Look upon my hours spent on this game, ye mighty, and despair.
I'm not saying you too will be spending over 280 hours killing hordes of Chinese peons upon buying the latest version of Dynasty Warriors 8 Xtreme Legends
, but there is something innately satisfying to the series. If all you have is a PC and you haven't played any games from the franchise since Warriors Orochi, then you owe it to yourself to shell out for this version. Especially if there's a steam sale or some such.
Dynasty Warriors 8 is uncomplicated yet deep, with a huge cast of characters just waiting to be experimented upon, each character with their own unique gimmick/playstyle. This really needs to be stressed: Omega Force, the developer of the series, has done a bang-up job establishing exclusive weapon mechanics for each of its 82 characters that will keep you engrossed in finding out how to best maximize your slaying prowess. They're introduced 3 at a time at the beginning of each stage in Story Mode and even their higher functions are unlocked through leveling, so you're never intimidated by having everything thrown to you at once.
At least, not in Story Mode. Outside of Story Mode are scores of extraneous game mechanics which ultimately add nothing to the game, forcing new enthusiasts to run to any of the (honestly quite excellent) player submitted FAQS for help. The weapon system in particular needs to go, where a character's fighting style will be based on the weapon rather than the character. So if Lu Bu is equipped with Guan Yu's crescent spear, he'll start fighting like Guan Yu. Meaning you can have Lu Bu jump around like a little girl by equipping him with, say, Daqiao's magical sticks. My point is that giving every character the choice of every weapon allows cheesing and actually takes away from the uniqueness of the characters. The focus of the game shouldn't be on inanimate objects anyways.
Then there are game modes which will confuse potential players with poorly thought out goals, such as Ambition Mode. The levels are grindy, repetitive and mostly there for the gems and materials needed for upgrading your weapons or artificially leveling your characters. All the money you'll gain playing Story Mode will be spent on the faculties you've built in Ambition Mode, but you have to play Ambition Mode to get the materials that upgrade these faculties into something useful.
Tied to that is my huge disappointment stemming from my experiences playing ye olde Dynasty Warriors 3 on the PS2 in that for a game mode based upon the stated goal of reunifying China, there is little to no strategy involved at all! Ambition Mode introduces Bodyguards, friendly generals whom you can order around the map and change the course of a battle with their special abilities. In practice however, their influence on the battlefield remains minimal. So Ambition Mode becomes randomly generated stages where you unify China under a single Emperor by killing every Chinese general personally and thus bringing them forth to your cause. Bodyguards are a great idea on paper but suffers from no one on the development team having any faith behind it, leading to another extraneous and useless game mechanic.
Free Mode is Story Mode but with added goals. Optional goals. And you can play with the Bodyguards unlike in Story Mode. But it's the same ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ thing. Offers literally nothing that couldn't be added to Story Mode. Like I said: lots of useless clutter in this game.
I (most probably) won't be buying a Wii U but it'll be interesting to see just how Hyrule Warriors compares to the Dynasty Warriors franchise. I remain optimistic in promoting DW8XL, though: as useless as the new options are, Hyrule Warriors doesn't seem to offer any new options themselves. And for all the mistakes that Omega Force have made, they have managed to create 82 characters each with their own engaging fighting style. And that is an achievement in itself.