For the past 18 or so years (allowing for development cycles), Dynasty Warriors has allowed those of the present to step into the shoes of those from the past. Not just anybody from the past mind you, I’m talking about historical figures, combatants in an ongoing struggle for power, soldiers of competing kingdoms. One might even go as far as to call them Dynasty Warriors.
As the addition of a subtitle would indicate, as well as it existing as a physically separate entity, Dynasty Warriors 8: Empires features a variation of gameplay from the initial title. However fear not Warriors fans, for the game still retains its chaotic battle style that pits you against armies of thousands in what can only be described as a fair fight (and in flagrant defiance of all human capabilities, both historic and otherwise). It is during these moments that the character you have deigned to control can truly showcase their fighting instincts, mastery of weaponry and the overall charisma that causes so many to stand behind them in a time of conflict…also how gosh darn awesome it is to take on a horde of soldier single handedly and come out on top.
But we’re not here to talk about the similarities between Dynasty Warriors 8 and Empires, but rather the differences that make it worth playing. To get right to the point, Empires is a more tactical variation upon the main entries in the franchise. Though the combat system remains the same, it is the time in between battles where Empires stakes its claim. Given control of a character of the time, you must devise and initiate strategy in order to strengthen your claim on the land, with the goal of eventually unifying it under your flag. Given the epic timeline of 50 years, you may undertake a single action per month, be it drafting troops into your army, garnering funds from the civilians who reside in your kingdom, training your officers and many other worthwile options. Therefore, you must determine what your army requires most desperately, whilst still maintaining a balance of virtue and personal strength, lest you weaken the faith of your followers.
Now admittedly, when I first began playing Empires, I felt a little lost amidst the slew of option that immediately followed me choosing my warrior (the bow wielding Zhu Ran). However, after spending a few months (in game) sifting through the options, I came to pretty quickly gain a grasp on what exactly I was doing, which is very important for a ruler to know. Though I began my campaign a roguish Free Agent, standing alone against a country of established armies, the game never felt unbalanced and I felt free to establish my forces a little before taking on the world. What I’m getting at here is that Empires takes a few turns to get used to, but in that time you can go from zero to hero. Like I did. Because I’m an awesome military tactician and incomparable leader…but don’t quote me on that.
Long story short, Dynasty Warriors 8: Empires gives you the all out mania that comes with swatting entire armies with one hand, as well as the calm, measured movements that come with strategy. The one caveat in my campaign that I have to mention is that I did not set aside enough time or resources to throw an extravagant banquet for my troops, with the sole purpose of boosting morale and simultaneously angering the kingdoms around me. Curse you time management! You have denied me a feast! Oh well, that’s just one of the harsh realities of war I suppose…
Dynasty Warriors 8: Empires is set to hit the shelves on February 26th. Do you have what it takes to lead an army to victory? I’m going to hazard a guess and say yes. If I can do it, then you can most assuredly do it better. Now onward to victory! (or whatever battle cry sounds the coolest in your head)