This year Tecmo Koei (TK) celebrated the 15 year anniversary of the Dynasty Warriors (DW) franchise. DW started out as a fighter with characters from their Romance of the Three Kingdoms games, grew to be one of the most popular hack n’ slash games during the Playstation era and now has had several spin off games that uses the same gameplay elements. But is more of the same good or is it just an excuse to use the same game over and over again? We’ll see if this old dog can learn a few new tricks in the latest spin off game: Warriors Orochi 3.
Largest Character Roster in the Series - Separately, both the Dynasty and the Samurai Warriors games each had their own sizeable rosters. When the two franchises were brought together in the first Orochi, the number of characters doubled. Now in Orochi 3 Koei gives players the largest roster in a Warriors game to date. There are 132 characters ranging from fan favorites Lu Bu and Cao Cao of Dynasty Warriors to the eccentric samurai Masamune Date and Sanada Yukimura from Samurai Warriors. Even characters from other TK games make an appearance in Orochi 3 that fans might recognize.
Guest Characters From Other TK Games - As mentioned before, characters from other TK games make cameo appearances in Orochi 3. At first you may think they’re just NPCs/boss fight characters. Once you encounter these characters and break the spell that they are under, they become playable. Characters such as Ryu Hayabusa from Ninja Gaiden, Joan of Arc from Bladestorm, Achilles from Warriors of Troy, Ayane from DoA4 and Nemea from Trinity Souls of Zill O’ll all make an appearance. As to why these characters got sucked into the Warriors universe, somehow each of them got caught in the same trans-dimensional portal in their respective games. It’s a bit of a stretch even for the Warriors series, but seeing Ryu Hayabusa in his original Ninja Gaiden gear is pretty cool nonetheless.
New Gameplay Elements - While the main focus of any Warriors game is repeatedly mashing the attack buttons, TK integrated a few new gameplay mechanics into this game to keep thing fresh. The new Switch Combo uses the player’s muso to trigger a special attack that swaps out characters to extend the combo. This element is similar to the tag in attacks that you see in most vs. fighters. Break Guard lets players deal a hard blow to the enemy after guarding, which also deals critical damage. But the one new gameplay element that stood out the most for me was True Union Arts. True Union Arts is a new version of the triple attack that uses a union gauge to allow all three party members to unleash a power attack simultaneously. All these new additions freshen up the Warriors gameplay and make it even more fun to beat up wave after wave of enemy units.
Same Gameplay Since Day One - While the Warriors games are about hacking and slashing through waves and waves of enemies, it can get kind of repetitive. Yes, saying that Warriors gameplay is repetitive is like saying fish need water. It’s obvious and something we all know. But after seven console Dynasty games (not including the Xtreme Legends “expansions”), four Samurai games, and the various spin offs that use the Warriors gameplay engine, it can get tiring pressing the attack button over and over and over again.
No Mode Diversity - I understand that the point of the Warriors’ series is to beat hundreds of enemy units to a pulp with weapons and muso, but there is no mode diversity within the game. Modes like CTF, King of the Hill, siege, or even a VS mode would have been a welcome side diversion. Can you imagine playing with two other friends as members of the Wu kingdom taking on three other players from the Wei kingdom, or if you like samurai, the Oda clan and Miyoshi clan? Hell, they could have brought it all the way back to the beginning with Romance of the Three Kingdoms, or perhaps included a 1v1 fighter that pays tribute to the first DW.
What can I say about Warriors Orochi 3 that hasn’t been said before about previous Warriors games? It plays just like previous installments, adds in new gameplay elements, has a huge roster of characters, and even lets players create their own battles that they can share online with their friends. This is a good thing, right? Yes, but with gameplay that is decades old and no mode diversity, it feels like that I have played this game before years ago. While this isn’t a bad thing per se, it will get old pretty fast. Die hard Warriors fans should give this a pickup. To those who are curious about the series, but never got into them and don’t know where to start, give this one a try and see if you like it.
*This review was based on the Xbox 360 version of the game with a review copy provided by the publisher.*