Dynasty Warriors 9 Review – A Rough First Step Into Open World
Dynasty Warriors 9 seeks to bring the series into the great expanses of the open world genre. Does the newest entry in the series make the transition well, or should it have stuck to what it has done before? Check out our review and find out.
Dynasty Warriors 9 Review
The story of Dynasty Warriors 9 (or DW9 for short) takes place in ancient China, where multiple factions vie for control of all the land. You mainly focus on three of the big factions: Wei, Shu, and Wu. Starting at the Yellow Turban rebellion, you follow each of these groups as they eventually become powerful military factions and inevitably clash with one another. There are constant betrayals and switches in the power struggle during each campaign. Depending on who you play as, each campaign can run you more than 10 hours, or even more if you jump into new characters or some of the side campaigns.
Every faction has certain officers in it that you can play as. Wei officers follow lord Cao Cao, so he may bring an end to the chaos plaguing the land. Lui Bei’s officers follow him because he is a benevolent ruler who is always thinking about his people. Officers of Sun Quan help the young ruler because his father and brother were taken because of the lands strife. They all have different weapons and stats and finding someone you enjoy playing is pretty simple; it can just take some time to unlock them all.
DW9 is all about the combat. Racking up massive combos and large kill counts is what Dynasty Warriors has always been about, and this entry ups the ante even more. It isn’t uncommon to get upwards of 3,000 kills in a single chapter later in the game. Combat is basic enough that anyone can get behind it, with its simple attack combos and powerful special attacks. Added in DW9 are new moves that let you chain combos together even easier by knocking enemies up into the air, stunning them, or even slamming them down into the ground. It’s a welcome addition to the game and adds to the variety of combat.
Sadly, not all the new changes work for the better in DW9. By going open world, the game runs into some problems you might not expect. The world may be massive…but there isn’t a ton to do. There are bases to take, animals to hunt, and treasures to find, but it all still feels empty. Stealing bases is often pointless because in the next story mission, some other warlord takes the place over and you lose it without even getting a chance to defend it. All the side tasks in the game also feel arbitrary and unnecessary. They honestly feel like they were thrown in so someone could check the box for an open world game.
The more significant scope also increases how long it takes to clear each chapter. You can play a single chapter over an hour even if you are just rushing the side objectives and the primary objective. The size wouldn’t be a problem if you weren’t running through the same assets over and over again. There is fast travel, but anytime you lose a base via the story, you have to fast travel to a tower that you have found. If you haven’t located a tower near there, then you are riding your horse up the road through the countless enemy and ally outposts that you’ve already seen 100 times. A more extensive map makes more sense for a game about epic battles; it’s just a shame it didn’t capture the feel of an epic battle.
Other side content includes crafting and buying hideouts. Hideouts are at various locations on the map and can be fast traveled to if you purchase them. You can put furniture in them, change outfits, and invite allies there for a chat. They aren’t cheap, and I have to admit the economy in the game worked well. It is easy to earn money but just as easy to blow it on weapons, gems, and other items. Crafting is a bit more tedious as you need to find the right materials. Materials can be found all over the game world and are often found in large clusters. Crafting isn’t something you have to worry about though if you don’t want to.
Here are a few other issues we ran into while playing the game. There is a ton of pop in, from bases to trees. You can be running and just get stuck on nothing only to have a bow tower pop up a couple of seconds later. Frame drops are also pretty standard in large fights, and we were playing on the PlayStation 4 Pro. Texture sometimes load in slow or even glitch out all together making the whole game a mess. And to top it off, now and then the lighting would mess up and make the shadows look like blocks. Some sort of bug or glitch happens often enough that I had to mention it here.
Open world might not be the right step for Dynasty Warriors. Something like Dynasty Warriors Empires would be a much better fit, as even hardcore Dynasty Warriors fans are going to have trouble overlooking the problems present in this title.