Game name: Warriors All-Stars
Release date: August 29, 2017
Price: US$ 59.99
Available on: Steam
Genre: Third person action game
Developer: Omega Force
Publisher: Koei Tecmo Games
Warriors All-Stars is a crossover action game in the vein of Warriors Orochi, featuring a number of playable characters straight out of Koei Tecmo’s most popular franchises, as they fight to overcome adversity and save a dying land. The story is a mostly by-the-numbers affair, full of cliches and tired tropes, but luckily, the heroes’ personalities and fighting styles are still the same as in the games they originally starred in, adding some much welcome diversity to an otherwise uninspired campaign.
Of course, being a Warriors game, All-Stars was never going to fare very well based only on the quality of its storytelling so we should instead focus on its gameplay. Here, we’ll find the familiar musou formula at its peak, placing us in control of powerful officer units that must wade through thousands of lesser enemies, completing objectives and destroying entire battalions like they were made of papier-mâché.
Button presses will produce light and heavy attacks that can in turn be combined to create combos, and once we’ve filled up a resource bar, we can unleash a powerful move, clearing the screen of enemy foot-soldiers and gravely punishing even the toughest officer units.
Compared to Spirit of Sanada, another spin-off of the Warriors series released this year, Warriors All-Stars is a fair bit more traditional, abandoning the former’s smaller multi-stage battles in favor of the series’ classic big, open battlefields, and doing away with the Stratagems system, as it was heavily tied to the story of the Sanada clan and would have to be reworked in order to fit in this new release.
In place of those missing features, we’ll find new mechanics such as the Musou Rush (letting us become invincible for a set period of time, which may be increased as we kill hordes of enemies), a party combo system that can be used to turn the tide of battles that weren’t going or way, and card-based character upgrades which replace the series’ usual weapon improvement mechanics.
Aside from the systems described above, Warriors All-Stars also features light RPG elements, letting us grow our characters’ power both temporarily (as we defeat enemy officers, our Bravery level increases, boosting our stats for the duration of the mission we are playing) and permanently, thanks to the aforementioned card-based upgrade mechanic and a separate experience tree that will reward us with new moves and enhanced combat capabilities.
I particularly liked the Bravery system, as it offers a tangible incentive to complete the various side-objectives that can be found in the battlefield, and taking on enemy officers who had higher Bravery than my own was a welcome challenge after murdering countless foot-soldiers.
Though at the beginning of the game we’ll be limited on the amount of heroes we can choose from, that situation will quickly change as we unlock more characters, and we’ll end up being able to form mighty teams of powerful warriors. Once we’ve chosen our ideal team-up, we should start using them almost exclusively, since there’s a relationship system at play, which increases the efficiency of heroes that have shared many battles as a combat unit. This could have been a bad idea if All-Stars was a shorter game, but thankfully we’ll have plenty of time to settle on our own perfect team, and between the relationship mechanic and the card-based upgrade system, most players will sink an unnatural amount of hours in the campaign, up to the point where they might even forget that it’s the only mode available.
Missions appear on a top-down map, where we’ll be able to select them in a non-linear fashion, unlocking new heroes and testing their mettle against powerful enemies in side-quests and limited time battles that will shower us with gold and upgrade cards. Combat encounters will vary depending on the type of mission we’ve chosen to undertake, and as usual, most maps will let us capture enemy camps and fulfill non-critical mission objectives in exchange for extra loot (and Bravery points).
If we wish to spend some time away from the battlefield, we can travel to our home base, a place where the heroes we’ve unlocked will hang out, chatting with us and offering interesting pieces of information about their background if our friendship level is high enough. A bath-house is also available, creating intimate moments between close friends, or comical exchanges as we find strange guests who shouldn’t be sharing bath time with us.
Graphics, sound and performance
On the tech front, Warriors All-Stars is a mixed bag, since the impressive character models used for the playable characters clash with the environment’s low resolution textures. Thankfully, performance is nearly rock solid, achieving and maintaining the coveted 60 fps mark without too many sacrifices. This is a marked improvement over Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada, as I experienced noticeable framerate drops during heated battles during my time with that title.
As usual, the soundtrack is excellent, featuring tracks from a number of classic Koei Tecmo games and letting us choose our own battle tunes, and the voice actors in charge of bringing the heroes to life did a great job with the material at hand.
Warriors All-Stars suffers from poor storytelling and lacks innovation, but its solid musou gameplay and diverse cast of characters will keep players glued to the screen for countless hours.
7.5/10 – Very good.