Dynasty Warriors 8 Empires Review
Build a civilization, or die trying
Despite my many praises for the core Dynasty Warriors games, most recently being Dynasty Warriors 8 XTREME LEGENDS Complete Edition, there are still many players who dismiss the games for their repetitive nature. And while I certainly understand where they're coming from, though I could argue that the games are much more than that, there is always a follow-up to each core title that infuses the game with a deeper layer of strategy. Dynasty Warriors 8 Empires is the latest from Tecmo Koei and Omega Force that once again brings the large cast of warriors from the Warring States period, and allows you to shape their future as you see fit.
DW8E can seem daunting at first, as the game doesn't really have a true tutorial system to teach you how to play the game. The fact that I'm complaining about a lack of tutorial should give you a clue that this is not another simple Dynasty Warriors game. Empires is much more about strategizing your every move, your month to month choices of your commander and their followers, building relationships, gaining new allies and even making new enemies. It's weird to think that more time is spent in empire management screens than on the battlefield.
Empires comes with a host of editors. Everything from an in-depth character creator, to a horse editor, troop editor, etc. It's truly one of the most customizable Dynasty Warriors experiences, and lives up to its name for allowing you to build up an empire in your own image.
The game allows you to start your empire with your own unique character, or pick any of the previous famous warriors and start their quest for power. Unlike previous Dynasty Warriors games where battles were very loosely based on historical accuracy, in Empires, the world is yours to shape.
The game plays out month over month, giving you many options in how to proceed. You'll start as a vagrant but slowly you'll have means of amassing money, troops and even notable warriors to join your cause. You'll have options to ally with nations for specific amounts of time, giving you slight boosts in troop count, or you can opt to overthrow various established empires once your own is big enough to succeed. Of course in doing so makes you a prime target for neighboring empires who wish to expand. It's a constant back and forth, a ever changing shift of power that you have to be mindful of.
Your month-to-month choices also carry a lot of weight in terms of how you're viewed among your people. The Virtue stat can increase or decrease based on your actions, and thus can make you a loved ruler worshipped by his people, or a fearsome tyrant. A large part of Empires is actually listening and choosing to either obey or rebel. By listening to advice from the War Council, you can gain favor in future turns and likely sway another ruler's opinion. However, you also have the option to be rebellious and forge your own path. This translates into battles as well.
When it does come finally take up arms and join in battle, not much has changed from Dynasty Warriors 8. You still have the option to bring two different weapons into battle, which is necessary to exploit enemy weaknesses. Battles can range from small skirmishes where all you're tasked with is killing a few generals or thinning the Tiger population a bit, all the way to large scales massacres with thousands of soldiers waiting to fight for their land.
During battle you'll be tasked with listening to direct orders of higher ranking officials. It's often beneficial to listen and act upon them as they'll not only grant you a better standing with said officials, but you'll be awarded with various titles. The end goal here being that at some point you'll be the one issuing orders to make battles more streamlined for you, and not needing to run across the entirety of the map just to dispatch an enemy officer.
Stratagem cards are also an important aspect of battles as they can turn the tide for you and your army. While there are some that only provide you with various boosts to attack or musou gauge, there are also Stratagems that can easily help you overtake bases, a great tactic when you're being outnumbered.
Graphics-wise, the game looks fantastic on the PlayStation 4, with sharper textures and gorgeous shadow work, bringing each character to life more than ever. Oddly, I still think Samurai Warriors 4 looked a bit better, which released at the end of last year.
There is a lot of content in Dynasty Warriors 8 Empires, more than you can wrap your head around. If you tire of same old Dynasty Warriors experience and you want a more Civilization-like experience, then Dynasty Warriors 8 Empires certainly delivers.