Console: PlayStation 4 (also available on Xbox One and PC)
Developer: Omega Force
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Reviewed on: PlayStation 4 PRO
The Dynasty Warriors series has remained practically unchanged since its shift from PS1 tournament style fighting game to the PS2 “one versus thousands” gameplay that we know today. Now of course there have been improvements to the formula of the years but that formula has never really waivered. Select your character, take on hordes of enemies and repeat. You could honestly have never played a Warriors game before and just pick one at random and you will have pretty much have just played them all. Dynasty Warriors 9 is the fresh coat of paint that fans of the series have been asking for. DW9 features a vast open world with side quests to complete, fishing, hunting, gathering and more. Unfortunately (and it kills me to say this) they probably should have just left everything the same…
The Good, The Bad and the Very Ugly
Lets get the all of the bad out of the way first. The open word, the thing I was most looking forward to…is boring. The world is as vast as I had hoped. I wanted to explore China, stop to hunt a wild animal or two and then head over to my next battle. I did and none of it was particularly satisfying. After my first 8 hours of playing I didn’t want to hunt or fish or even explore anymore. It all comes down to the fact that everything is over simplified. Fishing is all a matter of casting, waiting for the vibration and then smashing the square button to reel in your catch. This is done in a matter of seconds and you never actually see the fish! Instead you are treated to a feed at the bottom of the screen telling you that you caught a fish, often up to three fish at once as well as a treasure or two.
The world is bland and there is something odd about exploring an open world with the same set of animations that are used to jump into battles. The grappling hook lets you scale to the top of Assassin’s Creed style towers to survey the land as well as climb to greater heights. There is usually nothing once you get there and it is a tool you probably will never use.
It doesn’t end there. Since the environments are largely open areas and trees, it is really noticeable when things go wrong. Things such as trees appearing in front of you out of nowhere and fighting a group of enemies that all vanish and then reappear behind you with full health. Let me not forget to mention that the voice acting is on par with some of the most memorable “don’t open…that…door” dialogue from the original Resident Evil.
It’s Not All Bad…
For what it’s worth, the battles of DW9 are great. They always have been and some of the boss fights offer a nice challenge over the mindless drones you slash your way through to reach them. The side quests aren’t anything revolutionary but they are a nice inclusion with some serving as tutorials to the new gameplay elements. The day/night cycle makes the long treks across the game world a little more realistic as it can take some time to reach your next destination. Bad voice acting aside, the story telling is better than it has ever been. There is a great level of detail that has gone into crafting the narrative that will give players a better understanding of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms and is something previous games didn’t do quite as well.
If you are a Dynasty Warriors fan you may find hours of enjoyment here. The battles are just a satisfying as we have come to expect. In fact everything in the core game is fun. Where DW9 fails is in the way everything new has been implemented into the formula. It becomes obvious that the developers did not craft a fully realized open world for DW9 but they crated a standard Dynasty Warriors game and added open world elements to it. The result is that those elements feel out of place. If Assassin’s Creed Origins has taught us anything is that to do something new, sometimes you need to rebuild everything from scratch. I see and appreciate what the developers tried to do but I find myself unimpressed in the way they pulled it off.
Final Score: 6.75/10