The idea of a ‘Warriors’-like game like Warriors All-Stars has always interested me. Be it Orks in Space Marine or Geonosians in Lego Star Wars, battling hordes of enemies has always appealed to me. It’s a middle path, between the dark, branching storylines of The Witcher and the happy, relaxing nature of Abzû. You don’t have to really think with a Warriors game, but it also offers enough action to excite. And sometimes all you really want to do is bash some heads in using a fancy special move.
Don’t worry though, Warriors All-Stars does have as much depth as you want it to. You can quite easily complete levels using the most basic attacks and a couple of Hero Skills, as I did on many an occasion. You also have the option to use Special Attacks, Musou Rush (more on that later), Awakened Skills, Hero Chains… There’s a lot of options when it comes to attacking and that’s all just with one character.
There are 30 characters in total, separated into three factions. These stop you from playing them all in the same playthrough. Outside of the original hero you choose to play (one from each series) and their series counterparts which are unlocked straight away, the other way to unlock characters is through Hero Battles. These allow for unique story crossovers between the different game series and were great to play even with limited knowledge of the individual game series.
The entire game can be enjoyed by both newcomers and experts alike, with copious amounts of information about each character and game series available. I personally found myself looking into game series I’d never have originally thought to look at, from Toukiden to Atelier. Veterans of these games will also be able to experience new character interactions and developments between their favorites, which wouldn’t have been possible without a crossover game such as this.
This crossover interaction is even larger than Hyrule Warriors, the last Warriors game I played. It allows friendships to be formed between demons and demon slayers, alchemists and warriors and cats and cat humans. I still can’t quite decide whether I would have wanted more characters which would have reduced the depth or even fewer people so that each character can be even more detailed.
The actual battles consist, like other Warriors games, of defeating leaders and taking over bases. Aside from the main mission, you also have side mission which allow you to gain more materials and experience. I’d suggest completing as many of them as possible, going straight to the end battle can be almost suicidal if your Bravery isn’t leveled up. Battling is quick paced, with the end section being especially fun as swathes of enemies fall to your blade/magic/floating hands. Talking of weapons, I’ve so far played using a giant sword, a gun, magic, throwing knives, fists and ethereal fists. My own primary choice has to be a long-ranged weapon as it allows you to keep out of range of the other heroes attacks easier.
The AI in the game is better than Hyrule Warriors, in that the general grunts will attack you, but it is still not as dynamic as I would like. Imagine a game where you can see mini battles happening all over the battlefield. You can choose whether to engage and help out or leave them be. Instead, your choice is to either engage and start their attack patterns or leave them standing around. While it must be incredibly difficult to code battle tactics and pathways, especially in a 3D space, something a bit more mobile would be greatly appreciated.
Along with Key, Hero and Dramatic Battles, there are challenges. These don’t have story advances but allow you to collect materials, Hero Cards and experience. These can be great for upgrading your characters but be careful when choosing battles to begin with. Once you have access to the World Map, lots of challenges are unlocked straight away, although are mostly vastly over leveled compared to you. Taking note of the suggest Hero level is vital at the start until you level up a bit, as well as the specifics of the mission – some are harder than others.
You have three separate ‘leveling’ systems in Warriors All-Stars – Levels, Bravery and Regard. While this might sound confusing at first, it’s really quite simple and effective. Levels are your regular, experienced based RPG material – with each level giving a slight increase in stats. Bravery is my favorite system – it’s reset per battle and is basically another leveling system. If your level is higher than an enemy, then they are easier to kill and vice versa. It adds another level of depth to the game, and encourages you to spend more time on the hordes of enemies instead of just going for the bosses.
Finally, you have Regard, which changes how your character reacts to others. If you play with other characters more, using Hero Skills and Hero Chains, then their level of regard for you will increase. This then unlocks perks and unique conversation points. All three systems are easy to use and can be basically left to do their own thing – something I quite like, growing up with Dragon Quest. But if you want depth, then onto the next system.
Hero Cards, replacing weapons from previous Warriors games, basically give your character better stats and abilities. You can equip one per character, with a range of stats available. You have regular, which just gives you more attack, as well as elemental, which gives you extra damage of that type (including Love). Not only that, but you also have extra attributes you can unlock and equip giving you even more customization. It also requires some forward thinking as your equipped card levels up while playing, making an originally lower level card more powerful than others.
To create abilities and traits you need materials, which you can get from either completing missions or disenchanting Cards. I found that Hero Cards were a lot more complicated than they needed to be, especially given the amount of other systems there are in the game. I also found they didn’t provide much immediate benefit, outside the attributes which nulled effects, as I wouldn’t call the battle systems particularly ‘tactical’.
The Sanctuary is your home away from home in this game. It provides the ability to talk to your teammates, acquire missions, train, upgrade Hero Cards and take a bath at the Hot Spring… Okay. Sure. Why not. Overall, The Sanctuary gives you more breathing room than the simple World Map does, with little secrets dotted all over. It also looks really nice, with the Spring being the center of attention. One problem with it though is that there’s no teleportation to the different areas (besides to the missions and world map). You will probably find yourself planning your route before you go, as it does take a little while to get around. It’s not a major problem, but a quick quality of life update would be much appreciated, especially as most of Warriors All-Stars is so well made (besides the occasional localisation issue as well).
So, I won’t be giving away story spoilers here, but it’s pretty good overall. There are twists I didn’t predict beforehand, tension, humour and quite a lot of Japanese traditions mentioned. But what’s nice is that it never gets too bogged down in the morality of choices, allowing you to just play the game. There are also 15 separate endings, so there’s plenty of replayability for everyone, especially as each starting character changes it slightly as well.
My computer auto-detected my graphics settings to be medium. It looked pretty good. But of course, I had to check what I was missing, changing my settings to high. I can’t say I noticed a massive difference between the two in terms of graphics. The lighting seemed better, more characters were allowed on screen and it did look generally better. What really impressed me though, was that even with 200+ enemies in Musou Rush mode, I wasn’t experiencing any lag. The entire game runs incredibly well, with a huge amount of settings to tinker with. One thing it doesn’t allow you to change is the voice acting language, which is stuck in Japanese and has no English dub (although this isn’t necessarily a bad thing); I actually quite enjoyed listening to it
Finally, I don’t usually stop playing a game to listen to the menu music, with the last probably being one of the big Square Enix games. I stopped when Warriors All-Stars music blared up and I just sat and listened to the rocky instruments. It’s really good. Not ‘atmospheric’ or ‘matching my movements’ but just really good.
Overall, I would definitely recommend Warriors All-Stars, even if you’re completely new to Koei Tecmo games. It’s a game to relax with if you’re a bit tired of the grey area morality genre, but still want to beat things to a pulp. In the most cartoony way possible.
A PC review code of Warriors All-Stars was provided by Koei Tecmo for the purpose of this review