Dynasty Warriors and all of its spin-offs have a very distinct reputation among gamers that don’t play them regularly, and they are often akin to Call of Duty or sports games qualms. Things like “It’s the same damn game year after year” and “It never changes” and the like are said left and right. For better or worse, that’s just the rep that the Warriors games have in the west.
To the people that think that I have something to say. I can’t really refute that. The core gameplay doesn’t really change. Even in the newest installments, you essentially mash square and triangle until things die. Sure, there is always a new spin on something or small tweaks, but the core remains true.
And you know what? It fucking works. Warriors games will always have a place on my shelf for a simple reason – there just aren’t other games that are this much pointless fun in this style. All of the Warriors franchise has this unmistakable air about it that it just fun. Who doesn’t love to shred through thousands of enemy warriors at a time in a rather stylish and fun manner? I truly believe that even people that hate Warriors games would get enjoyment out of playing them now and again. It’s just the way they are built.
Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate (from here on WO3U) is much the same. This time around, the gameplay is back to classic Dynasty Warriors style, removing the new battle system that was introduced in DW8 that had a weapon triangle. Of course, with officers no longer to change weapons at all, that system would have fallen on it’s face in this particular game.
So, before I explain the awesome new modes and such from Ultimate, I’ll go over the combat. First and foremost is the character roster. Everyone is used to the DW roster being ludicrously huge. Dynasty Warriors 8, the latest flagship title, has 83 playable characters. However, WO3U, thanks to the crazy amount of character crossovers, has 145 characters. Now, for those of you who haven’t played WO3 (no Ultimate) on PS3, this roster includes the entire cast of the Samurai Warriors series through Samurai Warriors 3Z, as well as several other guest characters.
The guest characters include Ryu Hayabusa, Ayane, Kasumi, Rachel, and Momiji all of Ninja Gaiden fame, Sterkenburg Cranach from the Atelier series, Sophitia from Soul Calibur, Joan of Arc from Bladestorm, Nemea from TRINITY, and a whole bunch of other Orochi original characters. This roster is packed to the brim with fun and crazy characters to choose from.
The gameplay operates with you controlling a team of three characters. Before initiating a battle, you choose your team and head off to battle. While only one of your three characters is active at any given time, you can freely switch between them on the fly. That’s simple enough, but you can also switch during combos, which will cause the next character to come out swinging, for example, which can make some pretty hefty combo strings.
There are also a number of smaller nuances involving your team. As you play, characters’ bonds will grow and that will affect some gameplay. For example, a character within your team and pop out for a moment to attack an enemy if they are juggling you. Or, you can tap the shoulder button to call a character out to fight alongside you for a limited time. There are a lot of small changes here that made the game a bit more varied.
Your team is also capable of a Triple Attack, which calls out all three party members to deal lots of damage to lots of enemies in a short time span. This is controlled by it’s own gauge and is used separate from everything else in your arsenal. However, it’s deadliness makes it a very handy weapon in late game or large crowds.
WO3U also introduces a use for the musou gauge that’s not a musou attack! The R1 button can be used now on the ground or in midair for two different attacks or effects that are character specific, but use some of the musou gauge. These effects can be incredibly deadly attacks or support effects like speed boosts or even healing. It will depend on the character and your play style of course, but I find myself using my musou attacks…never. The R1 abilities are almost always more useful with the occasional exception of course.
There are also a number of other small tweaks added that are useful in late game, or post game. A counter has been added, that allows you to counter after blocking an attack. There are also special abilities for each of the character types – Speed, Power, Technique, and Wonder. Each has at least one useful perk, so having a varied team is usually a good idea.
Ultimately, WO3U uses the same tried and true Warriors style combat that fans love. It feels just as natural as Dynasty Warriors 2 did all those years ago – I still love it, and I know I’m not alone. Not much has changed on the gameplay front, but there has been tons of new content added in this installment that truly extends the longevity of the game.
So, without further ado, let’s talk content.
First and foremost, for those who played WO3, Ultimate adds four new chapters to the story mode. That doubles the length of the story mode, essentially. The newer chapters have less battles per chapter than the first 4, but this is because there aren’t as many (read: none) characters to unlock in the new story content. Everyone is unlocked before the end of the game, with the exception of a select few new additions. However! This new content focuses on characters who didn’t get to take part in much of the first half of the story, so if you’re interested, it is absolutely worth going through.
The next big mode is Musou Battlefields. This is returning from WO3, with expanded features. Essentially, Musou Battlefields allow you to alter battles to your liking, replacing characters, enemies, situations, what-have-you, all for whatever you want. These are, of course, shareable and playable over the internet. This adds a whole other layer to the game that is fun to explore and see what kind of tests other players have set up for you. Unfortunately, the customization on these Battlefields aren’t as restriction free as you’d think, so they don’t actually work as well as they could.
The next big addition was actually added in an expansion never seen in the west called Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper. However, it is still in the Ultimate, and let me tell you, for someone who enjoys the officer-versus-officer fighting part of the game, this is all for you.
Duel Mode is exactly as it sounds. It is all about you versus the enemy with no distractions. It’s a three on three battle, consisting of two teams. It handles the same way the game does, with you controlling one at a time and being able to switch on the fly. However, there is a bit of a twist involved. You carry four tactics cards into the battle that can be used during the fight that have various effect that ranges from helping you to hindering your opponent. It adds a really fun layer that makes the fight a bit different from just a brawl.
But the best part of Duel Mode? It’s multiplayer. Even better? It allows for online and couch. While I was reviewing this, a buddy of mine came to visit, and we duked it out a whole bunch in this mode, and it was crazy fun. The battles are confined, so the camera is actually fixed to a degree, and there isn’t splitscreen, but rather shared screen. It’s awesome, and tons of fun. And between all of the team combinations in addition to the tactics cards (there’s one for every character, so 145 of them) there is plenty to work with in this mode. It’ll be fun for hours if you like the fighting in the game.
Now, arguably the best mode to come out of WO3U is the Gauntlet Mode, which was known as Unlimited Mode in the Asian version. Now, for you Dynasty Warriors fans like me, this mode will absolutely floor you. It focuses on a five man team instead of a three man team. However, the entire team is active at once all the time. You’re still free to switch which character you are controlling on the fly of course.
And the purpose of this mode? It’s a Dynasty Warriors dungeon crawler. Yeah, that’s right. A dungeon crawler. The mode itself is rather difficult to explain, so I won’t get too far into the way it operates because it will just confuse all of us. However, while it starts out relatively easy, the end of this mode will tear even fully levelled and decked out characters apart. For a Warriors game, I have never been more impressed, floored, and excited by a single game mode.
Gauntlet Mode is the best part of this Warriors experience for anyone who loves a good challenge in these games in addition to their easy-mode experiences, and I truly hope that Gauntlet Mode will be a recurring thing in the flagship titles from here on. Also, anything collected in Gauntlet will be usable in all other parts of the game too, so it’s actually even useful to play through.
At this point, I’ve had a few of my friends ask about the game, and if it’s worth it to pick it up having played Warriors Orochi 3. My answer is a definitive “Yes!”, assuming they liked vanilla WO3. This version offers tons of new content, and it more than warrants the price tag if you like Warriors games. And for anyone who likes Warriors games and hasn’t played WO3, this version in my mind is a must buy. With so much content to run through, this installment feels like it could be a definitive version of the Warriors games. Especially with the Gauntlet and Duel Modes. There’s just so much to do.
If you don’t have the data to import but played the original, you’re in for a long haul before being able to tackle the new content
Basically, the TL;DR version is this: WO3U is awesome. If you like Warriors games, I highly recommend picking this one up. The new modes and roster will not disappoint, and the gameplay is still the classic Warriors stuff.
If you’re not a fan of Warriors games, but are curious, give it a go. The game is crazy fun and the amount of content will make your head spin. But if you don’t like Warriors games at all, this one is still a DW game – if you don’t like the series, you won’t like this.
Warriors Orochi 3: Ultimate was reviewed on using a code provided by Koei Tecmo. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s reviews/ethics policy here.