Producer Akihiro Suzuki talks about addressing criticism and fundamentally changing Dynasty Warriors.
You’d think it’s easy to make a Musou game like Dynasty Warriors or the numerous offshoots like Fire Emblem Warriors, Dragon Quest Warriors and so on that Omega Force have been involved with. The series’ main franchise looks to go in a big new direction with Dynasty Warriors 9 with an open world to explore, more freedom and numerous quality of life changes to bring fans in.
GamingBolt spoke to producer Akihiro Suzuki to find out what’s changed this time around and how the combat, mission design and overall world will function.
"Since the series has been continuing for so long, we received feedback from users who feel like the game has fallen into a rut, as well as hearing similar comments from the dev team, so we thought that the game needed a big change."
Dynasty Warriors has had a long storied history. What are your thoughts on the franchise’s longevity and how it’s managed to appeal to players over the years?
I think it’s how we’ve maintained the series’ world view and concept, while continuously seeking to add new things. For this title we’ve taken on a big change in direction, but in past games we have been conscious about adding new things, big and small, to make each game different from the previous to avoid getting stuck in a rut. Also, I think that listening to user feedback is another key reason.
Dynasty Warriors 9 changes quite a lot from previous titles. What motivated these changes and how will this affect the franchise going forward?
Since the series has been continuing for so long, we received feedback from users who feel like the game has fallen into a rut, as well as hearing similar comments from the dev team, so we thought that the game needed a big change. In particular, since the game is based on the Three Kingdoms story and history, we can’t make any big changes to the story so it also further sparked some of the rut.
By blending an open world and Musou gameplay we can allow players a degree of freedom to experience a variety of gameplay, while adhering to the flow of history. We began working out the concept of DW9 immediately after completing DW8: XL, and were fortunate to have a long production period to be able to make this big change in direction for the series. We don’t know how it will affect the franchise until we see the feedback for this particular title.
Could you tell us about the story this time around? What kind of campaign can players expect?
The Three Kingdoms time period is ancient China in 184 that begins with the Yellow Turban Rebellion. The three kingdoms emerge from the rivalry between warlords, and it is also a time when there are three emperors. The player takes part in situations and battles the greatly change that era to experience the course of events in history.
"If there are neighbouring bases and castles under the same forces, when morale rises or supplies arrive, overall the defence level rises, so by capturing nearby bases and castles you can decrease the difficulty level."
What is the size of the open world and what kinds of side activities can players engage in aside from the main missions?
When travelling by horse to opposing ends of the map, it will take about 3 hours in real time. Outside of the main missions, we have prepared a variety of side missions that do not affect the main missions, such as quests from villagers and city residents. There is also recipe and material collection to create weapons and items, and other collection elements such as seeking out scenic locations in all areas of the map and treasure hunting. There are also hideaways (homes) that players can decorate and furnish to their own tastes.
How does the new day/night cycle and dynamic weather affect the overall combat and various siege scenarios?
It mainly affects your visibility and changes the movement of the AI. In particular, at night the activities of troops considerably drops, so movement on the overall battlefield is low, and the appearance of thieves or rebels in the cities, and areas outside of the main roads, decreases. On the other hand, some wild animals become more active at night.
Could you tell us about the “high difficulty” of main missions and how they can be made easier by completing side missions?
A simple example: if there are neighbouring bases and castles under the same forces, when morale rises or supplies arrive, overall the defence level rises, so by capturing nearby bases and castles you can decrease the difficulty level. Also, by clearing missions such as aiding allied troops or calling in siege weapons, the difficulty level of main missions can be lowered.
Will the game have a robust empire building mechanic like Dynasty Warriors 8: Empires did?
Dynasty Warriors 9 will not feature this mechanic.
"For new characters, we chose characters that have connections to, or relationships with, existing characters, so in the game we can give depth to the story by showing that connection or relationship."
What’s changing with the combat this time around? What is the current status of the revised move set combinations for characters?
For this game we have aimed for realistic depictions, we’ve cut back on the more fantasy-type weapons, and focused on a careful selection of weapons that were more likely to exist in history, and assigned each character a weapon that suits him/her.
What are some of the new characters being added for the first time and what do they bring to the table in terms of gameplay possibilities?
For new characters, we chose characters that have connections to, or relationships with, existing characters, so in the game we can give depth to the story by showing that connection or relationship. Also, each character is given a specific attack action, so the gameplay is also expanded on the action side.
What resolution and frame rate will the base PS4 and Xbox One versions run at?
Both versions will run at a variable frame rate, but we’re still working on final details as we speak so we will have more information in the weeks leading to launch.
Can you tell us what frame rate and resolution will the PS4 Pro version run on? What kind of enhancements will it include?
Similar to Nioh, players can choose between prioritising frame rate or a high resolution.
"This is the first time in the DW series that we have incorporated an open world system, and we have also renewed the base action system."
I am sure you must have heard about the Xbox One X’s announcement and how powerful it’s. It has a powerful GPU and a ton of memory, I am sure the game will run at native 4K/60fps on this machine, right?
We are working on Xbox One X enhancements for the title, as with the PS4 Pro, and will have more information in the coming weeks leading to launch.
In terms of pure hardware perspective, the picture is clear. The Xbox One X is far ahead of PS4 Pro in terms of GPU and memory bandwidth. The differences in ROP counts and bandwidth are public knowledge. As a developer, who is the face of pushing visual boundaries, what is your take on the differences between the two and do you think this difference will be visible to the general audience?
From my experience, I don’t focus too much on comparing the differences between the specs, and I don’t think that unless the difference in hardware can be considered generational, I don’t think the general audience will notice a remarkable difference.
The PS4 Pro despite being a powerful system is actually weaker than the Xbox One X. As a developer, will you aim for parity between the two or will you push the Xbox One X to its
Is there anything else you want to tell our readers before we let you go?
This is the first time in the DW series that we have incorporated an open world system, and we have also renewed the base action system. We hope everyone will play and experience the charm of seeing history in motion, and the high degree of freedom as the game unfolds while roaming through a single expansive map of China.
When can we expect Dynasty Warriors 9 to release next year?
It will be released on the 13th February, 2018.