The Dynasty Warriors games are like Marmite; you either love them or, well, you don't. On top of that, with so many out there, with sequels and sub-series and spinoffs galore, it's easy to get confused about which one to pick up or which one might be best to start off with.
The 'Empires' sub-series is a tactical take on the hack and slash, slay' em all series. This time around there's more than running around a battlefield, hacking away at soldiers, and activating the Musou attacks.
One mechanic that the Empires sub-series has had is the 'edit character' mechanic. This allows you to create your own character and with your own weapon of choice. The edit and customisation options have been vastly improved and expanded upon. Allowing you to effectively create your own army. The customisation options are near endless.
If you're starting your own empire/kingdom then the game opens up massively. You can invade other kingdoms and become a despotic ruler or you can become a peaceful leader that prides themselves on generosity and ushering in an era of prosperity. Being the ruler of a kingdom in Empires makes you feel like all powerful, it's a very well crafted setup.
The tactics are a great addition. They've been in the Empires series before but this time around they have more of an impact on the battlefield. It makes the gameplay deeper and, on harder difficulties, the tactics could make or break a battle. You have to carefully consider your options.
The wealth of mechanics and content in this game would embarrass most other games, there is a huge amount to do and best of all it is very replayable.
There are, on the other hand, a few negative elements to the game. The battlefields are too few in number. In the campaigns there are some diverse environments but, in the edit character campaign it seems that the best looking locations go into hiding. Also a lot of them look the same. They aren't as diverse as as they are Dynasty Warriors 8 or Samurai Warriors.
The music is re-used but this is a problem with the series in general. The frame-rate dips as well, again this is a problem with these games and we've seen it many times before. That said the FPS dips are greatly improved this time round, but they are present. It gives us hope that they won't be so prominent in the inevitable DW9.
The PS Vita version of Dynasty Warriors 8 Empires is effectively the same as the PS4 version. The graphics aren't as good but they do hold up rather well on Sony's handheld. Like the PS4 version of the game, the frame-rate will drop during more congested moments. However, on the PS Vita it's more noticeable, especially when the action gets pretty hectic. Dynasty Warriors 8 Empires allows cross-save functionality, which is a nice touch. Like all PS4 games, Empires can be played on the Vita via remote play, and it looks and runs better than its Vita counterpart when played this way.
Dynasty Warriors 8 Empires is one of the best iterations of the sub-series to date. The inclusion of on-battlefield tactics adds another layer of diverse gameplay to the mix. However, the game suffers from the same problems as most of the other entries in the series, the music is re-cycled too much, most of the battlefields look the same, and the frame-rate issues which has plagued the series since DW6 endure. Even though this game does have some negatives it's still very deep and engrossing, has a wealth content, and it's very replayable. If you're new to the series check out the demo first but, if you're a big DW fan then you should pick this up.
Loading next content