Every Dynasty Warrior title, from its very beginnings, always brings something fresh to the table, whether it be new locations for you to explore, officers to engage in battle with, or refining the battle mechanics to ensure a robust experience. However, throughout our years of grinding our way through the series, we always felt that something was truly missing from the equation. Much of the Dynasty Warriors experience revolves so much around traveling from one point to another, making sure to capture enemy posts to strengthen your soldiers morale. It became somewhat cumbersome after some time to always watch the loading screen pop up whenever you intended to enter a new area, and often times, it ended up taking away some of the rich experience the game provided overall. Well, fast forward to today and we have that has now implemented what we feel was the missing element in the Dynasty Warriors franchise and that’s open world exploration. Anyone who’s dabbled with the franchise will know that much of the world you travel in is lush and heavily detailed, taking heavy reference from historical architecture to really create a totally true-to-life experience. Now with this open world theme firmly planted and all historical themes constantly refined down to the tee, Dynasty Warriors 9 is the most complete Dynasty Warriors package to date.
What to Expect
Honey’s Anime had rare opportunity to sit down with famed producer Akihiro Suzuki-san, who expressed his passion for the series and how happy he was to finally see his game come to life in a dramatic fashion. Giving players the freedom to traverse around the vast open world of the famous Three Kingdoms was something the team had been tinkering with for years, but now with the latest technology in place, all of that has now come into fruition. The map is so massive that it seems almost endless and every direction takes you along a different path towards some new discoveries. It’s a game that desperately needed a feature like this and once you dive into the game to experience it yourself, you’ll see exactly what we mean. Any fan of the hack-and-slash genre will surely find this new iteration to be a thrilling one, and due to the overwhelming amount of freedom bestowed upon you that thrill only escalates as you wander throughout the world in search for materials, among other awesome things.
One minute you’re on a hunt to capture some quality Tiger Pelt and the next you’re racing off into the sunset in search for bandits who threaten to impede on your plans. The overall premise of the game still remains in tact in that the battle mechanics still feel much like a Dynasty Warrior game should, but with a few added elements such as Flow Attacks, Trigger Attacks and Reactive Attacks to really give players a higher combo potential. The refined State Combo System allows for a more fruitful approach to engaging in battles, as these elements will change in relation to how the enemy responds, their mental state, etc. The lush environments plays an integral role to how you really evolve and level up in Dynasty Warriors 9 because every encounter you run into can turn the tides very quickly. A lot of things will take you by surprise and so your guard will need to be up especially during the day time, when enemies tend to lurk out in the open more and can be a handful if you aren’t fully equipped. Being aware of the best times to travel will almost certainly give you the advantage in battle. In addition to all of the aforementioned features, the Dynasty Warriors 9 roster is fully stacked to the brim, with 90 officers to choose from all of whom also have their own unique story to bring to the table. Crafting, cooking, looking out for bonfires, and other important tasks will also be of great importance when traveling so keep an eye out! With all this being said, let’s jump more into the gameplay to give you a better breakdown of what to expect.
So much of the opening portion of the game is a guide to help players brush up on their skills from past iterations, but to also inform you of all the new changes which play a major role in the game. You have each clan situated at the top of the screen when starting a new game and from there, you can play through the story to unlock every character as things unfold. We started our journey with the famed poet and legendary strategist Cao Cao of the Wu clan, and watched as everything unfolded naturally before our very eyes. It was like watching a novel unfold in real time and you were directly in charge of how it all ends. As you work your way through the story and take part in missions, you’ll unlock what’s called ‘Scrolls’ which essentially help you to unlock more weapons, items and other important tools in the game to progress. Scrolls in red refer to main missions while yellow scrolls refer to missions that help to move the main story along, and so it’s best to complete them to gain the upper hand in battle. You also have a plethora of side quests to fulfil from helping out Spear Captains take out a group of unwanted visitors to your post, to something simple as hunting deer and collecting your Hunter Points to receive special items. Everything ties in so well together that you barely even notice it, but that’s the true beauty about Dynasty Warriors 9, in that everything is interconnected, not just through exploration but through completing each officer’s story.
It took us roughly 20 hours to complete Cao Cao’s story which unlocked free mode, a mode where you can just run around with any officer you’ve unlocked and clear your favorite chapters with that said officer. But knowing that it took us 20 hours just to beat one officer’s story should tell you enough, and so imagine going through every story for your favorite officers. You’re looking at pouring more than 100+ hours into the game and that doesn’t even include all of the side quests, purchasing all the hideouts which are dispersed all around the world, among a plethora of other things. Despite all of these wonderful features, the game is far from perfect and we’ll begin to tackle some of the issues from here on out. For starters, those who played past Dynasty Warriors titles will know that one of the major gripes had to do with frame drops during pivotal moments. Sadly, those frame drops have returned but not to hinder you in a significant way compared to past iterations. In fact, when running on the PC, it ran incredibly well for most of our playthrough with the hiccups only happening during very big battles, with a lot happening on screen all at once.
Being that this is the first time we’ve ever experienced an open world setting in Dynasty Warriors, it’s definitely something we expected to happen. Another issue we ran into were very stiff controls during our hunting expeditions, which caused quite the headache when trying to accurately aim at the target. One slight move of your thumb completely shifts the camera in a very rigid manner and so trying to align your sights to kill animals became annoying. We of course could use our weapons to just slash our way through but then that directly affects the overall quality and rarity of the pelt which in turn, affects how much Hunting Points we receive along with what items we get as a reward. When traveling by horse and descending down a hill the game would bug out and start convulsing, with the horse just gliding down the hill in a very humorous yet weird fashion. There’s no fall damage which is quite endearing but the technical problems became very apparent after much time invested. Enemies would attack us through walls unexpectedly or simply just disappear into the walls themselves, not allowing us to attack them until they spawn again.
The collision detection issues were very prevalent throughout the entire game but to be quite frank, it really didn’t take away from the overall experience of the game. We still had an incredibly fun and rewarding time with everything but the issues are something to point out since they could happen to you along the way. Ensuring we hit every waymarker and checkpoint really helped out a ton because as we mentioned before, the regions will evolve and change as you engage in battles. Building strong bonds with the right people in the story goes back to what we mentioned earlier about the yellow scrolls. Being sure to complete those scrolls can turn the tide in your favor dramatically and overall help to build a more secure army to take on the final boss.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
In the end, Dynasty Warriors 9, despite its drawbacks in the technical department, makes up for it with a dazzling display of breathtaking visuals both in the weather and special effects department, a plethora of officers to choose from all of which have voice acting, side quests that go on for days, and most importantly the 100’s of hours you’ll pour into the game once the ball gets rolling. The AI at times can be a bit dopey and get in your way, but that’s always been a part of the Dynasty Warriors charm we’ve come to both love and hate. There are 10 chapters to run through which all tie into each other seamlessly, giving players an in depth history lesson about the events leading up to each officer’s rise and fall. Lip syncing has shown some improvement from past titles, with cutscenes looking a lot more pristine than before, and the emotional tension you get from watching it feels all the more real.
The historical accuracy is spot on, with producer Suzuki-san and Omega Force pointing out that the map layout was taken from NASA to ensure that every location was replicated perfectly, to reflect China and the Three Kingdoms during those times. One very important feature that we should really point out is that with every mission or battle you secure under a certain Kingdom, the land in the map reflect those changes to show just what was conquered during your expeditions. With the ability to climb mountains, check out watchtowers to unlock more information about the surrounding area, swim across open water not only on your own but with your horse, using grappling hooks to traverse up castle walls and more, Dynasty Warriors 9 truly feels like a game where you’re in charge of each character’s destiny all the way to the very end.
100’s of hours can be poured into the game easily.
Refined State Combo System to give players more combo freedom during battle.
A gorgeous life life open world with so much to see and do, it’s endless.
A plethora of awesome features that just add so much depth to the game’s appeal.
Character animations are more fluid and responsive.
Very stiff controls while in hunting mode.
Collision detection issues became an issue.
Frame drops took place when a lot was going on.
Honey's Final Verdict:
We’ve really only touched the very tip of the surface with Dynasty Warriors 9 but we can truthfully say that this is by far the most accurately represented game of the Three Kingdoms we’ve ever played. From the incredibly detailed weather conditions that affect gameplay to just the sheer amount of freedom you have to create cool looking combos, it is all astounding. We hope that you all have the same amount of fun as we did because despite clearing the main story, we’re still running around looking for new animals to hunt, weapons to forge, legendary scrolls to collect among much more! Be sure to hit us up on Twitch to watch everything unfold as we’ll be playing it live to give you a hands-on feel!
As always, for all things sweet, with news straight from Japan, be sure to keep it locked here on Honey’s Anime.
Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.
A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on twitch.tv/honeysgaming ! Take care!