The Dynasty Warriors series has been going for a while now – dating back to 1997 when the first title was released – but for the benefit of those that are not so familiar, the games are based on the 14th century historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms and are actually action/fighting titles in the third person. Allied to factions, you are need to defeat numerous enemies across various stages in order to expand and defend the empire.
This version, which is a port of the console version from 2013 also includes a large amount of additional content and has everything which is featured in the PS4 version with a total of 82 playable characters, additional missions and various other improvements. It even features cross-save.
You have six factions to choose from in the campaign, which plays through the story from different perspectives and which will take you some serious time to complete. There is no denying that you will get your money’s worth from the game, however there is very little in the way of variety in the game which ultimately makes it very repetitive over long periods.
Regardless of how the story sets each mission up, they are all essentially the same. With the clock counting down, you must explore the territory in front of you and defeat the opposing forces and generals. Many different weapons are available to you but the essence is that you will just mash the attack buttons repeatedly to beat of the constant waves of enemies, and when you have built up enough power in your Musou meter you can unleash a special move, which varies depending on the character you are using and it’s a very effective way of clearing out large groups of enemies. Victory in each stage then sets you up for more of the same.
The game controls are very simple and work well, X will make you jump as well as interacting with various objects, and also mounts and dismounts your from your chosen steed, which can range from Horses to Elephants! Square swipes your chosen weapon, Triangle activates your EX skill, which varies based on the weapon equipped. Circle button activates your aforementioned musou move, when it is charged. The L trigger is used to stabilise yourself if you are falling and the R switches your primary weapon. The timing of this – especially against boss fights – can often swing the battle in your favour.
Visually, the game is very mixed. The character models are very well done and look quite good at a glance but a little delving into detail with your environments can show them up as quite bland. I experienced some texture clipping, most noticeable with things like catapults. The water textures were also very poor. Stranger’s Wrath – a port of an Xbox title – did water brilliantly, this just looks like you are swimming in colour, with very little effect to demonstrate otherwise. It’s functional and certainly does the job, but it certainly isn’t going to win awards in the graphical department.
I don’t think I’m doing a very good job of selling this game so far. Thankfully Dynasty Warriors 8 has a new mode called Ambition. This mode was far more enjoyable as it cut down the lengthy, repetitive battles into smaller bite-sized chunks. The premise is that you need to entice the Emperor to your outpost, and as you are a lowly rated soldier your resources are limited. By venturing out into the battlefield to complete one of four mission types – Allies, fame, Materials and Duels – you start to grow your reputation and army enough to upgrade our facilities.
You have a single time limit to complete the mission, which for a stand alone foray into the field is more than enough, but upon completion you can either return to your camp, or launch into another mission, using the remaining time you have left. The trade off is a boost in rewards from the mission. As your time can be extended through defeating enemies and opposing generals (which are added to your ally list), you soon find yourself chaining many missions together to get more rewards. This actually gives the game much more purpose.
Once your mission is accomplished and the emperor checks out your camp you will then be required to venture out and conquer the territory that a false emperor has claimed. Despite lacking the story element that binds the campaign together, there is a lot of temptation to push yourself for “just one more mission” and can lose yourself for hours.
The game supports jump in/out online multiplayer where you can play together and complete quests, but in the months I have been playing, I have yet to discover someone playing at the same time as me, which is a shame as it would have been great to test this feature out.
Also featured is a free mode, where missions can be chosen and played at your leisure with whichever character you want, as well as a challenge mode. In challenge, your character’s level is fixed as you attempt a variety of objectives. Your choices are defeating as many enemies as you can in Rampage, Bridge Mêlée which encourages you to dispose of enemies from a bridge, setting new time records in a Speed Run, Arena fights against officers or the Inferno mode, where you have to destroy all enemies across the battlefield. Despite having similarities, all modes offer a different take and greatly enhance the playing time.
So should you buy it? It’s been a difficult game to review for me; despite frustrations with the repetitive nature of the missions there is a lot to recommend with tons of content and replay value, and it’s certainly a must for anyone that is a fan of Dynasty Warriors. Those that do not have a lot of admiration for the series may be bemused by the eccentric story-telling and lack of variety in the missions, but underneath there is something that can be enjoyed by everyone.