The idea to do spinoffs of Dynasty Warriors proved to be brilliant. Be it Hyrule Warriors or Berserk and the Band of the Hawk, every title manages to be different, but also the same. The core gameplay is there, kill lots of enemies, capture areas and defeat generals, but these concepts are molded to match what the source material is about. So, when the latest entry was a crossover between various Koei Tecmo series, it sounded like a winner. With popular characters, notable enemies and a proven format, is Warriors All-Stars a dream come true or does it fail to meet expectations?
Crossovers like this tend to follow one of two story arcs. Either the characters want to figure out what happened, solve it and go home or they’re brought together by a more powerful force to accomplish some kind of goal. Warriors All-Stars goes with the latter.
After finding out that the spring, the source of all things great, is dying out, Tamaki decides to summon heroes from other worlds to aid them. After a struggle for power between Tamaki, Setsuna and Shiki, it’s revealed that Yomi, an evil being that is sealed in the spring, is about to return. From there, the three of them, plus the various heroes, need to band together to defeat Yomi and bring peace and prosperity to the land.
If this sounds like a generic premise, that would be because it’s far from being an engaging story. Following the reveal of Yomi, the story follows the typical clichés. Nothing about this stands out, though it still makes for a better experience than having all the characters talk about how things are different in their world. Instead, the characters are actually integrated fairly well.
After the initial introductions and recruitment phase, characters respond to situations in a way that suits their established characters. Sometimes they lay it on thick, like Arnice, from Nights of Azure, has a number of references to Lily, the girl she protects in Nights of Azure, and often talks about hot chocolate, but these choices are forgivable, considering it’s hard to do a crossover without some fan service.
Since this is a Dynasty Warriors game, combat is similar to what you’d expect from said franchise. Every character has a number of attacks you can perform by alternating between light and heavy attacks. Given the variety of series, there is a good balance between keeping them true to the source material and having fun.
Going back to Arnice, she has her basic sword attacks and can summon fiends to aid her in combat, many of which use attacks or functions similar to the source. Another good example is Laegrinna and Millennia from the Deception series. Instead of using traditional attacks, both characters summon various traps that defeat foes. Naturally, there are also several characters with traditional movesets too.
Even though the heroes are summoned to this new world, several of the stages and enemies are references to games that appeared in there. For instance, Nights of Azure has at least one stage and multiple enemies related to the fiends she summons. Some other notable enemies include creatures from Ninja Gaiden, demons from Nioh, Atelier’s Puni and Ghost and, obviously, oni from Toukiden. The variety makes battles interesting, especially when you compare Atelier’s cute enemies to those found in Ninja Gaiden, but it also gets old fast.
Arguably one of the biggest problems with Warriors All-Stars is that there isn’t a lot of variety. It doesn’t take long to realize there aren’t a lot of generals and peons, resulting in players defeating the same handful of characters’ countless times. This can be a little frustrating, since certain enemies are certainly rarer than others, such as blazing souls.
Like all Dynasty Warrior spinoffs, Warriors All-Stars has a couple changes to the formula. In addition to having various endings, a small town to visit and interact with characters, there are cards to collect, rush attacks, bravery and support characters. Now, cards determine how powerful a character is and what perks they have. These can be useful, but most of them are repeats and it doesn’t take long before they become a pointless mechanic. Sadly, rush attacks and support characters add very little and bravery is a disaster.
To put it simply, rush is the Dynasty Warriors experience in 20 to 40 or so second window. You have an absurd number of enemies on the screen that do nothing and you mow them down for various resources. Enemies are so weak during this time that it isn’t uncommon to kill more than 1,000 of them over the duration. At first it’s neat, but it quickly becomes a reminder of how mindless the game can be. Support characters try to break this up by giving players the ability to use certain attacks to do a variety of things, including grouping enemies up, killing them or other things like buffs, debuffs and heal.
Finally, there is bravery, which is arguably the worst mechanic in Warriors All-Stars. The idea is simple, defeat enemies, do objectives, capture points and gain more power. The downside is there will often times be tasks that require a high bravery score, forcing players to either defeat 1,000 or so enemies or fight at a significant disadvantage. After every match bravery resets, so it’s a constant cycle of defeating enemies and then doing objectives.
Despite the negativity, Warriors All-Stars isn’t a bad game, it’s just a very familiar experience. The story is pretty generic, to the point where you could likely watch the ending and piece together what happened. Thankfully, crossover titles aren’t about the story, but playing with your favorite characters in a new setting, which Warriors All-Stars does a great job of. It was a blast seeing what every character had to offer, though don’t expect much in terms of level and enemy variety. If those things don’t sound like a problem, Warriors All-Stars is a blast, where as if you were looking for a bit more, it might be better to revisit at a later date.
[Editor’s Note: Warriors All-Stars was reviewed on PS4 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]