Koei’s Warriors series of games, often referred to as the Musou series, is a surprisingly large and varied franchise. There are several dozen games in the wider franchise, with settings ranging from the Three Kingdoms period in China to Feudal Japan to Hyrule’s darkest hour. Playing through every single one of them would be a nigh impossible order, but you can pick and choose which ones to try. Here are our picks for the best games in the Warriors franchise.
What are the best Warriors series games?
The good thing about the Warriors franchise is that you don’t need to have played any other titles in them to follow the story. They are largely independent games unless they are directly tied to another franchise, where they often serve as a direct sequel in a new format. The trademark for a Musou game is the All vs. One format, wading through armies of baddies until you find the inevitable boss fight at the end. Here are our picks for the games that pull that format off the best.
10) Dynasty Warriors 7: Xtreme Legends
Among many fans, this is the quintessential Musou experience. While it doesn’t change up the gameplay much compared to previous titles, it does fine-tune things and gives a much-needed graphical upgrade since this was the first game in the series to be developed exclusively for the PS3. The characters look sharp and vibrate, and the battlefields are bigger and more chaotic than previous hardware had allowed.
9) Hyrule Warriors Legends
This entry into the Warriors series is a love letter to the Legend of Zelda franchise. It offers players the chance to journey across Hyrule, fighting monsters and enemies from across the game’s long history. The story takes place across three periods in the Zelda timeline – Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess, and Skyward Sword, with players controlling and aiding characters from those three games. It is a lot of fun, even if the plot is a bit paper thin. The Switch port, Hyrule Warriors Legends, includes an additional plotline and is easier to come by, making it the best version to track down.
8) Persona 5 Strikers
This Warriors game serves as a direct sequel to Persona 5, giving players the chance to dive into the Metaverse one more time. Set several months after the events of Persona 5, Strikers sees the Phantom Thieves on a road trip across Japan, unraveling a new mystery along the way. The game tries to marry the Persona JRPG tropes with the Warriors’ mass combat mechanics and largely succeeds, though battles tend to be on a smaller scale than in other Musou games. The emphasis is on strategy and exploration more than simply wading through seas of enemies, but the boss fights are a lot of fun. If you wanted more time with the Persona 5 crew, this is a solid follow-up.
7) Samurai Warriors 4
While the bulk of the Dynasty Warriors franchise focuses on the Three Kingdoms period of China, the Samurai Warriors series features the feudal Japan period, complete with the historical figures that make that period so fascinating. The cast in the Samurai Warriors side of the franchise is usually much smaller than in Dynasty games, but that is often to its benefit. Samurai Warriors 4 is the largest of the Samurai games, with a larger cast even than its eventual sequel. It is much closer to the experience of a Dynasty Warrior game than any other game in the series.
6) Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes
Though the title says Fire Emblem, this is a Musou game at heart. Gone is the tactical RPG combat, replaced with the chaotic frenzy of the All vs. One battle the Warriors franchise is known for. This isn’t the first time the Fire Emblem series got the Warriors treatment, but it feels like the most complete and fun. The story is directly connected to the Three Houses world, bringing our favorite characters back for more action. The gameplay and character development are both deeper than most Warriors games, making this one of the best Warriors games ever made.
5) Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity
Another Warriors game set in the Zelda universe, this one focuses on the events 100 years before Breath of the Wild. Calamity Ganon has awakened and is set to unleash his power to destroy Hyrule. The game has a smaller roster than most Warriors games, but the plot is surprisingly good. Watching the characters struggle against fate, knowing that they will ultimately fail, is a lot of fun and pulls on your heartstrings in just the right way.
4) Warriors Orochi 4
If you like the huge rosters of the Dynasty Warriors games and the sharper refinement of the Samurai Warriors games, then the Warriors Orochi series is the best of both worlds. Serving as a crossover for both franchises, this spin-off series has itself gotten four titles. The latest, Warriors Orochi 4, sees the casts of the two series fighting literal gods from both the Norse and Greek pantheon. None of the plot makes much sense, but it is still a lot of fun along the way, so we don’t mind too much. The huge battles and outrageous combos are all there from the Warriors games you know and love, just on a much larger scale.
3) One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4
One Piece is one of the most beloved anime franchises of all time, with characters that are emotional and powerful all at once. Pirate Warriors 4 is certainly a Warriors game, with the swarms of enemies that each character must fight. It doesn’t stray far from that formula, but the addition of the Straw Hat pirates and some of their most iconic allies and enemies make this a delight to play through. Some of the most emotional moments in the series are faithfully recreated for fans here, balancing out the fun, over-the-top combat with some real, grounded scenes.
2) Samurai Warriors 5
Where Samurai Warriors 4 was the biggest game in its series, its sequel is far more focused and streamlined. The cast has been cut, and the plot focuses on a very small period during the Warring States period. Though the roster has been cut for Samurai Warriors 5, the game hasn’t cut any of the action. Rather than having a bloated cast, each plays differently and has a unique element of fun. This is probably the best game in the Samurai Warriors side of the franchise, though it might disappoint those expecting the full Musou experience.
1) Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends
While Dynasty Warriors 7 stayed mostly true to the series’ roots, this installment was willing to try new things. The combat will be familiar to Warriors fans, but there are new gameplay modes and over 70 playable characters. The roster is slightly bloated, and several characters play similarly to each other, but you have to admire the sheer ambition that came with this game. It stays true to the series’ past while expanding into new horizons.