TOKYO--While certain things have changed with the upcoming Dynasty Warriors 6, it's nice to know that the central component of the game--one hero whipping the tail of hundreds, if not thousands of enemies--is still well intact. Today, we spent some hands-on time with the upcoming sixth game in the Dyansty Warriors series and spoke with game producers to see how the series has evolved.
Though other Dynasty Warriors games have appeared on the Xbox 360, this is the first DW game that has been designed from the ground up for the PS3 and Xbox 360. As a result, the differences are notable, particularly with the game's look. From a technical standpoint, the increased power of today's consoles allow at least four to five times more enemies onscreen at any given moment (and perhaps there will be more before the game is released), and, for the heroes that form the centerpiece of the game, it means new weapons (San Shang Xiang's wind and fire wheels have been replaced with a bow and arrow, for example), a reimagined look for some of the long-standing favorites, and tons of new animations. While some of the moves are over-the-top in execution in the game, the basis for those animations comes from motion-capture, with real martial artists performing the moves.
You'll watch all of those animations unfold on the ever-changing battlefield of Dynasty Warriors 6, as you carve and shoot your way through hordes of enemies. In previous DW games, the game artificially limited the number of normal attacks you could do in a row--that's a thing of the past in DW 6. Extending your attack combos infinitely (at least, theoretically) is cool enough. Combine that with a new renbu system, which lets you build up renbu energy by holding the circle button (or B button on the 360) or defeating enemies, then unleash that energy in high-powered musou attacks, and you can do some extra damage to your foes. In addition to the musou attacks, each character will have a special ability--often an even more powerful attack that you can use to really lay waste to your opponents. Before you enter battle, you can choose your horse to accompany you and, as you make your way through the campaign, your horse can gain experience and better attributes such as speed, as you go.
Gaining access to special skills is one of the main ways the heroes of the game evolve as the game progresses. Characters improve their abilities in two ways--by leveling up on the field of battle (which earns them skill points) and by then spending those skill points on another new feature in the game; the skill map. Here, you can choose the kinds of skills you want to give your characters--be it more powerful attacks, speedier movement rate, or access to special attacks.
Though the TGS build of DW 6 featured just three playable characters, you'll initially start out in the full game with nine characters to try out in musou mode, three from each of the three kingdoms that form the centerpiece of the game's story. By winning battles, you'll eventually unlock new characters for use in the story mode, or in the free battle mode, which will let you replay any previously unlocked stage with any character you've opened up.
While redesigned characters, new animations, and a new character progression system all look to add to the fun of DW 6, perhaps the most important addition to the game has to do with its strategic side. Granted, the Dyansty Warriors series has always been more about hacking and slashing than outthinking your opponents, but that might not be the case when DW 6 rolls around. For one thing, capturing enemy strongholds seems more important than ever--as you'll have more opportunities to access new items and power-ups than in a noncontrolled field of battle.
More importantly, however, the levels seem more open than ever before, giving the player the ability to decide where they send their hero. Second, how that hero gets to the next battle has changed as well--developers have given characters the ability to break down gates themselves, swim over rivers and streams, climb ladders, and jump from ledges into other areas of the map. The result is the ability the player now has to sneak-attack enemies and access areas that they couldn't in a previous Dynasty Warriors game. From a design standpoint, the key for producers was to develop levels that were no longer strictly linear, but open enough to allow the player choices on when and where to attack the enemy. It's an interesting choice that should pay dividends in the long run, especially as it develops in future DW games. We'll be following Dynasty Warriors 6 as it continues through its development, so stay tuned for more.