When it comes to countywide diplomacy, few strategy titles have consistently hit the mark like Kou Shibusawa’s esteemed strategy games: Romance of the Three Kingdoms and Nobunaga’s Ambition. Both series offer a captivating glimpse into historical warfare (with some creative embellishments), showcasing the unique contexts of their respective countries and time periods. While the Nobunaga’s Ambition series has only had a limited release to a global audience, each title brings something special to the table when it comes to exploring the battles of Sekigahara and the surrounding provinces.
Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening takes players on a journey from the birth of Kipposhi in 1546 to the siege of Osaka in 1614, which marked the end of the Toyotomi clan. In this game, players step into the role of a daimyo in Japan, tasked with the arduous mission of unifying the nation. With each scenario, players have the freedom to choose any clan from across Japan, thanks to an archaic tool in the launcher menu that allows them to create up to 1,000 custom officers (although the interface might be a bit clunky and outdated). While the ultimate goal is national unification, each scenario comes with recommended clans to align with initially. Unifying Japan is no easy feat, with conflicting views and ideologies clashing at every turn.
Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening’s core gameplay revolves around three pillars of expanding influence and achieving unification: diplomacy, dominion, and warfare. Players, as daimyo, gradually expand their territories by making menu selections that come alive with random events and requests from their subordinates. The game provides an optional tutorial system to guide players in developing and expanding their territories freely. Time passes naturally as players navigate through the menus, making strategic decisions for their grand plan. Each passing month brings the collection of taxes, political rivalries, and a range of events and requests that players can freely choose how to handle. It is through the intricacies of tactics and diplomacy that players can delve deep into the systems and achieve their personal vision of unification.
One standout feature of Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening is its siege battles, which have seen notable improvements compared to its predecessor, Taishi. Players can now assign strategies to individual officers, and defenders have access to various defensive structures and stratagems to repel invading armies. As the daimyo, players primarily observe the battles unfold, allowing their strategies to play out rather than exerting direct influence like in Football Manager. This approach makes the game ideal for those who enjoy the strategic elements of management rather than being directly involved in combat.
In terms of system requirements, Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening is not overly demanding. The minimum specifications call for a modest i3-3220, 4GB of RAM, and a GTX 660 (2GB) to handle the wartime diplomacy of the game at its lowest settings. The title will be available on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC (Steam) on July 20th.
With the release date just around the corner, we had the opportunity to interview Producer and Director Ryu Michi. We asked him for advice he can give to players who may be familiar with Koei Tecmo’s Romance of the Three Kingdoms series but are new to Nobunaga’s Ambition. He recommends giving the Nobunaga’s Ambition series a try, especially for those interested in Japanese history. With more clans and a variety of ways to enjoy the game, players will find a unique experience in Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening.
Having launched in Japan almost a year ago, Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening received valuable feedback from the Japanese audience, resulting in significant improvements for the English release. The introduction of siege battles, improved usability, balanced adjustments, and other enhancements were made based on this feedback.
As for future plans, there are currently no details to share about DLC or future updates beyond the Power-Up Kit available at launch. However, the team remains open to considering player requests and feedback for potential additions or updates, depending on the game’s success.
Regarding the absence of the Officer Play feature in Awakening, Michi explains that Nobunaga’s Ambition: Sphere of Influence – Ascension was an experimental spin-off that included this gameplay style. Awakening, as a main series entry, focuses on developing the core content of the game. However, if there is enough demand, they might consider including the Officer Play feature in the future. The key priority now is to ensure the success and sales of the game.
In terms of combat, Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening takes inspiration from its predecessor, Sphere of Influence. Players can fight battles on the main map, and detailed battles with Daimyo (warlords) provide even more enjoyment. A new system called Authority is activated when a smaller army defeats a larger one, potentially resulting in enemies switching sides and allowing players to turn the tide of war.
For players new to the game’s depth of tactics and strategy, Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening provides customization options to tailor the campaign to their preferences. Retainers actively make suggestions to guide players through the game, and following their advice can lead to success. Beginners are recommended to start at the beginner level, which offers a slower pace and allows for a more comfortable learning experience.
Customization is a significant aspect of Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening, as players can fully customize their officers, changing their abilities and characteristics as they see fit. This adds an extra layer of enjoyment as players attempt to unify Japan with their uniquely tailored officers.
On the topic of AI, the enemy AI in Awakening is designed to be challenging. They refrain from reckless attacks, requiring players to strategize carefully. The game aims for strategic growth, allowing players to advance with a competitive advantage over their enemies. However, the AI is not overly complex, as the developers aim to make the series enjoyable and accessible to all players. The retainer AI also offers various suggestions, providing feedback when players forget something and launching attacks at opportune moments.
Localization proved to be a challenge due to the extensive amount of text in the game. The process involved considerable effort in checking all the text and managing various linguistic nuances. Voice actors also faced difficulties in pronouncing certain historical terms. Nonetheless, the developers put in a great deal of effort to ensure a satisfying experience for players in Europe and North America.
In conclusion, Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening offers a rich and immersive strategy gaming experience, with its historical setting, complex gameplay mechanics, and challenging AI. With its impending release, strategy fans around the world can look forward to experiencing the captivating world of feudal Japan and the pursuit of unification.
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