Warship Waifu Wars 2: Electric Booglaoo
A while ago I reviewed Azur Lane, the wildly popular mobile game from Shanghai Manjuu, Xianmen Yongshii, and Shanghai Yostar. It was a breath of fresh air in an overly predatory, disgustingly oversaturated mobile market constantly fixated on fleecing customers of their hard earned money. Though the argument could be made that the crazy amount of Live 2D skins Azur Lane may have on tap is creating a similar effect, the core gameplay is overly fair and generous, and was overall a great mobile game. When I heard the announcement that Idea Factory International and Compile Heart (the teams behind the Neptunia series of games) were working on a 3rd person arena shooter using the Azur Lane license, I was stoked. Add in a nice collector’s edition for the Playstation 4 and PC and the game being made in Unreal Engine 4 and I was beyond hyped to try it out. Incidentally, a code for the PC version fell into my lap here at HeyPoorPlayer, so I was able to review both versions of the game. How does it stack up to all the excitement I had? Well, pretty nicely to be honest – though the game isn’t quite what I was expecting it to be.
For the uninitiated, Azur Lane is a shooting game with “ship girls” as the primary protagonists (as well as the antagonists at times). Each ship girl is based around an actual ship from World War II; and their designs, personalities, and interactions with each other tie in loosely to events from WWII. Pretty cool stuff for a fanservice-y game. Azur Lane: Crosswave brings the same mechanics people are familiar with from the mobile game to the home console/PC market, to good effect I’d say.
Winston Churchill would be proud
Azur Lane: Crosswave features over 50 individual characters, each with their own design and personality.
Azur Lane: Crosswave opens with a brief description of the series’ universe and each of the four (five really) factions that inhabit the world. The Sakura Empire (Japan), Royal Navy (England), Ironbloods (Germany) and Eagle Alliance (America) are all in a period of peace with one another and are planning a joint military exercise to further establish some camaraderie with one another. The game opens with two ships from the Sakura empire: the bubbly and energetic Shimakaze and aloof and limelight-hating Suruga being teamed up together.
Much of the story comes from the two learning to work together through Shimakaze maturing a bit and Suruga learning to be more patient and accepting, but there are other of interactions with many of the core characters from the game’s world along the way. Every game needs an antagonist and in Azur Lane: Crosswave they come in the form of “Sirens”. Sirens are mysterious, almost alien ships that harbor otherworldly technology and are obsessed with analyzing everything. They also tend to want to kill anything that gets in their way. Suruga and Shimakaze have the misfortune of getting into a scrap with some Sirens while on an exercise together, and it’s from here where the conflict mainly starts.
Speaking of conflict, the battle stages in Azur Lane: Crosswave are pretty darn nice, albeit very short. Battles take place on the water (of course) and are set in a square arena where you can move freely. Enemies pop up around the arena – primarily outside the active area – and you use the weapons your ship has to take them down. Your ship can have up to five different attacks. You have your main cannon, torpedoes for taking down ships, anti air guns that attack warplanes automatically, and two skills that either cause massive damage or buff your character. Your main cannon is always available, but all your other weapons (aside from your auto anti-air cannon) requires charging up to be able to use. You can also dash to avoid incoming fire which has a few invincibility frames, so it pays to stay moving. On both PS4 and PC the controls are nice and tight with no noticeable lag on inputs.
Rare Drop GET!
Azur Lane: Crosswave features a ton of unlockable characters, no drop percentages here fortunately!
Sometimes you’ll fight other ship girls, and they can be very potent foes, having top notch equipment definitely helps here. You’ll find parts to upgrade your weapons and equipment both by completing battles and finding boxes littered across the map. You can also purchase new equipment that gets updated as you progress through the story, so there are plenty of reasons to keep tabs on the shops in Azur Lane: Crosswave. In addition to upgrading your weapons, you strengthen your overall firepower by recruiting additional ship girls into your fleet. With each battle you earn “A Points” that can be used to recruit over 50 different ship girls from the Azur Lane universe. Each girl costs a different amount depending on how capable they are, and they are also divided into two different classes. “Capitol Ships” are with you on the frontlines and provide additional firepower, while “Support Ships” sit on the sidelines and provide healing and buffs for you and your teammates.
Certain combinations of ship girls on your team can result in additional bonuses and abilities, so learning how different ships play together is as important as having good equipment. Much like the mobile game, you can also “Pledge” yourself (basically marry) ship girls that have enough affinity for you and when you have the right item. You can also use a “Cognitive Chip” on them when they reach level 100. Both methods increase each ship girl’s stats, so there are a ton of options for upgrading your waifus here.
Azur Lane: Crosswave has some really nice looking and fun battles, but they tend to not last very long.
Despite how fun the battle stages are, they are sadly too short and feel very few and far between compared to the numerous Visual Novel style segments found in the game’s Story Mode. Getting an S Rank on each level (which is admittedly easy to do even on higher difficulties) requires beating the levels in under two minutes, so things will be over before you know it and then you’ll be back to your ship girls chatting again. At times during the Story Mode you’ll come across six or more story events before you’ll get to even one battle, and some of these events can go on for well over ten minutes each unless you fast forward through them (which you obviously won’t want to do if you care about the story). If you’re looking for a lot of Visual Novel style fan service then Azur Lane: Crosswave has plenty to go around in spades. If you”re looking for tons of frantic action then these story segments will definitely throw off the pacing for you.
Graphically speaking, the character art in Azur Lane: Crosswave is very nice. Many of the same character portraits from the mobile game are used here as well,which makes the game automatically familiar to mobile gamers. There are also some nice visuals at key scenes in the story. The battles themselves look really nice. Unreal Engine 4 is utilized pretty nicely here, with the water effects in particular looking great. The ship girls are all rendered nicely as well. If you’re playing on PC, the requirements for the game aren’t very demanding. I recently gave my rig a mild upgrade, primarily with an SSD, 16GB of RAM, and going from a Radeon HD7870 to a Geforce GTX 1050ti. At 1080p I maintain a pretty consistent 60FPS even with multiple setting maxed out. Unfortunately the in-game options are very bare bones. At the time of my reviewing the game the only graphical options you could use in the PC version were windowed or fullscreen modes and the resolution was locked at 1080p. I had to force the other graphical upgrades via the Geforce menu settings, but they did work nicely. On PS4 the graphics are mostly the same, but you are missing anti-aliasing of any sort and it seems like the game has some mild screen tearing going on at times. You’re also hard locked to 30FPS.
Aside from story mode, Azur Lane: Crosswave also has side modes including a photo mode, challenge mode, and extra stories to unlock.
Sound-wise, Azur Lane: Crosswave is pretty good. The soundtrack, though not very noteworthy, has some catchy tunes with some good arrangements. In particular I instantly recognized the boss battle theme from the mobile game for each boss battle, which I though was a nice touch. All the story events are voiced entirely (aside from narration text), and each of the voice actresses are extremely talented and mesh well together. All the ships have the same voice actresses as the mobile game, so they will all sound familiar as well if you’ve played on mobile before. The game is entirely in Japanese, so you may be disappointed if you’re hoping for a dub. In addition to the standard story mode, there’s also Extreme Battle mode where you can test your skill against powerful enemies in varying challenges with special items as rewards, a Photo mode where you can set up to three ship girls in a diorama of your choosing, and an Episode mode where you can unlock side story events that unlock on meeting certain conditions throughout the game. These don’t add much to the game overall, but if you need a break from story mode you can check these out for some additional fun.
A Bit of a Slow Burn
Overall, Azur Lane: Crosswave is a good game chock-full of fan service. If you’re a fan of the mobile game you’ll have plenty to like here. Many of the systems in the game function the same as they do on mobile so it is very easy to play, looks nice, and sounds nice too. Though the story segments can seem to drag on at times, they do add some good depth to the myriad of characters throughout the game by showing their interactions with one another. The difficulty isn’t anything too crazy either so long as you keep up on your equipment and farm for items here and there. If you’re looking for something simple and fun, and don’t mind doing a fair bit of reading, Azur Lane: Crosswave should be a good pickup, whether physically or digitally (at the time of this writing you can get both standard and collector’s editions at IFI’s online store here).
Final Verdict: 3.5 / 5
Available on: PC (Reviewed), PS4 (Reviewed) ; Publisher: Compile Heart, Idea Factory International ; Developer: Compile Heart, Idea Factory International, Felistella; Players: 1; Released: February 13th, 2020; ESRB: T for Teen ; MSRP: $39.99 (Digital) $49.99 (Physical) $99.99 (Collector’s Edition)
Full disclosure: This review is based on a PC copy of Azur Lane: Crosswave given to Hey Poor Player by the Publisher, and a personal copy for PS4 purchased by the reviewer.