Release Date: December 27th, 2018 (Nintendo Switch)
Publisher: Koei Tecmo
Developer: Omega Force
ESRB: Teen (Language, Use of Alcohol, Violence)
This console generation has seen an increased number of remakes, reissues, and ports. The latter being primarily released on the Nintendo Switch. This has led gamers to revisit games or even visit them for the first time. Of course, after my enjoyable time with Warriors Orochi 4 (which was my first ever game in the Dynasty Warriors franchise), I was excited to get my hands on Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Definitive Edition. (Yes that is the actual name of this edition…) It is only fitting that this port comes near the franchise’s twelfth anniversary. The more puzzling thought is as to why a 2013 game was picked for a port to the successful Nintendo Switch, as opposed to the much newer Dynasty Warriors 9? That aside, is this game worth a visit, or even revisit, from gamers?
First and foremost, at the heart of Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Definitive Edition is the hack-and-slash combat trope that has been around the franchise since Dynasty Warriors 2. The player has what are essentially light attacks, heavy attacks, and the ultimate attacks that deals the most damage and are akin to finishing moves. It is at a point where if the player has played one Musou game, they can easily pick up any other one. With that said, my gameplay gripe from Warriors Orochi 4 ofseemingly no option to run or move faster in the game is welcoming some neighbors with this game. Where the newest game let the players choose their team as they unlock characters, this port only allows the selection of one character from up to four pre-selected options. While this may make sense from a story standpoint, it hurts from a player freedom standpoint. Players coming solely from Warriors Orochi 4 will find this very limiting and frustrating.
Speaking of the story, Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Definitive Edition is based on the 14th-century Chinese historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms. The story is split into six different options that are all selectable from the very beginning. After some research, it appears the best order to play them for this game to best experience the story, chronologically wise, is how they are listed when you first open the menu. Each is a bit lengthy on their own which makes the overall story a bit of a slog. While I enjoy the fact that the story is not fully linear, once the player starts on one track they might as well finish it before jumping to another branch. Given that this is an older game, the story is mostly text boxes over the loading screen with visual novel-based cutscenes sprinkled sporadically throughout. However, these are not included as much as they were in Warriors Orochi 4.
Outside of the story there is a self-explanatory free mode, ambition mode where the player builds a kingdom to get the attention of the Emperor, and a challenge mode where players have to complete distinctive challenges. Most players will not spend too much time dabbling in these modes, though they are appreciated and deliver a breadth of content. That does not even include the non-gameplay content, such as the included gallery and encyclopedia. All the additions beyond the game modes are one of the perks these ports, reissues, and remasters provide. In this case, the fact the game is being ported to a, highly successful, handheld console is also an added perk. The game being lengthy while also being optimal for short bursts of play makes it perfect for on-the-go gaming.
Lastly, the technical performance of Koei Tecmo games on the Nintendo Switch has been a bit of a toss-up; however, with this being a port of a 2013 the performance is almost perfectly solid. There are a few framerate drops and slowdowns to be seen, but they are few and far between. Where the game falls short though is in the graphics department. Sadly, this is just a slightly improved port from the PC version of the game, so the graphics reflect their 2013 prime. They are a bit flat and obviously dated. Now, it would be crazy to ask for a remaster, but at the same time they could have added some improvements or more in engine cutscenes. This is a minor gripe, of course, as the sheer amount of content and the game being portable on a successful handheld outweighs having the port receive a touch up.
When all is said and done, Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Definitive Edition offers a lot in its package to keep gamers occupied. Not all of the bells and whistles are for all players, and some modes provides more bang for its buck than others, but fans of the franchise or genre will have a highly enjoyable game on their hands. While I personally had some gripes that hindered my enjoyment, there are also some universal issues that really can not be overlooked as a package. This includes, but is not limited to: framerate drops, slowdowns, and it being a straight port with not many enhancements. It is not a bad game by any means, and fans of the original release will love the return visit, but I just cannot recommend it to newcomers when the newer (and more personally enjoyable) Warriors Orochi 4 is out there giving more player freedom. (Admittedly, it is hard to not love the fact more and more Musou games are coming to the Nintendo Switch). (Ryan Williford; Gaming Editor)
Review copy provided by Koei Tecmo.