Dynasty Warriors 8: Empires Review
If you’ve played one Dynasty Warriors title, you’ve pretty much played them all. While some may find the Musou genre repetitive and boring after a short while, I’ve always enjoyed the thrill of conquering entire battlefields as a lone warrior and leading troops to victory. Racking up insane combos, unleashing devastating special attacks and unlocking powerful weapons and equipment are just a few of my favorite aspects of the Warriors games. Having never played any of the spinoff Empires games, I didn’t quite know what to expect, but after spending some quality time with Dynasty Warriors 8: Empires I’ve come away very impressed. If you’ve ever played a Warriors game and wanted to do more than simply hack and slash across the battlefield, this is for you.
Dynasty Warriors 8: Empires packs a wealth of content and hours upon hours of entertainment for those who wish to really sink their teeth into the game. Upon starting the Empires mode, you’ll be tasked with creating a warrior (male or female). From here, you’ll have to make decisions, give orders, and keep your fellow soldiers happy if you hope to rise through the ranks. The eventual goal is to either serve directly beneath a ruler and help them overtake the entire world map, or break away from the kingdom and become ruler yourself. How you govern the allied forces and properties you’ve seized is entirely up to you – will you be an evil tyrant consumed by greed and a lust for power, or a benevolent king who looks out for the best interests of his (or her) people?
Dynasty Warriors 8: Empires can be a bit daunting at first if you’ve never played any of the Empires titles before. There is quite a bit to learn, and much more strategy involved than the relatively mindless hack and slash gameplay of the main series. While there is plenty of that here too, when you decide to get your hands dirty alongside the rest of your troops, Dynasty Warriors 8: Empires’ gameplay mostly consists of building academies and weapon forges, managing and training personnel, making trades, forging alliances, and lots of other stuff politicians deal with on a daily basis. As you bond with members of the opposite sex, eventually you will be given the option to marry them and start a family. Soon enough your progeny will be of age and wishing to join the battle alongside you. Developing bonds with members of the same sex allows you to swear an oath of brotherhood to them, and you will soon begin to feel an attachment to your troops, rather than simply seeing them as faceless grunts on the battlefield.
If you’d rather play the game dirty, Dynasty Warriors 8: Empires allows you plenty of opportunities for backstabbing and deception. You can choose to tax the living hell out of your people, execute soldiers who refuse to join your forces, spread nasty rumors and other dispicable actions that will earn you a bad reputation. You can even join another ruler, work your way through the ranks, and then pull a military coup after you’ve gained enough control of their forces, taking their lands and throne for yourself. Whichever way you decide to play it, Dynasty Warriors 8: Empires features a number of cutscenes featuring your created character, reflecting your actions in the world and helping to build a connection between the player and their avatar.
As you gain control of more territories, you’ll be able to construct more item shops, academies and weapon forges, alongside staples such a mines (monthly materials) and marketplaces (monthly income). The more you have of these, the better your selection of purchaseable upgrades will be. For instance, if your map consists mainly of weapon forges, you’ll have access to the best, most powerful weapons in the land. If you build a ton of academies, you’ll learn better strategems, which are quite useful on the battlefield. If you have a lot of item shops, you’ll be able to purchase perks like health and armor upgrades, as well as things like animal mounts. If you’ve ever wanted to ride a wooly mammoth or elephant into battle, Dynasty Warriors 8: Empires is your chance.
As Dynasty Warriors 8: Empires is based on the main, last-gen title, the graphics are nothing to write home about. While character models can look pretty good at times, Empires is missing the lighting effects, depth of field, and detailed environments that we saw in recent titles such as Samurai Warriors 4 on current-gen. Hopefully the next numbered entry in the series, built from the ground up for current consoles, will look better visually.
While it’s a bit overwhelming at first, Dynasty Warriors 8: Empires eventually becomes very hard to put down. Building your empire and invading neighboring lands is addicting and enjoyable, and forming bonds and alliances on your way to the top gives your adventure a personal feel. While the outdated graphics and unstable framerate leave something to be desired, the hack and slash gameplay mixed with enhanced strategic elements combine to form one of the finest Warriors games I’ve had the pleasure of playing. Here’s hoping Omega Force and Koei Tecmo continue to build upon Empires’ great foundation for the next entries in the franchise.