What is Dynasty Warriors 9?
Drenched in ancient history, and with an all new open world format, Dynasty Warriors 9 is a hack and slash game based on famous battles that actually took place in ancient China. Set in the Three Kingdoms era, around 200AD, three factions vie for control in the ashes of the fallen Han Dynasty. Playing as key commanders in the many battles that follow, you'll fight your way through the Yellow Turban Rebellion, to the Battle of Xiapi, and the eventual formation of the Jin Dynasty. With a story that can be played from each faction's perspective, oodles of characters to master and a massive world to explore, Dynasty Warriors 9 is developer Omega Force's most ambitious game so far.
How do you play Dynasty Warriors 9?
Like the Dynasty Warriors games that have come before it, the main draw of Dynasty Warriors 9 is its large scale battles, where you're slap bang in the middle of a clash between two massive armies of hundreds of units - and you're the difference maker that'll determine how the battle ends. With simple, button-mash-happy combat, a few button presses will have you pulling off massive combos and whacking your way through dozens of foot soldiers with ease. Different button presses lead to different types of attack, with some sending enemies flying up into the air, and others stunning them or breaking their guard, while stringing them into different combos will see you juggling enemies in the air, or dealing an epic finishing blow. As you battle, the 'Musou' gauge will charge, and when full, you can unleash your super powerful Musou attack, and fancy move that wipes out large swathes of enemies in one hit.
However, thanks to the new open world, this is a Dynasty Warriors game that plays out very differently to the close quarters, yet epic scale battles of the past. Instead, a lot of your time here is spent moving from mission to mission and from target to target, galloping your way across the massive map on horseback. Generally speaking, each chapter has a primary objective, usually an enemy commander, whom you need to take out to win - and while you can just make a beeline for them, you may want to take more of a scenic route and take out some of the enemy strongholds en route first. Doing so gives your own army more of an advantage in the final battle, as enemy forces are likely to be less numerous, and your reinforcements are more likely to be in a better position to lend you a hand. There's also numerous quests from folks in town you can tackle if you fancy a break from fighting - perhaps foraging mushrooms for a stew, doing a spot of fishing or taking out a troublesome band of assassins.
How easy is Dynasty Warriors 9 to pick up and play?
Dynasty Warriors 9 does its best to be accessible, with five different difficulty levels on offer, from Beginner and Easy all the way up to Hard and Chaos, with the ability to adjust the difficulty at any time from the Options -> Game Settings menu. With its more open structure and a humongous map to explore, there's certainly a potential for getting lost, but Dynasty Warriors 9 does try to give you a constant waypoint on the horizon and a blue trail to follow to your next objective, which can be handy if you've got no sense of direction. However, the path finding can sometimes be a little awkward, and it does have a tendency to take you in a massive dog leg, so it's best used sparingly. As we eluded to earlier, it's also well worth working your way through the minor commanders and enemy strongholds when on the way to your main objective, as this can scupper your enemies in the final showdown, and make the boss battle easier.
To its credit, Dynasty Warriors 9 is almost entirely voiced in the story department, and there's comparatively little reading to be done during the course of the main game, save a few tutorial segments at the start. However, if you want to try your hand at some of the side quests or extra missions from folks in town, these generally aren't voiced, with objectives delivered through subtitles only, in which case reading is more of a necessity.
- "Defeat the troublesome group of roughnecks who are cutting down trees under the pretence of training."
- "To create weapons and items, materials are required. When you have collected all of the materials inscribed on a scroll, try crafting an item at the appropriate facility in the city."
- "They say the fish that can be caught around here are really delicious. However, unfortunately, I am very bad at fishing… Could you catch one or two for me? You can use the bait I have prepared."
On the whole, Dynasty Warriors 9 is fairly middle of the road in terms of mature content. Given that it's a game centred around war, there's a fair amount of violence, with enemy forces engaging in fast and frantic hack and slash battles armed with swords, spears, and crossbows, each accompanied by impact sounds, bright light effects and cries of pain. Enemies collapse to the ground and fade away when defeated, and no blood or gore is shown, although a handful of cutscenes do show characters impaled by arrows or stabbed with a spear.
Outside of battle, you also have the option of hunting animals, such as deers and tigers, by shooting them from a distance with arrows, or slashing at them with your sword - much like with human enemies, they simply fall over and fade away when defeated, leaving behind raw materials, such as pelts and meat, which you can use to upgrade your gear or synthesise healing tonics.
Otherwise, Dynasty Warriors is fairly tame - there's no sexual content, and not a great deal of bad language either. The occasional utterance of b*stard is about all.
Format Reviewed: Playstation 4