The Warriors Orochi series has been around since 2007 as a crossover between Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors. With more than 130 playable characters from both franchises, Warriors Orochi 3 is supposed to be the pinnacle of the franchise. Tecmo Koei even threw in characters from Ninja Gaiden, Dead or Alive and Greek mythology for good measure.
As a launch title for the Wii U, Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper is a port of the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions (which lack the "Hyper" in their name). The game starts off with the world being threatened by a giant Hydra, who our heroes end up losing to in battle. Thankfully, time travel is somehow an option. Our characters go back in time to replay battles and alter the arc of history.
Nonsensical story aside (I ended up skipping most of it anyway), Warriors Orochi 3 is a fun hack and slash game. The Story Mode is where most of your time will be spent. You can either fight with the warriors that the game suggests or choose your own combination of three fighters. These teams of three characters can swap in and out during battle, allowing two of your resting players to heal while one of them fights.
The characters themselves are different enough to give a decent sense of variety: some use swords, others prefer pikes and a few will just use their fists. Each have unique basic attacks, combos and a special attack that requires "musou" energy, which can acquired on the battlefield or through fighting. Characters can find improved weapons on the battlefield and level up to improve their attributes.
Combat is typical Dynasty/Samurai Warriors fashion with masses of enemies over a large battlefield being controlled by flashy generals sporting traditional Chinese and Japanese clothing. Goals vary by level but most of the time you have specific generals to target or protect. If one of the overarching goals, such as keeping a certain character alive, the mission ends immediately. Likewise, the level will end if one of your three characters loses all of their health.
The main enemies in Warriors Orochi are actually not human at all but a demonic army who are capable of possessing humans. The game will have you rescue certain possessed characters. Once you defeat them in battle they often join your ranks as a playable character. Some battles also have a third faction which is hostile both toward your group and the demon army.
Typically the best course of action is to go right for the generals. The regular grunts, which populate the screen in the dozens, can be killed in as few as one swipe of your weapon. Taking out their commander on the ground will lower their unit's morale and can shift the tide of battle decisively. It also has the added bonus of giving your character more experience.
While there are thousands of enemies on the battlefield, most of them are scattered across the map and can't be seen. One of the major problems of these games going all the way back to the original PlayStation is that the number of enemies just cannot be displayed on the screen without dramatic slowdown. Even with the advances in hardware this is still a problem. There is a tremendous amount of popping in and out of characters. The engine can also chug along with noticeable lag.
One of the main draws of Warriors Orochi 3 is to play with a friend. Offline co-op lets someone join in a battle as you progress through the actual story. You can also head online to play with people co-operatively but they restrict you to levels that have already been beaten, which makes little sense. The cool thing about the Wii U version is that the GamePad can be used for one person's screen while a friend gets the full television set to himself. The only other use of the GamePad screen is as a map.
As far as additional game modes go, Warriors Orochi 3 is pretty sparse. The Musou Battlefields mode allows you to edit game conditions and characters to play locally or share online. What they do not let you do is go into a level and change specific set pieces, paths and enemy placements, which would have made it more interesting. Nonetheless, if you want additional missions to play after beating the main story, this is a good mode to play.
Duel Mode is a three-versus-three event where you can play against another human or the computer. Basically this is a melee battle where they incorporate unlockable cards from the single-player story. Doing well in battle will allow you to use these cards for both defensive and offensive purposes. It's a decent change of pace but not something you are likely to come back to very often.
Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper is a decent launch title for the Wii U. The PS3 and Xbox 360 versions had less problems with lag or the fading in and out of characters but the positives, such as a second screen during co-op, somewhat make up for the technical failures. Fans of the series will probably be pleased with the lineup of over one hundred playable characters, as will anyone who likes a good hack and slash action title.