Developer: Omega Force
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: December 27, 2018 (Worldwide)
It’s hard to believe, but the Dynasty Warriors series has been running for over twenty years now. Other than the first entry, which was a Street Fighter-esque fighter, they are action based hack-and-slash titles which were designed to be more action-oriented spin-offs for the turn-based strategy series Romance of the Three Kingdoms. I’ve always had a soft spot for this series starting with Dynasty Warriors 2 and the non-stop action, coupled with some corny elements provided an entertaining gaming session sifting through thousands of enemy soldiers. Thankfully, Koei Tecmo and developer Omega Force have brought over the series to the Nintendo Switch with Warriors Orochi 4, and now this is the first of the main series to land on the console with Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Complete Edition.
Dynasty Warriors 8 was originally released back in 2013 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 with the Xtreme Legends Edition, which included new expansions such as additional story elements and new characters, releasing in 2014. Dynasty Warriors 8 revolves around hand-and-slash action and is based on real historical figures of the era. The main part of your playing time will be spent in Story Mode, which is a vast and expansive mode that sees you playing as a huge variety of characters from different factions of the Three Kingdoms era.
The story takes historical text and tells its own tale with it using real historical characters. You will switch between these characters and the factions as the story progresses, allowing you to experience how the narrative unfolds from a number of perspectives. At the start of each new area, you’ll take charge of your chosen general and be given an objective to complete. The objective will see you traveling the map, battling unrelenting hordes of enemies at a time and claiming each stronghold for your faction as you progress through a stage.
Within the map, there will be non-playable allies for you to assist, as well as enemy generals that will need to be defeated. Objectives will be updated as you go along and some of these goals may change depending on which of the available characters you’ve chosen. This may sound very familiar to anyone who has played a Warriors title before.
Each character has two weapons available to them and you can switch between them in a blink of an eye with the press of the R button. This mechanic is very important as switching to your secondary weapon at the end of a combo will enable you to further expand the combo and inflict greater damage against enemy generals. The Musou ability also makes a return and act as you would expect an area-clearing super move to perform. These are powered by the Musou meter located under your health bar and by pressing the A button will unleash a powerful and unique attack for each of the characters.
You are also able to unleash Rage mode, started from Dynasty Warriors 8. When your Rage meter is full clicking the right analog stick will see you enter Rage mode where your stats significantly increase making you extremely powerful and your Musou meter will merge into one longer bar enabling you to perform a Rage attack holding down the A button. This will end once you use the Musou special or when the Rage bar reaches the end. By pressing the X button after a combo, you will perform a follow-up attack, specific to a particular weapon type.
In terms of more standard attacks, pressing the Y button will have you perform a light attack, whereas pressing the X button performs a heavy attack. Using a variety of different light and heavy attacks will allow you to string combos together. Your characters weapons will each have an Affinity associated to them, including Heavens, Earth, and Man. These Affinities act in a rock-paper-scissors style with Man being more effective than Heaven, Heaven more successful against Earth, and Earth more effective against Man.
Coming up against a general whose weapon is infused with an Affinity which is weak to yours will see an opportunity to engage them in Storm Rush mode. This is signified by a blue symbol above the generals head and will result in a multi-hit attack being performed. Conversely, meeting a general whose weapon Affinity beats yours will call for a switch counter move having to be performed. Pressing the R button to switch your weapon just as the enemy is about to strike will break the defense and give you the upper hand.
These little tactical nuances elevate the base game above its repetitive hack-and-slash reputation. Playing Xtreme Legends in anything above Easy difficulty will see a necessity in mastering, or at least becoming competent in these additional moves. To add a further level of complexity, you are also able to upgrade and reforge weapons in order make them stronger and keep the ones you like without them becoming too weak. Some weapons can even be infused with powerful gems that can be gained by dismantling the various weapons you have accrued over time.
After playing some of Story mode, other modes include Free Play and Ambition modes. Free Play allows you to pick from any of the scenarios and characters already unlocked, as well as choose a faction and undertake these levels in a slightly different way. Ambition mode however, is more about trying to build a village that is worthy of a visit from the Emperor’s castle. In order for this to happen you must raise villages status by partaking in battles and gaining the spoils-of-way that you claim. Finally, there is a Challenge mode with more streamlined tasks to be performed. Tons of extras can be perused after taking part in some battles with neat Gallery mode, allowing you to get a closer look at all of the character models.
This Definitive Edition adds new story quests centering around the legendary character Lu Bu. Other minor expansions are included as well, with increased weapon rosters, costumes, and characters in Xtreme Legends. The number of characters for this version now stands at a staggering 83 and on top of all this, there is also a local two-player split-screen mode. Everything ran smoothly playing with a friend and adds a great deal of longevity to what is already a feature-packed title.
As for the graphics, Xtreme Legends running on the Switch works well and is another example of a port done right. Cutscenes look great and it really is extremely impressive when you consider how much detail and attention has gone into creating a huge roster of characters that all feel different and have been individualized to a satisfying extent. This extends to the personal animations for each character’s Musou moves and though some of the characters have some rough edges when displayed closer during cutscenes, it’s still a very impressive what they accomplished. I was also impressed by the lack of slowdown whether playing in handheld mode or docked. There was some pop-up, but with the amount of enemies on-screen at once this was bound to happen.
The audio perfectly encapsulates the grandiose nature of a battle in musical form without falling too far into cheesy which the Warriors series is known for. Voice acting can be kept in English, but there is an option to change this to the Japanese voices if you so choose. While the traditionalist in me loves the natural Japanese voices, it was too difficult to keep track of your next objective as the test that accompanies the voice acting can be difficult to see in the heat of battle.
Overall, Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Complete Edition is an immensely fun, albeit repetitive, and feature packed hack-and-slash title that has held up surprisingly well despite its age. I’m happy to see these Musou games coming out for the Switch, joining fellow action-packed games Hyrule Warriors and Fire Emblem Warriors. If you can look past the repetitive nature and light corny elements with the story and voice acting, Xtreme Legends will definitely keep you busy for a long time and comes highly recommended.
THE VERDICT: 8/10
*Review Key Provided by Koei Tecmo
Should you wish to check out another of our reviews, you can do so by clicking here.