Game Review: Dynasty Warriors 8 Xtreme Legends Complete Edition
TecmoKoei always keep their fans coming back for more. Each and every iteration of their Dynasty Warriors series contain various expansion-like editions that provide more features, missions, generals, and so on. Dynasty Warriors 8 was the latest entry into the Romance of the Millions of Dynasty Warriors games, and their Xtreme Legends Complete Edition for the Playstation suite is definitely true to form. As masters of fostering level grinding, TecmoKoei’s new version of DW8 certainly adds more beef to an already meaty and at times tedious offering. Still, fans of the Dynasty Warriors genre (and oh yes, it basically is its own genre now) will be glad to know that this is the best DW version to date. At least until they release the ‘Empires’ version of course.
First things first, if you are not already a Dynasty Warriors fan you are probably not going to find anything in this edition of DW to make you love it. This is not how these new ‘versions’ roll. Instead, the Xtreme Legends portion of the series have often come across as more of a ‘fan service’ kind of expansion. In detail this means that Koei uses this version to characterize and add more fabled generals and historic battles that typically weren’t reimagined or recreated in Dynasty Warriors games in the past. As a quick note, Dynasty Warriors 8 Xtreme Legends Complete Edition does this by adding a whole story mode section for one legendary general in particular named Lu Bu. Other generals/characters (around 5) are added to the playable roster bringing DW8XL’s total to 82. As the strongest general in the storyline and probably the game, it is quite interesting to get a mode that fleshes out the journey that this juggernaut of a general took. Oh yes, Lu Bu’s devastation is back and better than ever.
Still, TecmoKoei and Omega Force doesn’t stop there. Five characters and a new story mode do not a ‘Complete Edition’ make. One of the things that made DW8 great was the addition of hypothetical missions and events. Typically, each DW battle would play out exactly the same. The typical events for certain fabled battles would happen or be triggered and the storyline for the game would progress the same. This go around, Koei allows and encourages for history to be changed without the need for a Delorean. Certain missions will have events and triggers that can be achieved to unlock all new battles or events that create an all new destiny for the fabled generals and the dynasties they’ve pledged allegiance to. DW8XL adds more of these hypothetical missions and events throughout the story and free modes. Personally, somewhere in there, I’d love to see the Five Tiger Generals of Shu go on to unify the land.
Certain modes have been enhanced as well. The Ambition mode probably saw the most changes. The first thing I noticed was that certain difficulties of the missions had drastically reduced time limits which force you to prioritize where you go and what you go after. The mode is also intended for you to build up your home base so that you can impress the emperor and do something. Though I’ve never achieved this feat, apparently a new objective has been added to this mode that sounds similar to ‘Empires’. Once you’ve built up your base to 100%, you are instructed to advance upon enemy territories and unify the land.
Addition of this mode in the standard DW8 was a little questionable to begin with. It was clear that the mission lengths were shorter and that it was an opportunity to unlock more playable generals and weapons as well. With the addition of this new objective it kind of makes you question how and if they’ll venture into the Empires build of Dynasty Warriors which traditionally is the version that die hard action strategy fans long for. While this objective adds replayability, its inclusion hopefully doesn’t provide the skeleton for Empires which should be a much more involved strategy experience. The addition of this objective just feels like… well, more ‘stuff’ to do.
Also, there was the addition (meaning this is available in the Free Mode as well) of the Leadership ability. Increasing the level of this skill allows you to take on more than one bodyguard. To do so, you are supposed to issue commands to these bodyguards such as secure location, setting traps, reinforcing a base, and much more. They also provide other battlefield bonuses and tactics that are activated at the correct times. Odd thing is that the increase of this skill is relatively easy. As long as you manage to issue a command to these generals, you gain the experience. The success or effectiveness of the generals in affecting the battle isn’t necessarily a consideration when you are awarded XP.
Again, I admire the addition of tactical features such as this in the game, but the final product is definitely lacking. At the normal difficulty levels, features such as these seem to have little value aside from simply leveling up a character. In the grand scheme of things, this feature really only allows you to command the playable generals in the game rather than the ‘no-name’ generals who are without a doubt weaker. With that said, the use of these bodyguards are imperative to your success at higher difficulty levels.
“But Bunneh, why would I even bother with playing the higher difficulty levels?” you ask. Well, my DW friends, as most fans may know, these higher difficulty levels provide greater chances of landing stronger and more powerful weapons and mounts. The higher the risk, the greater the reward. This makes you wonder what rewards await with the addition of the new Ultimate difficulty level along with the lifting of the character level cap from 99 to 150. With the addition of this level there is also the addition of the ‘sixth level’ weapons for each and every weapon type (of which there are unique weapon types for EVERY playable general). Remember, with these different weapon types, every general also is now granted TWO EX attacks or special combos that only that general that specializes in that weapon can do. While every general can wield every weapon, only certain generals can pull off certain combos with select weapons. This is important to the gameplay given the DW8 affinity system which will at times force players to switch weapons in order to defeat certain generals or achieve bonus goals or achievements.
Still, with the addition of these sixth level weapons, it would be nice if the missions somehow notified you of the presence of the weapon or let you know of the opportunity to find these weapons. Instead, you are left with hunting down the specific mission event requirements that must be achieved in order to unlock these weapons. Also, you can now upgrade weapons with Weapon Fusion in the Blacksmith in Ambition Mode, or with the “Weapon Options” command in Free Mode. Here, this allows you to have more control in crafting that ultimate weapon with just the right attributes you want for whatever weapon you want. This is done with the use of weapon gems which are found through playing the Challenge and Ambition Modes.
When it comes to the Challenge Mode, everything has a few tweaks including the addition of online rankings. Breaking local high scores or reaching a certain position in each of these modes provides you with loot in the form of weapons or mounts as well.
The impressive part of all of this is that TecmoKoei has made this version of the game have cross-platform save compatibility. Do you know what this means? Well, in short, it means that, finally, the PS Vita version of DW8XL is a TRUE port rather than a stripped down version of the console. Couple that with cross-platform multiplayer play and you have a commendable next gen experience that allows you to Musou your way away from home just as you would AT home. Considering the IMMENSE replayability and grinding required for achieving everything in this game, you would almost NEED to have a VITA version of this game to assist you in getting everything. The detailed and colorful costumes and attacks that TecmoKoei put together pop and beautifully streak across the Vita screen in an impressive way. It is quite impressive to see the detail of both the generals and their fantastically anime styled super powered attacks blur the Vita screen and devastate the poor AI soldier drones that populate the battlefield. Dynasty Warriors fan will be thrilled to take this version on the road with them to continue their KO streaks away from home.
While we weren’t able to test out the Playstation 4 version of the game, apparently there is a PS4 exclusive feature available. With the PS4’s share button, a live stream can be initiated where friends and strangers can watch your gameplay. Apparently they can also support your gameplay as they watch as well. They can drop bonus items to help your cause or they can dump MORE enemies upon you making your battle harder. While this sounds like a great function to add, it will be interesting to see how many North American users will use this feature. It is already a bit difficult to find multiplayer co-op matches online with the game.
Whether you find Dynasty Warriors boring or pointless or not, there is one undeniable fact about DW8XL. This Complete Edition is jam packed with more level grinding, loot finding, secret unveiling, and high score surpassing than most games can fit into one package. With its rare addition of local AND online coop as well as cross-platform saves, DW8XL is a powerhouse of replayability. Literally hundreds of hours can be spent in this digital Chinese fantasy where colorful Lu Bunneh3000 will be waiting for you on the battlefield!