You don’t come to a Warriors game to test your IQ. You also don’t come to test your reflexes and you sure as hell don’t come for a riveting story — you buy these games to see how many guys Omega Force were able to cram on screen and how many of them you and a friend can kill with a single Musou attack. In that regard, Warrior Orochi 3 Ultimate delivers. As for every other aspect? Well, that’s where things become hit and miss.
Orochi 3‘s story can be summed up pretty quickly: You start off with a team of three officers and, on the brink of annihilation, have to travel back in time with a mysterious figure named Kagura in order to amass an army of previously-deceased officers. Along the way there’s a healthy amount of fan service, which just goes way over any newcomer’s head.
The story has been updated from the original 2012 release of Warriors Orochi 3 and boasts around 175 scenarios. These scenarios include endings, different takes on events from different characters, and what-if situations. It should go without saying that the story is nonsensical, but at the same time, it feels appropriate. No one (well, hopefully no one) should come into a Warriors game expecting the most comprehensive and engrossing story. It’s simply not the reason why most people pick these games up.
Narrative aside, the story mode has a surprising amount of depth to it. Between each mission, there is a central hub where you can increase morales via tea parties, customize/purchase weapons, edit your three-person team, spend growth points to upgrade officers and so forth. There’s certainly a solid amount of things to tweak to your liking, but when it all comes down to it, Warriors Orochi 3 is still, at the very core of its DNA, a button-masher.
No matter how much you customize swords, staffs, spears or what have you, it all comes down to how long you can tolerate pressing essentially one button to win. Of course, more seasoned Warriors players know to alternate between square and triangle (or X and Y) for different moves and to press “O” (or B) whenever the Musou meter is full to unleash an area-clearing special move. It’s a formula that’s rarely been touched since the PS2 days. It can be fun for a while and especially so with a buddy locally or online, but as with any Warriors game, repetition starts to sink in. I always found that I couldn’t play these games for more than two levels before turning them off and taking a breather. Having said that, I do ultimately have decent, harmless fun with them.
Another aspect that feels largely untouched since the PS2 days is the AI. I know, I know — I’m just throwing another penny into a wishing fountain that’s been around for almost 20 years, but damn, have you ever seen a more flaccid army? Orochi 3 Ultimate has around 145 playable characters with different Musou attacks and weapons, but it’s hard to fully enjoy them when the enemies you fight are as mobile as bowling pins. Sure, you can increase the difficulty, but all that does is multiply enemy health absurdly and ensure that any normal soldier can kill you with one hit. Basically, going from Normal to Chaos difficulty is you voluntarily spiking up the repetition factor and turning down the fun dial. It makes you grateful for the Assassin’s Creed guards.
Rounding out the combat suite are the new Ultimate additions: Aerial Specials, Triple Rush attacks, and True Musou Burst. I appreciate these extra layers, but until the AI forces me into having to use them, there’s little reason to deviate and use these pretty attack variations. At least Sterk (ATELIER), Kasumi (Dead or Alive), Xu Shu (Dynasty Warriors) and Sophitia (Soul Calibur) are fun additions to an already outstanding roster.
The rest of the additions to this Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate reiteration come in the way of game modes. The big new one is Gauntlet Mode, which is where you assemble a five-person squad and try to activate as many Dragon Portals scattered around the map as possible before leaving in an Escape Portal. You have to be careful of enemies near Miasma though, as it’s an evil purple smoke that makes enemies tougher. For me, Gauntlet Mode was just nothing more than a beefy distraction.
Next, there’s the shallow Duel Mode. This is a competitive mode that can be done locally or online. You can either go head-to-head in a boring and awkward fight or try your hands at Survival, a boring and awkward attempt to clear as many enemies as possible. Yeah, you can equip up to four different strategy cards (think perks), but there’s just nothing compelling here at all. Of course, you still have the Musou Battlefields and Freestyle Mode, but most of your time will be spent in Story Mode.
The game’s presentation is what you’ve come to expect from it, namely solid character models populating dry and blandly textured environments. Even though the environments technically vary, you can’t help but feel like you’ve been there before. At least the layout of each map is mixed up enough. The music is still something you’ll want to replace with your own, but at least the non-localized voice overs are a nice touch. It’s not a title that’s going to turn heads, but it’s not the ugliest thing you’ll ever see.
Coming out two years after the original release, it’s strange to see them launch an Ultimate version rather than a proper sequel to Warriors Orochi 3. On paper, it seems like they added a lot but it all amounts to just back-of-the-box bullet points. The mileage each new mode will get really depends on how much you love the franchise.
I know I may have sounded down on Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate throughout this review, but it really is solid, solid fun that can be a blast when played with a friend sitting next to you. It’s just a shame that Omega Force decided to just throw more at the game rather than fine-tuning what’s already there. I mean, could you imagine God of War/Devil May Cry-esque combat with more varied enemies and combat scenarios? Way more compelling, right?
This review is based upon the Playstation 3 version of the game, which we were provided with.