Musou games have always done their own thing. Where most franchises have been forced to morph and evolve over the years, the Dynasty Warriors series has mostly remained the same. A living, breathing time capsule of arcade-inspired horde smashing that offers something cathartic with its repetition and structure. Omega Forces’ latest – Dynasty Warriors 9 – is none of these things.
In an attempt to reinvent the genre, Dynasty Warriors 9 has left the tried and tested segmented mission structure in lieu of something much more open world. Boasting a sizable portion of ancient China for you to explore, the game relishes in its new found freedom, blissfully unaware that without the order of a defined start and end to its activities, having to wade through swathes of nameless henchmen becomes meaningless.
Whereas previous entries would impose limits on time and units lost to give you the motivation to complete your objectives, this time around you are free to take a leisurely stroll towards your goal, stopping whenever you feel the need to pick up any number of pointless crafting materials.
Some of the greatest moments in games like these come from when you’re up against insurmountable odds. With more enemies than you could ever hope to count swarming the screen, the ensuing rampage through their ranks makes you feel empowered and legendary. It’s not clear whether concessions were made to allow for the open world, but Dynasty Warriors 9 lacks the same sense of scale.
Enemies are few and far between, and it’s rare to see more than three or four small groups on screen at any given time. And when you do get into a skirmish with enemy forces, it’s never a challenge. Enemy troops will often gather around you but rarely make an attempt to attack, and on the off chance that they do swing for you, the attack hardly ever connects.
It’s not just the small-scale skirmishes that seem meaningless either. The game is full of bloated side systems, from obtuse crafting mechanics to optional missions that are supposed to help you achieve your main goal of taking strongholds, there’s a distraction at every turn. These side events rarely pay off and stand as a testament to the lack of respect there is for your time.
Sure, liberating a nearby camp on the outskirts of the stronghold might allow more forces to show up when the final assault happens, but those troops are just as mindless as the enemy, and you’ll never really feel the benefit of putting in the work beforehand. And with the transition to an open world format, even more of your time will be spent simply travelling from battlefield to battlefield.
It’s clear that the Dynasty Warriors series was long overdue for an overhaul, but making the leap to an open world format seems to have only created a long list of problems while burying a lot of what makes Musou games unique. Marred by a litany of tasks and more graphical glitches than you can shake a stick at, this latest venture is less of a step up and more of a nosedive in the wrong direction.
Reviewed by Andy Moore
Developer: Omega Force
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Release: Out Now
Formats: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Price (RRP): £49.99