Dynasty Warriors 6, A look back on a controversial period of the Musou games

The Dynasty Warriors franchise is one that I’ve played and enjoyed for quite some time. That being the case, I thought it would be fun to look back on what is seen as one of the worst entries of the series and how it has affected the future; Dynasty Warriors 6. Coming into the new generation of consoles and seeing actual HD quality designs and characters, it should have been an easy feat to be one of the best entries into the series. Sadly, it was not. In many spaces in the Musou community, it is seen as the worst. 

Where was the franchise at during this moment?

Dynasty Warriors 5 had a lot of innovative and excellent ideas moving into the series. They had a normal game, a new version of Xtreme Legends, and a continuation of their newest expansion titles, Empires. Dynasty Warriors 5 was one of the first times a story was character-driven in a Warriors game. In the Dynasty Warriors games before it, it was only a story based on the main 3 kingdoms with a small variation on the story based on the person who you chose to play the story mode with.

Dynasty Warriors 5 Xtreme Legends continued being a roguelike style Dynasty Warriors with even adding a new mode for replayability, Destiny mode. Destiny mode allowed you to create a character and then join as a soldier in a platoon headed by any warrior you chose to be your captain. You would move up the ranks in the platoon and could even switch sides mid-combat if you wanted to join a different warrior’s army. It was randomized in various ways, so it was a different experience no matter how often you replay it.

Dynasty Warriors 5 Xtreme Legend screenshot-01

Prior to Dynasty Warriors 6 being released, the series has seen several new innovative features and designs for the classic Warriors Musou playstyle. All of which had the Dynasty Warriors community optimistic when Dynasty Warriors 6 was announced,

How it was Received?

Dynasty Warriors 6 was not received well in the fanbase for a variety of reasons. They changed up the addictive combat and simplified it. They removed characters and removed playstyles. There were characters that had weapons attached to other characters that made it not as unique. Some were turned off by the desire to go to a more unrealistic and over-the-top design aesthetic while others praised it.

I personally was sad that some of my favorite characters to play were gone and that some move sets were no longer available like the chakrams of Sun Shang Xiang, and the various sword move sets of Liu Bei and Xiahou Dun. Thankfully, Koei Tecmo listened and changed a lot of these criticisms for the future of Dynasty Warriors 6 by releasing a ps2 version with a ton of fixes and then implementing those fixes in when they released Dynasty Warriors 6 Empires.

I want to just briefly mention how combat was simplified in Dynasty Warriors 6, which ultimately turned me off to its battle system. In previous Warriors titles, you had a normal attack and a charge attack. These could be combined and were based on the weapon you had equipped on to the character. Better weapons meant better combos could be combined. It made you want to get better weapons and added an incentive to keep doing more in the game. One nitpick on the older games is getting the ultimate weapon for each character was absolute chaos. It usually required very specific levels and difficulties and having to satisfy certain hidden objectives. Once you got it though, it felt earned, and you gained bragging rights having that weapon.

Dynasty Warriors 6 screenshot-02

In Dynasty Warriors 6, you had normal attacks and Renbu attacks. The Renbu attacks could not be combined but the total amount of times you could do a normal combo was dependent on your Renbu gauge. You increase your Renbu gauge based on the number of times you KO’ed enemies without getting hit. Once you get hit your gauge reset. Turning Archers into must-kill enemies rather than just trying to dodge through them to get to the officers or more annoying major or bodyguard enemies. This made it a lot more simplified only being able to do 2 types of combos rather than a variety of them. Though they added some nice quality of life changes such as climbing ladders and swimming in water to traverse the maps better.

The changes we get to see in Dynasty Warriors 6 Empires from 6 include a variety of fixes for complaints that Koei got from its fanbase. Removing characters and weapons were fixed by adding in a lot of the characters back, and weapons got added back in as well. They added a ton more features in empires, and even the Renbu system got a rework that made it more interesting. They put the Renbu system gauge inside the weapons you got rather than your activity on the battlefield. This allowed it to actually give the incentive to get more weapons and to improve your characters. The strategy system in imbuing characters with abilities housed on a face button after pressing a trigger helped add some variety in the combo system in 6 that originally wasn’t there for Dynasty Warriors 6.

Why bring this up currently?

Dynasty Warriors 6 was something that changed the series but then changed a great deal of the series in a way. It did change the way the story was told to be more character-driven than just plot-driven. It added more over-the-top cinematics with even more over-the-top designs, and weapon builds. All of which carried over into Dynasty Warriors 7 and in Dynasty Warriors 8. However, while the Renbu system was removed completely, it gave us a more polished experience.

As you can see, there were several changes in the series, and now with Dynasty Warriors 9 Empires on the horizon. I am more than excited to see the changes that will be present in the game. Dynasty Warriors 6 Empires was one of my absolute favorite games, and I spent hundreds of hours creating characters and playing through the empire mode. I really didn’t like 6 at the time but it made me appreciate the direction it took the series. It also made me appreciate how much feedback Koei took to design the titles afterward. I have a hope that Dynasty Warriors 9 Empires is the bright future that Dynasty Warriors 6 Empires was for the future of Dynasty Warriors.

Dynasty Warriors 9 Empires will release on all consoles on February 15, 2022.