Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate PS4 Review
In the space of a year it’s already looking like the PlayStation 4 is the go to machine to play the Warriors series. Earlier in 2014, the system saw the release of the great Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Complete Edition and in October it will have its first taste of the Sengoku period with Samurai Warriors 4. But while we wait for that game, Koei Tecmo has released Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate, the third and, what seems to be final, re-release of Warriors Orochi 3.
When Warriors Orochi 3 (check the original review here) first released over two years ago for PS3 and Xbox 360, it did a lot of things right for the series. The game supported a massive cast of characters that merged heros from the Samurai Warriors and Dynasty Warriors games, while also adding in some fan service by including characters from Dead or Alive and some of the lesser known Koei Tecmo games, such as Bladestorm and Warriors: Legends of Troy. It also packed a ton of content on the disc, added cool new features and character abilities, team bonding, a silly, but enjoyable, time traveling story and above all, it was one of the most complete Warriors experiences. Move on a couple of years and that statement isn’t as correct anymore, as the latest Dynasty Warriors game improved the formula even more, and, to me at least, I would regard it as the best in the series, but that doesn’t mean fans, old or new alike, shouldn’t check out a return to Warriors Orochi 3 with this Ultimate release, as the game is still a blast to play.
Story mode is where you’ll begin the action, and this Ultimate release is structured just like the original title, as it contains everything from that game. Warriors Orochi 3 bundled all the characters into one huge story, which allowed the player to pick any hero – now over 140 in Ultimate – they had unlocked and use them in any of the missions that were currently available. It also incorporated a home-base style camp, where you could set up your team, buy weapons, talk to officers and join lobbies through online play, so of course this is also here. The new features for Story Mode come in regards to extra content that builds on the story after the ending of Warriors Orochi 3, with Da Ji and the army finding a special form of Mae Tamamo, which once released joins forces and begins to cause havoc for the heroes. Simply put, this extension story is more excuse to get the player to keep on hacking and slashing, plus, new story content is never a bad thing when it remains as entertainingly silly.
A complete new mode featured is Gauntlet, which asks you to create a team of five, with four characters controlled by AI that fight alongside you, and can be switched to be controlled at any time. These characters are used to pass various challenges that are laid out on a grid map. These can cover multiple battle stages, acting like multi-floored dungeons, filled with enemies to slaughter and missions to beat. Imagine the maps from the story mode, but twisted in such ways that it handicaps your team and you have to overcome these by clearing points, beating the bosses and clearing sections of the maps. It’s a solid mode to follow up with after beating the story, as character levels are shared between game modes, so having finished the story means characters are in the high levels before you begin the gauntlet.
Coming from Wii U’s Hyper release of Warriors Orochi 3 is Duel Mode, a three vs. three fighting mode that switches the gameplay to a 3D fighter. The characters are locked onto each and the camera mostly keeps the view to one side of the action, trying to represent the look of a game like Tekken, but the style of movement would be similar to the boxed arenas in games like Power Stone. It’s not a well thought out mode, feeling like it could do with more work to make it actually competitive with other fighters, but as a fun extra, you can pop on this mode for some online shenanigans to prove who you think are the best three characters in the game.
Not all the additions to this Ultimate version are as huge as the new modes, but they do add extra length to the game or change things for the better. Characters now can “prestige” after hitting max level of 100, which resets the level but offers permanent stat bonuses, which translates into an even more badass Lu Bu. During battle, the two characters that aren’t in use can be summoned to appear on the battlefield with a press of a button to help beat up foes. There are plenty more updates, such as new weapons, more item slots and better Musou moves for when two teams are together (for split screen or online cooperative action), but noting every little change would fill up too much of the review, so these are the ones I feel are noteworthy.
Everything feels super familiar when you are on the battlefield and racking up those 1000+ KOs. Existing fans, even if you haven’t played an entry for a while, will have it all come rushing back to them like it was only yesterday since touching a an entry in the series. Combos are built from mixing the two attack buttons, specials can be called upon when the musou bar is full for devastating death counts and character switching on the fly remains a cool way to extend combos. Nothing has changed much from the original release in regards to the core gameplay, apart from the small tweaks that I mentioned in the above paragraph. Even so, the huge character selection, which includes newcomers like Sterkenburg from Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland and special guest Sophitia Alexandra from Soulcalibur, are fun characters that add to the large variety of unique attacking heros. The gameplay is repetitive, but the various combat styles make playing various characters fun to discover, and having three of them at once just takes away from the mindlessness.
The AI units, unless they are commanders, still remain as cannon fodder, and only become challenging when you up the difficulty, which brings hard hitting shots from everyone. The higher difficulty is made for characters that have found better gear and levelled up their stats so that they can withstand such brutal hits. It’s certainly a task for hardcore fans to achieve, but I think most people will be happy just playing through on hard and having their fill, since this game is HUGE, taking nearly 40 hours to beat all the stages in Story Mode alone.
Performance wise, Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate isn’t as smooth of an experience as Omega Force’s previous PS4 release. The game is running at 1080p, but the frame rate, while hitting 60FPS, is unlocked, causing for some noticeable slowdown quite often. It’s not horrible, but it does drop from the buttery 60FPS a lot more often than Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Complete Edition. Warriors games aren’t exactly known for their looks, but matching Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Complete Edition with this title, it’s clear that this is more of a port of the Wii U game and changed for the 1080p resolution compared to the increase in texture quality that came with Dynasty Warriors’ move to the PlayStation 4. On the audio side, Koei Tecmo has stayed with a Japanese only voice option with English subtitles. In a game such as this, the hectic action can make you miss some of the subtitles that appear in battle, but apart from that issue, I don’t miss the silly, overdramatic English voices that much. They added a sense of cheap amusement to the game, but I can live without it.
Existing players might find it hard to justify playing through all the game again, but thankfully, Koei Tecmo was smart and included a save feature, which converts the original game’s save file to this Ultimate release, meaning you won’t have to put yourself through all the grind again to get to the new content, while allowing you to use high level heroes in modes such as the Gauntlet.
While Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate is no longer the best Warriors game in Koei Tecmo’s ever increasing mountain of them, this release is a solid port to the PlayStation 4 that contains a massive amount of content that is clearly worth the cash you pay for it, especially for anyone who hasn’t played the title before. Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate allows newcomers to see the start of the improvements to the Warriors series, which at one point was suffering from its own lack of ambition, and turn itself into a worthwhile hack and slash addict’s wet dream.