Those who have kept an eye on my reviews over the past three years will know I’m a massive fan of the Dynasty Warriors series, and have been since all the way back with Dynasty Warriors 2 on the PlayStation 2. The third-person action series renowned for its endless waves of enemies and sheer amount of people on-screen has been a guilty pleasure of mine for years, one of those games that gets a new iteration every few years based more on evolution than revolution.
First, the good: the character models have taken a very obvious visual step up. Faces are more defined and expressive, and colours are far more vibrant. The signature colours of Shu (green), Wu (red), Wei (blue) and Jing (light blue) really pop on the exquisitely designed apparel of the various generals from the Three Kingdoms era. The scenery has also seen a marked visual upgrade, although not to the same extent as the character models. Animations have also seemingly improved, looking much smoother and more fluid.
The bad, however, is the framerate. While it’s nice that the game looks better and is more visually appealing, that comes at the expense of many precious, precious frames. Dynasty Warriors is a series all about the speed and fluidity of its combat, chaining combos together to rack up huge chains and K.O. counts. Unfortunately, Dynasty Warriors 8 XL: Complete Edition’s framerate has a tendency to take a nose dive in areas with significant amounts of particle effects, and this happens almost every stage. The worst of it was in the game’s very first stage, where the framerate in an entire area was far below 30fps, in a game that should be running at a solid 60. This leads to choppiness and slowdown, and while there’s no tearing, that’s little solace in these instances.
It’s unfortunate, because the gameplay is just so enjoyable. There are few pleasures in gaming like racking up 3000 K.O.s in a Dynasty Warriors game, mowing down wave after wave of enemy and stomping the officers with one of the 80+ generals available to play. Xtreme Legends adds five extra characters; Chen Gong, Fa Zheng, Lu Lingqi, Yu Jin and Zhu Ran. One of the most impressive things about the Dynasty Warriors series is the sheer amount of weapon types and combat styles on offer, and Xtreme Legends takes that even further. Every character feels different, offering a tonne of variety and longevity. There are an insane amount of different weapon types to try.
Other additions to Xtreme Legends include a new difficulty mode called “Ultimate” – which I can assure you you’re probably never going to play unless you’re a straight-up masochist. This expanded options and gameplay in the Ambition mode – a mode where you operate and maintain a camp, upgrading it as you go by fighting successive battles, new hypothetical scenarios, a campaign mode focused on the story of Lu Bu and the return of the series’ Challenge Mode. There’s quite a decent amount of content there for your money, and when you add in the fact that the base game is included as part of the package, the value proposition becomes even better.
The standard extras are also included. The encyclopaedia feature covers the Romance of the Three Kingdoms story and its generals extensively, and the gallery option allows you to view artwork, movies and character models at your will. There are a large variety of costumes for characters, with some more available through DLC should you so desire, although that’s an expensive route to take.
The game also features Cross-Save and Cross-Play options between PS4, PS3 and Vita users allowing you to play online co-op between the systems and also take your progress to other systems with you, which is great. There is no Cross-Buy option however, so you’ll need to purchase another version of the game to avail of that offer.
I really enjoyed playing Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends: Complete Edition on PS4. While there are some definite technical issues which do impact gameplay significantly, it did give me hope for the series’ future on the now current generation of consoles. It’s also now available on PC, so those with powerful machines may have an easier time with the framerate. If you’re willing to double dip, the Cross-Save feature allowing you to take your progress onto the Vita and vice versa is also an excellent addition, and one I hope we’ll see for the series going forward. It’s a little on the expensive side, but if you’re a Dynasty Warriors fan you’ll want to pick this up.