Shadow Warrior 3 Review – IGN
Shadow Warrior 3 doesn’t beat around the bush. In an age where games seem to be constantly trying to get bigger, this game is happy not to drag itself into lengthy dialogs or exposition-filled cutscenes. Instead, he immediately throws you into action and rarely allows a moment of lightness to come from there. And while this emphasis on fun is refreshing, Shadow Warrior 3 is almost unremarkable in its execution, as simple as an FPS can be. It may not offer many new ideas and its main character can be unbearable to listen to, but sometimes solid movement and satisfying weapons are all you really need.
Sometime after Shadow Warrior 2, a huge dragon wreaks havoc across the Earth, and our returned hero Lo Wan has to destroy the lizard. For Shadow Warrior, doomsday betting like this is nothing new, but it didn’t take me long to stop paying too much attention to Shadow Warrior 3’s story. Once you start playing it, you can do the same, because this is usually a hasty nonsense. But you don’t play Shadow Warrior for the story – you play to shoot demons, and there’s certainly plenty of shooting.
Shadow Warrior 3 gameplay screenshots
Never give up
From the start, Shadow Warrior 3 makes it clear that it wants to be addictive more than anything. His very first fights take place on the back of an Earth-dangerous dragon that you run and jump over like an action hero. It usually doesn’t slow down from there either, and that breakneck pace is probably for the best. If you were given a chance to stop and think about what’s going on, you might end up asking questions like “how did Luo Wang survive in a ramshackle mountaintop shack?” or “why did this dragon get so big when it was so much smaller at the end of Shadow Warrior 2?”
Killing demons drives away all those pesky thoughts of a meaningless story. Shadow Warrior 3 takes the same breathtaking approach as Doom Eternal or Titanfall 2, emphasizing speed and agility above all else. Lo Wang moves with lightning speed, able to double-jump high over the heads of enemies or quickly run away from their attacks. Every arena you fight in is built around this movement mechanic that turns battles into a wondrous, frantic flurry of gunshots and katana strikes.
Usually, you just fight or fight your way to the fight.
In between killing demons, Shadow Warrior 3 usually only gives you one thing: run to the next arena full of demons. The platforming sections that separate each fight never get too long or too difficult, and exploration during those stretches isn’t really anything special. From time to time you can go off the beaten path to find upgrades that slightly improve Lo Wang’s weapons and abilities (effects such as increasing ammo or increasing resources on certain attacks). but other than those few cases, you’re only fighting or playing your way to the goal. another fight.
Developer Flying Wild Hog’s approach to Shadow Warrior 3’s linear campaign is simple yet effective. It gets to the point, and as a result, I have more respect for my time in the roughly four and a half hours it took me to get to the credits than any other game I’ve recently played. This also means it’s not a very complex or reliable FPS, but I’ve always known that all I have to do is keep moving forward if I want more action.
It’s an absolute shame that Shadow Warrior 3 spends so much time looking ahead that it doesn’t give you a chance to go back. Without the ability to revisit levels, any updates you may have missed along the way will simply disappear. Thankfully, these collectibles aren’t hard to spot, and you’ll get enough of them without researching to easily complete the campaign. But it’s too bad that not having one means you’ll have to wait until the second playthrough if you want to fully equip Lo Wang’s arsenal of gear and abilities.
Destroy and conquer
When it comes to killing hordes of demons, Shadow Warrior 3 doesn’t do anything special. In fact, it follows the standard FPS script in just about every way I can think of. You can shoot at an enemy and have pieces of it fly off in a horrible way that has been normalized in FPS games since 2016’s Doom did it so well. You can move around battle arenas without any problems, but mixing platforming with regular shooters isn’t exactly a new idea either. It’s not that Shadow Warrior 3 does anything bad; it’s just that it’s not that exciting when I’ve seen all of its tricks before.
Six weapons are satisfactory, but some of them will inevitably become obsolete.
Each of the six weapons is a joy to use, from the initial six-shooter pistol to options you’ll eventually unlock like the single-shot railgun and shuriken launcher. Each one feels punchy, and seeing how enemies react to their punches makes them much more fun to shoot. However, with such a small list of weapons and the lack of alternative fire modes, some of them inevitably became outdated. Upgrades fix this a little by changing the behavior of some weapons, but none of them are completely reworked. Instead, weapon upgrades give extra ammo or other small tweaks – one that I found particularly useful slowed downtime whenever I loaded a railgun shot. These are fun, simple additions that make weapons more powerful, but they won’t change how you feel about using them.
To keep weapons from becoming obsolete too quickly, Shadow Warrior 3 often limits ammo to force you to change your strategy. Although ammo can be found on the ground in most areas, this supply will eventually run out during combat, and after that, the only way to get more is to kill enemies with a katana. The lack of health encourages the opposite, prompting you to shoot enemies in an attempt to gain health. Doom’s own strategy of sawing enemies in half with a chainsaw to get a blast of ammo and health is a clear inspiration here. but Shadow Warrior 3 turns it into a continuous blob of supplies instead of a concentrated blast.
This system not only ensures that you never run out of ammo or health packs completely, but also ensures that you use every weapon that Shadow Warrior 3 has to offer. You won’t survive just by shooting or stabbing, and instead you’ll have to use both to reap all the potential rewards. Holding resources hostage like this is a little hard, but it ended up being a fun way to keep me on my toes and pushed me to change my approach often, even if it meant taking on a massive demon with a comparatively tiny sword.
Bloody weapons can confuse this system, but only a little. After performing a finishing blow on an enemy, Lo Wang will rip out a new weapon or buff from him – flying heads of shotguns that shoot lasers, for example, can be torn apart and turned into a grenade that spews lasers like a disco ball. While this may seem like it expands your arsenal beyond the usual six options on paper, I’ve never found Horus weapons to be extremely useful in practice. They’re a welcome quirk on top of the vanilla Shadow Warrior 3 gameplay, but they’re not always reliable.
The only part of Shadow Warrior 3 that I hoped to stop was how much Lo Wang talked.
Instead, what kept me interested in combat during my short time with Shadow Warrior 3 was, again, its pace. The campaign will give me a new weapon, just like I was hoping for another one to be added to my arsenal, and it completes levels just as they are about to expire their hospitality. In fact, the only part of Shadow Warrior 3 that I actively hoped to stop was how much Lo Wang talked. Shadow Warrior has a reputation for goofy humor, and this one seriously continues that attitude, almost as if he’s proud to wear the “our character’s name is still a penis joke” badge.
Listening to Luo Wan joking after killing the demons eventually becomes tiresome. Shadow Warrior 3 does a great job of cutting out unnecessary dialogue, but it can’t do the same with the jokes that come out of its protagonist’s mouth. Two hours after the release of Shadow Warrior 3, I thought I had already heard all the jokes and puns for Lo Wang, but they only annoyed me when they started to repeat themselves.