Dynasty Warriors 8 Xtreme Legends Definitive Edition PC Review

Screenshot captured by the author.

To celebrate the start of 2019, I made a goofy list of the top seven Dynasty Warriors games of the preceding year. Koei’s in-house Omega Force studio was on fire in 2018, releasing an absurd number of titles at a rapid clip. Some of the games were entirely new, and others were remasters of “classic” games with minor upgrades for new platforms.

One such re-release was Dynasty Warriors 8 Xtreme Legends Definitive Edition for the Nintendo Switch. It ranked fifth on my list for being competent, but it didn’t bring anything new to the game outside of a non-absurd $40 dollar price point for a bundle that came with a ton of DLC.

Recently, thanks to some random mentions on the Dynasty Warriors subreddit, I learned that Koei also quietly dropped that same package onto the Windows Store at the same time(official non-affiliate link). They did this in spite of it being marketed solely as a Nintendo Switch title, and in spite of the fact that no one ever buys games from the Windows Store.

Screenshot captured by the author.

Is the PC version of the game better than the Switch release? Sort of! If you’re looking to buy the most feature-packed version of Dynasty Warriors 8 and you don’t have a Switch, it’s a decent buy. It’s certainly a better deal than the Steam release, and its ancient engine means it’ll probably run on just about any working PC you might have lying around.

But you’re probably not looking to buy this nearly ten year old hack-and-slash game through a byzantine store owned by Microsoft, right? Shouldn’t this just be on Game Pass for PC? Or the Epic Store? Or shouldn’t Steam owners just get an update for free?

Dynasty Warriors 8 is a character action game based on the classic Chinese novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Its gameplay centers on massive button-mashing battles against hundreds of guys. It has several medium-length story campaigns to play through which will run you about twenty hours total, and also has a bonus Ambition Mode that’s the secret heart of the game. This action RPG mode casts you as any of the game’s dozens of playable characters as you try to conquer the land, all while building up your own town and gathering weapons, materials, and experience points.

The game doesn’t outwardly tell you that the Ambition mode is just as beefy as the campaign, just as Koei didn’t outwardly tell anyone that they were selling this Switch game on the Windows Store. The visuals are solid, but like the Switch release they are based on the ancient PS3 version of the game. The resolution is capped at 1080p, and the framerate stuck at a max of 60 — the same performance targets from Nintendo’s portable when it’s in docked mode. The lighting effects, textures, and particles do look a little nicer on the PC, but the PS4 got an upgraded version of this game in 2014 with enhanced visuals that still haven’t escaped Sony’s console family.

Don’t buy the Steam version if you have access to the Windows Store or a Nintendo Switch. Screenshot captured by the author.

Still, it’s $40 and it comes with 800 DLC items. The version on Steam starts at $50 for the base game, and it’ll cost you an extra $190 to get all the DLC. So yeah, that’s basically the publisher scamming people at this point just to see if you’ll go for it. Koei does this dance with exorbitant DLC pricing and later value bundles all the time, and it drives me nuts.

If you’re trying to decide between the PC and Switch releases, I’d still go for the Switch version. It has properly functioning controller rumble, and it’s easier to get up and running in general since it’s a console game. The PC version has the same capped settings and visual experience as the original PC release from 2014 with the added “bonus” of having to use the Windows Store.

I love Dynasty Warriors 8, and I totally get why some fans call it the pinnacle of the series. It’s a well-designed game with tons of fun content and a brisk pace that makes it enjoyable for long or short sessions. It deserves a modern re-release that includes all the DLC, so I am glad this exists on two random platforms.

However, I’d love to see a better re-release that used the PS4 visuals instead, and I’d love it if Koei also gave this “Definitive” version to all their Steam customers for free instead of continuing to try and charge a ton of extra money for the same amount of content.

Screenshot captured by the author.

We may never know why Koei decided to randomly throw a PC version of a Switch game onto the oft-neglected Windows Store with no real marketing campaign. It’s such a bizarre left turn. I’ve been a fan of their game releases for most of my life, but they also baffle me on a yearly basis. Weirdly, that’s part of the fun for me.

A month from now I’ll be reviewing the latest entry in this series, Dynasty Warriors 9 Empires, which took four years to make for some reason and came out in Japan months before the rest of the world even though all the text translations were finished last year. The demo they released is a terrible demo. I’ve also got another piece coming up about the thrilling time Koei charged fifty dollars for what was essentially a glorified patch.

I feel like a bit of a doofus for buying this Windows Store release of DW8 even though I already had the competent Switch version. I was hoping it would have something to offer beyond the 2014 Steam original, or that it would use the PS4 visuals, but instead it’s just further proof of how Koei doesn’t always care about their customers. It’s a slap in the face to Steam owners, and so badly marketed that I, a silly person that buys all of these, only accidentally stumbled upon it years later.

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