Monday, December 29, 2008

Warriors Orochi 2 Nearly Destroyed My Hobby: A Cautionary Tale

SCAVENGER HUNT: Yes, Warriors Orochi TWO is evil if you want the full 1000 gamerscore. The first prize number is 2.

CLUE #2: Frequent readers know I have a rule about the games I play. Find the first post referencing it for your next number and clue.

Achievement progress is being benched for most of the next week, as I have 4 days of special topics lined up in a row, so now is a great time to be tuning in to the blog (achievement progress may slip into Jan. 1's post, or there will be a rough update on the 2nd). I kick it off with a desperately needed rant about Warriors Orochi 2's achievement list.

Most people who have played Orochi 2 already know what goes into getting all 1000 points. I purchased this game before I was aware of just how much of a time sink it is, and wish to pen this as a cautionary tale to anyone considering starting the game.

I love the Dynasty Warriors games, I really, really do, even though I know there are a lot of valid reasons why I shouldn't. The voice work is awful, the music can be grating, the graphics (exception DW6) always look painfully dated, the AI are morons... the list goes on, and yet I've played nearly every hack 'n slash game Koei has put out.

Koei has never been very original with their achievements, but at least they rewarded you for unlocking things and progressing through the game. Repetition is an issue with Koei, as they've made many of the achievements for Orochi 2 virtually the same as the original. For example:

-The "Save the game with X officers unlocked" achievements. There are 14 of these in the original, 6 in Orochi 2
-The "Save with X total ability level" achievements. There are 5 in the original, 5 in Orochi 2.
-Both games award points for finding a level 4 weapon, and the dream mode levels in Orochi 2 can be compared to the clearing the X-mission achievements in the original.

...That's right folks! They essentially used the same achievement list twice! If only it were that simple. The truth is much, much worse. Recently (as in DW6 and Orochi 2), Koei has started an unfortunate trend of being utter douchebags with their achievement lists. Now, it seems they want to put in at least one achievement that will make you suffer, and turn their games into time sinks in excess of the playtime the amount of available content should support.... In Orochi 2, they added 3, for a total of 260 points!

The achievement descriptions seem straightforward enough...

Dream Mode - all cleared (80g)
Save the game after clearing all Dream Mode scenarios.
All officers available (80g)
Save the game with all officers unlocked.
All difficulties cleared (100g)

Save the game after clearing all Story Mode
and Dream Mode scenarios at all difficulties.

...and hide the fact that they really are pure evil in achievement form. There are 40 story levels, plus 28 dream mode levels. Orochi 2 sports 4 difficulty levels, meaning you're in for a minimum of 272 missions, assuming you never had to replay a mission on the same difficulty level. Of course, completing everything in 272 missions in utterly impossible, as unlocking the last dream mode level requires having a total proficiency level of something like 2,730, which means grinding the proficiencies to maximum for almost 55 characters. Assuming you grind out proficiency in pretty much the fastest way possible (Wu stage 4 over and over for several HUNDRED times), you might average about 60 points an hour, when load times and waiting for the message spam at the end of a mission to resolve. This means the proficiency grind to unlock 1 FREAKING LEVEL would take about 45-46 hours! Of course, a lot of proficiency will be earned while playing through the campaigns, but the point is this is an unbearably time consuming task, which has to be completed in order to unlock the 3 achievements listed above.

At least with this nightmare grind done, you can now finish every dream mode level to get the points for that, and unlock Orochi X, the last character. But the nightmare is not yet over...

Congratulations, you've survived the grind and maxed out a bajillion characters to unlock that stage. Think the grinding ends there? Dream on! While it's possible to use 1 great character to plow through all the story missions, the dream mode stages require you to use three specific characters. To be able to tackle those levels on Chaos difficulty, you're looking at several more (possibly reaching a dozen or more) hours of weapon grinding, so each officer has a very powerful level 4 weapon, the Almighty skill (at least 1 of the 3 officers MUST have Almighty, or your life will be much harder), and possibly Revival as well. With this weapon grinding finished, you're finally able to make a serious run at finishing every level on every difficulty.

Simply put, I can't see this same taking anyone less than 80 hours to complete, and possibly up to 100 or more (when the game has maybe 20-24 hours of content), and most of that time will be spent on insanely boring grinding sessions. If you can't see yourself playing the same level hundreds of times for proficiency levels, you probably won't complete this game. I've had to ask myself multiple times while playing this, "Do I really want to be spending so many hours of my life on THIS???" Asinine achievements like this make the whole concept feel pointless, to the extent I nearly vowed on several occasions to abandon achievement scoring permanently. Honestly, this game has nearly soaked all the fun out of my hobby. As a completionist, I feel I HAVE to finish this bastard. I will, simply because I've invested too much time to not see it through.

360voice says I've played Orochi 2 on a total of 40 days since I started on October 3rd. In just under a week, I'll have been working on this game off-and-on for 4 months! (Trust me, only total loons can focus on this game non-stop until it's done) I'm hoping after another 4 months I'll be done with it, so I can have the game out of my life by May. When completed, Orochi 2 will be by far the most impressive completion on my card, not because the achievements are particularly hard, but because of the extreme dedication and threats to sanity involved in the task. After reading this, same may legitimately argue I've lost my mind already...

If you actually want to 1k this game, here are some tips to survive the grind.

1. Custom soundtracks: You won't last 10 hours if you have to listen to the game's annoying music. Find some music you absolutely LOVE and could listen to until the end of time (because that's exactly what you'll be doing). I went for some progressive rock or metal that could keep me awake. I've probably listened to almost all of Dream Theater's albums a dozen times by now. In your mind, make enjoying the music the main thing you're doing, and think of gaming as the secondary activity.

2. Audio Books: I haven't tried this yet, but I think it could work in the same was #1 does... unless the sound of the reader(s) puts you to sleep. If that is the case, abandon this method.

3. Dual screens: If possible, have another TV next to the one you play xbox on. My roommate and I had this setup going during my fall semester. Watch TV on one, while playing Orochi 2 on the other. Grinding Wu stage 4 barely requires eyes on the screen when you've done it enough times, so you can pay attention to something else. I often spent hours grinding levels while actually watching NFL football.

4. Grind during your "dead hours": Ever have the feeling that you're too tired or brain-dead to do anything that requires thinking, yet you're not ready to sleep? Those are the perfect times to grind levels in Orochi 2. No thought is required, and the simple action of hacking mindless enemies over and over again will lull your brain into a drowsy state where falling asleep is easy, when you're ready.

With this knowledge in mind, I urge you to think long and hard about whether or not you really want to bother chasing all 1000 points in this game. Only the dedicated, truly hardcore, and more-than-a-little insane need apply.


  1. Damn, sounds worse than the grind I did for Seriously... in the original Gears of War. It took about 6-7 months for that Achievement and that was with playing pretty much every night for a few hours. Weird thing is it doesn't even feel like I spent that much time with the game and hasn't ever since about a week after unlocking it. Never understood why it felt that way but okay, whatever...

    The other game that has seen a decent chunk of time spent on it from me is Ridge Racer 6 which also took a long time. I did that one gradually though so in reality it was only about 130 hours or something. Can't even remember now. :S

    Anyway, have fun with your grindfest. I know you will love every second of it. :P

  2. Also, props for the Dream Theater love.

  3. Without Dream Theater, someone would have been scraping my leaking brains off the floor two months ago lol =)

  4. I just recently bought all of the Dynasty Warrior games for xbox 360 (Dynasty, Samurai, Empires, Orochi, Gundaum). What game do you recommend for me as a new comer to get into the series?

  5. I'm going through EXACTLY what you did man

  6. Does anyone know WHY the game has to wait for the ENDLESS voicings to finish after completing Wu 4?