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Dynasty Warriors 8: Empires (PS4, Xbox One)
Game Reviews

Dynasty Warriors 8: Empires (PS4, Xbox One)

Dynasty Warriors fans will be in customized heaven; just remember there’s gameplay here, too.

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We’re beginning to reach the point where there are so many Warriors games that they outnumber the hapless mooks you slaughter while playing. Today we’re going to talk about Dynasty Warriors 8: Empires, a standalone expansion for last year’s Dynasty Warriors 8 that adds your own personal touch to the gameplay. Then we’re going to defeat it and hope it drops a new weapon. C’est la vie.

The name of the game here, as with the rest of the Empires titles, is customization. You can customize everything. EVERYTHING. You’ll spend hours creating all kinds of stuff and then remember that there’s actually a game. It’s mind-blowing.

Here’s an example: you can create your own customized army to lead. Your army will consist of a leader and up to ten subordinates, all of which you can create yourself, including their looks, gear, weapons, skills and stats. It’ll also have its own unique banner, soldiers and even a warhorse that you design, including the horse’s skills and stats. Once you’ve done all this, you can then do it several more times and design a custom scenario whereby your various custom armies full of custom dudes fight each other in mounted combat on custom warhorses. You want to ride around on Twilight Sparkle, wielding a flamboyant horsehair whip while dressed like a glam rocker? Knock yourself out. Again: mind-blowing.

Once you’ve got your custom everything finished, you can head off into a scenario and get to work. This is a simulation of one of several periods in the Three Kingdoms era, starting with the Yellow Turban Rebellion as usual. You’ll select an officer or army and do what you can to shift the tide in whatever direction you choose. You can play as a leaderless officer, selling your services to whoever you please, you can swear fealty to an existing army, or you can join with your sworn brothers and raise your own banner of conquest.

The systems involved in all of this are pretty complex, as you might imagine, and it’s definitely going to take some time to understand all the freedom you’re given. There’s a variety of paths to victory, however you choose to define that, and it’s up to you to select from them. When it comes to battle, the proceedings are pretty similar to the original DW8 – so they’re quick, stylish and a great time all around, especially when you add in the Strategem power-ups offered by Empires.

What’s the downside to all this insanity? Well, if you aren’t already a Warriors fan, this isn’t the place to start. Creating characters and such is neat, but the actual gameplay (beyond “mash buttons to kill hundreds of dudes”) can be a little difficult to get a handle on without some previous experience with the series. You have to manage resources, troops, alliances, structure creation and all manner of other variables. What’s more, you really need to have an idea of who all these Chinese people are to have a chance of understanding the significance of anything that happens in the game. The original does a slightly better job of explaining itself.

New players might be better off with the original Dynasty Warriors 8 to start the party off with. Series diehards, though, simply can’t go wrong with this endlessly customizable Dynasty Warriors 8: Empires. If that sounds like your bag then feel free to make a created version of Popzara managing editor Nathan Evans and trample him with your flowery pink warhorse. It’s great stress relief.

About the Author: Cory Galliher