I know what you’re asking yourself. Did Omega Force really release 7 Dynasty Warriors games in 2018?
Yes. Yes they did.
I’m not even stretching the definition of a Dynasty Warriors game too much to hit that number.
Two were brand new releases in the core Warriors franchise.
Two were remasters of core games for new platforms, and another two were remasters of licensed spin-offs…because apparently Koei only just learned that HD remasters are a thing.
And the last was a new Attack on Titan game which, while not strictly conforming to the classic Musou/Warriors gameplay, is still running on the same engine technology, from a lot of the same people, and with a lot of the same core systems.
Here then, in ranked order of my personal opinion, are the 7 Best Dynasty Warriors games that came out last year. Which is also all of them.
7. Attack on Titan 2 (All Current Platforms)
I’m not picking on Attack on Titan, necessarily, even though I’ve put it at the bottom of my list. The first game was quite popular, and the second one came along pretty quickly and on a bigger selection of platforms, including the Nintendo Switch. It added the ability to play as your own character, new stages based on the show’s second season, and some online multiplayer modes to the already fun grappling-based gameplay.
It also recycled a lot of content from the original game. More even than is the norm for the long-running Warriors franchise. That might be fine if they hadn’t decided to call this a numbered sequel to the original. But this game requires you to play through the entire storyline, and much of the content, from its predecessor before getting to the new stuff. There’s no way to skip this even if you played the first game.
The result is a game that feels more like an expanded version of the original than a wholly unique sequel. That doesn’t mean that it’s bad. AOT has a fun blend of traversal and strategic battle against large enemies in large environments. But if you’re a fan, and you hop into 2 looking for the new stuff, it’s incredibly deflating to realize you’ve gotta replay hours of old stuff first.
6. One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 Deluxe Edition (Nintendo Switch)
Pirate Warriors 3 isn’t a new game, but it’s now on the Switch in a Deluxe Edition. It includes a whole pile of DLC, and visuals that hold up well against the PS3, but run at a lower framerate than the PS4 and PC versions. That’s fine for something called “Deluxe Edition,” but less so for something called “Definitive Edition…” something I’ll rant about more below.
OPPW3 ranks down near the bottom of this stupid list because it’s a pretty basic game, with a bit less content than the rest of the Warriors lineup. It’s still a very fun brawler, with bright visuals, excellent music, and a storyline that’s like a breezy Cliff’s Notes version of the One Piece plot. If you’ve never experienced those stories, things are going to be a bit confusing.
This port was priced at $40, and I think that’s just right for the amount of work done here. It doesn’t stress the Switch as much as some of the other titles on this list, but it still looks nice and it’s fun. I’ve already played it on two other machines, and its slight lack of content compared to the rest of the series meant that it was harder to get excited about seeing this one again.
5. Dynasty Warriors 8 Xtreme Legends Definitive Edition (Nintendo Switch)
When I see the words “Definitive Edition,” I think “This is clearly the best-looking, playing, sounding, and most complete version of a game.”
In the case of Dynasty Warriors 8’s new Switch version…that’s not really true.
On the plus side, for just $40, you get the base game, its expansion, and a whole huge pile of over 800 DLC things that would normally cost you dramatically more money. And in fact, all of that stuff still does cost a ton to purchase on other machines.
“Aha! I got one over on them by waiting five years for them to put it on a new machine!”
Well, sort of.
The graphical assets in this new port are straight out of the PS3 version, forgoing all of the new artwork and effects created for the enhanced PS4 version that came out years ago.
On the plus side, performance is great, with a framerate that sticks pretty close to 60 and decently-high rendering resolutions. But it all looks a bit old and crusty compared to every other game on this list.
Omega Force has never been known for their graphical prowess. For everything in one of their games that looks amazing, something right next to it looks janky. But they do make strides over the years as they pump out these games, and going back to the exact look of an older generation is a little jarring, even if the Switch can handle the visuals well.
Content-wise, it’s the most complete/cheapest version of Dynasty Warriors 8 you can buy. But if you want the best-looking version, that’s still the one on PS4. It has better assets, an entirely different lighting model, hardware accelerated particles, and post-processing that gives the game a completely new look.
Sure, it was essentially the PS3 version with a bunch of new work grafted to the top of it…but it’s sad to see all of that extra flair missing here on Switch. If they’d gone with “Complete” or “Deluxe” in the name instead, I wouldn’t have to be so hung up on this. But such is the way when you’re making ridiculous lists.
4. Dynasty Warriors 7 Xtreme Legends Definitive Edition (Steam)
Now we’re talking! Here’s Dynasty Warriors 7 and all of its DLC, including items that were previously exclusive to Japan-only promotions, for just $20. And it gets a slight visual bump thanks to a custom settings menu and the power of modern PCs.
It was really cool to see this game drop onto Steam out of nowhere…and a little baffling that it didn’t also come to the other major modern consoles. There’s no real reason that it couldn’t. Dynasty Warriors 7’s visuals are about as “nice” as the ones in Dynasty Warriors 8, and as we’ve seen above, that game easily runs on Switch.
The fit and finish here are great. Controller support works perfectly, and the co-op mode is still included. It’s actually the best version of Dynasty Warriors 7, befitting its “Definitive” name.
What a concept!
3. Warriors Orochi 4 (All Current Platforms)
This game is a manic pile of chaos and fast action. It feels like a love letter to series fans who felt burned by Dynasty Warriors 9, and its delightfully nonsensical story is both a reboot of and a sequel to the previous games.
It’s perhaps the fastest-playing Warriors game ever, and the ability to press a button and instantly appear on your horse is a lot of fun. I hope that this mechanic and a few other new things here become Warriors staples in the future.
The game was crafted by the core design team behind Warriors All-Stars, and it shows, with a similar level of visual polish and a prioritization of quick gameplay above all else.
Visually, it doesn’t have the same scope, scale, or level of effects work that Dynasty Warriors 9 has, but it comes close. The Switch version looks the roughest, but still manages to retain most of what counts, and is content-complete in spite of this being a massive game.
The biggest letdown is the humdrum structure. It’s basically a menu full of stages that you select from and play. There’s no hub area, or overarching connective tissue beyond simple cutscenes and still-image dialogue scenes. If you like the open world of Dynasty Warriors 9, or the freeform map of Warriors All-Stars…well, this has none of that stuff.
What it does have is a really solid core gameplay system and a whole bunch of guys to hit. The fact that it could come out just months after Warriors All-Stars and Dynasty Warriors 9 is a bit nuts.
2. Dynasty Warriors 9 (PS4/Xbox One/Steam)
I am a DW9 apologist in a world where there aren’t very many of us. I love all the ambition and heart of this game, and I love that Omega Force finally went for it, with a massive map of China that allows battles to escape the confines of hallway-based stages and explode out across a huge world.
It ran badly at launch. The completely-revised combat system was off-putting to many fans. And some characters have different weapons now.
Oh, the horror!
But Omega Force has put so much work into this game since launch, and they’ve released countless content patchs.
It’s had numerous performance improvements. On consoles, it now has a lowered graphics setting that allows the game to shoot for 60 frames per second. It’s gained a photo mode that’s really fun to play with. It’s been bolstered by numerous new items, bows, and areas, and two new season passes with new paid content. Not that the game really needed that, but still.
They even added a full online or offline co-op mode that you can seamlessly engage with at your leisure. And they released a free-to-play version that allows you to buy characters piecemeal, if you’re only interested in certain storylines.
The game has over 90 characters, all with their own unique endings, dialogue during the story, and a huge pile of voice acting. The English voice cast is all-new, and quality varies wildly…but the game also includes Japanese and Chinese voices.
Dynasty Warriors 9 is probably not the “best” game in the series, in terms of raw mechanical depth, or graphical performance, or voice acting. But it’s easily the “most” game, with a scope, scale, and feel that are just breathtaking. I’ll never tire of blazing across the world on my horse, seamlessly flying in and out of huge battles with thousands of dudes as I fight my way across ancient China.
It’s the way that I always imagined a Dynasty Warriors could play in my head, and among the most fun I’ve ever had with a game in this genre. Its flaws are easy for me to overlook, just as they always have been with this franchise. Which has never had a huge budget.
Except for sometimes, when Koei convinces another studio to pay for one. Which brings us to…
1. Hyrule Warriors Definitive Edition (Switch)
Just like Dynasty Warriors 7 on PC, this new version of Hyrule Warriors is the best-looking, sounding, and most-complete version of this game. This is the third release of Omega Force’s Zelda-themed brawler, and it includes upgraded visuals, all of the content from the expanded 3DS version, and even a few new surprises.
It’s the best-looking Warriors game on the Switch, with a better draw distance, more enemies on-screen, and more graphical effects than any of the others so far. All of that while pushing close to a steady 60 frames per second. The visual post processing was totally overhauled, giving the game a bright, crisp look that’s right in line with other Zelda games, instead of the slightly darker look of the previous versions.
It’s both the best version of this game and the perfect way to try out a Warriors game. It has a massive pile of bonus content, stages, and extra modes. It even has snappy load times.
It’s amazing what money can do for game development, isn’t it?
Phew. We made it.
I have ranked all the Warriors games from 2018. I don’t think 7 are slated to come out in 2019, but I hope one of them is Dragon Quest Heroes I and II for Switch, a game that came out in 2017 in Japan and which Square Enix has so far shunned in the US market. Even though I imagine it would cost very little to release it here.
Are you hearing me Square? Put it out! Give it the digital-only release that a two year old compilation rightly deserves!