Samurai Warriors 5 Review
Back to basics.
In this day and age, there are way more Musou games than you can count. It’s gotten to the point where even spinoff Musou series are reaching several numbered installments, and Samurai Warriors 5 is the latest one to be released. Billed as a reboot, Samurai Warriors 5 aims to revitalize the Samurai Warriors series and take the franchise in a new direction following the lengthy gap since Samurai Warriors 4. It trims a lot of the fat and offers a no-frills Musou experience, which is both a blessing and a curse for fans of the genre.
Set in the Sengoku period of Japan, Samurai Warriors 5 is centered around Nobunaga Oda and Mitsuhide Akechi. The story focuses on Nobunaga’s younger years and features iconic moments from Japanese history. This is a reboot, so you don’t have to have played the first four games in the series before this one. The story isn’t the focal point of any of these games anyway, but Samurai Warriors 5 places a larger than usual emphasis on storytelling this time around, focusing primarily on a small group of characters.
The gameplay is standard Musou fare, but Samurai Warriors 5 offers an incredibly refined take on the formula. If you’ve played a Musou game before then you already know what to expect, but Samurai Warriors 5 adds a few twists to the combat. Every character has the standard set of normal and power attacks, but each character also has access to special moves called Hyper Attacks. These have been featured in previous Samurai Warriors games before, allowing you to dash forward while attacking so you can easily close the gap between groups of enemies, dramatically increasing the pace of combat.
Samurai Warriors 5, however, adds a new feature called Ultimate Skills into the mix. Each character can have four of these equipped at once. They range from buffs that increase your attack power to powerful attacks that hit multiple foes at once. These can be used at any time during a combo, and when you pair them with Hyper Attacks and the rest of the moveset, you can basically never stop attacking. Chaining together Hyper Attacks, standard combos, Ultimate Skills, and devastating Musou attacks is remarkably satisfying, and you can build up a kill counter well into the thousands by connecting the right moves.
Citadel Mode is the major side mode in this game, and it’s sadly not as great as the main game. Citadel mode tasks you with defending your base from incoming waves of enemies. Some side objectives like defeating certain enemies will occasionally pop up during Citadel Mode battles, but the main goal is still to prevent the enemies from reaching your base. It’s incredibly repetitive and just isn’t as fun as the main story mode.
It’s a shame, because Citadel Mode is the main space to grind for materials to upgrade the buildings in your Castle. The Dojo, Blacksmith, Shop, and Stables can all be upgraded using materials found during battles, unlocking new features for each. Upgrading your buildings and, in turn, upgrading your roster of characters is the main loop of Samurai Warriors 5’s postgame, so you’ll have to spend quite a bit of time grinding in Citadel Mode after finishing the main campaign.
Unfortunately, Samurai Warriors 5 also suffers from most of the same issues as the other games in the series. Repetition begins to set in fairly quickly, and it can be tough to maintain the motivation to keep going during longer play sessions.
The story is also serviceable at best, but that’s not the main focus for these games anyway. There are also optional friendship scenes that can be unlocked as characters spend more time fighting alongside one another, but these aren’t that interesting, either. Still, there are at least a few interesting scenes in the story, and cutscenes in general look great thanks to the game’s new art style.
Also, it’s a relatively minor gripe, but the game doesn’t feature English VO. All of the voice acting is in Japanese, which is great for cutscenes and other story moments, but it can be hard to read everything that’s being said during gameplay. The characters are really expressive on the battlefield, but I ended up missing some of the dialogue and character interactions because I was too focused on the action in front of me.
Because the game is a reboot with a new visual style, the roster has been cut down significantly. Samurai Warriors 5 only features 37 playable characters, which is a considerable amount smaller than the previous Samurai Warriors game’s roster and nowhere near the cast size of the newer Dynasty Warriors games. Quite a few characters wield the same weapons and have nearly identical movesets as well, which just makes the small roster feel even more limited. A Musou game doesn’t need a ton of characters to be good (Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity had only 18 at launch), but for the fifth entry in the series, Samurai Warriors 5’s roster feels a bit underwhelming.
All in all, Samurai Warriors 5 scratches the Musou itch but doesn’t do too much to mix up the formula. The new visual style is great, and cutting down hordes of enemies is just as satisfying as ever. Because there aren’t as many bells and whistles tacked onto the gameplay, this is a great spot for new people who are interested in the series to jump on. Still, there isn’t enough here to attract those who aren’t already interested. A smaller roster and lackluster side content hold Samurai Warriors 5 back from being truly great, even if the combat system is probably the best it’s ever been.
- This article was updated on July 27th, 2021
Samurai Warriors 5
- Score: 3.5 / 5
- Available On: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch
- Published By:
- Developed By: Omega Force
- Genre: Hack and Slash
- US Release Date: July 27, 2021
- Reviewed On: Xbox Series X
- Quote: "Samurai Warriors 5 scratches the Musou itch but doesn't do too much to mix up the formula."