The Warriors games (also known as Musou) have been around for quite some time, and in recent years have been following quite a simple formula: you are a warrior with incredibly powerful attacks, surrounded by grunts with not a lot of health which you can batter hundreds of with said attacks. With Warriors All-Stars, then, Omega Force is looking to compile a sort of greatest hits of the Warriors games, with fighters not only from games in the series but also other titles, like Ninja Gaiden and Nioh, bringing them all together in a chaotic slaughterfest.
As with most Warriors games, the story isn't overly important, but nevertheless it's there to frame the whole game. As you begin, the character you select wakes up in a mysterious kingdom and you're greeted by Sayo and Shiki, the queen and her son, who tell you that a magic spring that sustains the kingdom is losing power, and that heroes from different worlds were summoned to help battle a mysterious evil force, as well as assist in defending the throne from Shiki's siblings Tamaki and Setsuna. It's pretty basic, but serves the game well, and gives you a chance to sample a lot of different characters.
A big part of the plot is that the summoning of these heroes went a little bit wrong, and now they're scattered throughout the lands. What this means for you, the player, is that you have to work around the world map participating in battles with your party of heroes to recruit more heroes for your party, which can then be taken on to more battles and so on and so forth. Recruiting heroes for the fight is pretty much your main goal, as the more the merrier when it comes to saving kingdoms from peril.
The heroes come from a number of different franchises. For instance, we started our quest with the familiar face of William from Nioh, but soon we bumped into Ryu Hayabusa from Ninja Gaiden; Naotora li from Samurai Warriors; Darius from Haruka: Beyond the Stream of Time; and Wang Yuanji from Dynasty Warriors, just to name a few. As you might expect, with such an extensive roster comes a lot of variety, and that's not just in terms of how the different series' art styles look.
The attacks are also what separates each fighter most distinctively from one another, as William was quite effective at clearing lines of enemies with a devastating thrusting sword attack, whereas Ayane from Ninja Gaiden was more appropriate for clearing large areas around her with her whirlwind attack. Each character comes with their own specialties, but that also means that you won't enjoy using all of them - we found Darius' attacks to be too slow for us, for example. As it's a Warriors game, though, expect whoever you choose to be pretty skilled at killing a lot of enemies.
The battles on the map don't just revolve around recruiting new heroes, however, as there are other options for those who really want to build up their characters' strengths, or just get a bit more loot. Each also has its own recommended level as well, so you can make sure you're not biting off more than you can chew, but rest assured that there's a lot to do, with smaller battles aplenty for completionists to take down. In each battle there's also submissions as well as the main objective too, so in terms of content, there's really as much or as little in Warriors All-Stars as you want. Rushing through the main story won't take you that long at all, but taking time to pick battles and play a bit more will earn you higher levels, more loot, and more story, should you so choose.
One particularly cool feature we found when playing Warriors All-Stars is the Rush attack, which you get at least one of in every battle. By pushing the right stick (on PS4) this activates a period of increased damage and awesome dance music, allowing you to dispatch swathes of enemies as a kind of power-up. The icing on the cake for this, though, is that you're pushed on by the cheers of your teammates, who show up in the bottom corners of your screen like little cheerleaders, which is just so outlandish but brilliant that we couldn't help but love it.
Your teammates aren't just there for motivation, though, as you can use their special attacks to help your own fighter (the leader) in battle, and their abilities can even be combined for new ones. Freezing attacks, for instance, can be particularly useful, although for straight up damage something like Ryu's ability might be more to your liking.
In terms of visuals, the game as a whole is polished, colourful, and intense, as you'd expect from all those attacks flashing around on-screen, and all of this runs smoothly, even when there's what seems to be thousands of grunts swarming you and getting caught up in your rage.
As with Warriors games in the past, the UI and dialogue aren't always the best. The latter can be a little bit cheesy, for instance, and the UI doesn't look particularly great, especially when it comes to the dialogue being represented by static images, as well as the menu screens that are just that bit too cartoony and bright. Admittedly, this has become part of the charm, but may not be to everyone's liking, especially for those who are coming in new to this mashup.
All in all Warrior's All-Stars is pretty much what we expected it to be: a Warriors mash-up where instead of one unified theme you get many different styles coming together, all working to batter enemies to a pulp. This is one not just for Musou fans, then, but also for fans of the franchises within the game, giving them a new taste of these characters, while also giving them plenty of content to explore. It's Warriors fun at its finest, with all the quirks that go with it.