Yes, the musou classic is back with another entry in the long-running series that has also had numerous spin-offs and titles that use the same “warriors” format for their own gameplay needs (Hyrule Warriors for example). And in terms of the musou action nothing much has changed, however…
Dynasty Warriors 9: Empires lets gamers live a dramatic Three Kingdoms experience, playing as 94 of the most famous and feared officers. Take them on a mission to break through an enemy fortress in the all-new evolved castle siege, or play politics behind the scenes, setting up logistics and alliances while formulating secret plans in your quest to dominate the kingdom.
The game features scenarios that transport fans to different periods, enabling them to play through historic moments like the Yellow Turban Rebellion and the Battle of Chibi. But just because you’re playing through historic periods, doesn’t mean you need to follow history in order to be successful. Re-write your own history of the Three Kingdoms in ways you’ve never imagined, like unifying China with all officers from Wu still alive, or by assembling your favourite officers into one command, or even by sparking a rebellion to take control of the map!
Which is a long-winded way of saying that Dynasty Warriors 9: Empires musou action is completely ruined by overly complex, overly-complicated real-time strategy-esque gameplay. Maybe it’s because I’ve played other musou style games that focus just on the hack and slash action but having to wade through screen after screen of options about what my character’s OTHER strategies are, outside of battling – such as how I’ll treat my subjects, my enemies, what I’ll do with the money I have etc., is BORING. Like too much more of it and I’ll stop playing boring. Luckily you can just click, click, click your way through a lot of this stuff and get into the battles.
Though I can’t say the battles are that exciting. At the outset of Dynasty Warriors 9: Empires you choose your office, the character you’ll play as throughout the game – I chose someone who I felt was well-rounded: good health, good strength etc., and I had ZERO trouble winning battle after battle by just mashing ONE button. There was zero skill involved, zero tactics other than just wading in and fighting. Still fun but not exactly challenging. Even when I chose to invade a territory that the game claimed would be a difficult battle to win!
Graphically Dynasty Warriors 9: Empires looks absolutely amazing. The cutscenes are “movie” quality and the in-game graphics aren’t that much of a comedown from those either. You can choose what mode to play the game in at the get-go too, which either maintains a solid framerate or allows it to vary… And having tried both modes I, novice framerate watcher that I am, couldn’t tell a blind but of difference between the two on my Samsung OLED 4K TV. But hey, your mileage may vary depending on your choice of television.
So, ultimately Dynasty Warriors 9: Empires is a mixed bag. I enjoy the musou, hack and slash, action for the most part but it was far too easy but the rest of the game bored me – I had zero want, need or desire to delve further into the game outside of battling. Could I keep playing Dynasty Warriors 9 through to the end this way? Maybe. Do I want to? Not really. But if you’re a fan of the franchise and not just “warriors” games in general there may be something here for you.
Dynasty Warriors 9: Empires is now available across Europe for the Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One consoles, Windows PC via Steam, Google Stadia, PlayStation 4, and digitally on PlayStation 5.