Koei’s “Warriors” franchise has been around for quite some time and has spawned into various series. The latest one, Warriors Orochi 3, released for the PS3 and Xbox 360 back in March 2012. With the Wii U’s launch back in November, Tecmo Koei and developer Omega Force have decided to bring an enhanced version of the title to Nintendo’s new console, Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper. However, exactly how much of an enhancement is it to the PS3/360 edition, is it worth double-dipping and is this a proper introduction to the Warriors series for those who never tried them?
Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper begins at the end of humanity, where three generals on Earth remain standing against the Hydra that destroyed civilization. As you progress through an inevitable losing battle, they find themselves fleeing the battlefield and being introduced to Kaguya, a mysterious woman from the Mystic Realm. She tells the heroes that she has the ability to have them travel back in time before the Hydra invaded. With this, they can try and form alliances amongst allies and foes alike to put a stop towards humanity’s end. The story spans across four chapters, with the plot unfolding via dialogue and cinematic cutscenes. Throughout the plot, the heroes will join forces with not only characters from “Dynasty Warriors” and “Samurai Warriors”, but from other Tecmo Koei franchises such as Ninja Gaiden, Dead or Alive, Trinity: Souls of Zill O’ll, Bladestorm: The Hundred Years’ War, and Warriors: Legends of Troy. The collaborations of these franchises adds a fresh element to the story and if you’re a fan of any of these series, you’ll get immersed into the story a bit more. During battles, you’ll see the generals all conversing with each other, fleshing out more of their characterization. Surprisingly, the story is pretty well told, with a few twists and turns around the corner that will keep you hooked to see where it all goes. It may be a bit hard to immerse into early on, but once you start getting through a few of the missions, you’ll dig the amount of story that’s here. While it’s nothing groundbreaking, it’s far from average.
Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper is a hack-and-slash, and one that emphasizes it by having you take on over 1000 enemies in each battle. You’ll participate in battles that will change the course of history across huge battlefields. The objective will resort to taking down the head generals of the opposing force, while also avoiding the stipulation of failure should a specific general on your team die or the opposing force flee. As you venture on the battlefield, you’ll have to pay attention to your map to see where your primary objective is and who requires your assistance at once. At first, it may be overwhelming with the amount of red dots, both small and large, littered on you mini-map. However, you aren’t required to take out every single one. The large red dots signify a general that should be taken out. Sometimes your path may be closed and defeating the general near the door will let you advance further. Although, you need to pay attention to the ones that have a yellow blip surrounding their red dot, as those are the key enemies to go after immediately. You’ll form a team of three characters to take control as during missions…and the cast of characters you’ll be able to choose from is enormous. Initially you’ll only have a very limited amount to choose from, but as you complete missions, you’ll get more characters to join your cause. As mentioned in the story section, the characters will range from not only the “Dynasty Warriors” and “Samurai Warriors” franchises, but many other Tecmo Koei franchises. In all, there are over 120 characters to unlock. Having an enormous amount of characters can normally sound like they’d consist of simple cut-and-paste characters with different coats of paint over them. However, the developers have made every single character play entirely unique with their own set of moves. In particular, when you play as characters from other Tecmo Koei franchises, such as “Ninja Gaiden” for example, the amount of detail put into replicating the characters moves are an immensely satisfying love letter to those fans.
For a game of its type, Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper has a surprising amount of depth. Aside from the abundant amount of characters, you’ll be able to level up characters, equip better weapons for them, fuse weapons together and equip two different perks per character. Leveling up is something that never felt like a chore at all, as you’ll collect extra EXP scrolls on the battlefield for each general you defeat. However, you can also level up your characters by distributing “Growth Points”. You’ll earn these points at the end of missions and once you return to your camp, you can access the “Distribute Growth Points” menu to further upgrade your characters. Speaking of the camp, this will be your hub where you’ll be able to speak with other characters, form bonds between them, purchase and fuse weapons, and also access the Network Assistant (online co-op). Speaking with other characters is important as these will open up side-missions to unlock more characters, and only a few characters will appear on site to speak with at a time. An interesting mechanic is the “Weapon Fusion”, which will allow you to take elements from one weapon and attach them to another. Each weapon will have slots that utilize countless different perks, such as Ice, Flame, Prosperity and Wisdom, just to name a few. These abilities will allow you to have elemental attacks added, increase your EXP faster, earn more Proficiency for your weapon (which will permanently increase the damage your weapon does), increase your defense, etc. The perks can also be upgraded up to nine points each, so if you had “Ice+1” on the weapon you’re upgrading and chose to add “Ice+4” from another, it’ll become “Ice+5”. It’s this level of depth the weapon system has that makes it addictive to try and max out a weapon to become a complete beast. As for the Network Assistant, it does what it needs to in order to get an online co-op session going. However, the online co-op only allows you to play missions that have already been completed, so if you’re looking to co-op through the whole story mode online, you’ll be a bit letdown here. On the plus side, if you plan to replay through the game on harder difficulties and earn better weapons, that will give you some solid replay value, both offline and online. The campaign itself will take roughly 12-15 hours to complete, with a plethora of additional missions to unlock that add even more longevity.
Another game mode that’s sure to give creationists plenty of game time is the Musou Battlefields mode. In this mode, you’ll be able to remix battles that you’ve completed with which generals you want teamed up with you, who your enemy generals are, the dialogue lines they’ll say during the battle, the music track, and the conditions. Once you complete this, you can upload your level for everyone to download and test out. User-generated content can come a long way into adding replay value to a game, and seeing this incorporated into WO3 is an incredibly welcome addition. On top of this, there’s the Duel Mode that’s been added exclusively to the Wii U version. In this, the game will become a 3-on-3 fighter where you can move around the arena and go head-to-head with either the CPU or another player. This mode is not only playable locally, but online as well. Interestingly, for you Koei fans out there, this mode reminded me a bit of Destrega (a PS1 fighter that I recommend getting off the PSN). It spices it up a bit by adding cards into the mix. You’ll be able to equip up to four cards (one assigned to each direction on the D-Pad) that will help change the flow of fights. One may give you the ability to create an invisible barrier that pushes your opponent away, while another may let you summon an offensive ability. You’ll collect more cards as you progress through the story mode.
As for the Wii U version of the game, they’ve added four new characters, two of which from the Ninja Gaiden series: Rachel and Momiji. The other two characters are brand new to the “Warriors” series: Shennong and Seimei Abe. For Ninja Gaiden fans, returning to a rendition of Hayabusa Village to team up with Momiji or return to a ruined New York City to reunite with Rachel provide for nostalgic moments, especially when those character’s theme songs kick in, which are immediately recognizable to fans. If you’re playing local co-op, one player will play directly through the GamePad, while the other will have the TV to themselves, as you hack and slash your way through battles. If you want, you can still enable split-screen mode if you’d rather play it that way for a more traditional multiplayer experience. In terms of controls, you can use the GamePad, Wii U Pro Controller and Wii Pro Controller, so if you didn’t grab a Wii U Pro Controller yet but have the Wii one, you’ll still be able to co-op. Speaking of controls, while it handles very well and lets you customize every button, there are two buttons that can’t be changed, the zL and zR buttons. These buttons let you switch between teammates while the L button lets you block and R button lets you initiate one of your special attacks. Although, your fingers sit naturally on the zL and zR buttons, which would feel more intuitive for blocking and pulling off specials. It takes some getting used to but it’s jarring that while every button is customizable, these ones weren’t.
Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper is a decent looking game, with character models that look pretty good while having some technical aspects that hold it back. Environments look okay, but nothing great by any means. The real kicker is that the game’s draw distance is pretty poor. As you advance through the battlefields, portions of buildings, trees, and enemies will vanish and then reappear depending on your distance. You can be running along the field and you’ll see enemies literally appear about 5 feet in front of you. While this is an issue found in the PS3/360, the draw distance seemed slightly more of an issue in the Wii U edition. The interesting thing is that after a few missions, this doesn’t become as jarring as it might be, becoming something you’ll adjust to. The game does render a ton of soldiers on the battlefield at once, which is a reason as to why they’ll instantly appear and vanish depending on your distance. The framerate seems to keep up pretty well, even though it’s less than the PS3/360. Where as those versions would occasionally run between 30-60 fps, the Wii U version is locked at 30 fps. This is actually for the better, as constantly switching between framerates can be unsettling. The game runs equally as well when playing local co-op between the GamePad screen and TV, with no visual fidelity loss. All in all, Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper is not a bad looking game, but skims the line of being just average.
If there’s one thing that really stands out, it’s the soundtrack. Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper has a killer soundtrack that range from epic orchestrated tracks, rock, techno and electronica. Each track perfectly suits the tone and feel of the game. Whether it’s original composed tracks, tracks from the franchises incorporated into the game, or remixes (Ryu Hayabusa’s remixed theme from the NES Ninja Gaiden is insanely awesome), there’s something here everyone will dig. There’s only Japanese voice acting to find here, no English voice option. While purists will be completely fine with that, it may become a slight hinderance when you’re fighting on the battlefield and constantly trying to read what they’re all saying, especially when it’s pivotal to achieving victory. Sound effects get the job done but that’s about it. Nothing overly effective, just decent. Overall though, the audio package is very good, with the soundtrack being the main highlight.
Overall Score: 15/20 = 7.5 out of 10
Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper is a surprisingly deep for the hack-and-slash game it is. The story will take between 12-15 hours minimum to complete, with plenty of side-missions to unlock and tackle. The Musou Battlefields mode will add even more longevity for those who like to be creative and mix up their own versions of previous completed missions, and the new Duel Mode will provide for a solid amount of fun, whether local or co-op. While it has it’s technical issues, the game is still a great deal of fun, especially when co-oping. If you’ve never played a “Warriors” game before, Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper is a solid one to grab. If you already own this for the PS3/360, then your double-dipping purchase will depend on how much you liked the game. Personally, I found myself enjoying the game more on the Wii U than the PS3…possibility due to the fact that I played a majority of it from my GamePad. Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper is a game that can provide for many hours of entertainment and still have you coming back for more.
+ Interesting story
+ Awesome soundtrack
+ Entertaining gameplay mechanics
+ Fun co-op
– Poor draw distance
– Visuals are a mixed bag
– No English voice acting