Omega Force and Koei Tecmo’s patented hack and slashing franchise is back again with Dynasty Warriors 8 Empires. It’s more of a variation of the traditional gameplay we have come to know oh too well now with the inclusion of strategy type gameplay and tonnes of customisation options.
Empires mode is the main attraction so we will start there. Unlike DW 8 Xtreme where you choose an era with its own warring factions then fight scenario after scenario, in Empires, you again choose an era but this time each era has different regions of China ruled by different factions and your goal is to take over China by invading enemy regions. These eras and wars are purely fictional; I mean how cool would it be if Chinese armies actually could cast magic spells and dress like Glam rockers. The customisation starts here. Some eras allow you to choose who rules where making up your own war. Customisation continues in Edit mode as you can create your own armies from scratch altering your officers, soldiers, your banner and even your trusty steed.
The nitty gritty though it’s the battles themselves which haven’t changed much sadly. Traditional DW gameplay remains mostly untouched with few notable improvements. Once again you roam a large battleground sorted into areas which are populated by your army in blue and the enemy in red. You yet again plough through hordes of enemy fodder to get to your objectives which may range from taking a particular outpost or stronghold or defeating a particular enemy officer. Despite the added strategy involved, Dynasty Warriors 8 Empires doesn’t do a great deal to discourage players from mashing those buttons. It gets mundane quickly boiling down to running to an area, mashing till all is gone, running to another area, mash mash mash, rinse repeat. The rock-paper-scissors system returns with each officer possessing two weapons which have to be carefully utilised to counter enemy officers, not mastering this will make the game more frustrating than it already is.
At the beginning of each battle, you can take on side missions which gives you more of a reason to explore and increases the challenge but you will soon find that even extra objectives doesn’t hide the repetition. All 83 characters from Dynasty Warriors 8 Xtreme Edition are here with the inclusion of Xun Yu, sounds amazing to have all those characters to choose from until you realise they all control the same with similar move sets and weaponry.
One up for DW 8 Empires is its visuals. On PS4, it looks nicely polished throughout with the character models looking marvellous but still the environments are nothing but empty battlefields. Grubby textures at times and random smashable objects give DW room for improvement. DW’s main attraction is cramming hundreds of characters on screen at once, Empires achieves this with flying colours but this does nothing to improve the aesthetic as it’s all been done many times before.
Character models look great.
Customisation is endless.
Dynasty Warriors action remains mostly unchanged...
...Dynasty Warriors action remains mostly unchanged.
Pointless tacked on strategy elements.
Poor story elements that fade into the background.
Too many key characters to keep up.
Mash, mash, mash.
After 8 main games and loads of spin offs, Dynasty Warriors 8 Empires tries to add strategy to its well-known button mash gameplay but it all feels far too familiar. Great looking game overall but a pretty face doesn’t hide the samey tedious interior...a bit like that fresh lick of paint on the front of your house.