Dynasty Warriors 6: Empires review
Could of, Should of, Wasn't
At the beginning of your quest for full-scale unification you will probably be initially pleased with Dynasty Warriors 6: Empires as you navigate the polished menus and begin to create your harem of unique characters. I know I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Edit Mode (previously known as Create A Warrior [CAW]) had been significantly fleshed out. Starting out with 20 hairstyles (per gender), 20 hair colors, body type, skin color, face options, and even a decent number of voices coupled with a pitch meter, not to mention promises of DLC; it's clear that KOEI really put some effort into it this time around. That, however, is where the effort stops.
Booting up Empire Mode you will be given the ability to play out five different scenarios, one of which (A Land in Chaos) randomizes the control of the land and the placement of officers within factions, which I personally favored the most. You then decide which character you wish to play as, and whether or not you want to be an Officer or a Ruler. Playing as an Officer is fairly different from playing as a Ruler, as the Officer gameplay is actually a stealthily reintroduced Xtreme Mode from KOEI's previous DW installments, Xtreme Legends. While the inclusion of said meta-mode is appreciated, it isn't groundbreaking, and infact feels rather simplified.
And "simplified" seems to be the underlying theme here. If you've ever played an Empires game previously you will notice that DW6:E is fairly dumbed down in comparison. For example, when you conquer territory you will get one or two of the following: a store, a stables, a forge, or training. All they do is give you access to stuff to buy and upgrade, and there is no actual benefit to holding more than one of each. Therefore, there is no long term benefit to controlling territories, as opposed to the previous games that gave more strategic/RPG-esque advantages depending on what territories you had under your control, such as obtaining items and weapon upgrades.
A more significant example of this oversimplification is the inability to assign certain officers to certain territories. Instead of making use of all of your followers by making which officers are available for battle depend on what territory is invading/defending (as simple logic would dictate), you have a magical army that can teleport to any part of China instantaneously; this along with the fact that troop numbers regenerate quickly and automatically, and the fact that most of the lesser played officers will be highly underleveled, means that you will likely use the same officers over and over going from Territory A to Territory B and so on, Alexander-style. Because of this the game loses a fair amount of strategic appeal.
Other flaws in the game – though small – certainly don't help the big picture any: lack of troop customization (not even the ability to hire special units), no character portraits for created characters, the inability to turn down officers offering to join your faction (the game just assumes you're a big Sha Moke fan and adds him to your roster), all opposing officers magically maintaining the exact same level, and other numerous, odd design choices that riddle the game.
While the game in essence is mildly fun and somewhat polished, it simply lacks strategic depth and overall content. Some would connect the lack of content for Dynasty Warriors 6 with the notion that it was a reboot to the franchise, putting it in the same category as the likes of Dynasty Warriors 2. Well if DW6 is DW2, then DW6:E is really what Dynasty Warriors 2: Empires would of been. The difference is, DW2 was something new and fresh, while DW6:E is just – yet another – Dynasty Warriors.
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