Review: Dynasty Warriors 8: Empires (Xbox One)

Reviewed by Krista Noren, posted Mar 10, 2015
Mar 10, 2015
  • Release Date (NA): February 24, 2015
  • Publisher: Koei Tecmo
  • ESRB Rating: Teen
  • Also For: PlayStation 4
  • Single player
    Local Multiplayer
    Online Multiplayer
Previous Dynasty Warriors games have been criticized for their repetitive gameplay. Has developer Omega Force changed things up enough to offer a fresh, and entertaining game? It’s time to find out.
Krista Noren
Unite your Empire!

Dynasty Warriors is a franchise known for its hack-and-slash style gameplay. This iteration of the series unites the familiar combat with the flair of turn-based strategy, creating an enjoyable experience.

Battlefield_XiaoQiao. Scenario_All_Shu. Scenario_BaoSanniang. Scenario_Brothers_Mates. Scenario_Children. Scenario_Council_Shu.

The main campaign, Empire Mode, will have you take control of an aspiring rogue looking to unite all of ancient China. There is an insane multitude of different officers to choose from, though they all control very much the same, with weapon proficiency and appearances being mildly different between each available character choice. A character creation option is also offered, providing a nice amount of customization, should you wish to create your own warrior.

After choosing which character you’d like to take control of, you’ll be swamped with a confusing array of menus. If you've never played a Dynasty Warriors game before, getting accustomed will take a while. There’s no clear explanation on what you’re supposed to do, and the many choices you are provided with only serve to confuse the player. Once you know what you’re doing, things get easier.

There are two portions to the gameplay: the turn-based menu strategy and the high-octane battles. The more action-oriented gameplay consists of going into battle and slashing through countless hoards of enemies, while the strategic elements are much slower-paced, and involves planning on how you want to lead up to the battles.

On the surface, the tactical gameplay appears to be fairly complex, but as you progress through the campaign, the depth of the strategy gives way and becomes a repetitive chore . Although, pushing the difficulty level up to the highest does alleviate the tedious gameplay issue. Each turn is represented by a month, where you’ll be presented with a menu that provides you with choices that will impact how the game flows. As a low-ranking officer, you’ll be taking orders from the higher-ups, and only fight when the game tells you to. When you get promoted to a high-rank officer, you can start making your own choices, from drafting soldiers to raiding enemy territory. There’s even a choice to backstab your ruler, and take control of the kingdom for yourself, giving you full control. Of course, you’re going to want to expand your empire at some point, and that’s where the other half of the gameplay kicks in.

Scenario_Council_Wei. EditMode_Banner1. EditMode_Character_All1. EditMode_Character_All2. EditCharacter_Battlefield2. EditCharacter_Battlefield3.

In order to take over a territory, you’ll have to battle it out with the opposing kingdom, either by raiding their bases, and weakening them slowly, or staging a full out invasion. The combat is fun, and there’s a good amount of combos you can pull off. Things do start to get repetitive, as they do in the strategy half, but once again upping the difficulty makes things less “button-mashy” and more interesting. It still comes down to hacking and slashing your way through tons of enemies though, which gives a great satisfaction from doing so.

If Empire Mode isn't enough for you, there’s the fantastic Edit Mode. This mode gives you meticulous control of how you want to play, from customizing your own playable officer, to making a custom horse that you can ride into battle on. You read that correctly: horse customization. It goes even further, allowing you to create your own Scenarios to play through, allowing for full command on how you want to play the game. You can even share Scenarios with other players, supplying you with near endless content.

Battle 1. Battle 2. Battle 3. Battle 4. Battle 5. Battle 6.

Visuals and Presentation:

Graphically, the game is “okay”. It doesn't do anything to push the hardware, but it doesn't look bad, either. While the game runs at 1080p, the environments don’t really look detailed, causing things to appear dull and bland. It’s complete mediocrity.

Texture quirks are quite common in cutscenes, and it gets distracting. The game runs smoothly while in battles, but the occasional menu will cause the game to slow down immensely, or even crash. I couldn't find reasoning for these slowdowns, but they were very, very jarring. Weapon menus in particular would bring the game far below 15FPS. It’s an appalling problem, and though it won’t cause too much grief, it needs to be addressed. This game, at least the non-combat portion, feels like it was programmed awkwardly. Loading character models to view in the Encyclopedia section is very slow and laggy. All of these issues come off as lazy, but luckily, they don’t impact the more important parts of the game.
Xiaoqiao 2.
Battle 7. Battle 8. Battle 9. Sun Quan. Wang Yi 2. Wang Yi.

It took about 15 hours to fully get used to the game and complete two storylines in Empire Mode. Even after that much time invested, there are countless different stories and modes to complete, meaning you’ll have plenty of content to play through, especially on the higher difficulty levels.
+ Great customization
+ Tons of content
+ Edit Mode
- Graphical glitches
- Repetitive gameplay
5 Presentation
Graphically, the game is bland. It’s not outright bad, but it’s not good either. At many times, character models and textures look like they were lifted from previous gen versions, looking sloppy and out of place.
7 Gameplay
The combat is downright fun. Tearing through enemies is a blast, and having control over what your empire does is great. The turn-based strategy is a little rough around the edges, but is still engaging.
8 Lasting Appeal
With many different weapon types and play-styles at your disposal, as well as a large amount of story campaigns, there’s a daunting amount of content to play through. Harder difficulty levels that require more effort give you an incentive to keep playing, if and when things start to get repetitive.
out of 10
Overall (not an average)
Dynasty Warriors 8: Empires manages to mix two largely different gameplay types into one game and makes it work. There’s a lot of content to play through, and a great amount of customization. It provides hours upon hours of content without getting too boring or repetitive.


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