Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 – Road to Boruto Steam Review
February 3 has arrived and Bandai Namco has finally unleashed the PC/Steam version of Road to Boruto, which is an expansion for the 3D cel-shaded anime fighter Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 or a standalone purchase if you don’t have the base game yet, similar to how they did things with Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 Full Burst.
PS4 owners got it earlier, of course, but the Steam release is worth reviewing on its own due to the nature of the platform. We’re not going to mince words here; many multiplatform games end up getting released with a lot of problems on the PC. One does not need to look far for an example: the base game, Ultimate Ninja Storm 4, shipped out on PC with bugs that made it run at sub 10 fps on some system configurations.
People originally blamed it on users trying to run the game on laptops or slow hardware, but this was disproven because some of the people affected were running high end setups, plus a patch released later by CyberConnect 2 fixed the problem and made the game playable even for people with toaster PCs.
That being said, how was the release this time around? There’s already a ton of reviews of the base game available so what’s left to tackle is the Road to Boruto expansion itself. So what do we get this time around?
First, we get the 1.08 patch for the base game. This patch affects even people who did not purchase the Road to Boruto expansion, because it has changes that affect a game as a whole. Including one of the most requested things about the game:
60 FPS Support
That’s right. Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 is now the first in the series to let you play with silky smooth 60 fps. There is still an option to switch back to 30 fps, if you’re one of the users playing on a system that can barely run 30 fps. Keep in mind that the engine still uses frame dependent-timing, so choose an FPS that you can run consistently if you don’t want to suffer through slow-motion gameplay.
The 60 FPS option isn’t particularly resource-intensive, but it can cause some problems. We’ll get to that later.
As for other visuals-related improvements, they added an MSAA support up to 8x, greatly expanded the supported resolutions (formerly it only had 720p and 1080p as choices, now it goes from 640 x 480 all the way to 4K.)
We’re not going to bother saying whether the expansion is worth the price of admission, that will be up to you if you think the new content is worth $20 (or whatever price it is in your region. Steam priced it at the equivalent of $10 in my country. Yay for regional pricing!)
As for what’s new, you get 3 new stages – they’re nothing really special and would most likely blend in with the original stages after a while (it’s basically just the Boruto timeline’s version of Konoha, the Chuunin exam arena, and the battleground for the fight against Momoshiki, which looks very similar to the battleground for the fight against Kaguya.)
There’s also a bunch of new fighters that you can unlock by playing through the Road to Boruto story mode. You get Orochimaru’s “son,” Mitsuki, Sarada, and a version of 7th Hokage Naruto and Adult Sasuke with updated movesets. You also get two Borutos – one with movesets built around the “scientific ninja tool,” and one with the moves that he will use in the final battle against Momoshiki. You also get the Mecha Naruto character, which finally makes UNS Revolution completely skippable in the series.
Surprisingly, the Road to Boruto expansion also unlocked the preorder bonuses Boruto, Sarada (so now you have 3 Borutos and 2 Saradas, each one possessing a different moveset), and Kakashi’s Hokage costume. As someone who didn’t preorder the game, I appreciate this move on CyberConnect 2’s part but I can imagine it ruffling the feathers of some fans who preordered just for the bonus content.
For tournament makers and competitive players, there’s also a spectator mode added so now you can watch what other people are doing in their matches. Aside from that, you also get some new skins for existing characters (we don’t know which ones yet, many of the legacy characters have full models on story mode, but so far we have only unlocked the Road to Boruto skins for Gaara and Sakura, but we haven’t finished all of the sidequests yet, so who knows what else we could unearth – but there’s also a chance that many of these new skins/characters are being reserved for future DLCs. The absence of a playable Momoshiki and Kinshiki is puzzling, despite both having complete movesets.)
Other than that, you get some balance changes that we will not bother outlining because those are much better left in the hands of competitive players.
Any Bugs to Watch Out For?
As mentioned earlier, PC releases of multiplatform games are a bit of a gamble. You never know when you’re going to get a smooth port or a smorgasbord of bugs that testers missed. Unfortunately, Road to Boruto seems to be edging slightly towards the latter.
The biggest culprit here is the new 60 FPS option. The game was originally coded to be frame dependent and to run in 30 FPS. We’re betting that CyberConnect 2 didn’t have the time or incentive to overhaul the engine for 60 FPS, and went with what is basically a speedhack.
The 60fps option is there, but it basically just doubles the speed and some things weren’t adjusted – including the speed in which the substitution jutsu’s meter regenerates. When fighting in 60 FPS mode, you’ll notice that the sub meter regenerates faster, to the point where some online games consisted of fights between players who never ran out subs.
There are also reports of some attacks (particularly Sarada’s) not doing damage when set to 60fps.
Finally, there’s the MSAA option. Nobody knows the nature of this bug yet, but enabling it in x8 along with 60 fps resulted in some players getting slow motion gameplay. It’s not clear whether it happens because it makes the game so resource intensive that even high end rigs buckle, or that there’s a timing issue responsible. For now, it needs to be patched.
Is It Worth Getting?
Technically, if you’re asking how many hours you’ll spend in the Road to Boruto story mode, the answer is “not a lot.” We finished the main questline in a couple of hours or so, and that includes watching the cutscenes. From there, you get several sidequests that don’t really take too much time (except for Shikamaru’s sidequest, which is basically a lengthy gauntlet that we didn’t bother taking.) – go here and drive the crows away, go to this place and talk to this person, pick up these items etc. that sort of thing.
So technically, you get less than 5 hours of gameplay with the expansion. But this is a fighter that doesn’t really rely too much on story mode. In fact, there are probably fans out there who only bothered to breeze through story mode just to unlock all the characters. The meat and bones is still in the Free Battle and Online Multiplayer, in which case the replay value is technically “it depends” or “up to you.” There are enough additions in the expansion to make you want to go out and find people to spar with again, or fight the CPU again.
If you’re just interested in the 60 FPS option, keep in mind that it’s patched into the base game as well as part of the 1.08 update.