Review: Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate (PS4)

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Title: Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PlayStation Network Download (18.9 GB)
Release Date: September 2, 2014
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Developer: Omega Force
Original MSRP: $59.99
ESRB Rating: T
Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate is also available on PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita and Xbox One.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy.

Humanity is nearly destroyed. Not too long before the events of Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate starts, a giant hydra appeared and ravaged the villages of the world. All hope seemed lost as only three heroes remained, until a goddess, Kaguya, appeared before the heroes. She has the power to take them back to their pasts in order to steer the nations of the world on a path that will allow them to stand up to the hydra. Along the way, they hope to recruit the greatest heroes of humanity to fight alongside them. The hydra’s vast power seems to have pulled multiple worlds together though, so the forces of humanity may also find themselves with unfamiliar heroes to help fight on their side.

Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate’s story is pretty basic, mainly serving as a means to deliver the gameplay and tie together the various universes that the game pulls from. At a base level, it’s not hard to follow: heroes travel back to a key battle, fight to change the outcome in one way or another and gain a few new heroes whose past they can now travel to. Rinse-repeat. However, as the cast ballooned in size it became harder and harder for me to track specific characters and their affiliations. Perhaps being familiar with previous games in the series, or with the two main series it draws from (Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors) might have helped.

Complicating the story even more is that the game only has Japanese voices. While not a problem for the cutscenes before or after a stage, when characters are yelling at each other during a stage it becomes difficult to read the subtitles and pay attention to the game at the same time. Fortunately, the base level story of “humanity coming together to fight the evil” is so simple to follow that I didn’t mind losing out on the minutia of the story and could still enjoy the game for the gameplay.

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Gameplay:
Being one of the games in Koei Tecmo’s ever expanding line-up of “musou” style games, Warriors Orochi 3’s gameplay should be familiar to anyone who has played a Warriors (Dynasty Warriors, Samurai Warriors, One Piece Pirate Warriors, etc) game. For the uninitiated, the games have your character placed in a battlefield with hundreds of mostly unintelligent enemy troops seeking to rack up hundreds, or thousands, of KO’s while carrying out a specific objective. By employing combinations of normal attacks, charged attacks, special attacks, and musou attacks, the player can easily mow through platoons of enemy soldiers.

Warriors Orochi’s claim to fame among the various Warriors games is that rather than having a single character control, the player instead uses three characters. The player can swap between these three characters on the fly during a stage, as well as unleash devastating combination attacks. The two characters not being actively controlled by the player can also be summoned to fight alongside them, giving access to powerful triple-musou attacks.

It’s nice that the game has tons of cool flashy and strong special attacks but it still largely revolves around simply mashing normal attacks as the mindless enemies throw themselves at you like cannon fodder. A properly leveled character will slice through enemies in just one or two normal attacks meaning there’s not much need to use anything besides those, especially when the ones that are limited by resources (musou meter, for example) are best saved for enemy officers.

Enemy officers are the unique, named enemies and are often related to the objectives of a stage. Despite being laid out between swaths of enemy minions, these fights seem to be intended to be the meat-and-potatoes of the game, yet the game’s own designs seem to work against it here. When trying to target a specific enemy, attacks felt too imprecise like most were meant to be clearing hordes of enemies, not single enemies. Miss an attack and suddenly the enemy officer is behind you, off the screen where you can’t see them, attacking you. Some of the special musou attacks feel similarly intended for droves of enemies, but most are so damaging that they still work well against enemy officers.

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All of that said, there’s something therapeutic about watching the KO counter steadily climb through the hundreds. It may be mindless action, mashing square and running through droves of dudes, but the game really scratched an itch for me after a couple of particularly rough days at work.

There’s no shortage of content in the game. With one-hundred-forty plus characters to unlock, each of which has unique fighting styles, weapons to collect/fuse, and levels to level up, there should be plenty to keep the enfranchised players busy for a while. There are also a few Modes outside of the Story Mode, including a “Gauntlet Mode” which features procedurally generated levels (and lets the player party with 5 characters instead of three), a “Battlegrounds Mode” where players can remix stages by adjusting enemies/allies on the map and share their remixes online, and a “Duel Mode” that pits two 3-charater teams against each other in a fighting-game-like arena.

Visuals:
Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate, being a cross generation game and largely built on a previous generation, won’t wow with the graphics. The every-day foot soldiers, both allied and enemy, and many of the stages don’t look any better than what PS3 is capable of. Named officers, the more than one hundred forty playable characters, do look better and probably got a bit more love during the upscale but still aren’t what most people would think of when looking for a jump to a new generation of console. Draw distances can be negatively impacted as well, with even enemy officers sometimes popping in or out as they get closer or farther from the player.

Fortunately the game runs smoothly on the system and the lower graphics are probably the reason the game can display more than a hundred enemies on the screen at once without any slowdowns. The PS4 version also has some decent lighting and the snazzy special effects from special attacks look good. Hopefully future Warriors games will start to push the PS4 once the series moves off the PS3 completely.

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Audio:
I made a brief mention of it before, but Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate only contains Japanese audio. While I’m generally a fan of playing games with Japanese voices anyway, in this case the audio can be a detriment. Dialogue during a battle can be easy to miss and sometimes contains story elements or details related to the stage’s objective. Normally that would probably just mean the player should remain more vigilant about reading subtitles but the game also has a ton of throw-away and repeated dialogue as officers taunt other officers or offer a quip after securing a kill. At least a couple of times I zoned out after several lines of throw-away dialogue only to miss an ally informing me that they required assistance which caused a game over. The voice work itself is good though as the actors give their roles enough emotion to fill the tons of hot-blooded battlefield call-outs.

The music is very good, possibly one of my favorite aspects of the game. Many tracks have the feel of the Orient to them, fitting for a game with a lot of characters based on Chinese and Japanese historical figures. However the tracks are also very fast-paced and infused with a rock-like electric guitar flavor that fits in well with the style of the game. Stages for crossover characters meld in aspects of the soundtracks of the character’s original games for instance Sterk’s stage draws some melodies from Atelier Meruru and the music in Sophitia’s stage is inspired by Soul Calibur.

One strange oddity: this game strips all audio from the file when you use the PS4’s built-in video recorder. Apparently this was due to a licensing issue with some of the audio.

Online/Multiplayer:
Most modes in Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate can have multiplayer aspects. Story and freeplay modes have co-op, both online and couch, to have two people each controlling a team of three characters. Playing co-op even adds extra combination attacks that players can access if they’re close enough to each other. The Duel Mode can be played as a versus mode, while stages modified in the Battlegrounds Mode can be shared online.

Unfortunately there don’t seem to be many users on as of this writing (currently just a couple days after the game launched) as my attempts to find random users online have all failed. But then, this seems like the kind of co-op best experienced with someone familiar, while chatting through the PS4’s party app. Maybe this’ll be a nice contender for the PS4’s game-share technology in the near future, for some virtual co-op.

Conclusion:
I’ve tried getting into the various Koei Tecmo Warriors franchises in the past and never really succeeded. I enjoyed my times playing them co-op with friends but never felt the need to keep up with them. However, with an open mind (and a character from one of my favorite series as a crossover as enticement) I was glad to get a chance to give the formula another shot. Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate may not have won me over completely, but it did help me view the franchise in a new light.

That being said, this is far from a perfect game. The combat can still devolve into mindlessness and feel a tad imprecise at times. The Japanese voices can occasionally hamper both gameplay and story. The huge cast of characters can bog down the minutia of the story. However, even with those issues, Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate is a decent game. For those times in the future when all I need is something that lets me unwind by destroying tons of enemies, this game will most definitely deliver and give plenty of options in doing so.

Score:
7.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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Written by Andy Richardson

Andy Richardson

A longtime PlayStation fan who enjoys JRPGs and rhythm games when he’s not tweeting about his parrot.

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