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Free Mode (フリーモード) is a mode featured in several Warriors titles first introduced in Dynasty Warriors 2. Here are the general characteristics of this mode:
- A one-way replication of unlocked stages that omits potential story progression, cutscenes or dialogue.
- The option to play as a character different than the ones available/assigned in Story Mode.
- Fastest and alternate method of grinding for experience or loot before proceeding with Story Mode.
- Might ease the unlocking requirements or process for rare weapons/items. Certain characters can only do it within this mode.
- Possible choice to fight from the perspective of either faction —or occasional third parties— for the chosen map; this option is omitted in the Warriors Orochi series and the third-party collaboration titles (Gundam, Fist of North Star, etc.).
- Enemies will speak stock quotes when approached by the player character, making it one of the easiest methods of hearing a character's death quote in battle. Select characters may offer unique dialogue found only in this mode.
Playable characters that can't be played within a game's main story mode are usually dubbed "Free Mode characters" by fans. These characters have unique traits to distinguish them from unique NPCs, player-created characters, or other generals on the field. Their prohibition from Story Mode is met with mixed impressions, especially with the fans who desire to experience more facets of the game's stories. Fans who do not prefer story repetition don't find this as a negative feature.
Characters in the third-party Warriors collaboration titles may be solely available in the game's original mode (closest equivalent to Free Mode in these titles). These characters often differentiate themselves from "Free Mode characters" since they have individual side stories or optional objectives dedicated to them. Downloadable content might also highlight these characters in some way.