by: William Usher
; edited by: Michael Hartman
; updated: 4/17/2012
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A review that covers the characters, weapons, battlefields, PvP and crafting in the popular new MMORPG from Aeria Games, Dynasty Warriors Online.
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Battle Of A Dynasty
There’s been a lot of talk about Dynasty Warriors recently, mainly due to Tecmo Koei bringing the seventh game in the series to the PS3, and the fact that Koei joined forces with Aeria Games in order to produce a free-to-play version of the popular hack and slash title called Dynasty Warriors Online. The game was oddly less-than-hyped in comparison to some other MMO titles out there, but that certainly doesn’t mean that DWO didn’t deserve it. In fact, I think it more than deserved whatever hype came its way, and you can find out exactly why in this Dynasty Warriors Online review, which covers everything you need to know about Koei's free-to-play venture.
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Imagine the classic Dynasty Warriors format…any classic format from the long running series to be exact: pick a character, pick a weapon and hack and slash thousands of troops before time runs out. That’s been the general gist behind some of the most popular titles in the Omega Force developed franchise, such as Dynasty Warriors 5 and 6. Well, the exact same rules of the game apply with DWO, except it’s an MMO and it’s based around the elements of role-playing rather than just picking any of the fleshed-out characters from the Chinese history books. Take note, though, legends such as Gan Ning, Cao Pi, Cao Cao, Liu Bei, Guan Yu and Sun Quan are still in the game, but they take on a completely different role, mainly as NPCs that give out quests or come to the aid of players who are getting royally trumped by the competition during a mission.
In addition to picking up quests and fighting on the battlefield, the game sports three different factions to choose from (i.e., Wu, Wei and Shu), which allows players to socialize and participate in all the basic makings of an RPG, such as walking around town, chatting it up with friends, forming parties, battling in the arena, crafting items, upgrading weapons or even decorating a house where you can invite friends over to scope out your abode. It’s a great concept that finds itself executed quite nicely in the more than capable hands of Omega Force.
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I was somewhat surprised with DWO. When I initially went into the game I was expecting endless melee encounters with very little else to support the experience. Now, in the early goings of the open beta phase Dynasty Warriors Online didn’t have a whole lot of weapons, armor or craft-worthy furniture. However, Omega Force and Aeria Games have been working very quickly to expand the game’s content remarkably, adding in new weapons every couple of weeks and expanding on the variety of those weapons with rare drops, additional elemental upgrades and armor sets. Customizing your very own house and acquiring goods to build furniture also adds a nice touch to the game. Additional sidequests to earn items, upgrade your Lieutenants or unlock new weapons gives the game some additional depth that really did take me by surprise. At this rate there won’t be a reason to buy a new Dynasty Warriors game if they continue to update DWO so frequently.
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For those of you thinking that an MMO version of Dynasty Warriors Online would be identical to Perfect World Entertainment’s Heroes of the Three Kingdoms, think again. The gameplay that Dynasty Warriors became famous for and other games such as God of War and Samurai Warriors have emulated has stayed perfectly intact in the MMO outing. In fact, the weapon systems and PvP is entirely based on mastering the game’s weapons and using that as an advantage to take down foes.
My only gripe with the gameplay, despite the usually smooth weapon mechanics, is that some of the juggles completely destroy the concept of actually battling. Instead, most player-versus-player encounters revolve around one player performing a few combos that leads into a juggle that leads into instant-death. If those two players meet again, one or the other tries to initiate the same thing. Because of this rather non-technical approach to the combat, I will have to knock a star off.
Other than the aforementioned gripe, though, Dynasty Warriors Online maintains all the basic elements of being a fun arcade style MMORPG. I suppose its closets relative would be Nexon’s other free-to-play giant, Vindictus. The only difference is that DWO focuses a lot more on PvP encounters similar to Astrum Nival’s Allods Online, as opposed to the co-op heavy Vindictus.
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Graphics And Sound
A free-to-play MMORPG based on the Dynasty Warriors franchise with dynamic lighting, shader 2.0 capabilities and a jazzy soundtrack fused with power-rock all make the aesthetic appeal that much more affable than some other F2P MMOs out there. In fact, I certainly wasn’t expecting the sort of visual support that the game contains and I really wasn’t expecting the framerates to hold up. Now, I will admit that there are times when the graphics and the amount of guys on the screen will cause some lag-tearing during combat, allowing player-versus-player bouts to turn into a teleporting match of hide and seek. It rarely occurs but it does occur and it’s something players will have to take into consideration when facing off against opponents who may not have the best of connections or hardware to match the pace of the game.
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Dynasty Warriors Online is another top-quality free-to-play game that would actually be worth the $60 if it did have a retail price tag. However, I doubt they would have half as many players if it did carry the “next gen" price point that other consoles titles have. Nevertheless, the quality of the gameplay, the variety of weapons and the fair amount of detail that players can experience throughout this high-quality MMORPG is unlike most other games out there, with the exception of Vindictus. Still, I believe both games can co-exist in the free-to-play realm, offering players unique experiences not found in the other game. And with that said, I definitely recommend Dynasty Warriors Online for any hack-and-slash fan or action-gamer looking for a little more depth out of their typical thousand-army gaming experience.