Oh my how you’ve grown, Shadow Warrior 3. When I last saw you, you were an admittedly high octane over the top first-person shooter, but you were a bit lacking in proverbial “girth.” Shadow Warrior 3 Definitive Edition (a free upgrade by the way) now offers a far more robust package, worthy of a re-review courtesy of BrendawnoftheDead Productions. Let’s get after it and go balls deep into this thing.
In case you missed my original post, here is a link
*Played the Xbox Series X version hooked up to my trusty LG CX OLED on hard difficulty. Yes, I like a challenge and yes the jokes write themselves*
First things first, what has not changed? The campaign is the same, though some rebalancing has been done. Don’t worry the dick jokes are still plentiful, incase that wasn’t already clear. Finally, the cutscenes still render at an appalling framerate. Hold on, where is the growth, what has changed? Keep scrolling!
With sporadic updates and a next generation re-release known as the “Definitive Edition”, Shadow Warrior 3 is now a complete game worthy of it’s original asking price, though it is likely much cheaper now and available on Xbox Game Pass. For quality of life, we now have an FOV slider! That was one of my main gripes with the original release and I’m glad that motion sickness will no longer be an issue. Additionally, we have performance options! (You’re welcome ladies). You can play at 4k 30fps or 60fps at an unspecified lower resolution, I’m guessing between 1080 and 1440p. In both modes, the high-quality assets used on the PC version have been used. Since I’d prefer a swift kick to the cajónes than play a first-person shooter at 30fps, I sacrificed resolution for framerate and I’m happy to report relatively smooth performance. There are some bugs here and there, as there is an abundance of AI on screen during every combat encounter, but nothing game breaking.
Content! What about the content!? Thankfully, there is much to report here. First, there is a new difficulty called Hardcore. This is hard mode given a little blue pill to become harder... (Too easy). There is now a mission select option. If you missed upgrade points, secrets, or just want to play through a specific level, you can now go back and play whatever mission you like at any time. Next, we have a new game plus mode. You keep all your weapons and upgrades but there is a catch. Not only have combat encounters been ratcheted up to account for the Lo Wang’s power (go ahead and double the enemy count), but you have been cursed. Every arena now features an Oni Hanma enemy wearing rabbit ears and has much more health than its non-woodland counterpart. They were already the most aggressive enemy in the game, but now they are constantly in your face. Essential PSA, killing the docile rabbits takes a chunk of your health away. Do yourself a favor and control your urges. I must assume the developers were appalled by the amount of rabbit gore they witnessed, giving them the idea for the curse. Finally, we have “hero mode”. This adds a life system and perma-death to the campaign and can be applied to any difficulty.
Now for the best addition to the ever-swelling package, survival mode. This is Flying Wild Hog’s take on horde mode. You begin with a pistol and a choice of three randomly selected upgrades, usually a weapon or 2 and an equipment upgrade. Choose wisely, because that is all you are given to survive the first round. With each round’s conclusion, you are restocked on ammunition, and you are given an additional three randomly selected upgrades to choose from. This is the ultimate test of skill and reflexes, as you must compensate (like Shrek’s Lord Farquaad) for not having your entire arsenal. I suggest grabbing a power weapon as soon as it is available, or you will get bullied by the hard charging big guys.
Playing through Shadow Warrior 3 again made me realize that I underestimated the phallic symbol the series is best known for, the sword. Yes, I was well aware that sword kills grant ammo but I was too focused on gun upgrades to fully realize the potential of this pointy death dealer. Once fully upgraded, your sword can shoot out hazardous elemental projectiles (that’s what she said?). Playing the campaign on new game plus, YOU WILL NEED THIS, I repeat YOU WILL NEED THIS! Each enemy has an elemental damage weakness, something I had no idea existed in my first playthrough (yeah I know, probably should have read the lore entries). Taking advantage of this will help manage resources and slow enemies down. Given that you will be swarmed basically at all times with the increased enemy count on new game plus, ignoring the sword is asking for death.
Moment of truth (drum roll please), how would I rescore Shadow Warrior 3 given all the new content available? In my previous review, I said that an FOV slider and fixing the stuttering issues would instantly raise the score to an 8. Well check that one off the list. I then said that DLC, horde mode, or new game plus would bring the score up further to an 8.5-8.75, 9 if they did both making it a must play. Well, we got an additional difficulty, permadeath mode, new game plus, and a horde mode. Check those off the list as well! Shadow Warrior 3 is a Doom Eternal clone of the highest order, created by a far smaller studio with a much smaller budget. It isn’t as polished as it’s legendary inspiration, but it does a damn good job of putting its own spin on the Doom Eternal formula. Because I value gameplay over all else when it comes to reviews, Shadow Warrior 3 gets a solid 9 and an easy recommendation to anyone who likes fast paced action games and first-person shooters, or honestly anyone who enjoys a well-timed dick joke.