dynast y warriors 9
Travesty Warriors More Like
The Three Kingdoms period of Chinese history is widely known. It was a relatively short period, but contained so many incredible people and events that it has been the subject of countless fiction from operas to films. It was a time that brought great transformation to the politics and culture of China, during which technology pushed forward at an astounding pace. This was one of the bloodiest times in Chinese history.
Sadly, the only part of this time period Dynasty Warriors seems interested in is that last, violent part, in the most straightforward and mindless way possible. The initial story selection screen, where you choose which character to start playing as, unlocking more characters in later time periods as you progress, offers the sense that this might tell the grand, sweeping story of the Three Kingdoms period from a range of different view point, from various time periods. Even the introductory cutscenes pay some lip service to the history behind events, so you’d expect it to come up at some point during the action.
Yet the moment you’re placed into the game, it’s simply a matter of mashing buttons and letting your chosen hero whirl around on screen as they cut down endless hordes of nameless foes. There are actually combos and skills you can learn, but there’s really no need to bother investing the time to master any of it. In the dozens of hours with the game we played, little more was ever required than smashing those attack buttons as quickly as possible. Your greatest enemy here will be the extreme risk of an RSI, rather than the armies you’ll be cutting down. If you’ve played or heard of Dynasty
Warriors before, this isn’t new information. The series has a wellearned reputation of being mindless hack and slashers. Yet in spite of this, the games have earned something of a cult following.
Why expect anything else from a series that has changed so little despite its numerous entries over the years? Because this time the developers took things into an open world, and with it came the promise of a whole new take on the series. Maybe this would be the entry to transcend the mediocre trappings of prior titles and actually do something different?
Alas, no. By the standards of decade-old open world games
Dynasty Warriors 9 is a chore, but in the shadow of more recent titles like The Witcher 3 or Grand Theft
Auto V it’s absolutely not worth your time. The world itself is completely lifeless. Lacking in the sumptuous detail we’ve come to expect of these productions, it doesn’t have either a compelling art style or even a vibrant palette. It’s all mostly flat, brown terrain with a smattering of bland
“The game doesn’t have a compelling art style or even a vibrant palette”
objects. For all the miles of China Dynasty Warriors offers, not one part of it captures any of the real beauty of the country’s diverse landscapes.
There is the option to travel via horse or boat, but there just isn’t the same joy in it that you get coming over the crest of a hill on horseback or rocking against the waves of a storm in The Witcher. This is a world that exists to house things to kill, and little to no effort has been made to make it a believable or compelling space in its own right.
Which might be more tolerable were any of the content that filled this huge space worth your time. The flat, uninteresting combat hasn’t just been transplanted into this ninth game, it has somehow been worsened. If a game is simply about running around and cutting down armies of enemies, you’d think that would at least be the one thing it gets right. And yet the combat is as lifeless as the setting. Enemies huddle around, barely even acknowledging your presence as you approach ready to cut them down in droves. You don’t feel like a merciless killing machine or a triumphant hero. You’re a gardener doing the de-weeding.
With no challenge from your enemies (except for the wolves. Those god damn wolves offer more challenge than all of China’s armies combined), there’s no reason to learn what little depth exists within the combat. And given that the world is filled with little more than large groups of enemies to be slain, there’s no really compelling reason to chase each and every waypoint. After an hour of play you’ll look at the map and see all the tasks remaining, only to find yourself exhausted at the mere thought of doing any of it. Dynasty Warriors 9 isn’t just the latest forgettable entry in a series of utterly disposable games—it’s a disappointment in a series of utterly disposable games. Despite the lowest of hurdles to clear,
Dynasty Warriors 9 has leapt for more prosperous ground only to crash far below. This isn’t just an insult to its fans, this is an insult to history. A crass rendition of a fascinating time period that offers nothing as game or fiction. A travesty.
far left No enemy is more fearsome in Ancient China than wolves. For some reason.
left Look forward to many hours of characters standing round, looking blank and giving exposition.
right The characters certainly look cool in motion.