First of all, let me just say i’m happy Koei is continuining their historical strategy series in time, so i’m glad we’re getting another Nogunaga’s Ambition, but my taste lies more in their hack n slash musou titles based on the same historical periods of China and Japan, so i’m gonna unleash some thoughts on Dynasty Warriors 9 Empires i had for some weeks, after the first gameplay video shown at the China Joy event.
Preface: i often find the Empires spin-offs often quite hit or miss, great in theory but not always in execution, as it’s by design a compromise, it’s never gonna be proper deep strategy management like the Romance Of The Three Kingdoms series, otherwise there would be no point to that or them even being named after Dynasty Warriors.
The previous Empires incarnation, Dynasty Warriors 8 Empires wasn’t really good, at all, honestly it’s kinda indicative of the even lazier turn the company took in regard to their musou games, but this is different since it’s basically another Dynasty Warriors 6 situation, when the base game made changes that were not liked at all by most of the playerbase, so the Empires iteration had the chance to remedy on various departments, like unfucking the cloned officers weapons and reverting the combat system to the Charge one instead of the Renbu system.
Dynasty Warriors 9 Empires…. sadly doesn’t do that, despite the fairly huge backlash Koei didn’t bother to reimplement DW8 movesets, make new ones or even bring the old combat system back, one could easily tell from the first gameplay footage that yes, this still uses the crap combat system of the base DW 9, with the minor and expected implementations of the DLC weapons now apparently baked into the characters by default, so for example Lu Lingqui now uses her distinctive cross pike instead of the Xingcai sword and shield combo, and the DLC characters are available from the get go.
All expected since Empires titles traditionally have the complete cast of all the characters from the base game and XL expansion of the base DW numbered game they’re spun from, often with new characters, but not in this case, i guess because Omega Force couldn’t be arsed, as Koei did bring the Create A Warrior system back, with a fairly good character editor ribbed from NiOh 2, and you can basically create Oda Nobunaga here as well with that.
Other features are back or new for what concerns the Domestic/Strategy part of the game flow (like marriages and having offsprings), and as it was said the hack n slash gameplay action sequences would exist in the form of siege battles, elaborating on the idea from base DW 9 and forgoing the linked bases system found in most Empires spin-offs, with the idea of gaining (or defending) access to the enemy base by either escorting the siege ram (or ladder) or using catapult bases to defeat archers that impede you using the grappling hook ability to enter the base.
There are some option for comands, a triangle type weaknesses-strenght relation as officers now belong to either Cavarly, Infantry or Archery, each with some extra quirks, and the Stratagems are back, not surprising since they were in DW 8 Empires and DW 7 Empires before that, but it’s DW 9 after all, so it’s good to still have them.
Speaking of thing we already knew about the title before, there’s the fact they didn’t completely cut the open world element, and you will have some leeway to move about in some instances in a map to recruit new soldiers or officers. But even from the way they talked about what you could actually do in these “open spaces”, even before showing them, i wondered why they even bothered to implement this feature at all, as it is gonna be limited and sound more like a chore, something that could be done by navigating some menus instead with the same result.
Now we also have a release date set to be final aside from “2021” (after the delay), just in time for Christmas… in Japan, here in the west we’re gonna get it next year regardless (no release date announced for the localized versions at the time of writing). Not like i’m gonna preorder it, not after Samurai Warriors 5, but it seems they took their time with it even more than with DW 9 (which in retrospect could have been delayed a lot more, i can’t imagine the state it was in before Omega Force delayed it), i can say that much.
A demo seems to be planned or slated to arrive before the japanese release date, so if they make a demo for the localized version i’ll play and write something about it.
As of now, i just wish they moved unto Dynasty Warriors 10 or stop entirely for a while in order to actually revise and actually refresh the formula in a way that doesn’t suck.