have to look for health on their own, the developers have done us a favor by making bustable crates containing health glow. Players also can use combo chains to fill up their rage gauge. When players enter rage mode, they can release powerful attacks to annihilate their foes. And perhaps my most favorite of the addition to the combat system revamp is that players get full health, rage, and Musou gauge for every 1000 K.O.s.
And does Koei/Techmo make players work for that content? Players must fight their way through a variety of battles to level up their warriors. To stay on top of their A games, players need to level up warriors skills using a skill grid, as well as weapon skills and the weapon in general. Players earn the experience and funds to do such bossing up via completing various objectives in battle. When players hit certain level caps and milestones with their warriors, they must also collect material to upgrade their dojo (道場) to advance their warriors to the next level. Lastly, players can engage in battle via the Musou Mode “Story” or “Free Mode” battle and the new “Citadel Mode.” In Citadel Mode, players choose a pair of characters to complete a series of objectives before the time runs out. Selecting certain characters with companion meters will increase the meter with the completion of every successful mission. Once the meter is full, players unlock special cutscenes between characters in the “Hermits Retreat”.
Last but certainly not least is graphics. This installment did away with the CG models and opted for a more cel-shading, anime-esque aesthetic. This is highlighted well with the art direction of the game, which utilizes a variety of traditional Japanese art forms to give SM5 a unique presentation. The maps and character models are absolutely stunning with their clean crisp designs and animations. The soundtrack is as equally pleasing as the graphical component of SW5.
Koei/Tecmo announced early on that SW5 was experimental in nature. As a fan of the warrior games, who has been playing them actively for over 10 years, SW5 is a stunner in the series; and is easily in the top 5 best Koei/Tecmo Warrior Games. A complete revamp, which included cutback on the roster, redesigns of characters, and alteration of the battle system is a huge risk for any game with a long-running franchise. Dropping the ball on any one of these aspects could result in alienating a loyal fan base whilst failing to impress new players, which can be pretty damaging to a franchise; and this is even common in the history of gaming. However, when done correctly, developers can come out with a top-of-the-line product that goes above and beyond expectations for seasoned players and newbies alike. And that’s just what Koei/Tecmo did here with Samurai Warriors 5. And for that, I am giving it a 5/5. Samurai Warriors 5 is a must-add to gamer’s summer 2021 gaming catalog.