Earlier this year, Total War developers Creative Assembly released a remastering or 'reboot' of their older, beloved game Shogun in the form of Shogun 2, with several new features, beautiful visual fidelity and it was overall pretty awesome and a worthy addiction to any Total War fans arsenal. Now that a good half a year has passed on, they've thrown out some major DLC to add to the variety and for a fairly low price too, named Rise of the Samurai. Is it worth picking up for the $9.99 price tag though?
It's quite fair to say yes in all respects considering the amount of content that comes with it. To elaborate on what exactly Rise of the Samurai is, it's an entirely new campaign separate to the original Shogun 2 campaign, and adds several new units, agents, clans and balance fixes to add more diversity to a game that basically fed off one campaign and multiplayer modes.
Historically, it's based 400 years before the historical events of Shogun 2 called the Genpei War, which was a five year long war between two warring clans that eventually lead to the first ever nationwide Shogunate establishment. it is effectively an establishment of what we see in Shogun 2 and is also a glimpse into the earliest form of the usage of the sophisticated Samurai in battle. The campaign takes you back into early Japan and allows you to choose between one of six clans on the map, all with their advantages and disadvantages as it was in the original game.
Likely the largest difference between this campaign and Shogun 2's campaign is the new units and agents to pick from and just how different they are from the original campaign's units. While you've got warriors such as Bow and Naginata Levy's who act similarily to the basic Ashigaru units in Shogun 2, morally they are also much lower and generally not as efficient we found, so careful tactical usage is required in order to keep them in check although the large numbers of these units can overwhelm many more sophisticated ones which you can use after mastering bushido arts and such. Samurai based units such as the Foot Samurai (a literal hybrid of a bowman and a katana Samurai) are lethal and efficient but also lack numbers due to their scarce and new nature, so while they may be good for use in terms of morale and overall combat efficiency, they can be easily overwhelmed if you don't have enough, and having too many can result in economic slowdown due to the high upkeep rates.
It's carefully balanced, much like the original campaign and serves to make an interesting and different approach than what Shogun 2 offered which is nice. Agents too offer many new interesting tactical options as there are several new ones to play with. You've got the Sou who is used to demoralise enemy forces while inspiring yours, and can also raise clan happiness so as to make macromanagement of your empire easier. The Monomi is essentially a hybrid agent that acts as both assassin and spy, and is capable of setting up networks in cities for criminal syndicates, gathering information and also map scouting. The Shirabyoshi is a seductress that can both seduce enemies and friendly generals alike, sometimes converting enemies to your cause and also giving significant levels of inspiration to your own.
Then finally you've got the Junstsatsushi who is our personal favourite and acts somewhat as a missionary for your empire, inspiring opposing townsman to fight for your cause and potentially increasing your army size by stealing it from others. He can also prevent corruption of your own warriors so his usefulness has served to be great indeed. This isn't even going into the fact that all agents have their own unique skill trees too, so as they gain experience you can specialise them to be more adept at specific things, so there is an enormous amount of diversity and depth in the design of the agents that adds a lot to the game.
Rise of the Samurai also offers ten new sea units to use in Naval battles, spicing up what we considered to be one of the more slower paced sections of Shogun 2, and also adds even more content and incentive to the already robust Multiplayer section, with experience points, prestige, unit caps in the multiplayer and a few extra castle types too for sieging sections.
There's a tonne of content in Rise of the Samurai and it will take a while to get through it all even if you're an avid player. While the campaign map has not changed (where else would the Japanese fight apart from Japan eh?), the game mechanics and tactics have and it's breathed more life into a game that already has plenty of it. Considering the price that is being asked, any fan of Shogun 2 should definitely pick this DLC up, as while it's not a complete turn around to the gameplay it's certainly a huge addition to it, and brings more variety to last you another 50 odd hours in the least. Highly recommended.
Worth buying? Yes
Downloadable content ratings system
We've given a 'buy' rating of 'Yes', 'Maybe', or 'No'.
Yes means that the content is either great value or brings some substantial additions to the game, or possibly both.
Maybe means that the content may be fun while it lasts, but may either be too short or not enough to fully justify the price tag.
No means that we don't recommend downloading this insubstantial content.