One of the longest running grand strategy games just hit the Western shores. Nobunaga’s Ambition which was one of the first in its genre that started back in March 1983 by Japanese game developer Koei is now celebrating its 35th anniversary with the 15th title in the series, Nobunaga’s Ambition: Taishi, which takes place during the Sengoku Period of feudal Japan. Tasked with the conquest and unification of Japan, the ultimate goal of warlord Oda Nobunaga, we set out to achieve it with our chosen clan, eliminate enemy daimyōs, forge alliances, maybe force a few arranged marriages (but obviously not for a harem!), amass huge armies to march them to their deaths and ultimately to backstab some allies and gain their territories.
While it is a grand strategy game based on historical events, it doesn’t particularly follow it to the core, after all, where’s the fun in that? Although it does have certain events that trigger from time to time which is related to real historical events. So feel free to kill Nobunaga with the Takeda Clan if you want or even play out with Nobunaga just to retire him then let a woman handle the frontlines! And in my playthrough, the Oda Clan was decimated by the Imagawa’s huge clan but while all that was transpiring, I was too busy backstabbing my ally camps and waging war for their territories and claiming the entire western part of Japan. Now if there’s something I hate when it comes to the triggered events, it just doesn’t look appealing to me due to the absence of their voices so you’d be reading a few texts from time to time plus some parts does have its typographical errors.
Talking about all this clan shit and backstabbing, each clan has their own number of territories so it’s not going to be fair for everyone, duh! But a small clan can indeed achieve some impressive feats thanks to the many options in order to secure your land and gain some in the process. Through the use of alliances and marriages you are able to request help and borrow troops in order to even the playing field but more than anything, successful execution of tactics in the battlefield can even defeat the largest of armies and since there are limitations to how much and how many you can include in battle, it is not always a good plan to have too many troops gathered at the same time. As a newcomer to the series, I have been completely demolished by armies a quarter the size of my own due to my lack of tactical skills. So in the end, I grabbed my army of 900,000 then formed units made up of 10,000 to 20,000 and marched to every enemy cap at the same time while thinning out the opposition’s army a couple thousand at a time. At the very least, it’s not a game for everyone but it is a game worth riding towards the rising sun!
But let’s talk about the new system added to the game. The “Resolve System” as they call it is a set of traits that are tied to their leaders in which each and every action made by the AI is directly connected to their will. A daimyō that has the Territorial Expansion Resolve will be more aggressive in conquering lands than defending their own which is tied with the Territorial Safety Resolve. Meanwhile achieving specific actions tied to your resolve will unlock more abilities and bonuses in order to make your conquest easier. The Council System, however, has been improved while being influenced by your Resolve to allow your officers in approving new policies.
Since I am pretty new to the series, there’s already quite a lot of tutorials mashed up, in the beginning, to let the newer players up to speed with what each action does and how to properly execute them. First of all, it’s a two-phase turn-based strategy system. The first phase is for planning your actions and time is stopped so you can spend hours at it without any consequences while the second part is the execution to where all your actions start moving as well as battle phases in case you’re at war. It’s a bit overwhelming being blasted with that much information in a small amount of time from your trade zone investing and monopolizing which is the main way to earn gold, farming every three months to earn your annual provisions which are then used up by your soldiers as they go to war and building or developing your facilities. Oh, wait! That’s just the first part… there’s also recruiting, declaring war, marching to enemy strongholds, negotiations, appointing or posting officers to your castles, marriage options, retiring and probably the last one I haven’t tried ‘til the half of the game, DELEGATING! Seriously, delegating your officers to do the job for you is like the best feature that I honestly wanted to know at the very beginning before I spent countless of clicks trying to do everything myself!
After that everything just went smooth as butter as my planning phase has been completely taken over and all I really need to do is demolish rival clans in the execution phase or just let my facilities upgrade while I’m at peace.
Smooth as butter and cold as a dead processor… is what I like to compare the game when it comes to changing seasons as every month comes by. I have been annoyed at the very beginning as I felt like my console (PS4) has been suffering from a disease as each season comes by, there’s a noticeable halt before the new season banner and animation shows up forcing me to stare a few seconds at something closely related to google maps when it stops responding.
Overall, the game is fun despite the lack of event voices with their 2D portraits during historical events. The game is a bit difficult to master for newcomers and casual gamers even on easy mode due to the limitations of forces when armies exceed a certain amount. You can call it a sort of hard cap to give advantages to smaller clans but as a fan of the RTS Game Red Alert 2, I always just overwhelm my enemies with numbers so I end up sacrificing troops to thin out their main force before I can win a war. It’s simpler and faster than taking command of every battle. There are tons of characters and choices so it’s easy to get lost in the game for hours without it being too repetitive. And probably the main bait that got me hooked is I simply love conquest and this doesn’t fail to surprise me as each clan provides different ways of playing.