Dynasty Warriors 9 is a Lovable Mess

It’s finally “finished”, and it’s time for a second look.

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Omega Force games have never been known for their technical prowess. You won’t find any reviews praising the Warriors series for its visuals. The games randomly target either 30 or 60 frames per second. The quality of the assets ranges from “modern” to “clearly designed for an older machine.” And they doggedly pursue “put a lot of guys on screen” above all other visual goals.

A noble goal, in my opinion.

Dynasty Warriors 9 launched with more problems than any previous Omega Force game. It also had one of their longest development cycles ever.

The framerate was terrible on all platforms at launch. The textures sometimes took a minute to load. And the new combat system stepped away from the responsive character brawler action of the older games in favor of a streamlined system that any player could quickly learn.

Oh, and some of the characters had their weapons changed.

Now, some of those things are different.

PATCHES

In March, the framerate hit the level I’d call acceptable.

Since then, the technical side of the game has seen continued improvements. The game even defaults to the higher resolution mode on the base PS4 now, and while I still think performance is a little lower in that mode than I’d like…this is a smoothly running game now. No caveats needed.

Finally.

Enemy AI has seen big improvements. Enemies will attack slightly more often and archers are an actual threat.

A new ultra hard “Ultimate” difficulty has been added for the truly masochistic.

Usually, patches for Dynasty Warriors games just clean up small technical issues, fix broken quests, or add DLC support. But with both this game and Fire Emblem Warriors, the patches have been more significant. Both games have seen changes to their leveling systems, for instance, and they got some new items for free as well.

DW9 also got a photo mode that’s surprisingly full-featured with a number of camera and filter options. You can also control the lighting and weather systems.

DLC

I bought the season pass for Dynasty Warriors 9 on day one.

That might have been a mistake, honestly.

The DLC has been a little lackluster so far, and there’s only one more pack coming out. The first pack added new house customization options, and that was sort of neat…but I haven’t really spent much time engaging with that system, and only plan to do so to clean up some achievements.

The second pack added some challenge mode stages that are fun…one time.

The third pack just came out, and it added three new weapons to the game, which are weapons that characters used to have in the past. Some folks are mad about this DLC…but I think this is okay.

You either just nodded in agreement or threw your drink on the floor and declared me to be a part of the problem.

Each weapon in a Warriors game has its own set of animations, and this stuff takes a long time to create. DW9 has an entirely new set of animations for its new combat system, so I’m guessing these weapons were made DLC because they literally ran out of time. “But Koei has withheld this content that I’m entitled to!”

No.

They’ve chosen this particular business model to put more content into their slightly unfinished game that had a release date it needed to hit, and you are not obligated to buy it nor magically entitled to it.

Would I have bought these weapons if I didn’t get them for free in the season pass? No.

But I’m also super happy with the number of weapons already in the game.

Adding a new weapon to Dynasty Warriors probably takes an absurd amount of work, and there are dramatically more unique weapons in the game than in a certain other big budget game called God of War.

It would be ridiculous for me personally to complain about a lack of content in a game with 90 characters and dozens of unique weapons with unique appearances and animations.

The final pack coming out later this summer contains four “new” characters with additional missions. The new characters already have models in the game for moments when they appear as NPCs, but they don’t have that many animations and they kind of just stand there.

I once again am guessing they were a casualty of having to rush the game out the door. This is the DLC I’m most looking forward to, as it also means they’ll have unique ending cutscenes.

Again, this is a game with 90 different-looking and, for the most part, playing characters who all have their own ending videos.

This is a game literally built around the concept of having too much content in a stupidly huge open world. It seems wild to me to complain that it’s too small in some way.

THE BATTLE SYSTEM

I finally finished Fire Emblem Warriors recently…and I’ll admit, the battle system in that game is more fun than the one in DW9.

That doesn’t mean I think that DW9 plays badly. And I’m glad that Koei finally tried to change the gameplay.

They’ve only tried this once before, in Dynasty Warriors 6, and the internet jumped down their throat.

The only thing that I’ve grown a little tired of in Dynasty Warriors 9 is the slight latency to its controls. It feels a little less like your character immediately responds to input, and more like you’re queueing up specific actions and watching them play out. This is particularly noticeable in the way the Trigger Attacks work. Holding down a button until an attack comes out is not as exciting as having something happen right away.

But it’s still cool that this one is different from the 70 games that preceded it.

There are actually more than 70 games that preceded it. Think about that number.

You could play 70 different Warriors games if you wanted to.

Gamers want games to be exactly the same…as long as they’re also totally new and innovative and good-looking.

FINAL THOUGHTS

If you like open worlds and brawlers and you want to run around and hit things till numbers go up, Dynasty Warriors 9 is a good game for that regardless of the system you own. The Xbox One still gets patches about two weeks late thanks to Microsoft’s weird certification process. The DLC is not really necessary at all.

The game has a stupidly huge pile of content and you’ll need hundreds of hours to see it all. By then you might be a little tired of the way the combat feels, but I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of cresting a hill or a castle wall and seeing the world extend out forever.

It’s like Fuel but for brawlers.

Remember Fuel? That game was awesome. Hey come back!

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I do radio voice work by day, and write by day and night. I studied film and production. I love audio, design, and music. Also video games.

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