LifeisXbox’s Dynasty Warriors 9 Empires review | Dynasty Warriors 9, released in 2018 introduced an open world environment to the franchise. This resulted in very mixed views from critics and fans of the long-running Dynasty Warriors series, including me. An extremely lifeless and repetitive world was to blame and fans got very upset with some characters changes. Both in appearance and removal of weapons, for example, one of my favourites Zhang He got rid of his Wolverine-like claws. Developer Omega Force had a lot to fix to make Dynasty Warriors 9 Empires good again for the loyal fanbase. Wolverine’s weapons for Zhang He are back, but that’s about the only positive I can say.
Let me first explain the massive changes compared to Dynasty Warriors 9 and Empires. Gone is the open-world approach, smaller stages make a return with a big focus on attacking or defending castles. Empires feature a lot more strategy-focused gameplay too. You can be a good warlord who is loved by the citizens or an evil tyrant who plunders villages for resources. Keeping an eye on your food supply, money income and army health is important for having a long-lasting dynasty. Nice idea but the execution could have been better, more on that later.
Most Memorable Moment
I’m a day one fan from Dynasty Warriors so I’m a bit upset and sad that my most memorable moment is my disappointment in Dynasty Warriors 9 and Dynasty Warriors 9 Empires. This is without a doubt the worst in the two decades-long series. Omega Force has a lot to fix and make up for when Dynasty Warriors 10 ever releases.
ℹ️ Reviewed on Xbox Series X | Review code provided by PR/publisher, this review is the personal opinion from the writer.
What we Liked!
- Dynasty Warriors core, the Musou gameplay | One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4, Samurai Warriors, Hyrule Warriors on Switch or Ninety-Nine Nights. If you ever played one of them you know exactly what a Musou game is. Your playable character(s) are like Sauron from The Lord of The Rings slashing your way through a large force of enemies, no doubt repetitive but so much fun at the same time. The 1 vs 10.000 feelings has remained one of the main attractions of the Dynasty Warriors franchise, especially with all the different fun characters. I do wish that there was a bit more than the same attacking and defending pattern, you’ll literally be doing the same thing over and over again. As attackers try to spawn catapults or rams that breach gates and as the defenders take over bases outside your castle to lure the enemy leader. Gameplay luckily keeps DW9 Empires afloat but there is no excuse for some of the bad things that can be found here.
- Character creation mode | While this ain’t like Cyberpunk 2077, you can’t change the penis size, it is still an impressive character creation tool. If you have the desire you can create your own fighters for an entire Kingdom, no need to take over 90 pre-existing warriors. Male or female the options are immense, it is a shame that there isn’t a rewarding system to unlock more clothing options but the choice is large enough. You can create chubby characters like Xu Zhu, older looking people like Cheng Pu or Zuo Ci, warriors on steroids like Lu bu or very attractive looking characters like Zhurong. She’s always been a videogame crush of mine… if you look her up you will know why…
- Lack of content | As always, the story comes from the Three Kingdoms War that took place around 220 A.D. For this empires version, the story mode from Dynasty Warriors 9 is completely gone. Instead, you can pick a period and control the armies that take place in that scenario. Not much story is to be found as you only have one task, take control from all regions. A few poorly animated cutscenes happen to give you an idea of what is going on but they are laughably bad. That’s the only thing that the game has on offer, it is very barebones with no option to quickly launch a battle or anything worth mentioning.
What we Disliked
- Crazy bad optimised for Xbox Series X|S | Technical stuff in this release is what I consider crazy. I don’t think a worse optimised game exists on Xbox Series X|S. One of the nicest things about this console generation is the complete removal or very short loading times. Dynasty Warriors 9 Empires however has a shocking amount of different loading screens. An abundance of loading happens for the weirdest reasons, it even happened in the middle of a game (unintended as the bar was a debug version). Cutscenes even load texture details late, kinda as you had with Unreal Engine games on Xbox 360. If you played PUBG in the early days and jumped out of the plane the buildings often didn’t load entirely, this is exactly what is happening here. That’s far from the only technical issue, there is an insane amount of environment pop-in when you run around. More annoying is that when I pressed the Xbox guide button to go back to the dashboard, to check Achievements or a message and returned to the game my controller always refused to work. Hopefully, that last issue will be fixed with a patch ASAP.
- Visually really poor | As I mention elsewhere DW9 Empires features some insane pop-up and slow loading textures that mess up a lot of the charm. This is really weird to witness as a previous Omega Force release from a few months ago was such a nice visual experience. I’m talking about Samurai Warriors 5 (REVIEW) which I scored 85%. The difference between quality is night and day here! Dynasty Warriors 9 Empires looks like a backwards compatible game from the early years of Xbox One, animations remind me about Pinocchio and the overall quality has an unfinished look. Harsh words I know but as a Dynasty Warriors fan I’m a bit offended by how little effort this game received.
- Long periods of menu scrolling | There are more menu’s in this game than enemies on screen, that’s saying much. Almost everything is done with menu screens. Resources, progression in time, load-outs, sabotaging an enemy army, finding new recruits, getting more food or money. Navigation screen after navigation screen and making things worse all of them have a small loading time. There is simply too much time wasted, I play a Musou game for fighting battles not being stuck on endless menu options. This also counts for interacting with other officers, the more you talk with them the better the relationship. not that there is a strong reason for that as there is little to no reward for being close to other officers. I simply gave up on doing these pesky tasks as it was always the same fifteen-second cutscene.
- A large open world is still present but completely useless | If Omega Force publishes a statement tomorrow that the open world was still present by mistake I wouldn’t be surprised. When you go on a stroll to talk with NPC’s in the player’s castle you can venture outside and venture out and explore. The real joke here is that there is still stuff to be found that the original Dynasty Warriors 9 used for collectables and story related progress, so it really looks like a mistake that players can explore the world. There are absolutely zero reasons for that though, nothing interesting will happen and the game is so ugly that nothing rewarding will be found.
How long to beat the story | 8 hours
How long to achieve 1000G | Around 20 hours
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