Dynasty Warriors 9

Dynasty Warriors 9 has taken a new direction in the series with the introduction of an open-world setting. This is a step in a different direction for the tried and true action formula of the series past, but is it a step in the right direction?

As the title suggests, this is the ninth installment in a series that started all the way back in 1997. Spanning many different platforms, and many spin-offs (including Hyrule Warriors which is being re-released on the Nintendo Switch this spring), the series has gone some very interesting places over the years, and DW9 is no different.

You can choose from one of over 83 characters (find a full list at Koei Tecmo’s official site) to play across a traversable map of China, which will span a mixture of battlefields, towns and cities with plenty of opportunities to battle and chat with people. You also have the ability to customize move sets to give the button mashing feel of the series a little variety, but all-in-all, you’re still button mashing. But some interesting additions have been made, including a grappling hook that allows players to invade enemy strongholds for the element of surprise instead of rushing headlong into battle.

The visuals of the series sees a pretty significant upgrade and now include day/night cycles as well as real-time weather effects. This all influences how your enemies behave and move around their environment, and it should affect the way you approach situations as well. For example, when you’re in the middle of a thunderstorm, you may not need to worry to much about being quiet and using some of the new stealth elements in the game as you can get a drop on someone using the sounds of the storm as cover.

Also new to the series is a feature called “Hideouts”. Essentially you are allowed to purchases different properties across the open-world. Essentially, it’s a vacation home located in a quiet place full of nature just outside of cities/towns. You start with an empty house, but you can decorate it with items acquired from merchants, including shelves, chairs, furnaces, gongs, and more. The furniture itself serves many purposes. For example, you can receive letters for your officers, cook, change BGM, create, or even give you the ability to change time. Placing a couch might encourage officers to visit your hideout. Also, characters you’ve befriended can be invited to your hideout depending on the region, and they will often show up in different, more informal outfits.

In a recent interview with Famitsu, Omega Force brand manager said “the evolution from Dynasty Warriors 7 to [Dynasty Warriors] 8 was insufficient. He hopes that the changes made in DW9 will have a “great impact” on the community, and presumably garner new interest as well. I personally enjoyed Dynasty Warriors 8, but I didn’t not have a lot of experience with the franchise at the time. Given some of the major changes to DW9, including the new open-world setting, I’d say they are headed in the right direction.

In the copy I received, on PlayStation 4, there were a few bugs and issues, but nothing that majorly affected gameplay (i.e. no soft locks, no freezes, etc.). The music was nothing to write home about, but it also wasn’t excruciatingly painful to listen to. Being fairly new to the series (my first experience was with Hyrule Warriors on the Wii-U and I also played/reviewed Dynasty Warriors 8 for the PlayStation Vita), I was able to pick this game up and not feel like I was missing so much that I had to go back and play the previous 8 mainline games, or want to put it down after a day or two.

Fans of the series should be pretty happy with this new installment, and newcomers looking for a change of pace should be able to pick it up pretty easily. Dynasty Warriors 9 is already out in Japan, but releases in the west on February 13, 2018 for the PS4, Xbox One and PC.

4 stars out of 5

Disclaimer: A copy of the game was provided to me by the publisher for review purposes.