Samurai Warriors 5 Is More Of The Same, Better Or Worse

Samurai Warriors 5 Splash Art
Courtesy of KOEI TECMO

Samurai Warriors 5

Developer: Omega Force
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Release Date: June 24, 2021
Available as: Digital and Physical

Samurai Warriors Returns After Seven Long Years

For as long as the Samurai Warriors series has been going on, it’s surprising to see that we’re only up to Samurai Warriors 5. This doesn’t include the various spinoffs that exist with some crossing over with its sibling series, Dynasty Warriors. While the latter focuses on the Romance of the Three Kingdoms novels, the former takes a piece of the history of Feudal Japan and ramps it up several notches to that of anime level quality.

Bringing Back The Tried-And-True ‘Musou’ Formula

The premise for most of the games is all the same, as one can only reinvent the wheel but so many times. Each game adds something new enough to make a playthrough interesting while also offering enough quality of life changes to make it the preferred version over previous titles. While playing, I felt like controls were responsive and I didn’t have to fight the camera as much as in previous entries. Target lock-on is always welcome even though dealing with random soldiers staggering you out of your combos is always going to be annoying. It’s also always going to be annoying having to deal with enemy officers seemingly having priority over your attacks, as the damage begins to add up. 

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Samurai Warriors 5 - PlayStation 5 Direct Capture

Samurai Warrior 5 Is Mindless In Any Other Difficult Except ‘Hard’

Samurai Warriors 5 is a heavily momentum-based game, meaning simply being a “one-man army” won’t be enough to cut it on harder difficulties. Plowing through hoards of soldiers and increasing your KO and combo count is good and all, but it doesn’t mean jack when you come across an officer and get decimated to shreds. Taking objectives, which usually include dispatching the enemy officers, saving an ally officer, or intercepting a route within a specified time, are what help build morale for your army. The higher your morale tumps over your enemy’s the weaker they will perform in combat, turning the tides in your favor and making difficult battles easier. 

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Samurai Warriors 5 - PlayStation 5 Direct Capture

Sometimes, It’s Great To Turn Your Mind Off

Plus, nothing feels as satisfying as having a mob of your allied officers completely jump one hapless officer and snowballing throughout the map while clearing objectives along the way. The way the Warriors games are set up, players are always going to be rewarded for rising to the challenge as playing on a higher difficulty will net the player better rewards than playing on Easy or even Normal mode. It also saves the game from the monotony as simple as “Press ‘Square’ to win” as the Warriors series are tend to be known for. I mean, yeah that’s the case for sure, but there’s a method to the madness almost like those who mash every single attack button in a fighting game without rhyme or reason.

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Samurai Warriors 5 - PlayStation 5 Direct Capture

Samurai Warriors 5 Holds Well On Next-Gen

As to be expected, gameplay on the PS5 is nearly flawless, while loading times aren’t instantaneous, the gameplay runs at a solid framerate with no slowdowns at all. For a “previous gen game” it looks almost as stunning as a PS5 game, honestly speaking. Installation was very quick, lasting only five minutes, and you’re instantly thrust into the action as you enter the main mode, the “Musou” mode. 

Initially, you only start with a young Nobunaga as he begins his rise to conquer Japan. The graphics are stunning, opting for a cel-shaded anime-inspired art design over its realistic predecessors. The vibrant colors and filters blend well with the environment, giving off the illusion that you’re playing an anime game that feels more like its long-lost competitor, Sengoku Basara, in a way. 

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Samurai Warriors 5 - PlayStation 5 Direct Capture

Realism is thrown out of the window as the more your character levels, the more insane your skills become. Eventually, Nobunaga will have the ability to summon geysers of flame from underground, just because he can. Some enemy officers, like MItsuhide, also have abilities themselves, such as the ability to freeze you in place. It’s mildly annoying, but nothing that your overwhelming strength can’t overcome.

The Artificial Difficulty Lies In Enemy Sponges

Even on Hard mode, I found myself having to restart a stage once mainly because I got a bit too cocky in my approach, but one thing that Samurai Warriors 5 prides itself on is its risk/reward system. Throughout my time playing it during the first look, I found myself deliberately playing with low health, as your Musou gauge fills at a much faster rate to compensate, allowing you to use your “True Musou Attack,” dealing way more damage than a regular Musou attack. This, alone, was enough to melt enemy officers and even stage bosses, but conversely, I was knocking on death’s door, especially if I didn’t have any backup with me.

That type of “fight-or-flight” scenario is impossible to reach without playing on Hard difficulty, however. Playing it on Normal is just too easy and there’s no thought or consideration on how to approach these scenarios. They simply don’t exist as all the player has to do is, well, “Mash square.”

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Samurai Warriors 5 - PlayStation 5 Direct Capture

As a recommendation, I’d tell anyone to play it on Hard difficulty as it’s not “Hard,” but the amount of damage you take requires you to think outside the box ever so slightly rather than going headfirst alone into danger. Overall, with the little time I spent on it, Samurai Warriors 5 was a solid experience that I’m sure fans of the series and newcomers will greatly enjoy if not for the art direction and easy pick-up-and-play gameplay alone.

Samurai Warriors 5 is now available on the PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4, and Xbox One

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