Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate Review: A hack 'n slashing good time
This is officially my third time reviewing this game, and each time I come back to the latest updated edition, I fall in love all over again. The Orochi series is more of a celebration of past Warriors games than a numbered title that falls in line with either the Dynasty or Samurai games. This hybrid, which mixes heroes from both of those franchises as well as throwing in some sweet surprises from Tecmo's other games, like Ryu Hayabusa from Ninja Gaiden, or Achilles from Warriors: Legends of Troy, is a fan's wet dream. Ultimate brings it home with an extensive, near nausea-inducing amount of content, with new characters, new chapters, new items and new modes.
For an overview of the core game, you can head on over to my Warriors Orochi 3 review, and even check out the updated Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper review, which released for the Wii U. Ultimate contains all characters and modes from both previous titles such as Duel Mode. Since both of those reviews go over the core gameplay and story, I won't focus on much of that here, but rather shift the focus on all that's new for Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate.
In summary, you control a three-man-team composed of Dynasty, Samurai and guest characters that you can switch freely between on the battlefield (or call out all at once, which is new to Ultimate), as you travel across various timelines in order to take down the demon lord Orochi.
The roster expands by a humble eight characters, but given that the game has a total of 145 characters to play as, that's not really a huge deal. Joining the roster are characters like Sophitia from Soul Calibur, Kasumi from Dead or Alive and Sterkenburg Cranach from Atelier Meruru: Apprentice of Arland, the latter which is a pretty sweet surprise.
Easily the best thing about Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate's huge roster is that each new character unlocked can be equated to finding a new legendary weapon in Diablo. They all have a wide range of attacks and specials that are unique to each character, and you'll really have a hard time sticking to a single trio of characters. You'll constantly want to check out a newly unlocked character's moveset, and by doing so, most likely find yourself loving that character, until of course the inevitable happens and you unlock a new slew of characters.
It's a testament to Omega Force's care and attention to detail that no two characters feel like carbon copies of one another. With that said, the Orochi series is certainly the most shallow of the Warriors games, and doesn't retain some of the more advanced techniques such as weapon switching and enemy weaknesses found in some of the latest Dynasty Warriors games.
But what Orochi 3 Ultimate lacks in strategic depth, it certainly more than makes up for in content. Just unlocking all the characters is a daunting task, one that requires you to revisit past stages with altered timelines in order to save characters that have previously fallen to the sword. There are tons of weapons to both collect and craft, as well Mystical weapons to acquire by completing specific challenges on each map.
You'll also strengthen character bonds, making your backup characters jump in and protect you when you get attacked. Then there is the fact that you can prestige every character up to 9 times once you reach level 100. Doing so resets your characters stats, but adds more items slots, and now grants upgrade stones which permanently alter the base stats whenever you gain a level. Even describing all of this, I feel like I've barely scratched the surface.
Easily one of the most interesting new modes in Ultimate is Gauntlet Mode. Here, you'll take a team of five warriors into battlefield dungeons of sorts, where you'll have to clear out increasingly tough enemies. Even though you're controlling a single warrior, the rest are still visible on the battlefield, and can be organized in various formations. These unlockable formations also have various stat bonuses or skills attached to them, so switching these on the fly to match your situation is crucial to survival.
As you progress through each area, a fog of Miasma will vary in level. The higher the Miasma, the more difficult the enemies, but also the better the rewards. It becomes a balancing act of trying to stay alive in thick Miasma in order to collect powerful weapons, but ensuring that you're a high enough level to survive the enemy onslaught. Characters carry over between modes, so all your leveled up characters from Story Mode will be able to continue to level up in Gauntlet Mode and vice versa.
Players can once again create and share their created scenarios, which adds a near infinite amount of replayability, given you're downloading maps from players that know what they're doing.
The PS Vita and PS3/4 ports of the game allow for Cross Save functionality, which works just as you'd expect. You can pick up where you left off in each port, requiring you to upload your save after each session. The game isn't Cross Buy, but dedicated fans who want the game on both their home console and the PS Vita will be rewarded with some sweet crafting materials, Gems and Crystals as compensation once they initiate a Cross Save the first time.
Much like Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Complete Edition, the game is identical on the Vita to its console iterations. That's impressive, mainly due to the sheer size of Ultimate. However, if you're coming from the PS4/Xbox One versions to the Vita, you can expect a few cuts made in order to make the game more stable. It also stumbles in frame rate when things get too hectic, but nothing game breaking.
The PS4/Xbox One ports however are easily and understandably the best in performance. While the game doesn't run at 60fps at all times, especially when the screen fills up with enemies, it doesn't suffer from any major slowdown. The textures for both characters and some environment set pieces are also noticeably higher. With that said though, Ultimate doesn't look current-gen by any stretch of the imagination. It's still a port of a last-gen game, and it certainly shows.
Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate, as the name suggest, is the definitive version of the third Orochi title. Brimming with content, it's a game that will consume you with the amount of things to see if you let it. However, it's still a Warriors title, so if you've been turned off by the series before, this one won't do much to change your mind.