With a roster as big as Warriors Orochi 3 sports, you might thing that you’ll be grinding a lot to get new characters up to. Thankfully, at the end of each battle, you’ll earn growth points (XP) that can be freely distributed among your team, however you want. If you’re itching to bring that freshly unlocked ninja out into battle, you won’t need to double back and redo missions. Just load him up with XP, buy a new weapon and he’s ready to kick thousands of asses.

At the camp, you’ll have access to a weapon merchant, where you can trade in your gems for new tools of destruction. You can also fuse one weapon into another, adding attribute slots and a wide variety of abilities. Want a sword that can suck health and musou from enemies while freezing them in place? No problem. If you ever find an enhancement that you don’t understand, simply press the Triangle button to get a description. Rare items can also be purchased with crystals, a scarcer form of currency. Every time you perform a True Triple attack, you have the chance to earn these precious resources, but there are other ways to secure them.

O hai, Ryu!

Utilizing the suite of online features, you can start raking in the good stuff quickly. Each level you complete can be edited in Musou Battlefields mode. You can change officers’ looks and spoken dialog, edit the stage, change the flow of battle and, after play testing it yourself, upload to servers. Each time someone clears your creation, you’ll gain crystals, which can be collected in the Camp. If you aren’t the creative type, never fear. If you download other players’ work and rate it, you’ll also be eligible for some compensation.You can also play online by inviting players into your game or, if you are feeling generous, allow yourself to be pulled into another gamers’ battle to offer assistance. This is a feature that will likely be embraced by the Musou faithful, but to others, it will be little more than a way to farm crystals. You can tweak minor elements of the battle, but don’t expect full creation options.

The presentation of Warriors Orochi 3 is top notch. The battlefield are richly detailed and, in a huge improvement for the series, the pop-in is minimized to the point of being negligible. You’ll see oncoming forces moving on your position from farther away than ever before in a Musou game. The environments, enemies and effects are more varied and interesting than I’ve ever seen.

She sweeps them off their feet.

From an audio perspective, the music is traditional… for a Musou game. By that, I mean you’ll be treated to heavy, rocking guitar tracks with an oriental flare. The voice acting isn’t even worth commenting on since I don’t speak Japanese, but the written dialog is strong enough that I didn’t have problems following the story. Sound effects are the same hack and slash sounds they’ve always been, but they’ve never bothered me before. They suit the nature of combat quite well.

My one disappointment with Warriors Orochi 3 amidst a sea of varied content, a deep and enjoyable roster and enough RPG elements to keep me interested in building my favorite Officers up is how Omega Force didn’t include any strategy to battlefield management. One of the things I very much enjoyed about Dynasty Warriors Next (and previous Musou games I’ve played), is how you must be smart about how you progress through the battle. Deciding whether to take on a supply depot or a barracks first is an important decision, conferring different benefits to your troops after securing the base. Here, except for instances when the narrative drives updates to the mission objectives, you’ll simply be moving from one end of the field to the other, mowing down everything in your way. I also would have loved to have seen the Stratagem system from DW Next included, as it provided another layer of complexity.

... and now you just want to play Dead or Alive 5.

It’s not that Warriors Orochi 3 doesn’t offer any strategy, quite the opposite. Managing your Officers and building bonds front loads the planning aspects in a great way. Still, I felt the absence of the combat-based decision making plays into the hands of people who simply write the series off as being a boring hack and slash with no depth. I continue to urge people who have never played a Musou game, or haven’t tried one in a while, to give the series a chance. Just as Call of Duty and sports games only improve iteratively, so is the way with Omega Force’s storied series of historical and fantastical large-scale battles. There’s a lot to like on offer, if you’re willing to put preconceptions aside.

(Editor’s Note: The PlayStation 3 version was released exclusively on the PlayStation Network due to a Sony policy that the prohibits games without English voiceover tracks from seeing a disk-based retail release in North America. No, we don’t know why this doesn’t apply to Yakuza titles.)

Here’s the Rundown:
+ A more fantastical approach to the series makes the hack and slash more palatable

+ Customization options are deep and reward with currency to buy rare weapons
+ Camp system deepens experience and helps players connect with characters
+ Huge roster still manages to offer unique characters thanks to classes, special attacks and weapon types
+ Growth points alleviate the need for serious grinding
+ Team-based combat and RPG elements add strategy to your pre-battle planning, but… 
- The in-battle strategy is missing, making combat a more linear affair
-  If you don’t like the hack and slash, Warriors Orochi 3 won’t win you over
- You will need to revisit battles as you move through the story to unlock all the characters 

8 and 8.5 represent a game that is a good experience overall. While there may be some issues that prevent it from being fantastic, these scores are for games that you feel would easily be worth a purchase.

Warriors Orochi 3 was developed by Omega Force and published by Tecmo Koei. It was released on March 20th, 2012  for PlayStation 3 (reviewed version – available via PSN only) for $49.99 and March 27h, 2012 for Xbox 360 at an MSRP of $59.99. A copy was provided by the publisher to RipTen for the purposes of review.

 

Michael Futter is the Managing Editor of @RipTen. You can follow him on Twitter (@mmmfutter).