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July 2019

Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Definitive Edition

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita
Genre: RPG/Action
Developer: Koei Tecmo
Release Date: Dec. 27, 2018


Switch Review - 'Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Definitive Edition'

by Cody Medellin on June 10, 2019 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends is a stand-alone expansion that includes new episodes that add to the story of the three kingdoms the game revolves around, focusing on the exploits of the mightiest of warriors, Lu Bu.

There are quite a number of Musou-based or -inspired games already on the Nintendo Switch. Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star was released only a few months after the system launched, and the year ended with Fire Emblem Warriors. The following year saw a few more games with ports of Hyrule Warriors, One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3, and Warriors Orochi 4. Japan had three exclusive games ported: Dynasty Warriors 8: Empires, Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada, and Warriors Orochi 3. Despite the series' popularity, it was an odd decision to see the mainline series not hit North America, but that all changes with Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Definitive Edition.

This port isn't based on the latest game in the series. While it may seem odd that an older game was chosen for the port, it does make perfect sense. The thought of an open-world Dynasty Warriors game seems alluring, but the execution was heavily botched with a poor presentation, terrible performance, and a surprising lack of things to do in such a vast world. It also did poor enough with the fans that there are no current plans to release spin-offs of this title. As such, going back to the last game in the series that uses the classic formula is a much better choice for those who want to play the main series while they're on the go.

The game rewards fans with special items if they've played any of the Koei Tecmo Musou games on the Switch. That's pretty cool for those who played Warriors Orochi 4, but unless you imported the Japanese-exclusive games, seeing this message has to sting a bit.

For the few who have yet to experience a Musou game, think of this title as a 3D beat-'em-up that's set in ancient China, where everyone has a weapon. You can choose one of over 70 warriors with different weapons, and each of those warriors can get a secondary weapon that also makes their base attacks and combos execute differently. Each level is a big battlefield, and you'll run around the battlefield trying to take care of any battles that erupt as you take down named opponents to give yourself buffs that can either be used immediately or saved for future battles.

The appeal of DW8 is that every warrior you pick is an absolute powerhouse of a soldier. Almost every enemy you meet has a very weak constitution because even simple combos can take out 20-25 people at a time. Ending a level with fewer than 500 kills or is considered bad unless you're just running through the crowds of cannon fodder. The only exceptions are the base commanders, who make an effort to block everything, and the named enemy commanders often put up a real fight.

As alluded to in the title, Xtreme Legends Definitive Edition is packed with content. Not only does it contain the main game, but it also includes every single piece of DLC. This leads to almost triple-digit hours of playtime if you want to play all of it. Story mode is a very big part of the game, and it does a good job of telling a more cohesive story from the rather large Romance of the Three Kingdoms era. You can do this via the main houses of Jin, Shu, Wei and Wu, alongside Lu Bu's storyline and the officers marked in the "Other" category. Each storyline has chapters hovering around the double digits, and playing through all of the narratives unlocks those missions in Free mode, where you can replay them with any unlocked officer from any faction.

While Challenge mode pits you against different objective types, Ambition mode stands out as something different. Your job is to build out the most impressive camp possible so the visiting Emperor will side with you in the coming battles. To do this, you need to participate in various battles that grant you materials to continue building things or officers to build your army. Unlike the other modes, the battles are short, making it a perfect mode for portable play, since you can make significant progress without having to spend hours on it. It'll remind you a bit of Samurai Warriors: Spirit of Sanada in that you have a hub world to run around in, and only a few people are important to talk to, but it remains fresh since this kind of thing hasn't been used often enough in the series.

The content is fulfilling, but fans wonder whether the presentation will hold up. Both of the Nintendo-published games in the series had a ton of action and content but often had some performance struggles once the screen was full of enemies and allies. The good news is that DW8 maintains a solid 60 fps throughout most of the game, whether being played in docked or portable mode. The bad news is that this is all being done with some very noticeable flaws in tow. The polygon count for the characters and the environments look fine, but the overall colors look rather washed-out instead of vibrant. The textures in the environment are very flat and stretched out, and the special effects are nice but tend to bleed into parts of the character model that they don't belong in.

The sound fares much better in this regard. The game leans in heavily toward the guitar-heavy rock that every entry in the series has, and while all of the different tracks start to sound the same after a while, they still feel right. Meanwhile, the game now sports both the Japanese and English vocal tracks. Even though the Japanese still sounds better despite this game being set in China, the English remains cheesy since there's a lot of dialogue, and those who are easily distracted by subtitles will still enjoy the corniness of what's said.

Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Definitive Edition won't win over any new fans due to the core act of long battles against hapless minions, but existing fans will love the sheer amount of content here. With the many long modes available and all of the DLC present, this title offers some real value, and while the presentation isn't breathtaking, it is good enough to keep up with the relentless action. For fans of the series, DW8 on the Switch is well worth picking up.

Score: 8.0/10

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