Friday, December 6, 2013

Yes, I'm Talking About Dynasty Warriors 8 Again

Today, I have finally beaten the final Story Mode mission contained within Dynasty Warriors 8 and by my approximation, I'm roughly 35% complete with the game now.  Four full story modes and 9 or 10 unaffiliated "Other" Story Missions (basically taking the "Other" characters who are famous but not among the ranks of Wei, Wu, Shu or Later Wei/Jin and taking an a-historical account of a famous battle of their in most cases, generally one that they -lost- historically) all told.  The four story modes also had branching paths at the 2/3rds mark, meaning when you got to the branch you were...half done.  Since you had to do -both- branches eventually and combined they were usually like eight missions or so on their own.  All of that is pretty much only 35% of the game in terms of 'completeness' which I'm gauging by the Trophy List for convenience.

Basically what I'm saying is that Dynasty Warriors 8 is surprisingly packed with content.  Perhaps too much so.

With Story mode done completely, as in I've unlocked all branches, beaten every stage and gotten every star for performing special tasks (Which I don't think is actually necessary for a trophy in the case of missions where it's not necessary to do the star to unlock a branch, but, eh, completionist) I have Free mode and Ambition mode left ahead of me, neither of which I've even strayed into at all.  Free mode is unexpectedly daunting for what it honestly is:  in Free Mode, you just get to pick a battle, pick a side and play any character in it, meaning if you want to be Sun Jian fighting for Shu in the defense of Chengdu from the forces of Later Wei, then have at it, you can totes do that.  The daunting part comes into play when you realize there are a -ton- of stages that are mostly unique maps (granted, maps like Luoyang Castle and Xucheng get used for several missions, but you don't tend to notice right away) and you have to play each one at least once for one of the shiny silver trophies the game has to offer.  I'm -pretty sure- that means only once total, not only once as each possible faction, because the latter would be fucking insanity.

Ambition Mode is a complete unknown to me, however.  I can make an educated guess and say that it's likely like Legend Mode from Dynasty Warriors 7:  Xtreme Legends which I have bitched about in the past, but with less of a finite structure, given that there are trophies for winning 5, 20 and 100 battles straight within Ambition mode.  I'm...not entirely sure this is a good thing nor can I be certain it's something that will be unwelcome.  A bulk of the trophies come from Ambition mode, in all honesty which is a little strange - not only does Ambition mode seem to be something that would be in Xtreme Legends, but there's so few trophies attached to the actual Story mode (directly, the collection stuff necessitates them regardless) given the obvious effort put into it.  Honestly, it's almost a little disheartening, but on the other hand I'm hoping that much harder that Ambition mode proves to be worth it.

Now that I've played the story through, however, I've gotten a feel for the new characters and I gotta say, by and large, they're pretty good.  Jia Chong is top-tier along with Guan Xing (for his musou and rage musou) and Zhang Chunhua, though not especially for her moveset.  Li Dian and Wen Yang, however, are unfortunately bad on....well, most counts, really.  Their movesets are boring (Dian's is slow as well) and their characterizations are more or less off-putting.  Wen Yang is just bland and uninspired (mild play-ups to him being Later Wei's Zhao Yun when he has nowhere near the charisma needed) where Li Dian is intentionally 'look how weird I am' that it's frustrating.  The other new additions run somewhere in the middle skewed more to the Jia Chong/Guan Xing side, thankfully, though Zuo Ci is disappointingly not as much of a beast as he was in Dynasty Warriors 5.

I'm still finding myself impressed with DW8 even if I'm not just blown away like I was with DW7.  Since 8 focused on a lot of refinement and addition, or at least tries to, it's obvious that it'd be more subtle with its great things, but they're still there and they're still great.  I almost cannot believe yet that every character is unique, something that I've literally been wanting from the series since I first started playing it, and it's finally happened.  I can only imagine that it's going to remain like this going forward - no real reason to migrate Sima Shi back to a regular rapier now that he's got a Lightning Sword and no reason to give Zhurong Throwing Knives again now that she's got her Boomerang back, after all.  Which isn't to say that I anticipate everyone keeping their -exact- weapons for Dynasty Warriors 9, just that I don't see them cloning anyone back up.  Huang Gai in particular is probably going to get his Cudgel back at -some- point since I don't believe anyone is just running around with a one-handed club.  And I can always dream about Pang De just using a goddamn coffin in battle.  Maybe one day.

it's wild that I'm already thinking about a Dynasty Warriors 9, because good lord that's a high number comparatively

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