This Japanese grand strategy titan celebrates its 40-year anniversary with a western release in July

Nobunaga's back, baby, and he's as ambitious as ever. Koei Tecmo has announced Nobunaga's Ambition: Awakening, the "culmination of the series' 40-year history," set for release on July 20 this year. And yes, it really has been around for 40 years. God help us.

As ever, Awakening is a grand strategy game that will see you step into the shoes of a Japanese daimyo—a feudal lord—as you attempt to unify the country under your banner by war and diplomacy (but mostly war). With a retinue of retainers and over 2,200 AI officers—hope you've got a good memory for names—your goal is to realise, well, the ambition of historical daimyo Nobunaga Oda: Bringing the fractious territories of Japan to heel.

This game has actually been out since July 2022, as Nobunaga's Ambition: Shinsei, in Japan, but now it's getting a full western release. It's meant to be an enhanced version of the original Shinsei release, too: The Japanese version is titled Nobunaga's Ambition: Shinsei with Power-up Kit, a name with real '90s console wars energy.

"Players will issue policies which will impact the entire clan, and appoint land holders who will develop domains by themselves," reads the announcement blurb, which sounds like a great way to end up with a knife in your back to my CK3-addled brain. You'll also be able to appoint officials, spar with advisors, and generally try to keep feudal Japan's many ornery plates spinning while expanding your empire.

Koei Tecmo also says that one of the series' most popular features, siege, is making its return in Awakening, "but in an entirely new form". For the first time, "sieges will take place on a single map with different types of terrain and totally different castles or castle towns," which will add "a new level of strategy" to the game's sieges. "When attacking, players will need to decide where to break through and which route to take," on the flipside, "when defending, they will need to decide where to deploy defensive equipment and how to intercept the attacking force."

I love a good grand strategy game that lets me conjure up weird alternate histories, so even I'm surprised I've never played a Nobunaga's Ambition game. In fairness, their western releases and localisations have always been a bit unreliable, so it's easy to let the series as a whole slip under the radar. Perhaps Awakening can be my first foray into the series. I've always wanted to tell 2,200 people what to do.

Joshua Wolens
News Writer

One of Josh's first memories is of playing Quake 2 on the family computer when he was much too young to be doing that, and he's been irreparably game-brained ever since. His writing has been featured in Vice, Fanbyte, and the Financial Times. He'll play pretty much anything, and has written far too much on everything from visual novels to Assassin's Creed. His most profound loves are for CRPGs, immersive sims, and any game whose ambition outstrips its budget. He thinks you're all far too mean about Deus Ex: Invisible War.