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Making time for Samurai Warriors 4-2

At this stage we don't even know which Warriors games we're playing. And we don't care.


"You gonna stick around for the raid?"

"Ah, nah, kid, I gotta go play Samurai Warriors 4," I said. "I'm way, way late writing about it."

"Shit, dude. Didn't that come out like, last year?"

I thought about it. "No. Because I got it just before Rock Band 4, and got distracted."

"Do you mean the sequel?"

I honestly wasn't sure. It's all a bit of a blur at this stage, innit.


I don't really know what Samurai Warriors 4-2 is.

It's not Empires; Samurai Warriors 4 Empires is on the way. It's not Xtreme Legends, the expansion series focused on presenting tougher challenges and more bombastic content (this series seems to have been retired, which is a shame - although I'm very happy to see the 2000-era subtitle die off to be honest). It's not a ported re-release, as we've seen several times over the past few years, because it's uh, on the same platforms as the original.

Koei Tecmo says 4-2 is a "perfect" version of Samurai Warriors 4. It introduces refinements to the battle and combat system, such as more hyper attack efficacy tracking allied morale, better enemy AI, a unique "epiphany" skill for each character, shifting of certain skills and attributes to characters rather than weapons, and a more flexible weapon forging system which has ben extended to mounts.

I try not to imagine how exactly one merges two horses together to get an even stronger one.

We could call it Samurai Warriors 4: More. This would immediately clear up any confusion.

Is the system actually "perfect" now? I very much doubt it. When Dynasty Warriors 9 (gosh) and Samurai Warriors 5 roll around, as they inevitably will, I expect we'll find the formula has been given another major shake up. Omega Force has been tweaking this same gameplay for 15 years now (since Dynasty Warriors 2; the first Dynasty Warriors was a 1v1 fighter rather than a beat-'em-up). If the developer hasn't nailed down the quintessential experience by now, it probably doesn't exist.

Is it better than Samurai Warriors 4? Look, to be honest: I'm well past the stage of my Warriors-loving life where I throw a fit every time Omega Force changes a thing. Although the basic two button combo system is eternal, the other combat mechanics, RPG systems and content presentation are reinvented so often that I have a lot of trouble remembering what happened when and whether we liked it or not. (I am not helped in this by the Dynasty Warriors numbering discrepancy, as half the fanbase insists on Japanese numbering, making 50% of every debate a matter of establishing whether you mean the same game.)

I liked Samurai Warriors 4 a lot, and I like Samurai Warriors 4-2 a lot, because it's more of that.

We could call it Samurai Warriors 4: More. This would immediately clear up any confusion.


What Samurai Warriors 4 mainly does, really, is add extra story content. There are several new campaigns, and they all focus on recent additions or neglected favourites, giving us yet more perspective on the personages and events of the Sengoku era.

Omega Force takes liberties with the source material, and historical accuracy takes a backseat to setting up rivals, love interests, mentors and villains. It's kind of amazing the team can still find stories to tell, stringing together a set of historical battles in different combinations to extract personal, character-driven narratives from repeatedly bashing your way through maps teeming with grunts.

Despite the huge cast, you get a sense of who these people were - or at least, who the characters based on them are. You may not know the dates and names of battles, but you do know why each character did what they did. Fans can't get enough of this, it seems; not content with learning X many names, we constantly demand roster expansions. X+n or bust. There is a delight in a formerly generic character becoming playable, their role in the Warring States drama coloured in by their relationship to others.


Something has happened to time the last few years but it goes by at a much faster rate, and Warriors games seem to slide through the mailbox every other day. In the days I wasn't frantically struggling to keep up with just the major releases, like a cat dancing round after autumn leaves in one of those game show money blower booths, I used to 100% them. I would get every character to max level, finish every campaign at the highest difficulty level, pad every officer's stats out, collect every item, horse, and rare weapon.

Now if I finish every faction's story mode I have probably spent too much time indulging myself and should get back to [insert triple-A blockbuster here]. I don't have time to really plough through each release; I need to pick a main and accept that I won't be running Chaos difficulty with anyone else - or even with this guy, let's be real.

Whenever a new Warriors games pops up on the radar, I experience a rush of emotions, not least of which is the panic wrought by fluttering of time's wingéd chariot. How can there be another one already?

And yet: franchise fatigue has not set in. I am interested. I am keen. I wonder whose eyes we'll view the battlefield from this time. I wonder if Yukimura Sanada's base attack combo will include decent crowd-clearing moves. I wonder if the naginata moveset will be pleasant enough to attach to my custom character; vanity, vanity.


I haven't finished Samurai Warriors4 or Samurai Warriors 4-2.

Look at my backlog. Look at it. Even if I take out all the games I only want to play for myself, ignoring my paid employment, the queue is weighty; each triple-A blockbuster is by law required to last approximately a decade, and I only have so many hours a day.

If there was anybody in the whole world who ought to be like, "No, please, not another Warriors game. Not more Warriors," it's me.

Why, yes, I am looking forward to Samurai Warriors 4 Empires, actually.

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