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A Fine Example on How to not design a Open World Game

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    Dynasty Warriors 9

    Rating: 1.5 – Bad

    A Fine Example on How to not design a Open World Game


    I Have been playing Dynasty Warriors for 15 years and Koei was pretty much the poster child when it came to hack and slash games. But of course, you can only do one formula and refine it for so long and now after 7 entries, Koei decides to dip their toes in a new genre. Do they succeed? Or does this new experiment fail?


    Now, how did Koei change up their formula? While the core gameplay is still a hack and slash game where you kill thousands of soldiers, the levels are no longer in one location and the series now adopted a Open World formula. So think of games like Skyrim, Horizon Zero Dawn, and Witcher 3 where you can explore the entire map and do various activities. But the difference is the world those three games I mentioned was filled with life and you felt immersed when you were exploring them. Dynasty Warriors 9 feels empty and boring with little to do inbetween. The civilians feel lifeless as their only purpose is to give you radiant quests, but that is really it. Sure you can fish and hunt for animals, but that gets old really quickly. Now people will defend this game design by saying "But China was empty back during the Three Kingdoms Era", but this is also a video game. When you have a series that emphasizes "One vs One Thousand", that argument is thrown out the window and it just pales in comparison to most other Open World Games. The world is so boring that I fast travel most of the time when in the other games I rarely do that. Overall, the closed stages from the previous games are better since you can add ore life to them and you felt engaged when you were fighting in comparison to here where you will be spending most of your time running to your next main objective and half that time actually fighting.

    As for the fighting itself, the controls are mostly the same, but they changed the combo system to something called the "Flow" System. Just think of Dynasty Warriors 6 with it’s "Renbu" system, except the combos can last forever. I’ll admit the combat is more fun than before, so I give Koei credit for refining it and getting rid of that Triangle system from Dynasty Warriors 8.

    One more thing I want to add is the game also features a grappling hook, which allows you to bypass most of the enemies by simply jumping over the castle walls instead of going through the front gate. Yes this is optional, but the fact that this is a option proves even Koei doesn’t want you to spend a good amount of time in their new world.


    The graphics are a huge improvement over the previous entries. The landscape is beautiful, and Koei implemented a day/night cycle with different weather effects. Plus the character models look good and the musou animations are stunning. However, the framerate ruins all of this. Sure Koei has released several patches to fix this, but the framerate is still jarring to look at and this is especially disappointing because most other open world games have a steady framerate and stunning graphics. So at best, expect this game to run at 30 FPS.

    Voice Acting

    The VAs in this game is bad. Compared to DW8, which had some awesome voice acting, this game sounds like a bunch of untrained amateurs got together to quickly put together a English Dub. It’s pretty much as bad as Dynasty Warriors 3, but not as funny. This game would have been better if they just never bothered with a dub, especially if it sounds lazy. Luckily, the Japanese voices are there by default and there is also a Chinese voice option, so you are not forced to listen to the dub.


    How does Dynasty Warriors 9 handle the story mode this time? Unlike DW7 and 8 where it was kingdom based, DW9 went with individual stories this time.The problem with this approach is there are over 90 characters and each story can take up to a several dozen hours since most of the chapters are the same, but from a different perspective. It would have been better if they kept it like in DW8 so we still get a chance to play everyone equally, but not feel burdened by the sheer amount of characters to play. In a nutshell, this is the longest Warriors game to fully complete in the entire series.


    I feel the music in this game is the weakest. Even after putting in hundreds of hours, I could barely find any memorable music when compared to the previous games.


    Overall, Koei tries to appeal to gamers by trying something new after 20 years. However, this game feels very barebones when compared to other games of the same genre that were released before this one. Now I am not giving up hope as if Koei wants to still use the open world formula, they have a lot of fixing and tuning to do. There is a ton of potential here and maybe Koei will learn from the mistakes of this game and refine it for Dynasty Warriors 10. Until then, Dynasty Warriors 9 is fine example of the old phrase: "Don’t fix what’s not broken"

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