Another month, another Warriors game! That’s how it feels sometimes, anyway. Not like I’m complaining; the nice part about a developer releasing iterations on the same formula repeatedly is that said formula tends to become pretty refined. The Disgaea series of grind-tastic strategy RPGs is a great example of this, as is the Warriors series, which has steadily become better and better as more games are released. Spinoff Warriors games, such as Hyrule Warriors, are often especially good, and that remains the case with the latest crossover battler Warriors All-Stars.
A world powered by the energy of a magical spring is fading away as the spring’s power wanes. Sayo, the queen of that world’s native cat-like race, and her relatives call upon heroes from other worlds to try and find the source of the problem. Said relatives, however, are motivated in another way, as there’s also a three-way battle going on to determine the world’s next monarch, and those otherworldly heroes end up picking sides in the conflict.
You’ve played Warriors games before, so you’ve probably got an idea of how this one works: there’s a lot of enemies and you’re going to murder them all. You’ll also periodically need to go murder specific enemies or prevent enemies from murdering someone on your side. Copious amounts of murder will lead to level ups and new gear, in this case Cards, which will expedite the process of murder later on. It’s a simple concept that’s worked for years now and Warriors All-Stars doesn’t significantly alter the series’ basic gameplay; as this is a “modern” Warriors game, combat feels snappy and satisfying.
The unique aspect of this particular Warriors game is, of course, the cast of characters who will be engaging in said murder. You’ve got heroes from across many of Koei Tecmo’s most significant franchises, from the mainstream Warriors games to Toukiden to Dead or Alive and more. This means you can kick butt as Ryu Hayabusa of Ninja Gaiden fame, for instance, or as Kasumi from the Dead or Alive series. Naturally, the most interesting characters are the oddballs – Sophie from Atelier Sophie, for instance, or William Adams from Nioh, or even Opoona from the bizarre Wii RPG of the same name. All of the characters have their own fighting styles and are more or less effective in different areas, with William being great at taking down larger foes but having trouble with crowds, for instance, as befits a character from a Souls-styled game.
The extensive roster is used to great effect thanks to several team-focused mechanics. Characters who often fight together will become better comrades, for instance, gaining effectiveness over time and as they interact outside of combat. This can be weaponized by summoning teammates for special assist attacks; this is a great way to cover weaknesses, such as the trouble William has with crowds, by calling in a hero who’s better at dealing with the situation in question. Further, you can summon your entire team of fighters to join you simultaneously, laying waste to entire areas of the map at once with a full squad of five. It’s a nice touch that encourages you to get to know all of the playable heroes throughout the game.
Presentation-wise, Warriors All-Stars really capitalizes on the fanservice factor that’s core to the experience. All of the characters remain stylized as they were in their home games, which results in bizarre contrasts like the more realistic Hayabusa or the Dead or Alive fighters battling the cel-shaded, cutesy Sophie or Opoona. Frankly, it’s a treat for fans of these series, especially when it comes to characters who weren’t originally from action games given a chance to shine in a new gameplay setting, and it’s also great to watch disparate characters interact. On PC the game runs at a beautifully smooth 60FPS, while PS4 chokes a bit at times when a massive amount is going on, but generally speaking Warriors All-Stars looks, sounds and plays well on whatever platform you choose.
Warriors All-Stars is really one for the fans, naturally, and I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that. If you’re a diehard enthusiast for any of the series in question then you should at least consider picking this one up, since it’s bound to do justice to your favorite characters. Yes, that means you, five or six people who actually played Opoona – this is your game, pick it up post haste. Naturally, if you’ve still got an appetite for classic Warriors-style smashery then this is unquestionably a good choice as well.