A spin off of Dynasty Warriors 9, Dynasty Warriors 9 Empires allows you to live a dramatic Three Kingdom experience playing as 94 of Dynasty Warriors 9’s most famous and featured officers. Combining musou combat and strategic planning, Omega Force and Koei Tecmo bring the latest entry in the Empires series to PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, PC and Google Stadia.
Dynasty Warriors 9 Empires Details
Platform(s): PS5, PS4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC and Google Stadia
Reviewed on: Google Stadia
Developer(s): Omega Force, Koei Tecmo Games Co., LTD.
Publisher: Koei Tecmo Games Co., LTD.
Genre: Action, Simulation, Strategy
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
An epic retelling of the 14th-century novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms
Dynasty Warriors 9 Empires retells the story of Romance of the Three Kingdoms in the series of 13 chapters. As you begin the game you have a choice between playing as one of the three patriarchs of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms: Liu Bei, Cao Cao, and Sun Jian. The game features scenarios that as you play, transports you to different periods, enabling you to play through historic moments like the Yellow Turban Rebellion and the Battle of Chibi.
What makes the series great is that you have the choice between following history or re-writing it in order to be successful. This allows you to write history in so many unique ways such as unifying China with all officers from Wu still alive, or by assembling your favourite officers into one command, or even by sparking a rebellion to take control of the map!
You go on missions to break through enemy fortresses in the all-new evolved castle siege, or play politics behind-the-scenes, setting up logistics and alliances while formulating secret plans in your quest to dominate the kingdom. If you are a fan of the 14th-century novel, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which is part fictional and part historical, you’ll be in heaven and right at home with this game.
Dynasty Warriors 9 Empires consists of two primary gameplay phases. I’ll start by talking about the most straightforward of the two, musou combat. In this phase, you control your chosen combatants in your conquest to take over enemy territories, protecting your own and storming enemy strongholds. These musou combat sequences are typical of the Dynasty Warriors mainstream games, but they are gradually distributed in Empires.
The map variety in Dynasty Warriors 9 Empires is somewhat lacking, with the exteriors of the strongholds being incredibly repetitive. However, the combat itself is engaging thanks to the amount of customization that is available. Moreover, each character controls uniquely thanks to weapon choice being a distinct factor and combat builds adds variety to these systems.
Additionally, equipment can be equipped with gem artefacts, which offer a variety of combat benefits, such as induced elemental damage and contextual bonuses. And, there are Secret Plans, which are skills that you can activate during battle with varying cooldowns. Benefits include granting buffs, restoring health, or simply dealing out damage. Finally, musou-centric special skills are also usable, though they have expected recharge times.
Strategic decisions await
The second gameplay phase relates to the “Empires” part of the game’s name—via strategic decisions. The game’s conquest mode is the central part of the Dynasty Warriors 9 Empires experience. Here, you choose between different eras varying in militant and political climates and where planning begins.
While the game does offer a variety of tutorials to help those new to the series, there is quite a bit to read and honestly can be quite overwhelming. During these strategic decisions, you are given the opportunity to either agree with no changes or suggest changes. My advice for beginners in these situations is to make changes to objectives that are presented that better suit your particular playstyle. While this doesn’t always ensure victory, it allows you to become accustomed to gameplay.
The real meat and potatoes of the decision making comes with Domestic Affairs, Human Affairs, Diplomacy, Military Affairs, Battle, Stroll, Buy, and Rest as part of the war council. In these instances, I suggest newcomers to stick with default objectives without making changes. This helps ease into the gameplay flow without feeling so overwhelmed. As you become more familiar and comfortable with the game, you can begin to experiment to further understand these gameplay mechanics.
Standard visuals with distinct territories
Visually, the game’s cutscenes are beautifully presented. Additionally, each territory has its own distinct qualities. Battles in the south west feature tropical forests and battles in the north west take place in the desert. On the other hand, battles in the east take place in giant castles that tend to be grander in scope.
In game visuals are nothing to write home about. The character models during combat are standard fare and fairly basic. The game reuses character models for some of the minor troops which becomes quite noticeable the longer you play.
Dynasty Warriors 9 Empires offers a few modern elements for long-time fans
If you are a fan of the Empires series of games, Dynasty Warriors 9 Empires will surely be right up your alley. However, if you enjoy more musou action of the Dynasty Warriors series, this game is probably not for you. There is an incredible amount to learn and take in, which can be extremely overwhelming. However, if you have the time and patience and are willing to put the work in, there is a deep strategic title waiting.
One could also argue that Dynasty Warriors 9 Empires could easily have been DLC for Dynasty Warriors 9. There isn’t a whole lot that has been added to consider this a fully-fledged sequel.
+ Compelling combat system
+ Deep rich strategic gameplay
+ The ability to rewrite history the way you see fit
+ Epic retelling of the 14th-century novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms
+ Hours upon hours of gameplay
– No online play
– Not enough new features and elements to consider it a fully-fledged sequel
– Average looking visuals with some reused character models
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF DYNASTY WARRIORS 9 EMPIRES
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4/5