A rant about Warriors Orochi 4 – How potential can be utterly wasted

You know it’s getting harder and harder to be a fan of the series when one realises that my dumb ass has better ideas for a game than the game’s actual makers.

At this point it’s pointless to tear down the game since everyone can see that but what people don’t see is the potential shown in not only the game itself, the characters they created.

The way they introduced and Warrior-fied(I know, I know…) ancient Greek gods, along with Norwegian gods later even tied them with Orochi is quite a nice touch, how Orochi’s Yamata no Orochi form alludes to the myth of the Hydra aaaaaannd that’s it. That’s about how deep they went with that. They just dumped DW8 and SW4 characters, added new characters to fill in the void of the crossover characters from WO3 and flimsily tied it to the existing narrative they have now. A thing that has been dumb ever since the idea of a sequel to the first Warriors Orochi being made into reality. But given what they did, how they made these gods look, act and most important of all, PLAY, they inadvertently showed their interest in this title and perhaps what they actually want to do with the series or what they want to do with the idea of a new original cast of characters to have a Warriors series. But I could be wholly wrong, I dunno man. X_X

Generic FPS

The above image perfectly showcases something, despite it being a parody : the importance of image, of marketing. Why do I say that? Think about it, before Doom 2016 making it hip again to want Rip and Tear once again as Doomguy, the standard and most appealing way to play a game and specifically an FPS is if you were a generic military Gruffguy McGruffington who fought in the World War Vietnam against Un-american terrorists for the glory of America-manity in a shit brown filter while having microtransactions, unecessary multiplayer with always online and DLC being normalised AND FUCK YOU FOR THAT AND YOUR PURE SHIT GAMES-

2011

What was I talking about again? Ah yes, marketing. Just like that kind of marketing was appealing for FPS, the same thing applies to Koei’s main series, the Warriors / Musou games. While the often tackle licenses with mixed success, their bread and butter has been the chinese warriors of the Three Kingdoms Era and the samurai warlords of the Warring States period. Both things that appeal to the main audience of the games : the japanese. While the ROT3K represents a mythical, almost Wu Xia like era of valour, bravery, glory and ambition that is really magical, the Warring States is like their own catnip when it comes to heroes that fought in large army warfare, it has grown to be almost a mythical time since it affected their history deeply and it’s udnerstandable. A lot of these guys were also very eccentric and unique individuals, with boisterous personalities that you would never see today be it in Japan or anywhere else in the world. I’m sure every country has an era similar to that wants to look fondly upon and insert in their video games.But therein lies the problem : these two series have gone on for so long, they are the face of what a Warriors game essentially is, just like “MUH MILITARY” was what the first and later the third person shooters for a very long time with games like Bulletstorm and Dead Space 1 and 2 being the outliers in that climate. Creating a new franchise is risky when you want to make money, especially after taking a hit. Guess what Warriors Orochi 4 was : the sure, money making game to make back what was lost from this :




Yeah…that. And these are the nice guys, if you see what the japanese and chinese wrote in the Steam forums…oooooooh boi. That was a very…rare and eye opening sight as to how these people with the seemingly “endless patience for bullshit” ethos act when their patience completely runs out and they snap. So bringing a franchise that is beloved, sure fire and has all the good elements in a Warriors games is how you make money, thus Warriors Orochi 4 came out but this time it did things…weirdly :

Yeah, what does the Pantheon mean in the background? And why are Zhao Yun and Yukimura fighting, aren’t they friends? But before any of that settled, we had this :

So many thought “Oh, they are getting new costumes based on gods, like the Multi Raid Rage forms, neat”. Ultimately, that wasn’t the case as we know now. But this is intriguing because Ever since Warriors Orochi 2 / Shin Musou Orochi, I have this feeling that Koei wanted to introduce a wholly new and independent universe of games with no connection to the Dynasty and Samurai characters. While the first Warriors Orochi game may have been a celebration of both and a proud declaration of the height of that style of gameplay back in the day, maybe the idea of Orochi and his time traveling gimmicks that combined several mythological aspects stuck with them and wanted to experiment with it to its utmost limit given who join during the Orochi series. But imagine that : what if it could cross beyond the Ocean? What if the legend of Orochi extended beyond the Himalayas? What if, in ancient times, Orochi was known as the Hydra or the great dragon Python or even the universal monster Typhoon and the greek gods defeated him only for him to flee to the east but like in the game, midway he meets the Norwegian gods and takes on the persona of the world eating serpent, Jormugandr, the terror of Midgard and his alliance with Loki earns him the right to be the Trickster’s son? Until he is ousted from there as well and moving towards the east once again? Heck, you got an amazing hook for a new game right there and with gods and mythological heroes as the characters you can go to amazing extremes in the terms of movesets, gameplay ideas and what kinds of armies they can mow down to defeat such an era-spanning foe that persists.

Or…you know…you can fumble here and there. And that fumbling, half-assed attitude has ruined a lot of games for Koei to the point of losing a lot of good will. This time it felt like their heart was half-way there yet they were punished for previous failings. Because a lot of the new mechanics, rebalancing of classes, the idea of the sacred treasures and the fact they poured so much creativity over the greek and norse gods makes it feel weird, as if they started excited, got demotivated but presisted to make at least those elements good. Because I’ll be honest, you gotta a lot imagination to cherry pick aspects of the myths of Ares to come up with this :

And stay true to the myths as well. That reminds me of their creativity with original characters of Orochi before Warriors Orochi 3, where instead of just dumping the myths halph-hazardly, they took Musashibou Benkei and made him fat EMIYA…or tried to at least, took Yoshitsune and turned him into the golden fighter with the lightsaber etc. This require not only passion but some degree of love and exitement as well otherwise, the new characters would ust be some boring depictions of the gods that have been done a billion times before based on the same tired Roman-ised and americani-ised image of how the Olympians should be etc. Same with the norse gods. It takes a lot of effort to think of a young Odin and make him the way he is in this game, right down to his motives…even if the way he moves around with Gungnir is kind of jarring.

But enough of that; it’s time to see what kind of potential they have squandered by presenting you the various ideas that could have happened in the game. And as always; most are things that Koei has already done and experimented in their games before.

1.)FUCK Dynasty and Samurai characters -Lost story potential

Just fuck’em. Fuck their connection to Orochi, distance the games from them since you want to and focus on your already very robust roster of Orochi original characters. So far you have :

http://koei.wikia.com/wiki/Warriors_Orochi_(series)#Characters

31 original characters and I’d argue that you should bump it up to 32 by including Achilles due to his connections. That’s a very solid number of characters to have for a first completely original game, especially when it has elements that one can expand upon for their movesets. Though, I’d say add some more greek and norse gods to make it even more appealing and bump the counter to a nice and round 40. It’s just more appealing. So, you have your original cast set and while they are part of a famous named series, the cast and stiry can finally function without it being a crossover that only has the focus on 3 people and Orochi once again because the cast is too big and blehblahblah. Now you have wholly unique characters in a set universe that you can use to interact and tell amazingly fun and bonkers stories that don’t have to be beholden to a set character standard since you now have new and fresh characters in a new, fresh world. And the potential of that is amazing, given the ties between these mythologies and their actual historical significance in how those myths intertwinned and traveled the world. And the best of all? It can still be an Orochi vs everyone story to keep that series staple.

2.)Gameplay and characters

One of the few good things WO4 did was getting rid of the Wonder type and revert back to the three other types the ones who had the Wonder, then add the new magic system / Sacred Treasures in place along with a type of skill tree that rewards you for leveling up. So far so good except…they just half-assed it and missed the potential it has. Now, in a game of over a 100 characters(it’s nearly 200 to be exact, holy hell) it’s quite difficult to balance out those systems, especially if there’s no incentive or drive / passion, like there was in the first game, where every character was so meticulously playtested that they were all viable and fun to play as, even if they weren’t as fun in their own games. Masamune for example, being a speed type with his R abilities being basically M.Bison’s Psycho Crush and Dante’s Rain Storm went from being a somewhat average character in Samurai Warriors 2 to a really fun and utterly unique character. This can’t happen again but since we are going with the above suggestion of ony 40 characters this time, let’s explore the potential of each thing :

I.)The Sacred Treasures system

First off, the potential of the magic system is quite healthy but the mechanics are wonky despite work fine in theory with the magic Charge and Unique magic attacks costing the resources they do and their damage being negligible at best for the price they ask to give an example. First things first, instead of having a magic circle that refils as the magic meter and a Unity Magic meter that fills the more magic attacks are used so that the players can do this absurd Spirit Bomb like nuke, the two meters should be rehauled into being the cooldown ring for the magic attacks and the Unity Magic meter should instead become the Magic Musou gauge. The next step is increasing incentive by using the magic attacks and keeping the combo up by utilising a new system instead : rather than having all attacks directly consume magic, have the Normal and Charge attacks consume only the recharge magic gauge, with the normal costing little of it but also gaining little magic in return while the Charge consumes all the recharge gauge but gaines more magic in return and finally, the Unique magic attack should just use the magic gauge the player worked so hard to fill no more normal musou consumed. And it should use all of it. Also, only the Charge magic should halt the combo counter, not the other two magic attacks.

Now, the really amazing thing WO4 does is that every god has their own weapon as their own sacred treasure and later a DLC…*sigh*…a DLC adds alternative modes of said sacred treasures with new properties and strengths. Which is amazing in its own right but, one amazing thing would be for other characters to be able to swap between the sacred treasures to add a ton of customizations but the alternate modes should be locked to certain characters just to indicate their own favourable weapons. Now, even with the 40 characters proposed and even with just 10 sacred treasures(not the actual number btw), that would still be 1200 new attack animations, effects and damage calculators etc so instead, what should happen should be that each Sacred Treasure should have a generic normal and charge magic attacks that are uniform for all characters with the unique magic attacks being actually unique for each character. Now, the normal and charge magic attacks that are unique to the characters also have a higher attack power and far more unique effects than just fire damage for example.

Most important of all : the Sacred Treasure attacks should not override the R1 attacks. Now that, would make it really awesome. And to make them even more important, have the sacred treasures not related to the current gods be hidden objectives of some stages, like the personal items in Warriors orochi 1 :

http://koei.wikia.com/wiki/Personal_Items

II.)The Character Classes and their abilities

Now, the three classes are fine in WO1 and I have written before what should happen to these types to fully utilise their potential but even if that isn’t viable here, they is always more that can be done with the potential these types have. Borrowing from the Warriors Orochi 1 classes and now adding their Warriors Orochi 4 additions for the better, Power characters should now focus not only on their hyperarmour but also how they approach charge attacks, perhaps adding a mechanic that lets them hold down the button to unleash a stronger and more devastating attack along with having their R1 attacks be buffs to make them the tanky powerhouses they ought to be. Technique characters should have the dodge offset ability but as a trade-off, their lose their ability to jump. That shouldn’t matter though since only the Speed characters should have the aerial element on lockdown due to their frail stats so to make up for that they should have an aerial moveset as well just like the wind ninja Fuuma Kotaro had in Sengoku Basara 4 along with a much upgrade aerial dash.

All these elements, along with the magic attacks and the R1 attacks from the classes would make for a cery tight experience.

III.)The skill tree and the leveling possibilities

Again, pretty good and solid idea given what other games they made with that type of mechanic had done…and they have done it better. Once again, the large number of characters just mucks this mechanic up and makes it egregious. Going with the 40 characters again, there is more time and care to be put into each skill tree than before and I honestly think that the way Koei should approach this would be not by simple additions but by making the skill tree worth it and reward the player. So right off the bat, no more simple stat boosters as this game isn’t Dragon Quest Heroes and that isn’t as desirable here nor should moveset upgrades be skill walled either. It worked with Zelda and Fire Emblem due to the crests but here it’s annoying. What should happen is that the player naturally unlocks the rest of the moveset as he levels up, like always but not all of the abilities of each attack. Here’s what I mean; while each branching attack can have its uses and these are usually universal among players(example : the square -> triangle combo usually leads to the enemy being send airbourne and often even juggled) through the skill tree, some of the attacks of each character should be able to change to emphasize some very specific elements to make them more bombastic and add a new layer to the moveset. It’s no secret that as Koei goes forward as of late, they are doing their damnest to make everyone remain in that same uniform set-up of : “Press Square 6 times and if you press Triangle at any point before the sixth attack you do a branch attack” and not even want to go back to some of their more creative set-ups from previous games, instead relying on the animations to make the buttons pressed feel different…it’s not the same as one character having a very specific thing tied to their moveset, kinda like the EX Attacks of DW8 except much more nuanced and more numerous among a moveset. Ideas could even include a Speed character being required to hold down a button to compeltely morph a part of his moveset that fits him or something. The ideas are numerous and the experimentation is key here to figure how to make each character more enjoyable to play as.

But that’s not all; the skill trees do have some clever ideas as well with perhaps each character being able to unlock team abilities this way instead of unlocking them the WO1 and 2 way, along with having some very specific stat upgrades for each character and finally, have some kind of unique tag musou mechanic with specific pairs needing to unlock the tag musou skill in the skill tree to execute it. For example, have Athena and Ares have a comon tag musou skill and when the player activates Ares’ musou but quickly then changes to Athena while holding down the musou button, instead of what happened in previous games the characters will now do something compeltely different and unique to that team specifically :

And in case you’re wondering, Koei can do it too. They did it before Basara either way :

Ok, technically it’s Tecmo that did it first but you get the point. 😀

IV.)The crystal problem and camp woes

Finally, instead of the cluttered camp menu we have now and the crystals being used to buy Big Star weapons, have it be like this : crystals are now used as resources to make the camp better and used to directly upgrade some of the stats of the characters via an ingenius method; make the camp be a temple instead. A temple that you build or rather, a citadel with temples based on the gods and mythological heroes the game has and expand upon. And the upgrades these temples bring will unlock things like more mythological mounts, costumes, the ability to raise specific stats a certain amount for each character but to make it more intriguing, this feature can only be used a very limited amount of times so that each player can have a different experience with each character. To give an example, maybe one player wants a fully defensive Orochi while another player prefers an Orochi that is a glass cannon, so the first player just dumps all the crystals on defense and HP while the other player gives Orochi attention to his attack and speed. And given how each character has different values put in those stats from the begining, the combinations give further incentive for the player to get crystals and upgrade their camp.

But that’s not all; instead of mundanely unlocking bodyguards(we’ll get to that later), the bodyguards should be unlocked depending on how upgraded a certain temple is and depending on how upgraded the camp is the player should be able to bring more bodyguards in the battlefield, essentially building his own army and even being able to replace a lot of the predetermined ally characters with his own bodyguards. And the bodyguards shouldn’t just be generics with a special ability that might aid the player but even the other playable characters in the game to spice things up. Heck add some unique NPCs as well. And finally, the more one upgrades a specific temple, the more a specific sacred treasure’s powers and abilities grow for all characters to use.

3.)Weapons, Attributes and Mounts

No seriously, mounts. That might seem a bit innocuous at first but the idea of multiple mounts with different stats and abilities isn’t a first in the warriors games but this time, instead of simply being an upgrade of speed and a slightly different appearance like the past Orochi games, they should go all out an fully embrace the ridiculousness they already unleashed. Each mount could have different speeds, attack power and even special ability like Pegasus for example, being the only mount capable of flight. Also, instead of pressing X to mount a dismount, this time the player should just press R1+X to do both of these actions depending on the context.

As for the weapons, I might soud controversial but for once, I’d rather not have he usual weapon system; rather all characters have their unique, super awesome final weapon unlocked from the start and have it be their only weapon. I mean, the weapons these characters have in their artwork is quie spiffy already, how much more can you touch that up without it being reduced to a simple recolour at the end of the day? Instead, the weapons have levels to them and have to be forged to be upgraded and level up. Now, the level ups should increase the power of the weapon as always, have it gain slots for weapon attributes to go in and customize the weapons. Moreover, weapon attributes should now be found in the battlefield instead of weapons and some new rules for the attributes must be set up to make it fair.

http://koei.wikia.com/wiki/Weapon_Fusion

Instead of attributes that have multiple values, I’d rather have the attributes be at full power at all times and isntead be categorized in specific groups : Bronze, Silver, Gold and Elemental. And each one can be slotted into the weapons eight slots but with some restrictions; a weapon can have only two Silver attributes at all times, only one Gold attribute and only one Elemental attribute so a player must choose wisely.

4.)The return of bodyguards

Yes! The bodyguards should return, as I mentioned earlier. Just like in the Samurai Warriors games of old, these NPCS can bring out the strategic potential in a fight and even if strategy is for naught nowadays because…

Yeah, that! But still, bodyguards can have their uses. They could still provide the player with passive bonuses and even add an extra layer to the customization of the team, like the bodyguards of the PSP game, Samurai Warriors State of War and Sengoku Basara 3 later did as well with its ally system. Heck, you could go a step further and use them as the ones that have the team abilities equiped so that instead of a flat menu with team abilities like in the first game, you now have up to say…seven bodyguards, each with a specific team ability and if they die on the battlefield, that buff could disappear for the battle, making things even more hectic if Koei ever chose to be that hardcore.

And that’s all. Have a good one everybody. 😀

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