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The Warriors Orochi series has always been about three things: Storming the field of battle, slicing and dicing your way through literally thousands of enemies and earning a victory by besting one general after another in over-the-top combat. So, can Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate add enough new ingredients to that recipe to make arguably the best game in the series even better?
Combining the characters and lore from the popular Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors series, Warriors Orochi is your typical gaming instance of peanut butter and jelly; two things get smashed together in order to create an even tastier sammich. This, obviously, means that a crazy story needs to be crafted to unite the two worlds, as both of the source games draw on actual history to create the backbone of their narratives. This is one of my favorite aspects of the game, as countless hordes of human enemies and generals, as well as more realistic locations, now have to share the spotlight with demons, warped landscapes and towering monsters.
The story of Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate is the same as the original game (released in 2011 for the PS3 and Xbox 360), but with an added chapter tacked onto the beginning and end of the campaign. A massive, world-destroying hydra has laid waste to the kingdoms of man and, from the game’s onset, only a trio of heroes remains to challenge it. These warriors soon earn the favor of a goddess, however, offering them a Quantum Leap-esque ability to travel back in time and put right what once went wrong. You will now venture through eight chapters (each broken down into multiple missions) worth of story that sees a growing roster of legendary soldiers turning the tide of previous failures in the hopes of slaying the hydra once and for all.
Since both of the core games offer a massive roster of their own, what you’re looking at in Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate is a cast of more than 100 selectable characters, which is really only the tip of the iceberg when it come to the sheer amount of content being offered in this game. While not all of these heroes are winners, there’s a huge amount of variety in their fighting styles and, on the field of battle, you can bring three tag-team partners into the fray.
The combat in WO3U is fast, frantic and fun, which is a good thing since you will be doing so much of it. For the purposes of this review, I played the PlayStation 4 version of the game and, along with enhanced graphics and lighting, there were a fair number more characters on the screen than I remember; and that’s saying something, since the original version of the game already threw a ridiculous number of enemies your way at once. This can actually serve as a little bit of a hindrance, as it can become tricky to keep up with your character amidst so many moving bodies from time to time.
Characters are limited to just a handful of attacks, which can be augmented with jumps, unified abilities and special moves. Each character only gets a single weapon, too, but now you can swap between your three heroes on the fly. Get good at the timing, and you’ll be bounding around the battlefield in an electric haze of carnage, chaining your heroes’ moves together seamlessly or (new to the Ultimate version), sending them onto the field to battle as AI partners.
Nothing about the combat system will change your mind if you’re not typically a fan of the Warriors brand of combat, but fans of the series will likely agree that this is the best its ever been.
That sentiment can be carried through to pretty much every aspect of the game, too. Along with a pretty lengthy campaign, you’ll be able to dive into a number of additional modes that will help give Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate plenty of staying power. The best part is that experience for your individual characters carries over between all modes so, no matter how you spend your time, your favorite heroes will continue to get better and better. This is further augmented by a brilliant community pool of additional experience points that let you give a boost to characters you have otherwise avoided. If you get pretty deep into the game and decide that you suddenly want to try out a brand new character, you can just drain some experience from this pool in order to take them up to level 10 in one go. Characters can each be maxed out up to nine times, too, and subsequent runs through the experience chain will grant access to even more abilities.
There’s a Free Mode, as well as a new Gauntlet Mode that lets you tackle evolving missions, moving through the fog of war and dispatching countless foes in order to earn loot and move past checkpoints. The Duel Mode basically turns the game into a 3-on-3 fighter, with additional abilities granted through collectable cards you gather within the campaign. There’s also the fan favorite Musou Battlefields mode, which lets you create and share remixes of the game’s many missions, meaning there should be a never-ending stream of new challenges being created by the game’s community. Most of this is also available in 2-player modes for both couch and online combat.
While the opening tutorial is pretty weak, Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate is actually a great place to jump into the series or try out the Warriors brand of gameplay for those who are curious. There’s a ridiculous amount of content to slice your way through and an equally impressive amount of customization. Since the setting is more fantasy based than the core series, you also don’t have to worry about being bogged down by centuries worth of history, battles, names, alliances and double crosses. You’re trying to defeat a massive mythological creature, and the armies of monsters that serve as its minions keep things far more interesting than the usual roster of human enemies.
When most games add the word Ultimate to the title of a re-release, it usually just means that you’re getting the original game, plus all of the DLC that was eventually released for it. For Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate, you can expect all of that expected content and so much more. The game’s mechanics have been refined and new and engrossing modes have been added alongside all of that standard additional content.
The game does still sport some of the series’ trademark weaknesses, though. The camera can still get fussy from time to time, objectives can be a bit tricky to comprehend and getting sent directly to the main menu following defeat (and possibly losing 30 or so minutes worth of progress in an instant), is still frustrating as hell.
But there’s more than enough here to make up for those few flaws, and I’m happy to report that Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate delivers exactly what fans seem to be clamoring for: All of the best parts of the series crammed into a single package, with some additional frills to boot.
This review is based on a downloaded copy of the game provided by the publisher.
Platforms:PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360
Publisher: Tecmo Koei