When you fire up Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper it’s incredibly clear – even to those who are totally unaware of its origins – that this is a crossover between the immensely popular Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors series. It’s got the trademark hack ‘n’ slash gameplay, the absurdly huge roster, the Feudal Era Japanese setting and the incredibly familiar buxom lasses with uncharacteristically skimpy clothing. And, despite all these familiarities – which were also shared by Warriors Orochi 2, it’s still incredibly engrossing and fun to play.
I could try to delve into the story, but quite honestly I really haven’t managed to get my head around it all. Here’s the gist though; once again the world is thrown into turmoil at the appearance of a mythical beast known as The Hydra. Unable to defeat such a powerful foe, the three remaining generals of Takenaka Hanbei, Sima Zhao and Ma Cho are met by Moon Princess Kaguya who grants them the ability to travel back in time and save their comrades to bolster their forces for the final battle.
Naturally this means that you’ll be jumping back and forth between key battles in settings from across the Warriors Orochi timeline – which is really just Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors‘. You’ll also end up pairing up with a whole bunch of characters that you can play as and individually level up and customise, and it’s here where things start to get incredibly confusing. While I’m sure that Omega Force and TecmoKoei don’t expect you to level up all 130 characters, if you want to unlock the path ahead fully, you’ll need to form bonds between each character. The only effective way of doing so is through playing with each character and ensuring your team contains members you need to bond with. You can opt to go down the more costly path of throwing tea parties – yes, you heard – but, in fairness, you do get to experience levels in new ways by playing through with different teams.
Unlocking these extra paths also mean that you can change the course of history. As you play through major story missions you’ll notice that certain chacracters can’t be saved – no matter how hard you try. By completing the unlockable side missions you’ll change the course of history by easing off opponents in a later battle. This then unlocks a ‘Redux’ mission variant of a key story skirmish and you can wade in and rescue your previously lost warrior. Still with me? Good, because there’s even more here.
Depending on who you play through each world with, dialogue and certain story aspects change. Ultimately this doesn’t have any significant bearing upon an individual story, but it’s still something worth considering if you wish to get the full Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper experience. Some of the characters you unlock on the way are also really not who you’d expect. While many come from the aforementioned Warriors games, peculiarly Ninja Gaiden characters Ryu Hayabusa, Ayane, Rachel and Momiji make an appearance, thus turning this into more of a ‘Best of Tecmo Koei’ game – I was expecting to see Kenshiro from Fist of the North Star appear at some point too.
Still that’s not necessarily a bad thing as combat is as fun as ever, it may be mostly mindless button tapping, but figuring out combos that work well and switching between characters at the right time to create near endless chains through swarms of enemies is an incredibly pleasing sight to behold – especially when everything looks as good as it does. However, not everything is perfect.
Visually it may be rather accomplished, especially for a launch game on a new console, but despite the impressive lack of fog of war – meaning you can pretty much see the entire level from the get go – pop in is still a problem. And it’s quite a bad one. Enemies are numerous, but you’ll rarely see where they’re coming from. As you run towards a few off in the distance they’ll suddenly jump up to a swarm before disappearing to nearly nothing again as you inch closer. It’s only as you begin slicing and swiping that you start to cut through these apparitions and see them fall to the ground. It’s not the end of the world in terms of gameplay as, let’s be frank, you’re just swinging a sword around aimlessly, but it does break your immersion within the world.
For those who have played or picked up Warriors Orochi 3 already these aren’t overly surprising points. And, I’m willing to bet, you’re wondering what sets Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper apart from Warriors Orochi 3? Well not a whole lot. That’s not to say it’s not got any benefits, but I can’t see how they’d be enough of a draw to win you over from your Xbox 360 or PS3 copy – although if you have a Wii U and don’t have WO3 on another console then it makes complete sense to opt for this version.
Firstly, the major addition is the use of gameplay on the GamePad – a feature I’ve made a lot of use of. You can play the entire game completely on your GamePad screen, and when you’re using the TV it can be used to display a large level map, meaning you can leave the TV screen uncluttered. On top of this, you can also use a Pro Controller to play on the TV while another player enjoys the game on a GamePad when you decide to play split-screen multiplayer – thus saving you from having to divvy up the screen.
While most of these changes just sound like just helpful tweaks, there is one more meaty gameplay addition that comes in the form of a multiplayer card-battle mode dubbed ‘Duel Mode’. Here you’ll create a team of three and pick four cards – which are earned through completing missions in the main game. As you take part in slightly beat-em-up style fights with an opponent these cards then affect your team and the various stats they have, such as aiding in dealing additional damages, placing limited effects on your opponent, special effects, and super special cards with more powerful alterations. It’s another welcome distraction alongside the online multiplayer and split-screen multiplayer if you’re tired of slogging through the expansive story.
In the end a purchase of Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper is essential if you’re a fan of the series and own a Wii U, and don’t already own the game on another format. However, if you’re a fan of the series you’ve probably already picked it up. If you’ve got a Wii U and you’re looking for another game to kill some time with, then WO3H comes as a recommendation, but only if you feel that you can look beyond a fairly incomprehensible story and distracting object pop in.
Audio/Visual – 3/5: Nice traditional Japanese audio with Japanese voice overs to boot. Shame about the commonplace object pop-in.
Gameplay – 3/5: Simple to grasp, deeper with investment, but ultimately little more than shallow hacking ‘n’ slash combat.
Innovation – 3/5: GamePad usage is clever and welcome, but nothing that’ll blow you away.
Value – 4/5: Most Wii U games are absurdly priced, this isn’t and it contains a lot of content to keep you busy.
Final Score: 3.5/5