Let’s play the Dynasty Warriors 9 Empires demo!

I am a Warriors fan, but for one reason or another I have never gotten around to trying Dynasty Warriors 9. I know that a lot of people really hate it, but I have always been curious to give it a try for myself.

With the impending release of Dynasty Warriors 9 Empires here in the west, and the recent release of a demo for various console platforms, I thought it was high time I corrected this oversight and gave it a go. And, for some reason, I thought it might be interesting to see this game at what is potentially its absolute worst by trying out the Nintendo Switch version of the demo.

Join me on a new adventure!

First things first: the Edit Mode in this game is great. You can customise characters to an enormous degree, and then take them into the main game. Even in the demo version, there is a lot of flexibility in terms of picking colours, hairstyles, clothing and armour, and you can produce a pretty wide range of different possible looks. This is very mcuh a good thing — particularly in a game like this, where you’ll spend a lot of time controlling your character, building them up and becoming attached to them.

Once into the actual battle gameplay, first impressions were, of course, not all that favourable — though I was never expecting them to be. Some Warriors games work absolutely fine on Nintendo Switch — Dynasty Warriors 8 runs really well, for example, as do the Hyrule Warriors games — while others have clearly been optimised for more powerful platforms. The original release of Dynasty Warriors 9 was notorious for chugging quite a bit, and, as you might expect, the Nintendo Switch’s limited capabilities certainly don’t help in this regard.

As for the gameplay, though, once I started to get my head around the very different way in which Dynasty Warriors 9’s combat is implemented compared to its predecessors, I found myself having a lot of fun. The emphasis on using “trigger attacks” with follow-up combos feels almost RPG-esque at times with the amount of damage it’s possible to do, and the contextual finishing attacks and counters you can perform in the heat of battle are super-satisfying, too. Before long, I wasn’t really thinking about the jaggies in the graphics and the dodgy frame rate; I was just enjoying myself.

And getting my ass kicked, of course. The training scenarios provided in the demo are seemingly quite hard — or I’m just shit. One or the other. I’m pretty good at Warriors games normally, but the core mechanics of this one are so fundamentally different to the entire rest of the series that I felt a little off-balance — particularly when placed under time pressure, such as during the “stop the juggernauts being built” sequences in both the siege and defence battles available in the demo.

One thing the demo doesn’t show much of is what we can expect from the actual “Empires” side of things — I’m certainly interested to see the full version and check that out.

For the unfamiliar, the “Empires” spinoffs of the various Warriors subseries typically de-emphasise the story-based side of things in the mainline titles in favour of a grand strategy layer. You then participate in the battles that crop up as a result of your decisions in the overall strategic layer, giving the whole thing something of a more “freeform” feel than mainline Warriors games.

I suspect that this format will actually end up being a good fit with Dynasty Warriors 9, and that Dynasty Warriors 9 Empires might, in fact, end up being a much better way of exploring Dynasty Warriors 9 than its original release. But I guess we’ll have to wait and see on that front.

Either way, I’m sufficiently intrigued to want to explore the full version of the game in some form — just perhaps not on Switch…

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Pete Davison
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