When it comes to the category of storied and long-established franchises in the video game industry, the Dynasty Warriors series is one that certainly comes to mind, as across a succession of consoles Koei Tecmo has never failed to deliver fresh experiences in its beloved series. Even 20 years and almost 10 core titles later, the series had a strong presence at the Tokyo Game Show 2017, which Gamereactor got to see.
Coming after strong titles such as spin-off games Hyrule Warriors and Dragon Quest Heroes II, Omega Force and Koei Tecmo is finally making the journey home to their own franchise to create what seems to be their most ambitious title yet. How ambitious is it? Well, after having spoken to the developers at TGS it was revealed that its open-world is being built using data gathered by NASA satellites, with this intel being used to create the most authentic recreation of China as possible.
The open-world is of huge importance when discussing the scope and ambition of Dynasty Warriors 9. In the session we had with the game, Koei Tecmo allowed us to play however we saw fit, so we tried to beat the mission in our first playthrough, and thereafter see how far we could travel before our time would eventually run out.
As the demo started, we were allowed to choose between a variety of different characters carrying a variety of skillsets and weaponry. The first time around we chose a man with a mystical whip and we were dropped into the midst of two armies fighting for control over a castle. The mission was simple: help one of the factions to victory and claim the castle for yourself.
Dynasty Warriors has always been about big battles and even bigger personalities, with the player able to turn the tide thanks to some insanely powerful attacks, cutting through huge numbers of soldiers during spectacular bouts. This time around, instead of having to directly engage with the enemy's forces, the player can use a grappling hook and, quickly as well as effectively, this tool can be used to scale castle walls with relative ease. After having helped our troops utterly annihilate the enemy's defences, we set out to try this new skill and destroy the enemy "one-man-army-style" from within. When facing the enemy, a variety of skills and abilities are available to the player, and by pressing the R2 button and switching between different options, you can perform devastating blows.
The conquering of the castle concluded the first part of the demo. The second time around we chose a dual-wielding swordsman who didn't seem as powerful as the man with the whip. After quickly trying out his different abilities, we set out to uncover the actual size of the game world. Aided by our trusty steed we headed north towards a mountain range off in the distance, however, during our journey, it quickly became apparent how bad the draw distance looks. It wasn't noticeable the first time around due to the fact that we only travelled on foot, but when we were on the back of our horse and were moving a bit faster, it became painfully obvious. Trees would suddenly pop up out of nowhere and the screen would occasionally glitch with white spots, something we hope gets ironed out when the game gets a full release.
Despite the less-than-impressive draw distance, the China rendered in Dynasty Warriors 9 looks like a vast expanse that's just begging to be explored. At one point we came across rival armies engaged in a forest battle, and then later we were outnumbered by a pack of wolves high up in the mountains. Just in terms of size, Dynasty Warriors 9 definitely seems to deliver, while the different battles taking place around the player expertly portray a land torn apart by warring factions.
Having said all that, story details were severely lacking in the demo and the exact relationships between the dynasties, including the overall power balance and their respective influence, still remains more or less a mystery. For more on that side of the game, we're going to have to wait and see what's in store for us when the game comes to PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
Dynasty Warriors 9 more than piqued our interest in the series again; it made us excited to see how the game develops moving forward. With the new content and improved visuals, this looks set to impress fans of the series, and newcomers who want to get on board this time around, and we hope that the minor technical issues can be sorted by the time this gets a full release.