Another year, another Warriors game released by Omega Force and Koei Tecmo in order to rack in our money with Dynasty Warriors 9. Though I can’t say that I never enjoy these games and the mind-numbing hours I put into them it’s just hard to keep up with just exactly how many there are. They’re almost like sports games at this point and they should cease the numerical order and put Warriors 2019 for next year, instead. Nonetheless, this is, at its core, an overhauled Musou title that introduces many new gameplay aspects while still retaining its hack n slash goodness. What it is, essentially, is the retelling of The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, or at least trying to follow it as close as possible minus all the supernatural magic and elemental attacks used. You, as whichever warrior you choose, journeys across the map and fulfill the story requirements to advance but all the while destroying thousands and thousands of enemies to do so. It has a relatively simple to understand control scheme I’m not entirely experienced in every single Warriors game to date but I have my fair share of hours put into some of them. Let’s begin our review of Dynasty Warriors 9, the latest that encompasses open world maps of all of China.
Looks very pretty on PS4 Pro – From the character models to the environment everything looks “dolled up”. Although I haven’t had the privilege to try out DW9 on the Xbox One X, it has been tested on the PlayStation 4 Pro and it’s not only holding up well but also looking good while doing it. From what I’ve gathered from others who’ve experienced it on the regular Xbox One, it appears to experience more texture drops than the improved system versions. Other than that fact whenever you climb a mountain you’re treated to gorgeous landscapes; not to mention that there is a day-and-night cycle coupled with a weather system that helps to add reality to the world while traveling across this huge map.
Large and in charge map – The revamp of the gameplay in order to compensate for an open world map is a huge change and it’s very welcome. It’s entertaining to go around the entirety of China and help take back, conquer, or otherwise visit new towns and locations. You’ll be able to have scenic views and visit cities that incorporate shops, stable masters, restaurants and more. You’ll also be able to get “hideaways” that are like houses purchasable for 30,000 gold each which allows you to have other warriors over for some tea and a chat along with being able to skip time, cook, and other regular house stuff. You can spend a lot of your time going around the map and taking over locations that belong to the enemy or are neutral. You can also work on completely wiping out the enemy from the map but each chapter will only add them again to areas you’ve been before as the ages change. These are all great in terms of adding a bunch of things to do but it does have its downsides which will be explained later.
Addicting and enthralling storyline – The Romance of the Three Kingdoms has definitely been an epic retold through many different methods before such as books, movies, games and more but Dynasty Warriors captures the ultimate saga through its use of multiple characters’ viewpoints. You start off playing as Cao Cao, a general who works with various allies and factions whenever it suited to further his ambitions. Throughout the story you’re able to switch between characters but ultimately it follows main generals and their journey at conquest and revenge. Every once in awhile we are treated to a cinematic cut-scene with the same character models moving and talking to one another which is nice, especially when we witness Lu Bu the Red Hair completely annihilate an army with his staff WHILST not even leaving his horse. The story ensures that you understand the tactical reasoning behind each of these generals and why they created rebellions along with detailed analysis added into the dialogue of strategic maneuvers. This may seem like it’ll be a heavy script, which it is, but from a historian standpoint it’s truly fascinating.
Fishing, trapping, crafting and cooking – These are just some of the newest elements that have never before been seen in a Warriors title and I’ve got to say that it’s pretty refreshing. The team at Omega Force could be taking advantage of the trend passing along games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Final Fantasy XV but it’s the option to do this instead of constantly hacking n slashing that provides some good sidetracking. The action does some a little easy though as most often than not you just need to crouch and shoot off arrows to get one hit kills on creatures and they’ll not even run away but act all confused with ? above their heads. Same goes for fishing as you only require enough bait and button mashing skills to bring in a large amount of fish plus items that, although would be impossible to bring up on a fishing line, seems to pop up into your inventory. This is excess content to do and that’s the nitty-gritty of it as it gives the player a break from fights in order to get ingredients from hunting for crafting or cooking. You’re able to use animal parts for use in accessories, weapons, or for cooking up a meal that adds boosts to your character and/or army.
Grappling hook, horses and new maneuverability – As mentioned before, DW9 incorporates new gameplay mechanics and improves on existing ones. One of the newest additions for maneuvering around maps and structures is the grappling hook. Simply pressing R1 (or RB on Xbox) will allow the player to zip up the side of the wall of any height. There are some exotic sights to be reached while scaling mountains and other towers — it seems even less exhausting for these warriors than Ezio climbing the citadels in Assassin’s Creed II. This makes it easier to open the gates for your invading army to take over towns and fortresses as you fling yourself over the wall to smash the bar holding the doors. Also, although it was in previous titles, horses are in the game which help get around and fight from its back. Horses have a level system now and climb levels by sprinting, killing enemies, and jumping. There’s an achievement/trophy that is awarded for maxing out their horses’ levels; the player can even sell them when they’re higher level for lots of gold.
Clunky and slow – Though I’m not that experienced in all Musou games throughout the ages I have come across the few based on anime games such as One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 and Berserk and the Band of the Hawk. These games not only felt a lot more smooth but handled large and small characters well where as it just seems like all the warriors in this title aren’t up to snuff. Each character from the get-go feels clunky and slow, not only that but they also feel like they’re dull after using them for the first 500 kills. Though they level up it doesn’t feel like it really matters in the grand scheme of things. It would be more enticing to level up all characters if you could unlock more combos or special moves specific to them.
Open world map doesn’t feel alive – Although the story will capture you often than not you may be riding across this large open world and encounter nothing which detracts from the ultimate package. Games like Far Cry and Assassin’s Creed has these huge open world maps that feel like they have their own stories going on without you while cities you visit in DW9 can be bland and have a few of the population walking around copy and pasted houses. If you want to go open world then it’s necessary to make it feel like it’s still operational on its own despite being in a war-torn country. Not everybody would be holed up inside their houses (unless there’s a battle going on) while visiting and there should be regular villagers and what not farming the fields and fishing on their own. Oftentimes you’ll be riding to the next objective and encounter absolutely nothing but a prairie with no soldiers, animals, or civilians at all. At least put some people traveling by caravan that you can buy and sell things to or ox-pulled wagons carrying hay to a farm in the next town.
Texture drop-ins and frame drops – This has only happened twice while playing through the game but while storming a palace I encountered a game glitch where the frame dropped and there seemed to be lots of gray area surrounding foot soldiers, blocking the environment from sight. It was impossible to know where I was going and it even blocked the status bars and map from being seen. This required a reboot of the game in order to fix and hopefully it will be patched soon after release. There were also some texture drops as much of the environment might not be able to catch up as you climb mountains or look drastically around in any direction which could pull you out of the subversiveness.
Lack of difficulty – Although there are choices to up the difficulty the fact of the matter is that it only prolongs a fight instead of making it more intricate. What is meant by this is that it only boosts the enemies’ health bar and increases their strength but doesn’t change their play-style or patterns. They seem to block and attack the same in any of the modes and it’s only more tedious to grind away at their health. Even then, like other open world games, if you happen to complete more side objectives that increase your experience you can then completely run over the bosses as some of these missions decrease the hardness of the mission by weakening their stranglehold and you’ll be stronger by the time you reach them. It’s all to add to pad playtime you put into the title but you can still manage to go straight to the main mission without doing anything and just spend a little bit longer working on the boss. Not to mention that the entire army disperses as soon as you take down their leader so you could skip everybody and go straight to them. It wouldn’t give you any experience but it’s possible to do which I’m sure wouldn’t happen in real life situations.
Western voice actors are awful – Although I cringed at some of the voice actors right off the bat at the very beginning of the game it’s not really that evident until you reach the first antagonist in the form of Zhang Liao who sounds like Kermit the Frog. These are supposed to be badass generals and leaders throughout the history of this game and some of the enemies are brought down to the level of a cartoon villain. It was actually really frustrating to try to get into it because it brought me out of the immersion of it all. There were also stale voice actors who were not only monotonous but didn’t seem to either understand the mood or care to add any kind of emphasis to their voice. This wasn’t only evident in the random NPCs but also for characters that are relevant to the story such as the many companions that you can play as later. Hopefully there will be an option for the Japanese voice actors in a patch sometime soon but so far there’s only the English dubbing.
Omega Force and Koei Tecmo kick off 2018 with Dynasty Warriors 9‘s Musou-goodness and captured the heart of this hack n slash addict. It does what previous games in the series have done so well and then some with its open world design and captivating storyline/characters. I wish that the voice actors, however, would put more effort into their roles to immerse the player into how generals and warriors should sound. You have a bunch of new sidetracking stuff to do including support and extra missions, fishing, hunting, cooking, and crafting which helps to relieve the mind-numbing nature of Warriors games after playing them for so long. The achievements/trophies seem to be less tedious than other Warriors games as you won’t have to spend hundreds of hours into leveling up every character but rather spend it into leveling of friendships and your horse, which is hilarious.
- Graphics - 88%88%
- Gameplay - 62%62%
- Controls - 75%75%
- Audio - 55%55%
- Value for Money - 70%70%
- Achievements/Trophies - 75%75%
Dynasty Warriors 9 was developed by Omega Force and published by Koei Tecmo. It was released for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 (reviewed), and PC on February 13th, 2018. A press review copy was provided for The Hidden Levels. Many studios submit copies for site review but this is in no way factored into our review scores. Games are scored on their individual merits and our rating system is explained here.