Developed by Omega Force Published by Koei Tecmo Reviewed on PlayStation 4 (also available on Xbox One and Microsoft Windows)
Dynasty Warriors 9 is the retelling of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms that’s been told again each time a new game is released. You choose the perspective of one of the main armies and play through specific events as certain generals and commanders to reenact historical battle all across China. In previous Dynasty Warriors games, each battle was just a massive stage that you run around in over and over again depending on not only how many of the different army timelines you go through, but also how many different generals you play through each time. In Dynasty Warriors 9 however, the whole game is transformed into an open world game where you pick one general and walk or ride around the world to complete objectives. You’ll slowly building your army and its morale to fight against enemy forces.
The gameplay is pretty simplistic for the most part. You’ve got your basic combo attacks that you’ll mash to clear hordes of enemy soldiers. You also have stun moves to gain a slight advantage over the enemy, launchers to fling enemies into the air before you jump up and go after them, and a variety of other skills that you learn as you play through the game. There are also items you collect to improve your armor, weapons and skills to help you while progressing through the game. Outside of defeating some enemies, the best way to collect these items is to explore the areas and just pick them up off the beaten paths that connects two outposts together. Speaking of outposts, as you clear out enemy outposts, or climb up elevated areas with your grappling hook, you can get a look at your surroundings. Use that information to best plan your approach and find hidden objectives as well.
Unless you have a PlayStation 4 Pro, the game itself doesn’t look the best from a graphical standpoint. Playing at a reduced pixel rate causes the frame rate to drop to the point where the game doesn’t look its best as it could potentially be. This is a massive bummer because the art and the character designs for the most part look really damn good, even though some characters and their weapon choices look comical at best. In terms of audio, it plays the usual high intensity rock music you tend to see with many of the musou games like Dynasty Warriors. What’s really impressive is the ability to play the game in one of three different languages, English, Japanese, or Mandarin Chinese if you want the most authentic feel when you go through the story of the game.
Another issue is that the game progresses whether you want it to or not. Your generals and other characters move onward with or without you.You might not want to attempt any of the side quests because if any of your partners overextends their march while at certain points of the game, then they put themselves in danger. This also leaves your defenses in other areas much more vulnerable than they ought to be. Also, the map itself is massive compared to the other games in the series. While there is fast travel available right from the start, it’s easy to find yourself going the wrong way and stumbling into an area you might not have leveled up properly for.
In the end, this fresh take on the Dynasty Warriors series is still good to the point where it’s easy to say just try it out and see what you think. At its base core, this is still very much a Dynasty Warriors game, meaning you’ll see many of the same things, and watch many scenes of the same story over again. However, if you’re a long running fan of the series, or if you’ve stepped away from the series as a whole for a while, it’s worth a look to see the differences in Dynasty Warriors 9 compared to previous iterations.