Dynasty Warriors 9 Review: The Musou That Shouldn't Be
Would it be wrong to say Dynasty Warriors 9 is probably one of the worst games to come out on console in a while? That this may be the worst game on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One?
I've debated this over the past week, both internally and with my husband. The Dynasty Warriors series has never been of stellar quality, but you know what you're getting into when you buy a game in the franchise. Smooth combat, killin' loads of dudes, and some sweet music. All with that timeless Romance of the Three Kingdoms story, one that admittedly has seen a bit too much play in these games.
And of course, these games are not for everyone; they have never been for everyone. But this is the first time I have ever felt that a Dynasty Warriors game is not for anyone at all. It should be tossed in the trash, scratched off Koei Tecmo's record, and burned out of the collective gaming memory.
Dynasty Warriors 9 is so collectively bad that it fits the Japanese moniker of "kusoge" -- a shite game. It is one so bad that I am eager to wash my hands of it, delete it, and pretend it doesn't exist.
Imagine this: A game series running for this long based solely off its simple combat system, goal-based missions, cool music, and item/equipment collecting. Take all that good stuff and then add a huge, empty open world and a bunch of half-baked mechanics that mean nothing at all. Then strip down everything the series was known for and toss it into the market with a $60 price tag. That's Dynasty Warriors 9.
There is so much wrong with this game that it's hard to pinpoint it all, and as a fan of the series since its third entry, I can't help but feel like this is an affront to those who have stuck with the series for so long.
This game is the culmination of every possible way a Dynasty Warriors game could have gone wrong. Every single aspect of it is bland and boring, from the open world and missions to the cutscenes and actual combat. None of your actions mean anything at all, and the game is padded out with this massive map with nothing to grab your interest.
For the sake of argument, I'm just going to present to you in bullet points some of the biggest problems with Dynasty Warriors 9 -- because you definitely wouldn't read them all written out in paragraphs:
- The world is big, empty, and boring
- There are 90 characters, but only 36 weapon types
- The English voice acting is abysmal (but Chinese and Japanese are available on PS4 at least)
- Every character essentially feels the same due to the new move system
- You can do a full elemental attack combo by using a special attack, then pressing attack into oblivion
- Sometimes when you try to use a finishing attack, a QTE finisher (gross), the game just doesn't register it at all and you dash at someone unrelated
- Playing through multiple stories is a chore because you tend to have to watch the same boring cutscenes over and over again
- There are so many bugs that listing them would be longer than this review
- Standard cutscenes are, once again, characters just standing there bloviating
Literally, every one of Han Dang's lines has him mentioning how
no one pays attention to him.
- I won't go into details on the endings, but let's just say most feel unfulfilling and are confusing for those not familiar with the Romance of the Three Kingdoms story
- Towns are difficult to navigate and NPC markers in towns, particularly dialogue NPCs, are rarely exactly where the map says they are
- There is absolutely no point to exploring because there is nothing to find but crates full of crap you find anywhere (or you can break the game and just buy outright)
- Hunting is a total joke
- Archery is busted; often you can just shoot humans' nameplates until you get lucky
- Enemies are not a challenge in the least, even on Chaos mode
- Enemies don't use special attacks or musous, ever
- Chaos mode officers' main lines of defense are rolling around and having disgustingly huge lifebars
- The game is so incredibly boring on Normal and Hard that you really have no choice but to play Chaos mode if you want some sort of challenge
- Spreading missions out wastes a ton of time
- Those same spread missions actually mean nothing, and you can just (usually) fast travel to the main objective, climb the town walls, and go straight for the target
- You can trivialize every mission's steps just by using the grappling hook
- The rain effect shows the rain as white over enemy lifebars, making them very hard on the eyes
- Enemies can be knocked into obstacles or into the water and stuck
- Hell, when you knock them into the water they just wade in place until you come near or push them out
- You get the best weapons just from currency grinding
- Currency grinding is unbearably slow unless you go out of your way to break the game
- There is no incentive to killing enemy officers that are not the mission objective -- ever
- There is no incentive to go off the beaten path and do your own thing
- Side quests are all pretty much the same thing (either the NPC wants an item or for you to go outside town and kill some enemies), and their rewards are not worth it
- The music is not remotely on par with the rest of the series
- There is a ton of slowdown, which is par for the course in the series, but especially bad at times
- After you finish a mission you have to wait for all the side dialogue to wrap up before the game recognizes you finished the mission
- Mission objective characters don't load until you've been right inside the mission area for a few seconds
- Sometimes the game will load a cutscene, then load again and let you move around for a little bit, then load another cutscene, then load another cutscene right after, then load you into another town and let you move around, then load another cutscene (this is not an exaggeration)
- The load times are atrocious when they stack like in the above situation
- Don't even get me started on the villagers working rice fields -- if you see them in-game, you'll know what I mean
- There is only one savegame at a time, and it's shared between Story and Free mode
- It honestly and truly looks terrible
Does this look like a big bitch-list? It is one, because Dynasty Warriors 9 is a horrible game. Can you imagine how long this review would be if I didn't condense the bad points above?
I don't like to write reviews where I complain the whole time, but this is an exception. I cannot find a single good thing about this game, not a single aspect I can say was even halfway decent. This is really and truly a reprehensible game -- and its sheer existence has made me reconsider my loyalty to Koei Tecmo and the Warriors brand.
They tried something new here, and the fact is, it didn't work. It doesn't work, and it's not going to work. Have you ever seen Koei Tecmo put out a big patch for a release? Hell no. You're going to have to cough up the dough for the Extreme Legends release or a Power Up Kit or a totally new version of the game with new bells and whistles.
As a nearly lifelong fan of Dynasty Warriors, I feel hurt that this game is so unapologetically bad. Romance of the Three Kingdoms 13 two years ago wasn't very good either, and it suffered from similar quality control and content issues.
One can't help but wonder if it actually is time to put these two series to rest, or if Koei Tecmo is trying to bury it themselves. No matter the case, Dynasty Warriors 9 is an absolute must not buy. Who cares what Extreme Legends is going to be like when they release a full-price game as busted and unloved as this one here.
[NoteDisclaimer: Koie Tecmo provided the copy of Dynasty Warriors 9 used in this review.]