By ahoodedfigure 3 Comments
Having played Dynasty Warriors to my personal exhaustion, I realize there's still stuff to unlock but I wonder if I'm just going to have to leave it for later. A lot of these unlocks feel perfunctory: I've already leveled my dude to the maximum and finished his story, why would I want to have a 10th level item that I'd never use? Even some of the characters seem a bit extraneous; Jiang Wei, I'd argue probably the hardest guy to unlock, is just another person with a spear (although admittedly he has an endearing accent). It's gotten me thinking in general about DW games, and what I think might finally make the perfect blend of features. I've talked about the mass-combat mechanics before, but this is more Dynasty Warriors as an overall game structure. I'm not in the mood to type a characteristically long entry, so I'll be pretty concise and let any discussion that might come from it help fill out my thoughts.
Musou mode should follow the different kingdoms, allowing for other factions (in addition to the Jin, Nanman, and Yellow Scarves/Turbans, why not the decaying Han Dynasty and all its alliance generals?) to have a general story that you can play as any one of the initial important faction members for that story. Say you start with Wei: you can play Zhen Ji, Cao Cao, Cao Ren, and any of the others you might expect. As you play through the Musou mode, you may meet new characters. Meeting them, and perhaps fulfilling certain conditions to get them to join your faction, unlocks them.
When a character is unlocked and you start playing as them, you don't start where they meet up, but instead you actually have prior missions that lead them up to meeting the faction they join. This is how you unlock stages for Free Mode.
This sounds similar to the structure for 4, but it's organic, allowing you to have, in a sense, flashback moments where the new characters in your group in a sense tell you how they got to where they are.
You also should be able to lose battles but still continue the overall Musou campaign. Say you get driven out of the Nanman territories; this doesn't mean the game is over for you, it just means your faction doesn't gain control of the area.
Situations like this bring the final element into play. The Empires mode has often been on the sidelines, saved for expansion games. Why not integrate it more fully? Rather than having an unlock-grind of conquest mode, have each of the kingdoms have their own treasuries where found items are kept, cities to forge weapons, all of that, and as you continue in Musou mode, new capabilities unlock, but only for that faction, giving you an excuse to either build up other factions to give them the same capabilities, or to choose Raids, which are part of Free Mode, only you get to select which faction is attacking AND defending. If you're successful, the attacking faction will have access to the defending faction's items.
Or maybe there could be some other sort of meta-game that governs just how much stuff you've unlocked? I dunno. One of the big problems I've had with 4 is that unlocking has basically meant reading FAQs all day rather than the game or the books giving you enough clues on their own.
As far as individual combat mechanics, one of the complaints I've heard about 7 is that those that use a certain weapon type tend have similar move sets. They try to get past this by letting you use any two weapon combination, but you're ultimately encouraged to use the character's signature weapon anyway. It might be better to have several styles associated with different types of weapons, even if those weapons are all swords. This mirrors real life a bit, where some swords are stabby, some are hacky, and when you combine this with the pseudo-magic of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, you can have several different types of sword techniques that keep things interesting. These, too, will be locked to each faction and unlockable through raids, only you have to capture enemy generals and convince them to teach you the other faction's techniques. That, or there could be betrayal moments where key characters can betray their own faction, allowing you to transfer techniques over, but perhaps causing some paths in Musou mode to be cut off until you try the other path.
I'm not sold on all of these ideas, but I think threading all the scenarios through the factions, and having each character's story be a bit more individual if they don't start out on your faction, helps make following a SPECIFIC character's musou mode less repetitious. Sometimes DW rightly gets the reputation for repeating too much; making each character stand out a bit more might help weaken that criticism.
Then again, maybe the faction-based stories are the way to go? I've not seen it in action yet, although the only thing that really bothers me about what I've heard about 7's Musou mode is it forcing you to play a certain character for a certain stage. Since many characters work together, it seems easy enough to let you play ANY of the characters that are participating in that stage (and maybe playing a character to completion during a stage will unlock that character, encouraging replaying the campaign to see what kinds of trouble particular characters get in).
Whether or not you've played the new one, any ideas for improvements or refinements?