Sigh... This generation just feels like a step back. The magnificence and grandeur that came with Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate is gone. In its place, there's a game with a lot less and even feels clunky at that. It is rare that a sequel is a step backwards, but for every advancement that this series has made since WO3U, it feels like something even worse is there to replace it. The game's online mode does not even seem to work as I always get stuck on searching 1/6 for what seems like forever.
EDIT: I found Brilliance. Needed to be from Level 50+ Pandemonium stuff, which is way too luck based.
This is probably the best part of Warriors Orochi 4. Yet, it feels kind of awkward. The story starts with a set of bracelets being released onto a new realm merger that has been created by Zeus, one of the gods that are not from the Mystic Realm. While the Mystics remember our heroes, the heroes do not remember the Mystics at first due to the separation of the worlds at the end of Warriors Orochi 3.
Perseus, one of the gods from Zeus's realm, does not like that Zeus manipulates humans for fun and decides to steal the bracelets, eventually setting off a free for all scramble for the eight bracelets. These bracelets fall into the hands of the various humans who are able to reach a new enraged state called Deity by drawing upon the powers of one of the gods. Eventually, all eight bracelets are brought under the control of the humans, but they learn they were created using the powers of Orochi.
Zeus reveals that this was all for fun to see what the humans were like since he missed out on the fun of Warriors Orochi 3 (serious here). Ares is pissed and ends up killing Zeus to try to steal his power, joining ranks with Perseus who reveals himself to be Loki and working with Odin. Together, the three try to destroy the world, but is thwarted when Orochi himself side with the humans. Working with the Mystics and various Greek Gods, they stop Odin and return everyone to their homes while stripping the powers of the Deity away once more. But, Orochi's power remains out there and will one day return again.
It's a Dynasty Warriors game. Not much has changed since the Dynasty Warriors 6 era other than the increase in the number of enemies on screen. Compared to Warriors All Stars though, there is a lot less. It is not bad, but considering that there has been two generations, there have not been any major improvements to the graphics at all. The number of costumes available for customization is barely over a dozen as unlockable costumes are no longer available. There are just a few alternate costumes for select characters and it is disappointing.
Personally, I hate the Deity forms of the characters. The alternate looks are a nice attempt, but they somehow feel like they put in less effort than their Strike Force counterparts. The Strike Force forms had a sense of majesty to them. In Warriors Orochi 4, the Deity forms somehow lack the same sense of grandeur to them. Cao Pi's looks straight ripped from Perseus. Nobunaga seems like he just got a bigger floating cape. Naotora Ii stripped down to an armor bikini. Guan Yinping almost looks like just a color swap.
The game follows the standard Warriors Orochi style where you have three characters you can swap between. This time though, you can bring four others with you that provide an overall stat boost depending on their combination of power, speed, and technique value totals. This forces you to choose a group that will give you as even as a distribution as possible rather than your favorites. It would have been nice if they were changed to something like power gives you attack, speed gives you movement speed, and technique gives you defense.
Luckily, characters do not play to their Dynasty Warriors 9 counterparts and are based on the styles from their previous games whether it is Dynasty Warriors 7 or Samurai Warriors 4. New characters follow the Dynasty Warriors style. This allows each character to play differently for better or for worse. The weapon specific style is a lot better than the EX weapon system that was used in Dynasty Warriors 8 or 9 because that system basically makes every character the same with the exception of their musou and maybe one other special attack. By using the older style, they are actually able to do a lot more with each character.
The first big change is to the passive skills. In the past, they were unlocked by just doing things with certain characters. This time, leveling up gives you skill points to unlock new attacks and special effects. The problem is that this really does not do much but an extra step for leveling up. Before, leveling up just gave you new attacks. Here, you have to take the extra time to invest into those skills and it really has no purpose. In the past, you could stick anyone with armor resistances, even speed type characters. But here, a lot of those passives are now tied to their skill trees with a few of them being diverted to weapons. Weapons are pretty much entirely dedicated to farming more weapons or just pure power depending on what you need. The positive to this is that each character does at least have one or two passive skills in their skill tree that makes them unique in the end game. The problem is that it does relatively little to help improve characters.
One thing that did annoy me is the character select screen. It's sorted using a sub-menu instead of the old character select screen that Warriors games used to have. With the new selection, you can sort through levels, factions, or even by individual series. The problem is that if you use it, you have to be familiar with the series as a whole and remember when each character made their debut. If you do not, then it just becomes a confusing mess and you just have to scroll through everyone until you find the person that you are looking for.
The biggest gameplay change of all is the introduction of magic and replacing rage with deification on the characters who do receive the magical bracelets. Diefication is powerful because it can result in a near infinite magic loop and continuous diefication if done right on many stages. Magic is mixed because it seems to be inconsistent. On some characters, it is awful, but you need it to beat the monster type enemies that would otherwise buff up your enemies or just crowd control the hell out of you. Naomasa Ii is an example of this. His overall attacks are good, but his magic is a combination of a line and circular area effect. The result is that enemies have to be at a perfect distance in order for it to work. On others like Bao Sanniang, it just feels like a true musou attack rather than some kind of actual magic. Luckily, Athena does allow you to ignore it entirely as her C4 petrifies targets. The result is that even big monster types can be frozen indefinitely so that you can kill them with ease without magic.
The weapon skills are mostly easier to manage this time around. If the weapon has that effect, you can dismantle it to get half of the materials that normally would be need to create it. Then, you can use the materials to apply those effects to other weapons. The big problem is that some of them are very rare. I went through most of the game on hard while rerunning Pandemonium (a special mode where Hundun shows up and you have better drops) about thirty times and ended up with only 80 or so Tri-Element, which is not enough to even use it for a +10 (maximum) on a weapon.
The biggest issue though is the removal of Brilliance (or at least I have not found it after getting more than two dozen ultimate weapons with more than 20+ weapon drops on each of those stages, so either Brilliance is rarer than 1/1000 or it does not exist at all). In prior Warriors Orochi games, Brilliance was a trait that could be applied to a weapon to make every effect on it trigger every single time on attack. This trait was important because it made every character overpowered, resulting in that every character was viable in the end game. Without it, the tier list becomes much more problematic, especially with magic and Deity forms throwing the distribution of power off even more. Characters that are at the bottom of the tier list are just there with no way to make them viable compared to previous entries.
NOTE: I finally found Brilliance from a level 50 Pandemonium run. It's a lot harder to farm than before since it is luck based.
A smaller issue is that the story never feels as desperate as it is made out to be. In Warriors Orochi 3, you start on the last legs of the resistance against Orochi and everything feels hopeless until the divine intervention in the beginning of the game giving humanity a second chance. Here, it feels nothing like it. Most talking is done through portraits. Some characters appear confused, others are just in it because they want a good fight. People are all planning to backstab one another all the time with some plot twists thrown in. The final arc of the story is good, but everything else just felt pointless. It does not contribute to anything and feels even more fragmented the first Warriors Orochi game, which was literally told in segments by faction.
One positive aspect is that they reduced the grind needed to improve relationships between characters. Its a lot less work for what are essentially short skits that show just a tiny bit of characterization. But with a cast of 150 (not sure on exact numbers), its nice to see how they interact one another as they meet mirror images and opposites across the Koei franchises. These little interactions are a nice bonus that I feel many crossover games do not have.
Final Score: 6/10
This is by no means a bad Warriors Orochi game. The problem was that the game before it was Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate, which had so much more content and feels a lot better designed than Warriors Orochi 4. Warriors Orochi 3 took great advantage of the scripted aspect of battles and it feels like Warriors Orochi 4 is missing this. Magic is shoehorned into the game as a requirement. The removal of guest characters rather than keeping them in also makes you feel like a section of the game was carved out despite the new gods to replace them. The removal of Brilliance makes bad characters just stay bad. Post game unlockables are pretty much just weapons. Like Warriors All Stars, it feels one step forward, two steps back. If you have access to any console with Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate, I suggest you get that instead of 4.