So after being in Japan for a year Warrior Orochi 3 Ultimate has finally jumped overseas with the PS3 and Vita versions but also a PS4 and Xbox one version as well. Having picked up the PS4 version and gone through all the modes here are my thoughts.
Okay so Ultimate is the 4th version of the game as there was the original, the japan exclusive special for PSP, and then the Wii U released Hyper. Now while these did add a couple of things mainly characters and a duel mode Ultimate adds a bunch more characters, stages and also expands the story.
So let's start with the story which has 8 chapters. The first 4 are the standard from Orochi 3 where after the end of the previous game a giant Hydra appears and basically kicks everyone's ass but a mystic called Kaguya appears who can help the survivors travel back in time to change the outcome of battles and eventually stop the Hydra. Now at the final ending of that game has been retconned in this one and they use the 2nd ending where everyone basically decides to stop fighting for a bit and rest. Now Da Ji, Himiko and the surviving Orochi forces are not happy about this but can't really do anything about ti anymore but soon hear what they think to be Orochi and go investigate. They instead find the new antagonist Tamamo who is able to make copies of people and use them to trick each of the forces into fighting each other which makes Tamamo stronger. The heroes eventually figure out what is going on with the help of the mystics and join up again to defeat Tamamo and Da Ji.
Now this story is actually not that bad especially as one of the chapters involves going way into the past when the mystics were fighting the demon forces and you actually find out about Orochi and how this whole mess actually started. Tamamo is also an interesting enemy especially when you find out the truth about her but won't spoil the surprise.
But anyway that's the story what about the gameplay? Well it follows the normal Orochi tradition of you go into battle with a team of 3 warriors and can switch out as you play and if one get's ko'ed your entire team does but they regenerate as long as they aren't on the field.
Now they have changed this a bit however by adding a couple of new features. The first being that you can press the down button and suddenly your team mates pop out and help you fight. Now they are AI controlled but they do hang around you and fight with you and if your happen to use characters with specific bonds e.g. Kanetsugu Naoe, Kenshin Uesugi and Aya and you use a musou attack when all 3 are nearby it get's massively powered up and pretty much just vaporizes everyone near you. Still a downside of this is they do take damage and don't regenerate while on the field so you do need to use this carefully or could cost you big time.
They have also added air special attacks where by pressing R1 while in the air you use a special if you having enough musou gauge. This is kind of handy if you get knocked back or into the air to recover a lot faster and deal some more damage to your enemy.
Levelling has also been changed where once a character reaches the max level of 100 you can promote them. This resets them back to level 1 but grants them a new boost like a new skill, stat increase and other affects and this can be done 9 times per character. This does help levelling as it's no longer "oh max level there goes any challenge with this one" to reset and do it again with some new stuff. Kind of nice especially if you use certain characters reguraly.
Along with this a new drop has appeared called scrolls of enlightment. Now when you pick these up you have a certain amount of time to kill as many enemies as you can. For each enemy you kill they will drop a 300xp scroll of 600xp if an officer (unless they drop a weapon or item). These... are a mixed bag. Now the reason I say this is because they are random officer drops and there will be times you get this when in the middle of a enemy force and you grin seeing lots and lots of xp around you... and then you get it after wiping everyone out and you just sigh wishing for a standard XP reward instead. Nice idea but is a bit random as to how useful it is. Still funny seeing a lvl 1 officer become lvl 20 in a couple of seconds.
Of course it wouldn't be a new warriors game without new characters and one thing I want to make clear is that this game contains no characters from DW8 or the upcoming SW4. It still uses the rosters from DW7 and SW3 so if you were wanting to play one of the newer guys sorry not possible. Now saying that the new characters include Rachel, Momoji, Shennong and Seimei Abe from Special and Hyper but also has Xu Shu who got in from being in DW7 Empires. Along with them we have Tamago, Kyubi no Kitsune, Hundun, Ying Long, Kasumi, Sterkenburg Cranach, Sophitia Alexandra and Nezha before he got reincarnated by Susano'o.
Now Xu Shu is Xu Shu they haven't changed his move set and he works pretty much like he did in DW7 and does in DW8. Tamamo uses the SW moveset has a scroll that shoots out symbols at her enemies and is really good at crowd clearing. Kyubi and Hunden are power houses like Susano'o, Orochi and co so just wreck the hell out of everything. Kyubi uses her tails as a weapon and Hunden wields 4 axes and they both feel satisfying. Ying Long is a mystic and quite interesting as he duel wields swords and his move set is pretty decent but his musou is a little weird and takes some getting used to. Nezha in this state uses a halberd and is again pretty good at crowd control and uses a lot of flame attacks which helps. Now Sterkenburg and I'll be honest I had to look this guy up is from the Atelier series of games but basically has a sword that shoots laser and orbs so again pretty good. Kasumi joins Ryu and Ayane from the DOA/Ninja Gaiden series and similar to them use's a samurai warriors move set that is great at crowd clearing. Finally we have Sophitia from Soul Calibur... seriously Koei-Temco with her and Sterkenburg did you really run out of characters from your own games. Ah well she use's the DW moveset and has numerous slash attacks with wind affects.
Overall all the new characters are pretty good and there themes are also pretty good as well though Tamamo wins hands down.
Now onto the modes. Well story mode is the main one and as said has 8 chapters and tons of maps and missions with all the new content combined with the old so will keep you busy for quite a while especially if you and max out bonds and the characters.
Free mode is back and basically just cuts out the story cutscenes and interactions but a few maps now do let you fight on the other sides of battles which is nice and helps the replay of the game.
Now duel mode from Hyper returns as well which is the vs mode. It has a 1v1 vs AI, survival vs AI and online play. Now this mode is interesting as you as usual take 3 characters with you that you've unlocked but also take 4 cards that gives buffs, debuffs and other affects to you and your opponent as you fight. Now I have tried all the modes and the offline modes work fine and the AI on survival gets pretty damn clever and tough as you proceed but I also tried the online mode and well every game I played had issues. Whether due to lag or something else I don't know but I had characters disappearing and reappearing though still attacking, the camera freaking the hell out and losing track of them and characters dying and then appearing with max health again. Yeah the online mode seems to be having some issues for me so something to keep in mind.
Now finally we have the brand new mode gauntlet. Here you control a team of 5 characters instead of 3 and go through a mutli-leveled dungeon playing through various maps while collecting equipment and levelling up your heroes to fight the end boss. Now this mode takes a bit getting used to because all 5 of the characters are on the field at the same time and while AI controlled you can use formations to change their positions around you and how they should react with defence, offensive and special formations that get stronger the more you use them. Now the goal of each map is the find the exit which is hidden behind a dragon spot. Now each map has several of these which grant buffs such as full health restore, scroll of enlightment or materials to craft items and weapons with. They also sometimes spawn enemies, or teleport your team across the map or other not so nice things so while you do need them it is a roll of the dice a lot of the time. They also get activated by holding L1 which I'll give credit to Koei here probably the best thing as with this being block it does mean you can sort of protect yourself from attacks while the spot unlocks.
Now the enemies in this mode are always a bit different as while they are your standard affair there strength depends on the miasma on the map. Now this miasma starts off weak with enemies being dead easy but as it goes higher and higher the enemies get stronger and it does get to the point sometimes if you let it reach high levels that even low level grunts can one shot your entire team if they get a good strike. Thankfully as long as one team member lives they others slowly regenerate then pop out but there have been a few times where I've been spending more time running for my life looking for the exit rather than fight because that peasant is now so damn powerful he can kill me with one strike as a lvl 75 Lu Bu. So Gauntlet mode while interesting I find can be pretty tough depending on what the map throws at you but definitely worth playing at least once as it does unlock Hunden anything you unlock in Story/Free mode crosses over and vice versa so no need to worry about rewards being lost.
So that's the game shit tons of content, lots to do and all pretty good with duel being the only real disappointment at least for me. But is it all great? Well no there are some flaws.
Okay let's get the biggest issue I have with it out of the way. The translation. So like Orochi 3 standard it's all Japanese voices with no English option. Now I'm fine with this as I do prefer playing these games with the Japanese voice actors but as long as the translations are okay as while I know a bit I'm not fluent and bet most people here aren't either. Now sadly there are a few times where it's quite obvious the translation is just plain wrong or totally different to what is being said. An example in a battle with Yan Yan "don't worry I'll handle this go on ahead" "ah thank you Yan Liang we well"..... yeah. This happens a few times and while it isn't that common I think I only saw it on 3 maps from memory when you notice it sticks out so bad it just kind of kills the mood. There are also times when the voice actor will be going on for a bit and the translation is one or two words and again just feels wrong or you'll hear the voice actor say a name but the translation makes no notice of it. It's clear the translation for the game has been rushed which is a damn shame as the last few games in the series have really done their best to fix this up but sadly it's returned and in a game where you probably to rely on the translation it is really noticeable.
Now performance. Yeah I've noticed no real performance upgrade from the PS3 version for the majority of the game however I've never had any massive frame drops or lag either so it does run fine. Still most of the graphic updates are done to the map and the characters as the generic soldiers and officers don't look that different but they are generally only on the screen for a couple of seconds before you smack em so not that noticeable. They have also gone a bit overboard with special effects from weapon attacks such as when someone does an attack that smashes on the ground e.g. Pang De's musou you see this effect of the ground being smashed into the air which looks good but blocks half the damn screen.
Now if you have the PS3 version of Orochi 3 an update has been released that lets you use it's save for the PS3 version by uploading the save and from the PS3 and then downloading onto the PS4. This is quite nice as it means you can start right off with the new content without having to go through the old stuff again... unless you’re me and did that anyway.
So overall how do I feel about this version of Warriors Orochi 3... overall everything that has been added is all really good, helps out the game length so this will keep you going on for weeks and bar wishing it had some of the new guys is a really good warriors game. However I can't ignore that the translation is definitely rushed and kind of ruins it and it just doesn't feel to different from the PS3 version to truly be an upgrade for the next gen. Still this doesn't really hold it back and I recommend it to any warriors fan and even new players as it does include the back story of WO1 and WO2 to explain what the hell is going on. Now if you excuse me Kyuubi, Orochi and Da Ji need to bond while over beating several thousand people to death and then have a tea party afterwards.