Samurai Warriors 5 Review

Three things I like about this game, and two I don't

Samurai Warriors 5

By Paul Hunter

I'm a huge sucker for musou games whether that's Koei Tecmo's classics like Samurai Warriors and Dynasty Warriors or all the awesome crossover series like Hyrule Warriors and Fire Emblem Warriors. So of course I couldn't resist checking out this summer's Samurai Warriors 5, which marks a new beginning for the series.

It's been a long seven-years since the last entry in the Samurai Warriors series but the wait's been worth it. There's so much to like in Warriors 5 so let's head on back to the Sengoku period and get right into three things I liked about the game...and two I didn't.

Liked: The Completely Revamped Graphics

Samurai Warriors is such a looker in so many ways. All of the characters have been completely redesigned and reimagined to help bring to life the storyline's Sengoku time period. The two lead playable characters, Nobunaga Oda and Mitsuhide Akechi, are brought to life in exquisite detail but that's just the beginning. The 25 playable support characters—ranging from Japan's unifier Hideyoshi Hashiba to the famous ninja Hanzo Hattori—are all incredibly well drawn.

The character makeovers look awesome on the battlefield but they really shine in the cutscenes that happen before and after each mission. During these more intimate moments you'll get to see closeups showcasing their exceptionally-detailed samurai gear, gravity-defying haircuts and cool as hell weapons like their odachi or giant hammer. The cutscene animations and voice acting are also top-notch and even better there's a theatre mode where you can rewatch all your favourite scenes.

Liked: The Electrifying 1 vs. 1000 Gameplay

Koei Tecmo has done a superb job streamlining and improving the gameplay in Samurai Warriors 5. They've actually cut back on some of the more cumbersome gameplay features in previous entries so that this new title is laser focused on the best part: slicing through thousands of enemies per minute with buttery-smooth combos and special moves.

In addition to your standard and strong attacks, the game includes all-new Musou actions like redesigned Musou Frenzy Attacks and new Ultimate Skills. These absolutely devastating attacks can easily destroy entire armies or shred a good chunk of a boss' health bar in seconds. Even better, these actions are presented in a vibrant new Japanese ink painting art style that are absolutely #VirtualPhotography worthy on Twitter. You can also perform two-person Frenzy Attacks if one of your AI partners are close and damn the visuals during these sequences are just breathtaking to see.

What's also extremely cool is all 27 playable characters specialize in different weapons, be it the long-range Blade and Matchlock, the stylish Kusarigama chained sickle or the funny yet effective Drum. Each of these weapons will change up your character's playstyle quite a bit and with 15 different weapons to master, you'll have a ton of fun experimenting with them. All weapons have a Mastery attribute associated to them and as you play you'll gain Mastery XP that raises your skill from F to S-rank. I had a total blast mastering each weapon and it's fun to see your favourite characters like Nobunaga and Mitsuhide become proficient in a variety of weapons.

Liked: Musou and Citadel Modes, and the Buildings

Samurai Warriors 5 has a ton of content—at least 100 hours for someone wanting to complete everything the game has to offer and achieve that Platinum trophy. The main Musou mode features six chapters each with multiple mission and a lot of them have two variations, one from Nobunaga's perspective and the other from Mitsuhide's view. Some mission even have a third variation where you can view cutscenes and play on the enemy's side. Not only will the campaign take dozens of hours to complete, but there are also challenging Secret History missions to complete after the credits have rolled. You're absolutely getting your money's worth with this game.

Citadel mode is a whole other area you can visit to complete timed challenges in exchange for valuable resources. The best part about this mode is instead of usable items you'll gain access to various types of troops like riflemen and ninjas that you can deploy to gain the battlefield advantage. After each mission you'll be ranked on factors like your combo count and total time, and then awarded resources accordingly. Musou mode is already meaty enough but combined with Citadel mode this game offers a ridiculous amount of content.

Another new addition in Samurai Warriors 5 are the many buildings you can use to upgrade your warriors' abilities and weapons, buy items and even purchase and train horses to ride in battle. There's an incredible amount of character tweaking you can do within the buildings, like use your stored XP to complete each character's individual skill tree and unlock completely new abilities. You can also upgrade weapons as well as insert gems that provide passive buffs or add elemental attacks. While Warriors 5 is centred around fast-action combat, the amount of pre-battle preparation is staggering and RPG fans will be in heaven here.

Didn't Like: Few Gameplay Innovations

While I noted earlier the gameplay in Samurai Warriors 5 has never felt better, I still couldn't help to feel at times that the gameplay can get repetitive and lacks challenge. For the most part you'll be rushing from hot zone to hot zone continuously hacking and slashing thousands of enemies along your way until finally getting to the boss battles. The good news is that the new ink painting Frenzy attacks give you enjoyable moments to pause and enjoy the multi-combo visual feasts and with 27 characters and 15 weapons the variety is there—the key though is constantly switching characters and weapons to keep the combat feeling fresh.
Frenzy Attacks and Ultimate Skills are presented in a vibrant new Japanese ink painting art style that are absolutely #VirtualPhotography worthy.
Another minor gameplay complaint is that your partner AI will occasionally go off in directions you don't want them to or will oddly stand still even when urgent threats are emerging. You can manually direct them but it's a tad tedious to do so many times every mission.

Didn't Like: The Slight Camera Issues

One last minor issue I encountered was the camera going haywire whenever you get too close to walls or get too far away from a locked-on enemy. Considering how often you need to lock onto enemies and how maze-like some missions are, the wonky camera can occasionally get distracting. It's not a massive issue but it does add a wee bit of frustration from time to time.

The Verdict

I'm having such a great time playing Samurai Warriors 5. I've already beat all six chapters, completed all the Citadel missions and have put in over 60 hours so far, and I still have interest to keep on playing more. The bottom line is that if you're a musou fan you absolutely don't want to miss this gem of a game. The revamped graphics alone are enough reason to dive in but the refined gameplay and plethora of modes are just icing on the cake.

Final Score: 8.5/10 - Great

Samurai Warriors 5 details

Platform: PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC
Developer: Omega Force
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Genre: Action
Modes: Single-player, multiplayer
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)

A key was provided by the publisher.