Dynasty Warriors 9 is making a huge leap for the series, going from the open missions of previous games to a completely open world map of China. Don’t worry, the signature musou “Warriors” style game is there. You’ll still be single-handedly destroying hundreds and even thousands of brainless enemy troops; you’ll just have to take a horse across China to do it. My experience with the Warriors games pretty much starts and ends with Dynasty Warriors: Gundam Reborn, a game I reviewed a number of years ago. That hardly gives me license to know what I’m talking about, but I got the good fortune to sit down with Producer Akihiro Suzuki to talk about the ninth main entry in the long running franchise.
The new open world map of China has given them a lot of opportunities to expand on almost everything. “There’s a vast land, and there are battles popping up all over,” Suzuki said when I asked him to give me his pitch for this new game. “It’s not a simple battle game. The battles are a lot more scaled up in addition to the open world.” From my hands-on time with Dynasty Warriors 9, it’s easy to see. I could ride in to a huge fortress, take on thousands of enemies, and then pick where I wanted to go or what I wanted to do next. The missions weren’t static, and the open map allowed for a lot more freedom than these types of games have traditionally granted.
Covering the Three Kingdoms era of Chinese history in which there were a lot of battles across the Chinese landscape, I wondered just how much of China the open world map included. “I successfully got the whole Chinese map into the whole game,” Suzuki said proudly. “Previous titles have a small section of the map per mission since China’s too big; however, this time we have a huge land and they are having battles at different points. There are open areas between the battles, which is some of the charm.” The open world was something that Suzuki had really been wanting to challenge, and he’s happy to have successfully worked it into this game.
Advancing the Genre
“What I can’t change is the characters or the story, since it’s about the Three Kingdoms era,” Suzuki said when I asked him how he decides what to change and what to leave the same. “We can’t remove or add characters, because what’s so appealing about the Three Kingdoms era is the character stories.” The advancement of the sequels is to find better ways to tell the same stories and to remain accurate to that period of Chinese history. That anchor is what led directly to designing a new open world, as they could choose to evolve that portion of the game on newer technology.
As I played, I took note of the varied character designs. Whirling around, performing combos on groups of enemies, each one looked distinct and unique, with a certain special style and flair. “[Dynasty Warriors 9] creates the characters themselves. Their personalities, how they think, how they speak. The idea of the character is determined first, and the visual comes later,” Suzuki said, before bringing up the Dynasty Warriors mobile card game, Blast. He indicated that some of the characters needed adjusted visuals for their specific personality, while others worked with the art that had been drawn for the card game.
As I continued to play, cutting through swaths of enemies with polearms, swords, and a variety of other weapons, I asked Suzuki about the design for each character’s weapon. “We’re on the latest platforms. The graphics are the latest technology. The expressions of the game, the open world, they are all very close to real life. We determined that the variety of weapons should follow the atmosphere of the era and the culture.” Suzuki went on to talk about a character that had swords flying around him, which was not realistic and couldn’t actually exist in real life, so they changed it to add more realism.
Obviously, Dynasty Warriors 9 is a video game though, so I had to ask about the possibility of crazy and unrealistic weapons being added later on. “Yes,” was Suzuki’s simple response, suggesting that some of those crazier weapons will see a return in DLC. He also teased that we might see game systems from other expansions like Extreme Legends and Empires, which would be fascinating to see in the new open world that Dynasty Warriors 9 boasts (or so I’m told by those more familiar with Dynasty Warriors than me).
All in all, Suzuki is very excited to see how fans react to the new open world. It was something he talked about a lot, and was definitely the shining highlight of my hands-on experience with the game (aside from, of course, felling thousands of enemies by myself with sweet combo moves). As a relatively new player, it was a pretty cool feature to see, but only time will tell how Dynasty Warriors fans feel about this new take on a popular series.
Dynasty Warriors 9 is set to release on February 13 in North America.
Dynasty Warriors 9 preview impressions and interview obtained at an event held by Koei Tecmo. Travel and accommodations were provided.