I have mixed feelings about this one. I can’t say that Dynasty Warriors 9 is the worst game in the Dynasty Warriors franchise–we can forget Dynasty Warriors 6 ever happened. At the same time, this game is the only one in the franchise that had me genuinely torn.

Synopsis

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8/10

The Dynasty Warriors series is based on the quasi-historical epic Romance of the Three Kingdoms which is about the dissolution of Han China into three kingdoms. Dynasty Warriors 9 is no exception, however what does make it the exception is its gameplay.

I did like how it sought to fit every single playable character into the story. I thought this installment did it most appropriately. Obviously, using as source material a book spanning 80 years involving hundreds of characters can prove to be a daunting task. I am hopeful that the storylines of each character would provide a blueprint for future installments.

Wandering Wonderous Worlds?

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5/10

I will say that it was a bold choice on the part of Koei Tecmo to employ an open world setting. It can break the monotony of replaying the same stage over and over; however nearly all of the battle-stages look the same–and that’s not including the vast amounts of empty space.

Many Mollifying Moves?

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6/10

Another bold move on Koei Tecmo’s part is the complete subversion of the gaming mechanics. I will say that it is an improvement as opposed to the endless mashing of buttons. The emphasis is more on technique and strategy rather than on grabbing any power-ups you can find.

I was pretty miffed when the weapon selection was limited. Although it did help that some characters used the same weapon type, thereby making the weapon upgrade easier, at the same time each character already possessed part of themselves in their weapons no matter how anachronistic they were. An example being Xiahou Ba and his hand-cannon weapon.

When it came to the sieges and the fortresses, they did provide that pin that binds Dynasty Warriors combat together. At the same time, there were moments when I finished tasks too early, since I had the characters gather around the fortress but they did not use the siege weapons, even after I completed the side-quests.

As for stealth missions, it was a poor choice. Unless a game has mechanics that involve creeping behind corners or making slow footsteps, then do not even try to put stealth missions in the game.

Finding Fun Farming?

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4/10

Nope. There does not seem to be any clever way of farming for experience or coins. The only way is to be frugal about spending the coins, only reserving the special coins for the top weapons for each POV character.

The closest I came to farming was as Cao Cao slaying thousands of enemies, though it was not to farming specifically, rather to get the feel of the new mechanics.

Siphoning Side-Quest Signs?

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3/10

Nothing really captivating, especially as you proceed deep into the game. You start ignoring the mundane quests like guarding the village or stealth missions when you are well-assured that you can proceed to the final boss of the level.

On the other hand, as part of the open world platform, you can explore some of the more obscure parts of the Three Kingdoms era. For example, you can get yourself involved in the fight against the White Wolf Bandits.

As for the furniture, the houses, and the social connections, I tried to determine whether they count as side-quests. Just that confusion alone should provide an insight into what I think about this system. This may be the worst part of the game, since I do not know what they are good for besides aesthetics. A pet peeve of mine in video games is when there are aesthetics involved which do not change anything about the game. Being the Moomer that I am, I think it would have been helpful if there was a strategy guide that could help me, but instead there are none except YouTube videos.

Grappling Graphics?

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7/10

I had the feeling that Koei Tecmo was nostalgia-baiting, specifically with Dynasty Warriors 4. A lot of the costumes resemble the ones from that installment, including costumes from new playable characters who would have had the same costumes in that installment.

What I did like was how the NPCs had more individual aesthetics compared to the previous two installments. It actually helped with the immersion into the game and the setting it sought to portray.

Actual, Anticipating Acting?

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5/10

I will give it to this game that it is the first Dynasty Warriors game I played which has a Mandarin Chinese audio option. I have been trying to learn the language, and it was helpful for this game to have it, especially since it is suiting that a game taking place in China would have Mandarin Chinese audio.

With that being said, as for the voice acting itself, they didn’t stand out too much. You expect that type of voice-acting when most of the time the characters are just flatly talking. The only time I actually drew myself to the story was when Xiahou Ba was in his contemplative state later in the game. At that point, I did think that the real Xiahou Ba may have been in that same state of mind that this version was.

Mention Mighty Music?

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9/10

The music definitely had the bombastic nature it usually has throughout the series.

I especially liked the Battle of Chibi music after Huang Gai succeeds in his plan. It really brought the climatic battle to its epic standing.

Skimming, Scavenging Score

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5/10

After rounding out the average from all of the previous scores, I came up with 5.875. As for rounding it out to either 5 or 6, I decided on a 5.

On the one hand, I think that this game did feel like a step back–and not in the nostalgic way Koei Tecmo was anticipating. On the other hand, I think the criticism was too overblown. Although I would like to see more experimentation with the Dynasty Warriors series, the Xtreme Legends sub-series exists for a reason.

It was a confusing amalgamation of the old and the new that makes me anticipate that Koei Tecmo will build on this new style in a way that it connects cohesively with its inner parts.

Recommend Recklessly To…

  • Anyone interested in history. While the game as a whole might not be satisfactory enough, it is a bold attempt to create a truly immersive historical experience. If anything, I would prefer this installment over the other installments for the reasons of historical interest.

Sources

  • “Dynasty Warriors 9.” Koei Tecmo. 2019.

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