When we reviewed Dynasty Warriors 7 back in April we weren’t being over generous when awarding it a very impressive 8 out of 10. It marked a much needed return to form for the Three Kingdoms hack n’ slash after countless years without innovation and the somewhat disastrous 6th instalment, which tried to revolutionize Dynasty Warrior’s trademark gameplay with the “Renbu” combo system, coming up short in every other department.
7 restored the scale and flow of combat, it’s newest features such as siege engines and weapon-switching combined with the game’s new cinematic approach and extensive Conquest Mode making it the best in the series by a mile. Therefore it comes as both surprising and disappointing that the eagerly-awaited expansion, Dynasty Warriors 7 Xtreme Legends, fails to enhance the original experience at all.
Given the six-year gap between 5XL and 7XL, we’d be right in expecting the add-on content to have made as much of a leap than the core games themselves, surely? Well apparently not.
7XL’s biggest contribution to the series is Legend Mode. Here players are tasked with restoring a dilapidated stronghold to its former glory by winning battles and developing its facilities, eventually rebuilding it to such a state that the emperor himself comes to visit. On paper it sounds like a meaningful timesink for Dynasty Warriors fans, but ultimately fails to deliver such a level of intrigue in its execution.
Straight out of the gate you will have access to every officer, Legend Mode requiring you to select one warrior as your playable avatar and the other as Adjutant, essentially your second in command. The stronghold serves as a hub, a small area in which you can barter with merchants, upgrade weapons, and scroll through the list of available battles.
Unlike 7’s Conquest Mode, a huge map portioned into dozens of small-scale encounters, in Legend Mode the battles are fierce with a staggering number of enemy grunts and officers to hack through. With a handful of allied generals your objective is always the same: keep killing until you slaughter your way to the enemy main camp and then kill some more, doing away with the engaging narrative focus and mid-battle twists that made Dynasty Warriors 7’s Story Mode compelling. It’s a return to what many disliked about the original games and is sure to prove tedious for newcomers.[drop]Following each encounter, a pre-set cache of gold and fame are acquired, gradually culminating in order to build the status of your stronghold, though without the visual queues it would be hard to tell if anything changed. New vendors will arrive with goods such as weapons and war manuals (stat-enhancing items) as well your own merchant fleet who can be dispatched to other provinces as bring back rare items after every battle.
As for your Adjutant and Counsellor, their role is pretty much non-existent, adding nothing to the game whatsoever aside from a few strips of dialogue.
If Legend Mode doesn’t take your fancy, Challenge Mode isn’t likely to either. With four fairly unimaginative, re-cycled challenges on offer such as Arena, Speed Run and Bridge Melee, realistically, you’re not going to spend more than 30 minutes in this part of the game.
It goes without saying that the core content on offer is irredeemably lacklustre, though there are a few inclusions here and there that prevent Dynasty Warriors 7 Xtreme Legends from being a total disaster. Having been expelled from both Dynasty Warriors 6 and its successor, Wei general Pang De makes a return with twin halberds in tow along with Wang Yi and Guo Jia, adding to the already colossal playable roster.
It’s not as if they bring anything new to the table but with two new weapon types and new narrative strands to follow, their inclusion is notable, not to mention the return of classic battlegrounds, stretching back as far as Dynasty Warriors 3.
- Over 60 playable characters.
- Legend Mode offers plenty of replay value for fans.
- Still retains the refined gameplay and visuals from DW7.
- Three new characters.
- XL does not include the original game, you will also need DW7 for the full experience.
- Online play isn’t well integrated.
- Legend Mode is nothing we haven’t seen already in past Dynasty Warriors titles.
- A lack of narrative drive and cinematic feel.
- Challenge Mode is incredibly thin.
- Steep pricing.
- Remix function actually detracts from the original game.
Having only just recovered from years of being slated as a copy n’ paste franchise, it’s remarkable how fast Dynasty Warriors has returned to its old ways. The streamlined gameplay and polished visuals haven’t incurred any detriment, but compared to what fans will be expecting, 7XL misses the mark, it’s failure only made worse by the steep launch price.
Even when considering how much potential replay value there is on offer, the better approach for Tecmo Koei would have been to release Legend Mode and the three new characters as premium DLC instead of the uncommon on-disc approach.