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    Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening Review – A Solid Sengoku Experience

    Unify Japan in the ultimate conquest.

    Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening celebrates 40 years of the long-running strategy series with several scenarios, enticing features, and many hours of addicting real-time strategy gameplay. After being pleasantly surprised by the Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening preview build, I needed to experience more of the new title by choosing another scenario and starting my domain from scratch. Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening’s plethora of gameplay and features once felt foreign, but its hands-on approach allowed me to thrive once more in the version 1.0 release. 

    Nobunaga's Ambition Awakening review

    Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening focuses on the Sengoku period in the 16th and early 17th centuries. Players will learn and understand the intricacies of clans and culture from this tumultuous era with a focus on Nobunaga Oda’s eventful life. For example, the title’s first scenario begins with Oda coming to age in January 1546, allowing players to learn about the hero’s upbringing. Subsequent scenarios going into greater detail about Nobunaga Oda’s rise to prominence and the literal ambitions of clans during this time. Although the game covers historically documented events that were studied for hundreds of years, Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening lets players defy and alter history as they see fit. 

    Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening – Learning to Pave a Path in History

    After viewing the stunning opening movie, players may begin their conquest by selecting New Game and picking a scenario. Each scenario focuses on major battles and events from Sengoku period with various clans being highlighted. For example, some clans are designated as a recommended option for newcomers due to its relative location, objectives, and overall importance to the events at hand. Selecting a recommended clan is a great option since it offers an in-depth tutorial. Additionally, several options are available for a scenario such as historical accuracy settings, the ability to have maiden officers, and overall difficulty. For those new to the Nobunaga’s Ambition franchise, starting the “Nobunaga is Here” scenario on Easy difficulty is a really great way of learning how to lead the clan and its endless supply of tasks. This particular scenario’s goal is quite feasible in a short time-span after the first event battle. 

    Nobunaga's Ambition Awakening review

    After choosing a scenario, players are quickly caught up to speed with the events of that particular year. For example, the beginning of the Battle of Okehazama scenario quickly details the fateful battle between Nobunaga Oda and Yoshimoto Imagawa in June 1960. If players pick the Takeda clan, the scenario will proceed to focus on Shingen Takeda’s epic rivalry with Kagetora Nagao of the Nagao clan. For this playthrough, I instead chose to lead the Hōjō clan with Ujiyasu Hōjō in the “Nobunaga is Here” scenario. In this scenario, I was able to experience Kagetora’s rise to power, while the Hōjō established the Kō-Sō-Sun Alliance and fought off the Uesugi clan. Coincidentally, the scenario introduces most of the major gameplay systems and terminology while offering a healthy plot of land to start a conquest. Some of these systems include land management, marching troops, enacting policies, and hearing proposals.

    Daimyo’s Reverie

    In Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening, a daimyo must serve the population’s best interests while asserting authority. The daimyo’s ultimate goal is total unification of Japan, but that’s much easier said that done. In fact, the game accounts for this by offering multiple endings in each scenario depending on how much progress was made. Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening still allows the player to make whatever decisions they feel is best, even at the cost of land or subordinates. These decisions including forging alliances and marriages, giving accolades and promotions, marching toward castles, making promises with certain officials, and employing covert operations. This freedom makes the game very unpredictable, and save scumming may actually have wildly different effects. The key to success in Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening involves smart tactics, clever resource and time management, and taking advantage of good opportunities as it comes.

    Nobunaga's Ambition Awakening review

    The ongoing power struggle between clans make each in-game month more exciting as I build out my ideal domain and progress the story. By cultivating the land, gaining resources, and fulfilling requests, a daimyo’s reign will be more favorable and profitable. With more soldiers and commerce, game elements that seemed obtuse are much more manageable. In many cases, the game may run on autopilot as I finish building facilities and improving castles. Several Hearsay Events are available while progressing Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening, letting players view scenes for historical events involving other clans. The Hearsay Events are really insightful, adding another degree of authenticity and immersion. These cutscenes reveal more insight about what drives certain figures during this era such as Nobunaga Oda and Mitsuhide Akechi. Alongside Hearsay Events, Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening’s historical battles offer even more compelling story sequences that greatly affect the overall game world.

    The Console Experience

    Like many other strategy and simulation games, Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening caters to keyboard and mouse controls due to instinctively being able to click on the desired elements on screen at any time. The user interface of Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening is straightforward, but each menu has submenus for key functions and additional features such as domain management, council, and negotiations. As a result, it takes some time to acclimate to opening and rotating through menus with certain button presses on a PlayStation 4 controller to perform actions. Fortunately, Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening offers several shortcuts for controllers, and on-screen cursor allows players to move across the map in order to manage land or invade other castles.

    Nobunaga's Ambition Awakening review

    On consoles, performance holds up quite well during large scale battles in Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening. In these battles, I command officers and move them toward capture points in order to reduce enemy morale and gain the advantage. If officers perform well in combat, they’re able to perform actions that will aid their men. Enemy morale and soldier count are the largest contributing factors toward winning a battle, but positioning and land acquisition is also vital. Thankfully, coordinating troops in battle on both the PC and console versions is relatively simple despite the change in controls. I believe the controller layout is one of the only real obstacles to having a great time in Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening.

    Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening is a Tried-and-True Entry

    Players have even more options after cultivating their land, earning achievements, and conquering other clans in Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening. The game manages to surprise with each day due to how drastic clans could change in an instant, and those ramifications could alter a playthrough greatly. Although Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening doesn’t reinvent the franchise or offer a completely new gameplay experience, it certainly brings valuable quality of life features and enough content to last for hundreds of hours. Moreover, the new title gives players enough tools to carve out their own slot in Sengoku history while remaining accessible to newcomers like myself. 

    Nobunaga's Ambition Awakening review image 14

    Finally, Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening offers a satisfying and rewarding gameplay loop, but console players may need extra time to adjust to the layout and user interface. Although the game has plenty of useful features, I think there’s still room for improvement, and updates could enhance the experience for longtime fans and newcomers alike. Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening is a tried-and-true entry, so it might be time for Koei Tecmo to shake things up both graphically and feature-wise for the series going forward. This is the definitive experience for the RTS franchise, and I believe the next Nobunaga’s Ambition entry should prove to be something more while still offering aspects that fans enjoy today.

    Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening is available now for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and PC via Steam worldwide.

    Disclaimer: Koei Tecmo provided Final Weapon with a PlayStation 4 copy of Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening for review purposes.

    SUMMARY

    Nobunaga's Ambition: Awakening is a well-rounded RTS game that brings players into the Sengoku period to lead clans into victory. The game's rewarding management system and compelling mechanics are very enjoyable, but the controller button layout and menus may feel obtuse to some players.
    Soul Kiwami
    Soul Kiwami
    Raul Ochoa, a.k.a. Soul Kiwami, is the Managing Editor of Final Weapon and a Games Writer at Game Rant with four years of writing and editing experience. Raul is passionate about the Japanese gaming industry, and he's a huge fan of Nintendo Switch, PC hardware, JRPGs, and fighting games. business email: [email protected] | Muck Rack: https://muckrack.com/raul-landaverde-1

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    Nobunaga's Ambition: Awakening is a well-rounded RTS game that brings players into the Sengoku period to lead clans into victory. The game's rewarding management system and compelling mechanics are very enjoyable, but the controller button layout and menus may feel obtuse to some players. Nobunaga's Ambition: Awakening Review - A Solid Sengoku Experience