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Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Definitive Edition won’t be a big surprise to fans of the series. In fact, the game is a culmination of the best features, stories, and characters in the game’s 22-year history.
That being said, I wish the title was longer. The team at Koei Tecmo couldn’t have thrown in an “ultimate” or “special” into the mix? All joking aside, the Warriors iterations of popular Nintendo series like The Legend of Zelda and Fire Emblem have been incredibly successful, and given DW8: XLDE‘s depth and delivery of time-proven button-mashing fun, this game should do just as well with the Switch’s audience.
Dynasty Warriors 8 released in 2013, making it an odd choice to port in a buffed-out edition, especially considering that a ninth game in the series released early last year. DW9 was an open-world experience set in the Dynasty Warriors world that, to be polite, did not live up to even muted expectations. So that makes DW8 the most well-received, well-rounded game to bring to the current generation of consoles. The game presentation between the standard Dynasty Warriors games and their Empires and Legends editions are fairly diverse, but for the purposes of this review, just know that DW8: XLDE is a full-picture view of the series.
The era of the Three Kingdoms, a period of time during China’s history where the country descended into civil war with various regions and territories locked in a perpetual feud for control of the country and the throne, is well known to Asian audiences and the Dynasty Warrior games have been a popular retelling of that saga. Of course, it’s a dramatic, historically fictional story, but character names for the major players are actually representative of real people. Of the 80+ characters, some are fictional as well. What plays out is a battle between three kingdoms for power over feudal China through fun action combat.
The rich Story Mode of DW8 is here in full, including all the additional missions introduced in the Xtreme Legends expansion. Gameplay is typical for the series: you’re given a main objective that is achievable through smaller objectives, including capturing control of locations, killing rival generals, and other various strategic goals to push your army towards victory. Underpowered enemies make you feel invincible, and it’s not boring so much as it is addicting. The hordes of enemies look great in handheld and on the TV, making this a very impressive port by the team behind these timeless games. Back in 2004, my PSP version of Dynasty Warriors felt like DW-lite, but this feels like a full-fledged Dynasty Warriors game and then some.
Other game modes offer alternative approaches including Ambition Mode, all about building the most impressive camp in order to gain the support of the emperor himself and Challenge Mode, which forces you to meet certain objectives within a strict time limit and with distinct restrictions and characters. Free mode, as its name suggests, enables you to simply roam a large map and fight for control of the region without any objectives clouding your mind. The depth in modes and different ways to play, along with a Gallery and Encyclopedia for a more historic look at the era of the Three Kingdoms, make this game easily 100+ hours before you start to get deep into its unlockables and limitations.
If you have experience with Dynasty Warriors as a series, this Switch version won’t surprise you with any new content. You can play through most of its modes in local co-op, and there’s all the DLC the game has received thus far; you can even choose between Japanese and English voiceovers. It’s nothing new as a whole, but it’s the total package with the option to take the massive heap of content on the go. That’s a beautiful thing, especially for longtime fans. As a Switch port, this is as flawless as any, and I expect I’ll spend a lot of time battling it out with Cao Cao, Lu Bu, and others as I try to take over China in every way possible.
A Nintendo Switch copy of Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Definitive Edition was provided by Koei Tecmo for the purposes of this review.