Did you know that I had never played a Warriors game before Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate? For many years, I had ignored any of the Dynasty Warriors or Samurai Warriors games because critics and gamers alike were of the general opinion that they were repetitive button mashers, unworthy of any attention.
For the most part, I believed those people. But when Hyrule Warriors was announced, I had the sudden realisation that I had never actually taken the time to form my own opinion about any of these games. I thought to myself, “What if I had been missing out on a series I would really like?”
I grew up playing games like Battle Toads and Double Dragon, and Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate is a spiritual successor to the classic beat-em-ups of the NES era. So I really have been missing out all this time!
Time travel makes everything better
Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate, as the name probably implies, is a crossover title featuring characters from the Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors franchises. The story goes that a malevolent force known as Orochi has appeared in the world and wiped out most of the heroes (and villains) of both games. The first mission opens with what remains of the Chinese and Japanese armies mounting a final offensive against the Hydra. And they fail horribly.
Luckily, a holy being called Kaguya descends from the heavens to pull your heroes back to an earlier period of time. You are then tasked to travel back and forth through past events to save as many characters as possible, have them join your army and alter the course of history.
The narrative is flimsy (something inherent to most cross-over games) but is compelling enough to continue playing and serves as a pretty novel way to progress through the story. Almost every mission in Story Mode unlocks more characters for you to use, who in turn will unlock more stages in different periods of time to help save more characters.
As such, progressing through the game is quite rewarding since you’ll never know who is right around the corner or how many more stages will be unlocked (including hypothetical story progressions similar to Dynasty Warriors 8 Xtreme Legends). There are also guest appearances from Dead or Alive, Soul Calibur and Ninja Gaiden characters to add a lot of variety to the cast.
Shooting fish in a barrel
Both Warriors series are known for mowing down endless waves of enemies with their insane hack-n-slash gameplay and Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate is no different in that regard. However they have added a unique mechanic to make Warriors Orochi feel noticeably different from the other Warriors games.
Rather than selecting a single character to complete a stage, you choose a team of three officers to take into battle and switch between them in a similar fashion to Marvel vs Capcom. This means additional support attacks from stand-by characters or triple attacks to wipe out huge groups of enemies. While in standby, they also regenerate their health and musou bar (super power). These additions help break up the monotony that is often associated with the Warriors games by having you switch and support as different situations arise.
At the time of writing, I have played a little over 20 hours and am only up to chapter 3 (out of 8) in the Story Mode. With over 30 characters unlocked so far and at least 30 more, each with unlockable skills and weaponry, there is well over 100 hours of content if you’re any kind of completionist.
All progress crosses over from Story Mode to other features comprised in Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate. These include: Free Mode, which allows you to redo any completed story mission to gain experience or items; Musou Battlefields, a custom map creation tool which allows you to share online; Duel Mode, where the player faces off on a PvP map against CPU or human controlled players with a team of three officers; and Gauntlet Mode, not unlike a traditional arcade mode where you explore maps to reach check points to progress while taking down enemies increasing in strength over time.
Finally, it should be mentioned that the visuals are quite impressive. Warriors Orochi uses the full colour spectrum for their stage design, making for more interesting maps to explore filled with vibrant flaming yellows and emerald green fields. The trans-dimensional aspect also means stages that include beach sections, modern day sky scrapers and French villages.
The character designs are also incredibly detailed and varied, meaning there will be at least one character (if not 20) who you find appealing, each with multiple clothing colours or costume choices. The generic enemies you mow down don’t look particularly appealing but given how many are on screen at any given time, that is to be expected. Just remember that this game is not a AAA block buster game with a 100 million dollar budget, so animations are not realistic and you will see weapons and limbs phase through walls and cliff faces.
Where did you come from!?
Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate is not flawless game and hinders player enjoyment in a number of ways. I was completely new to the Warriors series when I started and the game feels like it was created exclusively to fans of either series with very little attempt to cater to newcomers. Nowhere was this more obvious than the very start of the game, which fails to deliver any kind of tutorial.
While it is easy to figure out basics of attacking, there were many vital things I had no idea how to do including character swapping (in battle) or summoning a horse. I should not be figuring out basic information about how to play the game after 20 hours of play. This is especially unacceptable since I recently started Dynasty Warriors 8 and it features OPTIONAL tutorial missions for new players, so I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect the same of Warriors Orochi.
There are other small, but annoying problems as well. It is not unusual for your attacks to send enemy officers flying through the air and losing track of their location. This allows them to unleash a surprise Musou attack which instantly kills your character. Nothing is more frustrating than playing a stage for 20 minutes and dying out of nowhere.
The game also has a nasty problem with enemies suddenly popping up on screen. It is not unusual to run towards an enemy officer and 20 minions that are on the map, only for them to suddenly materialise less than a metre from your character. Couple this with a tendency to knock your target off screen and out of sight, and it can become an exercise in frustration when you can’t see who you’re supposed to kill when they are within arms-reach. I have heard that the home console versions aren’t as bad, but on the PlayStation Vita it is extremely noticeable and hard to ignore.
My final criticism, as mentioned earlier, is that the story is a little weak and characters mostly do not have their motivations or relationships explained. There does not appear to be any main character or leader, but rather opts for any random team member deciding strategies out of nowhere. This is not a problem for me since most cross-over games are done with fan-service in mind, but I bring it up in case anyone hear is expecting Shakespearian drama or do be deeply invested in characters they may never have met.
Final Verdict: 8/10
Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate has simplistic, yet addictive hack-n-slash gameplay reminiscent of older style NES beat-em-ups. While some people will find the game repetitive, those looking for a simple game will find hours of joy as they experiment with over 60 characters across multiple game modes and difficulties. It is recommended that you purchase the game on a home console due to some performance issues on the handheld counterpart.
I would say this game is a must buy for fans of any of Omega Forces other works (Dynasty Warriors, Samurai Warriors, Gundam Dynasty Warriors, Hyrule Warriors). Otherwise, fans of Scott Pilgrim vs The World: The Game or Double Dragon: Neon may want to look at this series. Be warned, that lack of a tutorial may be off putting at the start of the game but should be powered through.