The gameplay in Samurai Warriors 2 follows the same tired button mashing formula the Dyansty Warriors series has grown famous (or is it infamous?) for. Attack combinations are performed by pressing one button repeatedly and capping it off with a strong attack. Sometimes you get to push the strong attack button twice in a row. Each of the 26 characters, most of which must be unlocked, has two unique moves that can be performed by holding down one of the shoulder buttons while pressing either attack button. While this adds a little bit of a distinctive quality to each character, the special moves do little to break up the monotony of pressing a single button 99% of the time. Significant additions have been made to the RPG elements that Samurai Warriors introduced, but the actual gameplay experience has remained stagnant. Each level in either Story Mode or Free Mode puts players on a map and gives them conditions for both victory and defeat. For most levels, these are simply to keep your commander alive while defeating the enemy leader or leaders. Things generally get complicated while you're out knocking skulls and you'll find yourself running or riding from one end of the map to another while you attempt to keep all of your allied commanders alive. Rarely will you find a level where you can simply run directly for the enemy commander and fight them as you often could in Samurai Warriors.
Survival Mode has also been held over from the first game. In it, you'll
have to fight through a series of floors that are essentially small
missions. The goals range from killing thieves and finding their gold to
rescuing and saving peasants, but the core gameplay remains the same as
the Story Mode; kill the commander, or whoever is in charge, and wipe
out any lesser enemies you see along the way. In between each set of
five small stages you're allowed to save your progress with an interim
save and visit the shop to upgrade your character with the gold you've
collected. Although the goals are slightly different than the other
modes, anybody walking by wouldn't be able to tell the difference as the
enemies and core experience are unchanged.
Unsurprisingly, the fighting and AI is stuck at the same poor levels we've been seeing for years. The foes that inhabit the battlefield in such large numbers mostly stand motionless as you wipe them out through a series of button mashes. Occasionally you'll also notice these deficient soldiers stuck in a routine where they can't decide to move towards you or away and they'll end up shaking in one place uncontrollably. Your ever-present solitary guard will occasionally take out one of the lesser enemies that you missed, but their actions are rarely helpful. Commanders will put up a fight and even try to defend against your attacks, but you'll still find that blocking isn't necessary while continuously shooting out extended combos is a much more effective method of attack.