Review: Dynasty Warriors 9 – Disaster of the Three Kingdoms
To put it simply, Dynasty Warriors 9 is basically the $60 equivalent of a Steam Early Access title, and it’s a slap in the face, and the reproductive organs, to fans of the series.
Fair warning: I’ve been putting off writing this review because I’m a big fan of Dynasty Warriors and I’ve put 40 hours into this game begging for some positive things to say before I rake it across the coals on why it’s so incredibly bad that Warriors All-Stars was a fucking masterpiece by comparison.
This is, by far, the absolute worst entry in the entire Dynasty Warriors franchise. I forgave StrikeForce for being complete shit because it was at least somewhat compelling. When Dynasty Warriors 8 introduced individual movesets for every character, I rejoiced because it finally meant the officers would feel at least somewhat unique, instead of simply being palette swapped copies with different names for the sake of having a ridiculously expansive roster of characters. Dynasty Warriors 9 says fuck all of that and returns to copy and pasting officers while removing unique weapons, and turning something that finally felt mostly perfect into an open world mess.
The story mode itself unfolds in a somewhat decent fashion, but it’s not exactly streamlined for returning fans to just jump in and go to war with their favorite general. Many of the favorites aren’t playable from the start, including the infamous Lu Bu, Guan Yu, Sima Yi, Sun Quan, or even any of the newcomers such as Zhou Cang who was formally introduced as a playable character in the aforementioned Warriors All-Stars. As a result, you’ve basically got to grind through a chapter or two as Xiao Dun or Cao Cao before eventually unlocking other people that you may have preferred to start out with.
Cheng Pu is playable for the first time in Dynasty Warriors 9, but just like Lu Bu, he only lives for about two chapters, making your adventures with him incredibly short – while other characters like Cao Cao survive most of (if not all of) the thirteen chapters. I guess I can forgive this mechanic as you do eventually open up a free play mode which allows you to play any chapter with any character, but it’s still a lot to ask players to grind through to unlock their heroes.
Speaking of grinding, there are a ton of side missions to complete in each chapter and as you complete the side missions, it lowers the difficulty of the main objective quests. This is a nice touch, but honestly, completely useless since a majority of these missions are fetch and return, kill X, or capture Y base type quests. To break up the tedium, they added the ability to fast travel in this big open map – which is great considering there’s nothing around except for the populated spots on the map. Turning Dynasty Warriors into a FarCry clone (complete with having to climb radio towers to “see” the lands) is annoying and simply doesn’t fit with the franchise’s history.
I get it, Dynasty Warriors is an extremely niche game and it needed a revamp in order to appeal to a more broad audience, but why bother taking one small map and literally stretching it out to cover an obscene amount of space instead of making multiple maps that connect together? Why bother having a horse that levels up by riding or attacking when you can just fast travel to everything? In fact, Dynasty Warriors 9 struggles so much with identity that it gives players a grappling hook that allows you to quickly scale walls and simply go over the terrain that you used to have to fight through in order to progress. Why bother taking strongholds and supply captains out when you can rush in, hop the walls, kill the general, and immediately take over control of the entire area?
These are the questions I found myself asking a lot while playing Dynasty Warriors 9. Why bother doing any of this? They removed unique weapons like Zhang He’s claws because they “weren’t lifelike enough” but then continued to let sorcerers have the ridiculous “magic fans.” So Zhang He and Sima Yi can’t have claws because they weren’t a realistic weapon for the time period, but Cao Cao can do Musou attacks that literally rain ice and that’s okay? No. Everything about Dynasty Warriors 9 is tragically bad. From the sub-par PS3-at-best graphics to the absolutely oblivious AI, to the open and horribly empty world, to the bad attempts at making hunting seem like a good idea as a side task – Dynasty Warriors 9 is a clusterfuck of dartboard ideas and feels as poorly constructed as it does rushed and effortless.
To put it simply, Dynasty Warriors 9 is basically the $60 equivalent of a Steam “Early Access” title for console owners, and it’s a slap in the face and the reproductive organs to fans of the series. Let’s not even begin to talk about all of the other shortcomings, such as the horrendous English voice actors, or the impossibly bad frame rates when played on what is dubbed the “most powerful home console.” This game should never have been released in the state that it’s in, and it’s an abomination that this was presented to us as a main numbered entry to the series. After 35 hours of gameplay, while I’m not a big fan of some of the changes, I can forgive almost everything – but I can’t forgive the fact that this game looks like shit and runs worse than some PS2 games did.
As a fan of the franchise since Dynasty Warriors 2, and as much as it pains me to say this: Go back to the drawing board, Tecmo Koei, and don’t release Dynasty Warriors (or any other game for that matter) again until it’s at least technically competent. I can’t believe Omega Force even allowed their name to be put on this piece of shit. There is no excuse that this game should be as bad as it is.
Dynasty Warriors 9 was reviewed on the Xbox One X and was provided to us for review by Tecmo Koei.