It’s hard to believe that Dynasty Warriors is a series which is now over twenty years old. Sure, that could be a testament to the series and how well it has done, or that I am just old. Spoilers, I am just old AND the series has done that well. When the Nintendo Switch was in its infancy, we all heard about 2014’s “Hyrule Warriors”, the Legend of Zelda equivalent of Dynasty Warriors. Not long after, in 2017, we would see the release of “Fire Emblem Warriors”. I think it was clear that with the Nintendo Switch and its library of growing games from yesteryear, that we would eventually see Dynasty Warriors. It may not be 1997’s classic fighting game, but I think it is fair to say that Koei Tecmo made a fine choice with putting Dynasty Warriors 8 Xtreme Legends Definitive Edition in our Switch libraries.
Now, I want to say right off the bat that it has been a long time since I’ve played any of the Dynasty Warrior games. In fact, I am certain that it was Dynasty Warriors 5 for the PlayStation 2. I am not entirely sure why I have not played them over the years, but one thing is for certain; There are 38 games total between the main entries and all the spin-offs! Obviously, it might be daunting to casual gamers and veterans alike on where to start. Is there a connecting story? Connected characters? What makes these games have the longevity that they have?
So what if you’re new to the series? What is Dynasty Warriors 8 Xtreme Legends about anyways? The story itself is based on a piece of historical Chinese literature “Romance of the Three Kingdoms.” The story was written in the 14th-century and was written by Luo Guanzhong. It is set in the turbulent years towards the end of the Han dynasty and the Three Kingdoms period in Chinese history, starting in 169 AD and ending with the reunification of the land in 280. The Dynasty Warrior games encapsulate these stories and the game is about the battles the opposing armies would have. You, the player, play as generals of these armies as well as other factions. The battlefield is your playground!
Each level plays out as a living, breathing field of death where your actions could alter the course of history. If you fight a specific general, you may have let another one survive for another day and cause you problems down the line! There are objectives in each level that could turn what seems to be an easy 10 minute level into well over 45 minutes. Don’t fret though, you can save the game in the midst of battle, something in which I feel inclined to applaud the developer for!
There are multiple ways of playing Dynasty Warriors. The Story Mode offers multiple choices of characters to play from different sides of history. You will find that by looking in real history books that you will be playing in some real-life battles! In Ambition Mode, you will have a base camp and you will embark on missions to recruit new officers as well as take down opposing forces on your way to reuniting a broken China. The base camp is pretty neat because you can buy new weapons and whatnot. Finally, there is Challenge Mode. Challenge Mode is my favourite variation of gameplay. These are a set of mini-games if you will. Bridge Melee involves you knocking as many enemies off a bridge as possible in 10 minutes. Of course, you can fall off yourself and end your run pretty fast as well!! I liked going to Challenge Mode when I felt like playing the main game was starting to feel monotonous.
This is a personal opinion, but I do feel that what helps the franchise is that going into any Dynasty Warriors game is all too familiar. If I may, playing a new game is like walking out of your apartment and into your neighbours’ apartment. The set-up is almost near identical, though a few pieces of furniture could be in different spots, your main appliances are all there. After years of not touching the series, I was able to play with Dynasty Warriors 8 Xtreme Legends with great ease. Of course, that could be viewed as positive or as a negative by different people. I personally was a fan of this approach, it took any worry I had and threw it out the window.
The controls in Dynasty Warriors 8 Xtreme Legends are pretty straight-forward. Y will do a basic, but fast, attack. This is ideal for running into a swarm of lowly grunts and downing them as quickly as possible. X executes a strong attack. When your Musou Bar has filled up enough, you can press A to execute a Musou Attack, which can clear a battlefield of weak enemies right away as well as knock a nice chunk of health off an opposing officer. The real game changer on the battlefield will be your Rage Meter. When full, you click your right analogue stick down and you become a walking behemoth of death!!! Your character will go into a frenzy and kill nearly everything in sight with ease. I generally saved the Rage meter for a fight against other officers or if I was near death. These controls take little to no time to master, though I could see why people would feel like it can get pretty repetitive after awhile.
My next concern was how the game would play. I know the Switch is more than capable of playing a game originally released for the PlayStation 3. The problem is that, with how ambitious the Dynasty Warrior games are, there is a history of major frame rate issues. It’s not entirely surprising that the game would have this issue back in 2013 though. You are playing on a battlefield that is very much full of life and death. The sequence of events that are happening all over will happen if you are standing at that spot, or if you never move at all. There are over 1,000 moving parts! With so much happening, it’s to be expected. This has some detriment to the gameplay though in my opinion. It can be frustrating when you are in the midst of a great battle and you watch as enemies are constantly appearing and disappearing out of nowhere!
Don’t let this deter you though, believe me when I say it used to be significantly worse. It’s mostly just an annoyance.
Last but not least, I honestly am not sure if these features were included in the original release of Dynasty Warriors 8, but I love that there are menus for Gallery and Encyclopedia (they were certainly in the PS4 version – Rob). In the gallery menu, you can look at all the stats for all the characters you have chosen to play as. All the weapons you have acquired (there’s 100’s of options!!) as well as any kind of stats you may be curious about. The Encyclopedia is just that. You can look up everything from the Timeline in the Dynasty Warrior universe to the history of all your favourite officers, such as Lu Bu! Any bit of extra information that you may be curious about can be found in this well-organized menu.
(Rob) The listing on the e-shop states that Dynasty Warriors 8 Xtreme Legends “Includes all of the downloadable content from past versions of the game.” – as per all the press information we received, I’m led to believe it has ‘most’ of the DLC which came to the PS4 and PC versions of the game, but not all of it. So, a lot of the additional weapons, base designs, extra missions, and costumes will be available within the Switch version without having to pay to unlock them. This is something Koei Tecmo seems to be doing at the moment – offering the recently released ports with all the DLC – however, I would love them to match it over on the other platforms so we can acquire everything for the cheap price (compared to buying all the DLC separately).
I feel as if Dynasty Warriors 8 Xtreme Legends is the best possible choice of the massive library of games to come to the Nintendo Switch. Having most of the DLC at your fingertips offers players an insanely large amount of game to play. Though I do believe that most people will probably play only so much of the game, folks with a tight budget will appreciate the amount of content Koei Tecmo has put into this game. It can get repetitive if you play it in long game sessions, but at least you are always working on levelling or acquiring new items. Plus you can’t beat portable Lu Bu!!