Warriors All Stars is a Musou game like Dynasty/Samurai Warriors and brings together 30 characters from 13 different franchises to save the world by killing hordes of warriors.
Warriors All Stars has more of a plot than I was expecting. It’s not a huge epic but it’s enjoyable. The set up for the plot and the reason all these heroes are in one world is that they’ve been summoned there to stop a demon. This demon was sealed away and has been sapping the life of the rulers of the world to regain its power. Now Shiki wants the throne for himself and is trying to do all he can to stop his brother and sister taking it because he’s the only one who knows about the demon.
While nothing too mind-blowing happens in the story the dialogue is well written and watching Shiki’s attempts to thwart his brother and sister while keeping his knowledge secret is entertaining. One confusing element is that there are multiple “endings”. During the game you might get a dialogue scene with specific characters that will lead to a mission involving both of them. I had one with Ayane and Naotora that ended with them just disappearing off together and I got a credits scene. From there you can load your save before that mission and continue with the main story or start a new game plus with all the upgrades you’ve got so far. It just seems strange to have mid-game endings like that.
Most of the dialogue takes place in between missions. Before or after a mission there are short scenes where a couple of characters talk to each other and advance the plot but the best dialogue happens during battle. Fortunately the game doesn’t take itself too seriously and there’s quite a bit of funny dialogue. Nothing to make you do big belly laughs but still funny nonetheless. My only gripe with it is all the characters apart from William speak Japanese so you’ll be reading the dialogue instead of listening to it. That’s pretty difficult to do when you’re also fighting an army.
Fighting big armies is what you’ll spend most of your time doing though. It’s really simple but it’s really fun. The entire game is just mashing strong and weak attack buttons. There are no complex combos. You press X a few times and then Y and that’s it. The fun of that combat comes from the spectacle of it. You’ll be running around fairly large maps taking on hundreds of enemies at a time. Most of them will just stand around waiting to be hit but it’s still satisfying when you do a big combo and launch about 50 enemies into the air at once. It’s just so good seeing that K.O. counter at the bottom of the screening going up and up as you mash the buttons. In fact, the game is constantly rewarding you while you’re playing it.
Each warrior you collect has their own level and stats but in battle they have a Bravery Level. It always starts at 1 and goes up to 10 during battles, increasing when you kill enemies or complete objectives. Raising the bravery level raises your attack and defence and it feels good when you see the big “BRAVERY LEVEL UP” explode onto the screen after you’ve sent a group of soldiers flying 50 feet into the air. Despite the combat’s simplicity this feeling of being constantly rewarded makes it entertaining. It’s ridiculously over the top and it doesn’t change from the first level to the last but it’s always fun to watch what’s happening on screen. Each character has their own insane special attacks that range from a fiery explosion to a giant roulette wheel that sucks enemies in and even a steam train that ploughs through opposing armies. It’s just a blast to see it all happen.
However, the gameplay is almost purely spectacle. There’s no depth. Sure there are bases to capture and they each have their own unique attributes like bases that drop healing items or ones that launch arrows at enemies so they’re easier to defend but you’ll never need them. There’s no strategy involved when it comes to taking bases. Any of them can be taken over in seconds by the player but enemies take forever to do it and it’s pretty rare for them to actually take a base back. The only one you need to look out for is your main base. If that’s captured the mission is immediately over. That’ll never happen though so don’t even worry. And when it comes to enemy bases the only reason to take them is because the game decides that’s your next objective. Yet, it’s still rewarding when you capture one because it sends a shock wave out from the center to blast any remaining foes in the area.
Another mechanic that I feel was wasted is the cards. You earn cards that can be equipped on each warrior to give them a boost in attack plus different abilities like being immune to paralysis. That sounds like a really interesting thing. Like you’d need to equip the right card for the right battle and you can craft your own cards so you can customise your characters but they’re all useless. If you ever get stunned it’s only for a second or two and never enough to make a difference in a battle. The damage boosts are a waste because enemies are weak as hell and you always have 4 allies you can call in to do powerful attacks for you, as well as your own special attack which can be used very frequently.
There’s also a friendship system where characters that fight together get friendly and then get stat boosts when they fight together but like all the other stat boosts they can be completely ignored. Another ability you have to make you overpowered as hell is the Musou Rush. It makes you super strong and invincible for 30 seconds but you get extra time for killing more enemies. Musou Rush just immediately destroys bosses too. Not that they put up a challenge, it just speeds things up. On the whole, the game is too easy. There were only 2 missions where I died and both were optional, extra difficult ones. One involved fighting 10 bosses in 10 minutes but this was at the start of the game before I had levelled my characters up and the other was a mission where you died in one hit. Apart from those I never felt challenged by any of the enemies.
It makes me wish they didn’t have characters that could level up. They all level up quickly and you can just use gold in the game to level up the ones you aren’t using so you don’t have to grind. This means you’re always going to be a higher level than necessary for any fight. Without levels, they would’ve had to implement actual challenge into the combat encounters. As it stands all enemies are the same. The non boss enemies stand around and wait to be attacked while the boss enemies whittle away at your health with the power of a mild breeze.
While the boss fights all feel more or less the same, the characters you play with all feel different. Even though you’re using the exact same button combinations there’s a lot of variety in how they do battle. For example, Horo uses a gun and so has good ranged attacks. She mostly does damage to enemies directly in front of her whereas Rio’s attacks do less damage overall but hurt enemies all around her. It’s this kind of variety that keeps you playing the game. Each new character, and there are a lot of them, has a unique moveset. You probably won’t enjoy all of them but with such a wide array of move sets there is surely something for everyone.
So that’s Warriors All Stars. The story is enjoyable and the graphics are pretty good. They won’t amaze you but they’re nice. It’s got a huge cast of characters and even though I only recognised 3 of them I enjoyed unlocking and playing as them. Most importantly the gameplay, despite its simplicity is just insanely fun. Yeah you’re just mashing two buttons for the most part but slashing your way through huge armies while the rockin’ soundtrack blasts in the background is just too satisfying.
Warriors All Stars is meant for multiple playthroughs. The story plays out differently and you get characters at different times depending on who you start as so there’s a lot of replayability too. A little more depth and difficulty would be nice but as it is, Warriors All Stars provides a whole lot of fun and with the massive amount of missions to take on it will last you a good while.
If you can’t get enough of the Warriors franchise and you like Fire Emblem, why not also check out our review of Fire Emblem Warriors?