Several months have passed since the first reveal of Dynasty Warriors 9, and Koei Tecmo was showing off the first playable demo for the musou title at Tokyo Game Show 2017. I managed to attend the event in Japan, and got to try out the demo of the highly anticipated game.
This demo only has a number of characters from the Wei Kingdom available to choose, as it features the Battle of Guandu. That’s where Cao Cao fought against Yuan Shao for supremacy in northern China. The available characters in the demo were all from Cao Cao’s side and were: Cao Cao, Cao Pi, Xiahou Dun, Zhang Liao, Yu Jin, Guo Jia, and the new character Xun You.
I decided to go with Guo Jia in this demo as he has just been newly revealed for Dynasty Warriors 9 at the show. Guo Jia (courtesy name Fengxiao), who first appeared in Dynasty Warriors 7: Xtreme Legends, was famous as one of Cao Cao’s smartest strategists who provided ingenuine tactics to the latter. However, he died young shortly after the Battle of Guandu and was no longer there to support Cao Cao in his later crucial campaigns, such as the Battle of Chi Bi.
It has been also recently reported that his original Japanese voice actor Junichi Miyake had to step down due to recovering from an illness, so he had to be replaced by Daichi Kanbara in Dynasty Warriors 9.
The TGS 2017 demo version allowed 10 minutes of gameplay. As it takes place in the Battle of Guandu on Cao Cao’s side, the end mission is to head straight to Yuan Shao’s position and defeat him. However, the game recommends players to take Yuan Shao’s other bases first in order to raise the player character’s level. So first of all, I was directed to Baima Fort which is guarded by one of Yuan Shao’s top generals, Yan Liang
As I approached the designated fort, I saw ally troops standing by in formation. Once I entered the battle area, they started moving in unison. I was impressed by how they convey the scale of the battlefield, as I saw large formations of allied and enemy armies clashing with one another.
With Dynasty Warriors 9 employing an open world system for the firs time, it gives the player multiple possibilities to capture an enemy fort. Other than protecting the true-and-tested battering rams to break through gates, players can also opt to infiltrate the fort by climbing its walls with a grappling hook and break the gate locks to open them from inside. However, enemy archers on the walls can, and will, shoot at you before you could finish climbing. In my case, I was able to find an opening which wasn’t guarded at all and I could safely scale the walls from there.
Although I managed to get inside the fort by myself, I got surrounded by a lot of enemy soldiers who would incessantly strike and juggle me whenever possible. Yes, you can assume that Koei Tecmo has addressed the enemy AI which had been a subject of criticism in past Dynasty Warriors games. They have become much more aggressive and will spend no time in attacking you, especially if you’re all alone with no allies to support you.
Once you get to attack, you can produce a stream of combo attacks if you make use of all the options provided. Repeatedly mashing the usual Square button will still lead to a repetitive attack string. By using the new Trigger attack (R1+T/S/X), it will lead to an entirely different Square attack string, and these Trigger attacks can also be launched in-between strings, creating a flowing stream of attacks if done properly.
The Triangle attack is now used for Reactive attacks whenever there are Triangle button prompts on top of an enemy. It requires some reflex when you first encounter one, but once you get used to it, you can deal some effective or even finishing blows to enemy officers.
And now onto the character movesets, which has been a hotly debated topic in the Dynasty Warriors community. Although Guo Jia mostly keeps his scepter weapon design, I feel like his movements in Dynasty Warriors 9 become very similar to that of Zhou Yu’s staff. However, there are still a couple of things that make him -and every other characters in Dynasty Warriors 9– somewhat unique, which are the R1+O unique attack, and both the ground and aerial Musou attacks. I would say that if people are willing to overlook the problem of clones, they will be able to enjoy the numerous possibilities of playing through the game thanks to the open world system.
So after I beat Yan Liang and captured Baima Fort for my allies, I would then get directed to Wen Chou’s Yanjin Fort which I also took care of in a similar fashion. And then I entered Yuan Shao’s main camp in Guandu from behind by going through forests and hills, and I encountered the boss Yuan Shao himself just as the demo timer ran out.
I can’t wait to be able to explore more of the open world 3rd-century China and the limitless playthrough possibilities when Dynasty Warriors 9 is released later in early 2018 worldwide, for PlayStation 4 exclusively in Japan, and also for Xbox One and Steam in the West.
Dynasty Warriors 9 preview conducted on a PlayStation 4 at Tokyo Game Show 2017.