How to Improve the Venerable Dynasty Warriors Formula

Posted by ahoodedfigure (4238 posts) -
A quick Arcanum update: I've not played too much to warrant much comment here over the past few days, so I'll set a post aside until I do. I've been pushing the main plot forward, which meant getting to know the Dwarves.  Would be nice if THEY had a rapid transit system in their abode, but I got to be genuinely helpful to them a while back, which was a nice change of pace from stomping on everyone's toes.  Got a few messed up errors, too.  I also wonder if the screen update problem is directly related to how much junk I leave behind on corpses (if so, that's similar to the problem you get in Morrowind when you do the same thing too often. If not, I have no clue what's causing it, but it seems to happen irregularly).   

How to Improve Dynasty Warriors:

 
It's easy to pick on this game, and there's a good reason to do so.  The formula doesn't change much, and at least on lower difficulties, your strong dude whupping on a bunch of weaker dudes who often just stand there by slamming on one button really doesn't do the franchise any favors.
 
I still love the hell out of the series though, because at least in the earlier ones I played it gave me some of the better 2P co-op experiences I've had.  A friend of mine and I would build up our characters, do the secret item triggers we knew about, and try to stay alive taking on bosses who were maybe a bit too strong.  I remember one particular battle it was basically us against a really powerful enemy leader, and we had to keep at him, concentrating on not letting that guy get a firm footing because we would be screwed.  Was pretty epic when we won.
Even with those fond memories, though, a lot of the cool things about DW still could have been much better.  I've mind just to dump my ideas here for anyone who's interested.  I won't talk about DW specifically, though, more about that style of game, and how that could be altered to make it a bit more fun.
 

THEME

 
First of all, thematically, I'd want to justify a strong-guy-vs-tons-of-weak-guys formula by saying you're, say, a bunch of vampires. Vampires are done to death lately, I know, but it was the first thing that came to mind because there are different ways in which vamps deal with their victims. Players would be part of a clan, and each clan, sorta like White Wolf's take on vampires, would be different, have different powers, characters, emphases.  You would have an army of thralls that you would have to keep alive, being just as weak as the poor mortals you're fighting against. 
 
As for a time period (for weapons and armor) I can see it happening over several time periods (maybe three (or less), to keep the game assets low).  Your dude would be immune to most ranged attacks, so even an age of rifles would still boil down to guys trying to pierce your heart with blessed bayonets or whatever.  I imagine one pre-history one, one Napoleonic warfare one (bright colors of the uniforms would make it pop, and rifles wouldn't be too rapid fire to keep thrall/mortal casualties low), and a post-apocalyptic war with whatever sort of stuff sounds good. A few machine guns, armor fashioned from junk, wasteland with all these weird end-time landscapes and portals opening up that make things a lot more colorful than usual brown-gray you come to expect from apocalypse stuff.
 
(That said, I'll say parenthetically that I love the legendary Chinese stuff behind the Dynasty Warriors series, especially when they try to portray them as factions rather than evil vs. good or whatever. It's just interesting to me, but I've always been a bit of a sinophile, I guess.  Anyway, back to vampires.)
 

HEALTH


This leads me directly to the next problem I have with the DW formula and my solution for it, within the theme of this vampire idea:  in DW, you replenish health by eating the yummy-looking floating meatbun things that are scattered throughout the battlefield.  While I had fun playing DW, that was one of the worst parts of even the funnest campaign; you spent maybe ten minutes, while your friend was wailing on enemy commanders, looking for a meatbun you hadn't already found to recharge your health, sometimes going very far out of your way to get there.
 
An easy solution to this is your own thralls.  In my concept of the game, there are no endless army generators.  What you have is what you have, and if you lose troops in battle they don't get replenished except for reinforcements.
 
Thing is, you also get your health from your thralls.  You run up to them and consume them for health, leaving your army one unit weaker, but you fully replenished.  There's another obvious way to gain health, which I'll cover next.
 

ATTACKS


One big issue people have with DW is that often, you can just slam on a single button and get the job done.  With the later games there's another attack you can combine with to mix things up and unleash pretty powerful combos, but that's not enough for most people, and I see why DW gets a bad reputation based on this.  
 
Here I take a lesson from some fighting games, and games like Valkyrie Profile (which maps a button to a specific character. Not the same, but similar in basic concept), where I say that each weapon represents a type of attack.  The basic attacks, about as cliche as you can get, are:
 
  • Feed: Takes a lot longer, much more dangerous, but you get a bit of health from it.
  • Slay: Go crazy, rip people apart, gore aplenty.  Easiest of the three to pull off, but one of my bigger ideas that follows this section will show why the best solution isn't to just pound on this.
  • Enthrall: The most dangerous of the three in terms of personal defense, but you actually recruit victims into your army this way.

 The fourth button in the standard four-button control pad would go to a general avoid or block.
 
 The initial press of any of these attacks would start a sequence, and once a sequence is started it refers to the initial type of sequence regardless of which button is pressed.  So if you choose Slay, any further button presses are different types of follow-ups to the combination.  So in a sense it branches out into a lot more commands.  You could press, on say a PS3 control scheme, the Triangle (Feed) followed by an X (Slay) and a Circle (Enthrall), which would mean use the shriveled corpse as a blugeon on the next guy, followed by a quick entrall to stun anyone who is about to make a counter move.  Each attack would still follow the general pattern of the initiating attack type, but you could add nuance to it that allows things to be different.  They HAVE to be different, though, as I'll explain next.
 

ANTI-PATTERNS


Even when there are multiple button presses, when we find a combo that works we tend to rely on it.  I'm guilty of this in fighting games when I feel I'm better than my opponent; I just flip one or two nice combo attacks and rely on them exclusively.  In this game, it'll pay attention to your button combinations, listing them internally.  If you wind up using a move you've relied on way too much during the battle, the enemy will get wise.  The more you do it, the less effective it is, and the more open you are to even a plain old soldier doing you some serious damage.  In a sense, I guess, this is sort of like the Director in Left 4 Dead, only instead of it responding to player ability being too high, this keeps the player from exploiting combos.  Thus the combination I suggested above, Triange, X, Circle, if used too much, means you're going to wind up dead. 
 
I'd also allow for shoulder buttons or triggers to help vary attacks enough that you can get away with things straight button presses would not, but you wouldn't get much leeway in this.  The shoulder buttons/triggers might also be mapped to items you find, which help give limited enhancement to attacks (fire artifact adds damage over time, but again, if you use it too much you weaken the artifact and strengthen enemy reactions).
 
Mixing in Avoid/Block moves with normal combinations also will help reduce the chance you'll get hit, since you can actually avoid some of the counters that come up when you do too many patterned moves.  There would also be a break-combo button you can use to cancel your current string if you don't think it's going to work, or find yourself falling into patterns that might prove deadly if you have low health or are up against a lot of troops.
 

ENEMY BEHAVIOR

 
This one's short, but it almost goes without saying: DW is famous for the enemies sort of just standing there ineffectively, waiting to die.  I say reduce the total number of combatants, but increase their intelligence, both as individuals and as a unit.  Kill a sergeant, and you have a bunch of angry soldiers from his unit who fight more erratically but with marked ferocity.  Kill the soldiers instead, and the sergeant's orders (not voiced, but manifest in the way the unit reacts to you) get smarter.  If you don't finish off a unit you've been fighting and they escape, overall the enemy gets slightly smarter when they report to command what you're capable of.  
 
Make every squad, then, like an enemy just a bit below presumed player ability. Remember, since they aren't endless, this doesn't have to be exhausting, but it should be a bit tiring because you are, even if you have supernatural powers, taking on an entire army.
 

ITEMS


I'm not sure, since they're all sort of blending together in my memory right now, but I think it was DW 3 that had variable item stats.  This was probably the most fun of the item systems that I managed to play.  You found an item or weapon that had stats that varied based on how difficult the game setting was, and how much damage you did to the guy who was holding the item.  That way you always had incentive to look for new items and weapons.  Have this sort of thing, where the vampires are all looking for ancient artifacts but they're unable to know 
 

CAREER MODE WITH GENUINE CHOICES BASED ON BASIC PLAYER BEHAVIOR

 
Instead of making a choice about dialog trees (as in some games) or major acts on the part of the player, just have it be about how many people they choose to enthrall versus feed on, or whatever else.  Let it be about the sum of statistics the player racks up through the course of the game, and also allow them to lose a battle and keep going (if you remember games like Wing Commander did that, let some objectives be lost but still provide you with several different branching scenarios to play through). They may lose their character, but they can pick up another main as a sort of survival mode only stretched to campaign length.  If they want, they can redo the campaign, or they can choose to carry on from there.  Either one is viable, and losing some of your vamps will lead to more interesting endings than trying to be a perfectionist (but both are viable).
 
Often in DW you would have branches that often were obscure, as obscure as some of the item generation events, such that you basically had to look them up online to know what was going on.  Here you could just have these things be an outgrowth of what's apparent, with the stakes of each battle laid out for you, and hints about things that you can take advantage of that might give you bonus artifacts or even bonus characters.
 

END NOTES


I have further story justifications for a lot of these things, and ideas why stuff is happening, what the clan differences are and what sorts of characters and stats you can build up and unlock, and also who you're fighting and why, but these I could use in my own fiction or whatever, and they're not really important to the mechanics.  I hope you sort of see where I'm going with this, even if you hate the series with a passion, and I have to say I totally understand where you're coming from if you do hate it.  I still like some aspects of it, and I want that feel of plunging into the middle of a war not to be abandoned completely just because creators have fallen into a safe rut that doesn't seem to encourage change.  Happens when you have a franchise that's popular, unfortunately.  If nothing else, consider this a sort of vote of encouragement for those who want to try something new.
 
This was actually inspired by a review of a DW-like game I saw recently, Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes. It both came up with some interesting stylistic choices that looked like they would freshen up the old Dynasty Warriors formula, but it also seemed to tread a lot of the same ground slavishly, as though these sorts of elements were NECESSARY for this kind of game.  They totally aren't, and I hope these ideas suggest how things can be mixed up a bit to provide a different kind of experience.
#1 Posted by ahoodedfigure (4238 posts) -
A quick Arcanum update: I've not played too much to warrant much comment here over the past few days, so I'll set a post aside until I do. I've been pushing the main plot forward, which meant getting to know the Dwarves.  Would be nice if THEY had a rapid transit system in their abode, but I got to be genuinely helpful to them a while back, which was a nice change of pace from stomping on everyone's toes.  Got a few messed up errors, too.  I also wonder if the screen update problem is directly related to how much junk I leave behind on corpses (if so, that's similar to the problem you get in Morrowind when you do the same thing too often. If not, I have no clue what's causing it, but it seems to happen irregularly).   

How to Improve Dynasty Warriors:

 
It's easy to pick on this game, and there's a good reason to do so.  The formula doesn't change much, and at least on lower difficulties, your strong dude whupping on a bunch of weaker dudes who often just stand there by slamming on one button really doesn't do the franchise any favors.
 
I still love the hell out of the series though, because at least in the earlier ones I played it gave me some of the better 2P co-op experiences I've had.  A friend of mine and I would build up our characters, do the secret item triggers we knew about, and try to stay alive taking on bosses who were maybe a bit too strong.  I remember one particular battle it was basically us against a really powerful enemy leader, and we had to keep at him, concentrating on not letting that guy get a firm footing because we would be screwed.  Was pretty epic when we won.
Even with those fond memories, though, a lot of the cool things about DW still could have been much better.  I've mind just to dump my ideas here for anyone who's interested.  I won't talk about DW specifically, though, more about that style of game, and how that could be altered to make it a bit more fun.
 

THEME

 
First of all, thematically, I'd want to justify a strong-guy-vs-tons-of-weak-guys formula by saying you're, say, a bunch of vampires. Vampires are done to death lately, I know, but it was the first thing that came to mind because there are different ways in which vamps deal with their victims. Players would be part of a clan, and each clan, sorta like White Wolf's take on vampires, would be different, have different powers, characters, emphases.  You would have an army of thralls that you would have to keep alive, being just as weak as the poor mortals you're fighting against. 
 
As for a time period (for weapons and armor) I can see it happening over several time periods (maybe three (or less), to keep the game assets low).  Your dude would be immune to most ranged attacks, so even an age of rifles would still boil down to guys trying to pierce your heart with blessed bayonets or whatever.  I imagine one pre-history one, one Napoleonic warfare one (bright colors of the uniforms would make it pop, and rifles wouldn't be too rapid fire to keep thrall/mortal casualties low), and a post-apocalyptic war with whatever sort of stuff sounds good. A few machine guns, armor fashioned from junk, wasteland with all these weird end-time landscapes and portals opening up that make things a lot more colorful than usual brown-gray you come to expect from apocalypse stuff.
 
(That said, I'll say parenthetically that I love the legendary Chinese stuff behind the Dynasty Warriors series, especially when they try to portray them as factions rather than evil vs. good or whatever. It's just interesting to me, but I've always been a bit of a sinophile, I guess.  Anyway, back to vampires.)
 

HEALTH


This leads me directly to the next problem I have with the DW formula and my solution for it, within the theme of this vampire idea:  in DW, you replenish health by eating the yummy-looking floating meatbun things that are scattered throughout the battlefield.  While I had fun playing DW, that was one of the worst parts of even the funnest campaign; you spent maybe ten minutes, while your friend was wailing on enemy commanders, looking for a meatbun you hadn't already found to recharge your health, sometimes going very far out of your way to get there.
 
An easy solution to this is your own thralls.  In my concept of the game, there are no endless army generators.  What you have is what you have, and if you lose troops in battle they don't get replenished except for reinforcements.
 
Thing is, you also get your health from your thralls.  You run up to them and consume them for health, leaving your army one unit weaker, but you fully replenished.  There's another obvious way to gain health, which I'll cover next.
 

ATTACKS


One big issue people have with DW is that often, you can just slam on a single button and get the job done.  With the later games there's another attack you can combine with to mix things up and unleash pretty powerful combos, but that's not enough for most people, and I see why DW gets a bad reputation based on this.  
 
Here I take a lesson from some fighting games, and games like Valkyrie Profile (which maps a button to a specific character. Not the same, but similar in basic concept), where I say that each weapon represents a type of attack.  The basic attacks, about as cliche as you can get, are:
 
  • Feed: Takes a lot longer, much more dangerous, but you get a bit of health from it.
  • Slay: Go crazy, rip people apart, gore aplenty.  Easiest of the three to pull off, but one of my bigger ideas that follows this section will show why the best solution isn't to just pound on this.
  • Enthrall: The most dangerous of the three in terms of personal defense, but you actually recruit victims into your army this way.

 The fourth button in the standard four-button control pad would go to a general avoid or block.
 
 The initial press of any of these attacks would start a sequence, and once a sequence is started it refers to the initial type of sequence regardless of which button is pressed.  So if you choose Slay, any further button presses are different types of follow-ups to the combination.  So in a sense it branches out into a lot more commands.  You could press, on say a PS3 control scheme, the Triangle (Feed) followed by an X (Slay) and a Circle (Enthrall), which would mean use the shriveled corpse as a blugeon on the next guy, followed by a quick entrall to stun anyone who is about to make a counter move.  Each attack would still follow the general pattern of the initiating attack type, but you could add nuance to it that allows things to be different.  They HAVE to be different, though, as I'll explain next.
 

ANTI-PATTERNS


Even when there are multiple button presses, when we find a combo that works we tend to rely on it.  I'm guilty of this in fighting games when I feel I'm better than my opponent; I just flip one or two nice combo attacks and rely on them exclusively.  In this game, it'll pay attention to your button combinations, listing them internally.  If you wind up using a move you've relied on way too much during the battle, the enemy will get wise.  The more you do it, the less effective it is, and the more open you are to even a plain old soldier doing you some serious damage.  In a sense, I guess, this is sort of like the Director in Left 4 Dead, only instead of it responding to player ability being too high, this keeps the player from exploiting combos.  Thus the combination I suggested above, Triange, X, Circle, if used too much, means you're going to wind up dead. 
 
I'd also allow for shoulder buttons or triggers to help vary attacks enough that you can get away with things straight button presses would not, but you wouldn't get much leeway in this.  The shoulder buttons/triggers might also be mapped to items you find, which help give limited enhancement to attacks (fire artifact adds damage over time, but again, if you use it too much you weaken the artifact and strengthen enemy reactions).
 
Mixing in Avoid/Block moves with normal combinations also will help reduce the chance you'll get hit, since you can actually avoid some of the counters that come up when you do too many patterned moves.  There would also be a break-combo button you can use to cancel your current string if you don't think it's going to work, or find yourself falling into patterns that might prove deadly if you have low health or are up against a lot of troops.
 

ENEMY BEHAVIOR

 
This one's short, but it almost goes without saying: DW is famous for the enemies sort of just standing there ineffectively, waiting to die.  I say reduce the total number of combatants, but increase their intelligence, both as individuals and as a unit.  Kill a sergeant, and you have a bunch of angry soldiers from his unit who fight more erratically but with marked ferocity.  Kill the soldiers instead, and the sergeant's orders (not voiced, but manifest in the way the unit reacts to you) get smarter.  If you don't finish off a unit you've been fighting and they escape, overall the enemy gets slightly smarter when they report to command what you're capable of.  
 
Make every squad, then, like an enemy just a bit below presumed player ability. Remember, since they aren't endless, this doesn't have to be exhausting, but it should be a bit tiring because you are, even if you have supernatural powers, taking on an entire army.
 

ITEMS


I'm not sure, since they're all sort of blending together in my memory right now, but I think it was DW 3 that had variable item stats.  This was probably the most fun of the item systems that I managed to play.  You found an item or weapon that had stats that varied based on how difficult the game setting was, and how much damage you did to the guy who was holding the item.  That way you always had incentive to look for new items and weapons.  Have this sort of thing, where the vampires are all looking for ancient artifacts but they're unable to know 
 

CAREER MODE WITH GENUINE CHOICES BASED ON BASIC PLAYER BEHAVIOR

 
Instead of making a choice about dialog trees (as in some games) or major acts on the part of the player, just have it be about how many people they choose to enthrall versus feed on, or whatever else.  Let it be about the sum of statistics the player racks up through the course of the game, and also allow them to lose a battle and keep going (if you remember games like Wing Commander did that, let some objectives be lost but still provide you with several different branching scenarios to play through). They may lose their character, but they can pick up another main as a sort of survival mode only stretched to campaign length.  If they want, they can redo the campaign, or they can choose to carry on from there.  Either one is viable, and losing some of your vamps will lead to more interesting endings than trying to be a perfectionist (but both are viable).
 
Often in DW you would have branches that often were obscure, as obscure as some of the item generation events, such that you basically had to look them up online to know what was going on.  Here you could just have these things be an outgrowth of what's apparent, with the stakes of each battle laid out for you, and hints about things that you can take advantage of that might give you bonus artifacts or even bonus characters.
 

END NOTES


I have further story justifications for a lot of these things, and ideas why stuff is happening, what the clan differences are and what sorts of characters and stats you can build up and unlock, and also who you're fighting and why, but these I could use in my own fiction or whatever, and they're not really important to the mechanics.  I hope you sort of see where I'm going with this, even if you hate the series with a passion, and I have to say I totally understand where you're coming from if you do hate it.  I still like some aspects of it, and I want that feel of plunging into the middle of a war not to be abandoned completely just because creators have fallen into a safe rut that doesn't seem to encourage change.  Happens when you have a franchise that's popular, unfortunately.  If nothing else, consider this a sort of vote of encouragement for those who want to try something new.
 
This was actually inspired by a review of a DW-like game I saw recently, Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes. It both came up with some interesting stylistic choices that looked like they would freshen up the old Dynasty Warriors formula, but it also seemed to tread a lot of the same ground slavishly, as though these sorts of elements were NECESSARY for this kind of game.  They totally aren't, and I hope these ideas suggest how things can be mixed up a bit to provide a different kind of experience.
#2 Posted by ryanwho (12082 posts) -

Turn the enemies into zombies and people suddenly don't care they're playing a mindless game. Exhibit A, Dead Rising.

#3 Posted by Onno10 (405 posts) -

never gonna happen, Koei would never even dare to change something 'succesful'.

#4 Posted by dbz1995 (4790 posts) -

I've never played a Dynasty Warriors but I am looking for a game with decent multiplayer-would a DW game be fit for me?

#5 Posted by Make_Me_Mad (3019 posts) -

The only thing I think Dynasty/Samurai warriors needs to be really effective is to make the one-on-one combat feel a little better.  Maybe give you a different, more focused array of moves if you lock on to an enemy, leaving the series-standard area clearing attacks for when you're running through crowds and wiping out hordes of weaker soldiers.

Maybe also make it easier to travel across the maps, but only if there are no enemies in your way.  I don't mind having to trudge my way through hundreds of spearmen who keep taking cheapshots at me, but running across a wide open area to get to where the battle is?  Not so much fun.

#6 Posted by ryanwho (12082 posts) -
@dbz1995 said:
" I've never played a Dynasty Warriors but I am looking for a game with decent multiplayer-would a DW game be fit for me? "
Apparently they just released an online game. I haven't heard a thing about it.
#7 Posted by ahoodedfigure (4238 posts) -
@Onno10:  You'll notice Capcom recently came out with a Dynasty Warriors-type game, pretty similar in gameplay it seems.  It's more about the style of the game, rather than the game itself. I sort of go over that in the article, but maybe I should have made the title different.
 
@dbz1995: It really depends.  I don't know how the current games are, but when you're playing multiplayer DW in the older versions, there would be a lot of disappearing troops that could still attack.  This was in the days of plain old, plug in two controllers co-op, though.  I think the later ones allowed for more troops on screen. 
 
@Make_Me_Mad: Both good points. I was sort of getting into that with the combo system I suggested as far as combat, and when I talk about going around the map finding meat buns it suggests that traversing the map is a pain, but you hit the nail on the head there.  It can get super tedious walking through empty map sections.  They already have borderline fantasy abilities, why not an "incautious run" option that leaves you vulnerable to attack but lets you cover a lot of ground fast.  Even warp might work, depending on what people expect.
 
@ryanwho:  It's funny but you could be right. People complain all the time about how the soldiers in DW are stupid, but if you have some sort of story reason for why they're stupid, no one cares anymore :)  Less to do with mechanics than just plain old believability, I guess.
#8 Posted by Hailinel (23889 posts) -

You're insinuating that the Dynasty Warriors games are bad.  And frankly, I don't want or need vampires running around ancient Three Kingdoms China.

Online
#9 Edited by ahoodedfigure (4238 posts) -
@Hailinel: You misread me on both counts, I think.  I love Dynasty Warriors on many levels, but it pains me to see that they never change, gameplay wise.  And there ARE problems.  Maybe you don't think so, but I feel like there are things that could improve that never do.  Rather than pretend I'm remaking Dynasty Warriors, I take a step back and try something new, with the tired vampire cliches taking the place of the legendary wars.  This gives people who are tired of THAT to take a step back and view the mechanics and their potential without bitching about the Chinese legends.  Personally I think the Chinese legends are one of the most endearing aspects of the series and I wouldn't change them at all, although at times I think they betray them by treating Cao Cao as a badguy, rather than just another guy trying to get his way.
 
It's not so much that I'm implying that the games are straight bad, but I'm recognizing the flaws in the system.  DW is a bit of a punching bag in the gaming community, at least here, and I'm writing to try to appeal to that audience.  Can't please everyone at once, I learned that a long time ago.
 
I don't think I say anywhere up there that Dynasty Warriors itself needs vampires, it's just that the game system, used in games other than Dynasty Warriors (Samurai Warriors, that Gundam game, and Capcom's over-the-top Samurai Heroes) could be much better, and I use vamps as an example of how you could have different attack classes, based on a Western version of folklore that most people have at least a distant familiarity with.  That, and it's almost Halloween.
#10 Posted by Hailinel (23889 posts) -
@ahoodedfigure:   But they do change.  Compare any Dynasty Warriors game to any Samurai Warriors game.  Or to Warriors Orochi or DW:  Gundam.  Games within their individual branches, like Dynasty Warriors 3 to 4, 4 to 5, 5 to 6.   The basic mechanics may remain the same in terms of normal and power attacks, but there are differences.  Noticeable differences.  The way that the Samurai Warriors titles ditched the bow and arrow for character-specific skills.  The renbu system of Dynasty Warriors 6.  The inclusion of giant enemies in Dynasty Warriors:  Gundam 2.  The segmented Musou gauge of the Samurai Warriors games.  The differing methods with which characters level up.  These are all differences that have a significant impact on the way that the games play.  While the most basic of basics remain the same, the games play in ways that are distinct.
Online
#11 Posted by ahoodedfigure (4238 posts) -
@Hailinel:  What sort of item system did you prefer?  I found that when they had leveling weapons I was less enthusiastic than when you could find weapons with different stat boosts that could be better or worse than what you already found. I think that was in Dynasty Warriors 3 but I don't know if they repeated it since.  Also, I've not played the ones that have those strategic views, where you control territories.  Do you prefer straight battling or did those add a cool dimension to things?
#12 Posted by Romination (2775 posts) -

They should turn it into a 2-d view one-on-one fighting game

#13 Posted by Hailinel (23889 posts) -
@ahoodedfigure said:
" @Hailinel:  What sort of item system did you prefer?  I found that when they had leveling weapons I was less enthusiastic than when you could find weapons with different stat boosts that could be better or worse than what you already found. I think that was in Dynasty Warriors 3 but I don't know if they repeated it since.  Also, I've not played the ones that have those strategic views, where you control territories.  Do you prefer straight battling or did those add a cool dimension to things? "
I really enjoyed the item system in Samurai Warriors.  It was the first Warriors game that actually gave you multiple equipment slots for different gear that boosted stats and abilities.  Samurai Warriors 3 takes another approach by giving you slots for a weapon, armor, gauntlets, and boots, and the skills associated with the items in each category can be upgraded.
 
I've played a couple of the Empires expansions, and they're entertaining.  There's definitely a different flow to the games, as they demand some patience.  You can't just rush into battle and expect to start cleaning up territory after territory.  There's a certain level of strategy involved where you have to pick and choose where and when you attack.  It's not a straight-forward simple matter of grinding out levels in a Free Mode and plowing through.
Online
#14 Posted by ahoodedfigure (4238 posts) -
@Romination:  The circle would then be complete :)
 
@Hailinel: The way it feels when I read your impressions suggest that they're not as closely tied as they might be.  I wonder if there should just be an exploration mode...  like taking this into an almost GTA style thing where you don't just have battle sites.  But I imagine that would take a long time of experimentation in order to complete.  Damn, I would like that, though.  Just walking through China's legendary age and getting into trouble with local thugs, getting noticed by a general for your skill, becoming a Lieutenant, then even a general yourself where you can affect how the kingdom functions.  
 
Other than the sphere system that got introduced in 4, I think it was, the items didn't necessarily feel more interesting.  The weapon-leveling mechanic, to me, felt so linear that it was just like another aspect of your character, really, and might as well have been a character stat and not a weapon stat.  I liked that you could find a weapon that boosted health and speed, and then find one that had a wider reach.  The problem with that system, though, was that you could only have one item of a certain level.  If you had two identically classed items with different stats, you had to choose between them, rather than being able to retain both for different contingencies.
 
Has there been any change in the health system since the old days?  The Meat Bun Search certainly rewards sensible resource management but sometimes feels tedious.  The game secrets that you can use to unlock characters and items often seems a bit too vague, too.  I don't know if a familiarity with the original stories would help one figure them out better, or if their clues are just a bit too subtle for what I'm used to.
#15 Posted by Hailinel (23889 posts) -
@ahoodedfigure:   Samurai Warriors 2 allows you to forge new weapons by merging two existing weapons together and carry over select skills and skill slots from each.
 
I can't think of too many examples off the top of my head (it's late and I really need to get to bed soon), but the health restoration system in Samurai Warriors 3 is quite different.  While you can still find health items in the field, you start each battle with a stock of items in your inventory.  You can choose the line-up of items from three preset collections, from the cautious (filled with health restoring items) to the more daring (items that boost attack, speed, refill the musou gauge, and so on).  You can cycle through your stock inventory and consume items from it by using the D-pad.  So if you're facing Tadakatsu Honda and are getting your butt kicked, you can use an item quickly from your inventory and stay in the fight rather than be compelled to run like hell.
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#16 Posted by kitsune_conundrum (1202 posts) -

Turn it into a Total War game.

#17 Posted by Make_Me_Mad (3019 posts) -

Reviving this topic, because it seems as good a place as any to bring it up, but I strongly recommend that you try out Samurai Warriors 2: Empires, as it is without question the best of the series I've encountered so far.

I've won battles by doing nothing but sitting at my main base and ordering my generals to attack and defend different bases and officers, and I've also lost battles, had the character I was playing as captured and executed, which removed them from the game, and then continued the campaign with one less general to play as during the next battle to retake the territory I'd lost.

The AI is significantly ramped up in this game, as the officers and even generic soldiers under your command will mercilessly assault any enemies they encounter.  This also applies to the enemy, of course, which results in the best combat the series has seen in any incarnation to date.  Generic enemy troops are completely capable of putting up a fight, unleashing a near constant stream of attacks whenever an officer or squad leader is nearby to command them.  When you reach the higher levels they become less of a threat, but they can still easily turn the tide of a battle between commanders from the sheer volume of their attacks.

You can order your officers individually or all at once, and at a certain point in the campaign will gain the ability to shuffle them around the map at will before commencing with a battle.  For the more basic strategy aspects, you have commands for your entire army to charge into enemy lines, to come to your assistance, or to focus on defending your own bases.  You can also set them to automatic, and they'll do a passable job of controlling the battlefield.

If you want to get more specific, you can order a specific officer in your army to go after a specific base or enemy officer anywhere on the map, and they'll get right to it, usually taking only a minute or two to destroy whatever you sent them after with extreme prejudice.  If the officer is in danger, or losing too many of their troops, you can instead recall them to defend one of your bases and they'll do that quickly as well, breaking off current engagements to keep themselves alive.

That's another thing that needs to be mentioned- losing a battle in this game doesn't mean you reload your save and try again (Although you can, if you hate fun).  The real downside to losing battles is that you lose a lot of troops, and often officers under your command will be taken prisoner, and can be hired by the enemy forces.  If you turned on character deaths in the options at the start of the campaign, your officers can also be executed, which is exactly what it sounds like.  They'll be removed from the campaign entirely, leaving you with several thousand less troops under your command and, if you're anything like me, an insane desire for revenge.

The last real point that needs to be mentioned are army formations, which you acquire in your policy phases before deciding the whos, wheres, and hows of invading and defending.  Each formation will double the attack, defense, or speed of your army for a certain number of formation points that you accumulate over the course of a battle.  Changing your army to a formation will expend that formation until you repurchase it during another policy phase.  The real issue with formations is that certain formations have advantages over others- you can blow your entire stock of points changing to a powerful attack formation, only to have the enemy completely negate your advantage by changing to a defensive formation, putting you on the ropes until you've reaccumulated enough points to change formations again.  The wrong choice of formation can make the difference between destroying an entire battallion of enemy generals in seconds and having to retreat with your tail between your legs.

This is way too long.

#18 Posted by Make_Me_Mad (3019 posts) -

Just an example of a battle I did twice early on, while I was still figuring out how the game worked.

I decided that it would be a good idea to invade Nobunaga's capital, despite his empire being twice my size- scratch that, because it was twice my size.  If I could pull it off, I'd go from being a speck to the dominant power on the map in a single battle.  He outnumbered me massively, 30,000 troops against the scant 12,000 my lower leveled officers could bring with them after a series of battles beforehand.  As a result, he controlled nearly every base on the battlefield, and all of his officers were positioned close to my main camp.

As soon as we began he went into a power formation that outclassed mine and crushed the one base standing between his army and my main camp.  I immediately ordered all of my officers to the defensive, and before I knew it we were swarmed by powered up officers.  I held out for a while, but eventually I was the only officer left on my side, meaning that if I left the immediate area of my base camp, it would fall and I'd lose the battle.  Turns out I didn't have any say in the matter, as Nobunaga soon called reinforcements from an adjacent territory, and four officers decided that I'd been alive entirely too long and used their musou attacks simultaneously to reduce me to a smear against the back wall.

I reloaded the game and tried again some time later, having a much better idea of how to play the game.  Before the battle began, I checked my situation out more thoroughly.  I had a tactic that would place all officers inside their base camps, and turn all the bases on the map neutral, meaning that whichever army reached them first would claim them.  I immediately put it into action, picked the fastest horse I had in stock as opposed to my usual choice of the most powerful, and set my army to a speed formation.

The battle started and I immediately sent the few officers I had scattering in different directions across the map, towards the most remote bases I could, and made a charge myself for the base immediately adjacent to the main enemy base.  Less than a minute into the battle we had Nobunaga and his officers in the same position we'd been in before, locked down in two small bases without the ability to deploy the massive numbers of soldiers he had in reserve.  I lured his officers back into my controlled areas and captured them all, giving me the advantage in numbers and more importantly breaking his formation, which I immediately switched to a power type.  I charged into the main camp and destroyed it in a matter of seconds, barely even noticing Nobunaga and claiming a total victory over the opposition in less than five minutes, with the reinforcements from his other territories never having time to arrive on the battlefield.  Take note this was with exactly the same tools I had available to me the first time, just utilized in a far better manner.

It was great.

#19 Posted by ahoodedfigure (4238 posts) -
@Make_Me_Mad: Generous post, thank you!  Sounds like Empires is sort of where this formula has been heading, and it sounds like that added strategic element makes things a lot more rewarding. 
 
You should cut and paste and make this into a blog entry, if you haven't already.  I think more folks should see it, since it addresses the AI issues people have with the series, and that thing I forgot to mention, that dying isn't just a cue to reload.  Sounds like a lot of fun.  
 
How much customization is there for each of the generals, and are they varied at all in story/design/attacks/weapons?  Are the army formations kind of like the rock-paper-scissors mechanic you see in other strategy games?  I seem to remember Dynasty Warriors Tactics using something like that, but I never played it so I'm not sure.
I wonder if their long-term ambition is to reach a point where you pretty much get all the game modes we've seen in the previous games in the series combined, honed to a point where it's a bunch of different, fun games at once.

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