Given the somewhat lacking reception that Dynasty Warriors 9 received when it launched last year, it’s probably no surprise that Tecmo Koei decided to bring the more popular Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Definitive Edition to the Nintendo Switch instead. Sure, it might have come out initially back in 2013, but it still has all the ingredients necessary to offer a great action-packed experience on the console – it’s hectic, fast-paced, chaotic, and a good way to demonstrate what the Nintendo Switch can do with the sheer amount of characters you see on screen at once. It’s a blast to play too, though it does still come with the one flaw that divides gamers on the musou genre: just how repetitive it can be to play.
Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends tells the historic story of the three Kingdoms in China and the war that wages on between them. Sure, it’s not necessarily a historically accurate representation of everything that went on, but with some familiar names, places and battles on show you might learn a few history lessons along the way – they just might be a little over dramatized and only be 10% accurate. It’s all a bit of corny fun though with plenty of cutscenes along the way to progress the narrative, so it’s not hard to find yourself intrigued by what’s going on.
Gameplay-wise, Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends follows the same structure that’ll be familiar to anyone that’s encountered any other release in the series (or any of Tecmo Koei’s other musou titles for that matter). It’s all about taking part in epic scale battles across large maps, with each battle full of basic soldiers for you to take down with minimal fuss and enemy generals who pack more of a punch. With multiple objectives handed to you along the way, you’ll traverse the battlefield and clear out enemies, protect your own forces, and try to shift the momentum in your favour as you fight to victory. For the most part though it simply boils down to one thing: mashing buttons to beat up some baddies.
Fortunately, this button-mashing just so happens to be fun, even if it is a little simple in design. You’ll take two weapons with you into battle that can string together combos of both light and heavy attacks – once charged, you can also let out a special attack that’ll dish out some extra damage at the end of your combo. With the simplicity of the combos it’s easy to fall into a routine of seeing a lot of the same attacks over and over again, though thankfully Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends comes with an absolute ton of weapons to use so you can find some variety in diversifying your selection a bit.
Whilst most of the combat comes down to button-mashing to string together combos, there are a few other things you can take advantage of too. One is the Rage Mode, which when activated bumps up your stats and gives you a special attack to unleash massive damage on your foes. It’s a temporary thing and needs to be charged up to activate, but when used at the right time it can certainly give you the upper hand in battle. There’s an Affinity system in place with the weapons of the game too, with each one given a specific attribute (Man, Earth or Heaven). Each one holds an advantage over one of the others, which is something that can make a difference during battles with certain generals. Sure, it might seem like a small thing to consider, but it can make those showdowns against your rival generals a bit more tactical.
However, whilst the combat can be fun, there’s no denying that it doesn’t take long for Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends to feel repetitive. Missions in the game are guilty of dragging on for some time and since most of them consist of just beating up enemies with a lot of the same combos it’s hard not to feel like you’re doing the same things over and over again. It’s the nature of the beast with the musou genre though and any appreciation of it is down to the gamer – whilst repetitive, I’m a fan of the large scale battles and don’t tire of seeing the ‘enemies defeated’ counter raise up higher and higher, though others may tire of it after just a few hours.
At least there are plenty of different characters to play as (over eighty in total) and weapons to beat enemies up with though, whilst the fact that you can play in split-screen co-op adds an extra element of enjoyment to the game too. It can get competitive seeing who can rack up the most kills or who can kill the most generals, so despite being a co-operative mode it can definitely build a rivalry between the second player and yourself. Sure, it doesn’t make the gameplay feel any less repetitive, but it’s hard not to have fun taking on massive armies of enemies with a friend.
Everything manages to look and run impressively in-game too, which was actually a bit surprising given the sheer amount of characters on screen at once. Sure, there was pop-in here and there, but overall everything looked sharp and felt smooth to play. It’s an older game from 2013 so naturally you shouldn’t go expecting some amazing visuals, but it still managed to look the part on both the Switch’s handheld and TV modes.
Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Definitive Edition is without a doubt an impressive release on the Nintendo Switch – especially when playing on the handheld mode and slaying thousands of enemies across large landscapes without a hitch in the game’s performance. There’s a heck of a lot of content here too, so you’ll easily find yourself investing hours on end if you want to see everything that the game has to offer.
Of course, your overall enjoyment will come down to what you think of the musou genre. Everything can get repetitive fast and if you aren’t a fan of mashing buttons to slay countless enemies, you might find yourself tiring of Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends’ formula quite quick. It has always been a bit of a ‘marmite’ genre after all and that certainly doesn’t change here. From a gameplay and technical basis alone though, Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends really does get a lot right and would be a worthy addition to anyone’s Switch library.
Developer: Omega Force
Publisher: Tecmo Koei
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC