I recently got my hands on a gaming-calibur PC, and with a relatively nice computer comes opportunity, apparently. Koei Tecmo gave me some early access to Samurai Warriors 5, for purposes of a preview. I was able to play the game’s first two chapters, during which Nobunaga Oda begins his rise to power. I got a good taste of the new gameplay additions, but perhaps more importantly Omega Force’s crack at a new visual style.
Musou games have had different art styles before, but this is the first time a “main series” Musou has really deviated from the regular style. While the fundamentals or structure of the style is still intact, new colors and Japanese ink-style filtering still give Samurai Warriors 5 a brand new look. Between the on-screen visual effects, the use of color and the hard outlines, this is one of the most striking Musou I’ve played in a long time.
That’s especially true playing on PC, of course. Not being in the gaming PC space until 2021, I’m not used to seeing Musou games run this well. Playing a new Samurai Warriors and doing whatever I felt like and not seeing the frame rate obviously drop is pretty wild. Considering there’s still time and polish to go, I have pretty high hopes for the final PC release. I am curious, however, how Samurai Warriors 5’s new style will fare on consoles.
As far as the story goes, it’s definitely interesting to see this side of Nobunaga Oda. His younger years are portrayed with a lot less villainous energy, as Oda is much more hot-headed and optimistic. But it isn’t long before things get complicated, of course. This reminds me a lot of the Samurai Warriors spinoff, Spirit of Sanada, with its narrative focus on a smaller group of characters.
In terms of the action, there’s a few things worth mentioning at this point. Character building is interesting, as you earn a universal pool of points as you play. Each character has a Final Fantasy X Sphere Grid-like chart to spend them on. But those points go fast and aren’t shared between characters.
Another system adds an extra suite of special moves to your arsenal, which operate on cooldowns and produce various effects. Some of them are attacks, and some of them are buffs. You can set them, so there’s a lot of possible exploration there. My favorite was a huge jumping move that you could aim from off-screen, then land with, well, an earthquake.
My favorite part of Samurai Warriors 5 so far is the way you can hit enemies in their knockdown states with big, heavy slam-type moves. Oda’s initial weapon, the Odachi, has some super over the top off the ground properties that make harassing an enemy before they can get back up a lot of fun. It also seems like a great way to extend combos, and those little tricks can be the best part of Musou.
We’ll have a more substantial review of Samurai Warriors 5 in the future, so I won’t belabor the point here any more than needed. Suffice it to say I’m excited, as just the visuals alone really help Samurai Warriors feel fresh. The new story angle is intriguing as well, and some of the new options are fun to engage with. I’m looking forward to checking everything out and more when the game drops, later this summer.