So it all started when I got into my first online match after grinding my ass off in VR Missions. I tried to fight in Beginner Matches but as sure as hell nobody was playing on that mode. So color me surprised when I get matched up against two level 80’s, a level 60, and a level 50. With nobody in my team even going about level 40, we got our asses kicked to the curb. Needless to say, Naruto to Boruto: Shinobi Striker left a bad first impression on me.
I thought, “you know, cool. That can happen. Maybe next matchmaking won’t be so unfair?”
And it was only downhill from there.
The Worst Way To Be A Ninja
So what makes Naruto to Boruto: Shinobi Striker so bad?
If it were only one thing, then I may not be so irate on the game. Hey, I’m a pretty forgiving guy. But after experiencing all its issues, I’ve been left frustrated at the broken, mess of a game. It’s a wonder why there are still some people that are still playing it.
To start, matchmaking is a pure annoyance. It’s a great way to kill time as you slowly wait for people to join your lobby. During the time you’re waiting along with several other people (if there are people with you) you can’t back out of matchmaking unless you quit the game. There’s a timer waiting to go off for about a minute and a half before you’re allowed to back out. So the whole time, you’re just waiting in the lobby for other people to join in.
Not so bad right? Well, consider the fact that you can’t enter any shops while you’re waiting, you can’t even customize your character, and you can’t really back out, you’re pretty much stuck there doing absolutely nothing until the option to back out of matchmaking is no longer grayed out. And this is only the tip of the iceberg.
Matchmaking in Naruto to Boruto: Shinobi Striker isn’t a just pure annoyance, it’s downright counterproductive! If nobody joins your game in a very limited time, you’re taken out of waiting to be put into another lobby with other different people until eight people join the match. There is no way to start the game with any fewer people in it. To think they could’ve fixed this if they just made us wait for a full eight people without a timer.
I know all of this is hard to imagine but consider it better than actually experiencing it.
In my experience, I have to go through no less than five lobbies until I could finally play a game with people. And it just so happens that most of the time, they’ll be at least 30 plus levels higher than my own group.
Problems With Online Experience
Did I mention that there is no private matchmaking? Let’s assume the fact that you’re playing the game because you want to go head-to-head against your friends. Well, you can’t do that. There is no 1v1 mode for you to enjoy. There is only team battle. And you wanna know what’s funny? You can’t even pick which mode you want to play in! Okay, maybe that’s not so funny…
So enough about how the multiplayer connection is terrible, how does the actual combat in multiplayer feel? Not really good.
Once a miracle happens and you do get into a match with other players that aren’t miraculously too over leveled, you can’t even pick a game mode with them. It’s always random. You either get flag battle, barrier battle, combat battle, or base battle. What’s the point of having game modes if you can’t even pick which one you wanna play?
Getting into a match alone is difficult enough, imagine just how difficult it is to coordinate with a team without knowing what class they’re going to use into battle. There is no preparation screen where you can see what class everyone is going to use before the fight starts so no proper coordination can be applied. Going into combat where we were three of us were healers and only one guy was on the offensive was just plain bad luck. Thankfully you can change your class during a match… after you die that is.
It’s obvious that Naruto to Boruto: Shinobi Striker has a very heavy emphasis on multiplayer and teamwork but doesn’t have all the features that make teamwork more convenient.
When I was playing multiplayer against others, it was very hard to tell what was even going on. The servers run on peer-to-peer from what I’ve heard so it’s even somewhat impossible to predict your opponents next movements when they lag in and out of reality.
Drifting away from multiplayer, the game is still very much lacking in a lot of areas.
Let’s talk about character creation. It’s stale. When I make my own character, I want to be able to customize the appearance of my avatar to insert myself into the world. I don’t make my own character just to look like a color palette swap version of an existing character from the show.
While it is possible to unlock clothes and new hairstyles by progressing throughout the game, it’s really just a collection of already known designs from canon characters. That’s boring.
When I had found out that clothing isn’t just cosmetic as it does carry its own perks, I quickly tried to assemble a good choice of clothing based on my chosen class. I ended up looking like a clown with no sense of fashion. But hey, that’s the price of power.
Naruto to Boruto: Shinobi Striker has no story mode. There is no immersion in this game. There is nothing new to discover or experience. Instead, the game presents you with VR Missions which are essentially PvE simulations that take you to past events to battle it out characters from the past or commit the occasional task. You can join up with others to tackle a mission or go at it alone.
Combat, even in solo mode, feels clunky. I have only two jutsus at my arsenal every match with one secret jutsu that I can activate after a certain time. My moveset often felt rather limited which is a far cry from the ridiculous array of movesets that characters have in the anime or even in the other games. Hitting enemies with combos are essentially keep pressing square until you press triangle.
I can’t speak for others but I felt very uninvolved with the Naruto-verse. There’s nothing really for me to do and no story to be partaking in. I was just uninterested. Instead, the game had me preoccupy myself with virtual reality missions or online quick matches.
If you’re this far down then you probably already know that I don’t like this game. That’s true but I don’t think it’s not redeemable. There are a lot of things about this game that needs to be improved on.
How matchmaking works for example. It’s already difficult enough to wait for others without constantly having to be removed from the waiting room to be placed in another most likely emptier and keep doing it until we get a full house. Why not just wait for others to join indefinitely without a timer?
Private matches should also be in the game. There shouldn’t be a reason why I can’t create my own party, make a match, tweak that match the way I like, and play with my friends. If I want to go 1v1 with somebody, the game shouldn’t force me for team play with a bunch of strangers.
Expanding character creation and customization can help me feel like I’m creating my character in the game. I don’t want my character to look like Naruto with a different hair color or anyone else really. I want to feel like I’m making my own character not a ripoff of two or three thrown into a blender.
Throughout my play with the game, I’ve had the game froze on me three times and taken me back to the menu. I’m an avid multiplayer gamer online and I’ve never quite experienced this in other games. So I can say that it’s definitely not my internet that caused it. Whatever the case, that’s just made matchmaking even more inconvenient.
Overall, I just felt like there weren’t enough features in the game to keep me interested. It’s very straightforward to the point of being narrow-minded. You customize your character, you battle it out, and rinse-and-repeat. I don’t think Shinobi Striker’s battle system is enough to keep me interested with repetitive play.
Disclosure: This review is based on a review code provided by Banda Namco Entertainment. Read our review policy to know how we go with our game reviews.