Dynasty Warriors 9 is the latest entry in the series, and is a major departure from what fans have come to expect. It not only leaves the old formula behind, it is trying new things at every turn.
How do you go into playing a game like Dynasty Warriors 9 and be fair to it when it’s trying so many new things (for them) at once while also trying to stay true to what makes the game unique? It’s a difficult task if you ask me, especially when the industry left it in the dust shortly after came out. Clearly, the games are popular since they are just releasing the ninth main entry in the series, and there has been a myriad of titles since the first in the style we know and love today was released way back in 2000.
*A fun fact about the series many don’t know or remember, the series originally started as a 1v1 Fighter before changing to what we know today.
Dynasty Warriors has a cult following and has spawned a huge number of spin-off titles as well as gotten several high profile conversions for Zelda, Fire Emblem, and Dragon Quest. Not to mention every main entry in the series since 3 has gotten a spin-off of its own, and the series has collectively sold over 39 million units as of 2016.
Needless to say, even though the games haven’t seen a huge amount of innovation since the early days, people like them. However, Koei Tecmo decided to make a change for the ninth entry, and while it still feels dated, at least they’re trying.
Joining The Party Late
Dynasty Warriors 9 isn’t exactly the best game ever made. In fact, it needs a LOT of improvements to really even be considered a proper 8th generation game. The facial animations aren’t much better than the PS2 generation, voice acting and script are really bad, screen tearing and AA are sub-par at best, object pop-in is some of the worst I’ve seen in a long time, the game world is empty and so on.
It honestly feels like the team behind the series hasn’t learned anything other than how to make a game prettier (but only slightly), and implement the things that make other open world games feel alive. They’re just now realizing that fans like more depth to their games 10 years after it’s been the industry norm. But, as I said above, they’re trying.
When I first turned on the game I had a rush of thoughts. The graphics are definitely an improvement over previous games, although that’s to be expected with the first game developed exclusively on current generation hardware. When you boot up the game, you are greeted with the home screen, and when you hit the campaign button you are given the option to play the tutorial. Deciding I might as well, I jumped right in to see what the game had to offer. You are put inside a quite small building and told to kill X number of enemies. Objectives begin to show up such as “do this combo” or “use this special” etc., to show you the deeper combat system.
It’s nice at first to see what’s on offer, but after playing the main game for a couple dozen hours, it doesn’t change much. I should also mention as well that I got stuck in the tutorial, and at no fault of my own. Stronger and stronger enemies kept spawning, and I kept killing them, but once I hit over 7000 kills, I began to wonder what was wrong. I was in that tutorial for over 35 minutes, so began to test some things. I found I couldn’t lose all of my health, the objectives stopped popping up, and I was just mindlessly killing waves of enemies. So after backing out (and losing my setup I might add), I had to start over. Although, when I tried to start the game and skip the tutorial, the game just wouldn’t load.
It was then I realized the game wasn’t fully installed yet, so I chocked it up to that and put it down to finish the installation. Luckily, the game launched fine after that. Although, I don’t know if the tutorial was fixed as I skipped it. So, first impressions weren’t exactly the best.
One Man Army, What Dynasty Warriors Does Best
This is the defining style of the Warriors games, nothing can stand in your way (except maybe Lu Bu). You take on hundreds of enemies in the span of a couple minutes and see your kill count skyrocket in a short order. No one is a match for your might, captains, whole regiments, even the officers you run into are no match for you.
The game starts in the predictable location in the story. The Yellow Turbans have started an uprising and you must quell their unrighteous slaughtering of innocence. The game map is staggeringly massive, and there are bases, towns, towers, and things to do everywhere you look. You can hunt, find materials to craft weapons and accessories with, fish, and just explore at your leisure. As the game guides you to the next objective, you can capture enemy bases to claim them as your own, which will ultimately help you in the main mission.
Each big battle has side missions as well that have you doing various things. Perhaps you will be quelling an uprising of blacksmiths, or protecting a town from a group of enemies. Maybe you’ll be taking out some pesky animals or even fishing to help the hungry. The side missions make the main mission you are on easier by dropping the level requirement, and thus the enemy bosses level.
Capturing The Land For Your Own
There is plenty to do in this game, but it quickly turns into the same old same old. Sadly, the points of interest end up being the same thing in a different location. You find a camp sight or watchtower to open up the map, find the points of interest, and move on. Those points of interest could be materials you may need, waystones, little villages, or various other things. In the end, the game is about killing mass numbers of enemies to make even Genghis Khan blush, and that’s what it does best.
Unfortunately, the world isn’t exactly gorgeous. It’s not ugly, as this is certainly the best looking game in the series, but I couldn’t help but wish the game looked more akin to something like The Witcher 3… or even Skyrim for that matter. It’s not necessarily the graphics themselves, but the bland art direction. I realize they are going for a more realistic approach with this game, but the Koei Tecmo seemed to have the development issue that plagued much of last generation. A tiny color pallet.
Rushed To Release?
Considering this game was first announced over a year ago now, I don’t quite think that headline was correct. I honestly believe that their team is just sort of an amateur team of developers. They have been making the series for so long, yet it’s been almost entirely stagnant this whole time. Sure, they have added new features and tried new ideas in their spinoffs, but the games have largely stayed the same all these years.
Dynasty Warriors 9 is the first time they’ve tried to essentially remake what the franchise is by adding in all sorts of new things, not to mention the open world. They are finally trying new things, and while the implementation feels like it was done by a small indie team, the game isn’t bad. I commend them for branching out and attempting to expand what a Dynasty Warriors game is while also keeping it distinctly a DW game.
It is still a fun game, there is plenty of content in the package to keep you engaged, but in the end, this game won’t make you a fan if you weren’t already. If you are a fan though, don’t hesitate and go out and buy a copy asap.