Review: Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Complete Edition (Sony Playstation 4/Playstation Vita)

Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Complete Edition
Genre: Action
Developer: Omega Force
Publisher: Tecmo Koei
Release Date: 03/25/2014

A new addition to Koei’s long running Dynasty Warriors series will most likely either make a reasonably seasoned gamer cringe or giggle with delight like a child on their way to Disney World. There honestly isn’t much of a gray area. Sure, maybe you’ll start by finding it amusing to “play with friends,” but chances are that this standpoint on the series will see you as a full-fledged convert as soon as the next installment is release, or possibly even before, assuming it doesn’t drive you away before that point. As sales numbers and various crossovers have confirmed, there is something about leveling an entire army single-handedly that can cast a perpetual spell of awesome on a good sized demographic of gamers. I have been under the “Warrior’s Spell” personally since Dynasty Warriors 2, a launch title for the PS2 console, and the series’ first foray into the formula that has made the series so popular. Being that the series is so polarizing, various additions, sequels, and spin-offs have gotten an unfair shake in terms of reviews over the years, so rest assured that what you read here are indeed the words of a fan.

DW8XLCE is not the Roman numeral representing how many Warriors games Koei has released on various platforms over the years. It’s not even the abbreviation I’ll use to refer to the subject of our review today, Dynasty Warriors 8 Xtreme Legends Complete Edition, because it’s too damn long; for abbreviation purposes, I’ll term it as DW8XL. It IS, however, the abbreviated name for the fifth Xtreme Legends expansion off of the core Dynasty Warriors series, since there was no Xtreme Legends release for the first two Dynasty Warriors games, or for Dynasty Warriors 6, just so we don’t get confused. The original Dynasty Warriors probably wouldn’t have done much to inspire an Xtreme Legends expansion since it was a one on one 3D fighting game, by the way. The more you know.

DW8XL is essentially an enhanced addition of last year’s Dynasty Warriors 8, so if you’re looking for an involved discussion of the specific gameplay improvements when compared to prior games in the series, you can follow the link for more information. As noted above, Xtreme edition versions have existed for all core DW games since Dynasty Warriors 3, with part 6 being the only one not to receive the Xtreme treatment. As it is with most new installments of DW, little is done to alter the base formula of the series, and DW8XL is no different in those regards. What will gauge a fan’s particular appreciation for a new edition of Warriors is typically the modes and roster of characters available. As I mentioned in my review of DW8, the series is similar to a sports game in those respects. For those PS4 owners who aren’t current fans of the series and might potentially be interested in checking the game out because, “NEW GAME,” I can wholeheartedly recommend DW8XL as a great starting point. You can’t get a more complete or better looking core DW game than DW8XL.

DW8XL contains the entire DW8 experience, as well as the expected new modes, roster additions, and various other toss-ins. While the game is not a representation of what one might expect a next-gen release in the series to look like, a good amount of polish has been applied to take advantage of the extra power of the PS4. Textures are definitely more vibrant and detailed across the board, and character models have been sharped up to a noticeable degree. I immediately noticed the enhanced quality of the countless army grunts that litter the battlefield, which makes the routine task of mowing them down even more delightful to behold. The game also comes with an English dub, which is surprisingly well done. This might be a detriment to some fans, though, who enjoy the ridiculously hammed up dub we get if we do get one in our native language, but the quality voice work earns Koei some respect points on the other end of the spectrum.

As far as modes go, DW8XL offers a good amount of things to do that one could not do in the core game. Each kingdom’s storyline features roughly 10 additional missions, and DW8XL sees the welcome return of FREE MODE for all available missions. This caused many a fan to rejoice when it was brought back in DW8, so its inclusion is very much welcome here. Free Mode essentially lets you play any story based mission as any character, a feature Koei confusingly omitted in Dynasty Warriors 5 through Dynasty Warriors 7 and their various expansions. Some of the new missions are also of the hypothetical “What If?” variety, which is something I always find amusing, personally. The one that comes to mind here in DW8XL sees Cao Cao spare Lu Bu’s life and serve under him in the following Guandu mission, which, while not technically a new mission, even in DW8, is given an exciting twist. Oh, and speaking of Lu Bu, the most insane badass to ever romance the three kingdoms is finally given his own individual storyline in DW8XL.

Lu Bu’s time tested plight involving his constant quest for power, the shocking lengths he’s willing to go to in pursuing it, and ultimately his pseudo redemption through love has been long overdue for its own time in the spotlight of a DW game, and while it’s unfortunately a bit short, seeing the man among men get a series of his own battles and cut scenes is worth the admission price alone in my opinion. Seeing these events that, at most, existed only as spoken narrative in past games, fully realized and tied into gameplay, was great. Lu Bu is also available to play as from the moment as you start the game up, which is a bonus for me, since unlocking him, maxing out his level, (which is now 150 opposed to 99 in the core product) and fitting him with a weapon worthy of such a warrior is at the top of my list every time I play new DW installment.

DW8XL also adds on 5 new characters to the series. Yu Jin of Wei, who fights with a war trident, Zhu Ran of Wu, who uses a fiery bow, Fa Zheng of Shu who fights with (no kidding) a woven cloth, and further fleshed out by Lu Bu’s story missions are Chen Gong, Lu Bu’s strategist who summons phantom soldiers to strike with various weapons depending on the combo, and finally, Lu Lingqi, daughter of Lu Bu who charges into battle with a halberd similar to her father’s, and his same love for battle. They don’t change up the game in dramatic fashion, so to say, but they’re all pretty fun to play around with and should give players who’ve gotten a little tired of the current roster new faces to decimate the enemy forces with.

Getting back to modes, DW8XL sees DW8‘s fun and grind heavy Ambition Mode get a rework to make it, well, more fun and grind heavy. In the core game, the goal of Ambition Mode is to build a grandiose palace, called Tongquetai. The idea is that this palace, and the community surrounding it, would be enough to attract the attention of the emperor. Doing this required the upgrading of facilities and fortifying of influence, which was accomplished by playing various battles that ranged in scale from a light skirmish to a full out multi-faction war. Upon building the palace to its maximum glory, the emperor would indeed visit, and from there the facilities could be further used for leveling up characters and collecting items. In DW8XL however, completing the Tongquetai makes way for a new take on the mode that essentially sees you take your forces to unite China as a whole. Though not nearly as in depth as what can be done with an Empires expansion, Ambition Mode certainly is reminiscent of those games, as you play a constant game of tug of war with surrounding territories and opposing powers. By conquering land you can strengthen the bonds of the characters you’ve recruited to your cause and eventually achieve your goal of getting everyone together as a big happy family… until the next game at least. DW8XL has also added in a gem system for weapon augmentation that allows you to put the special effects you want into play more easily. Gems are a new reward in Ambition Mode, which makes the heavy amount of grinding required to make progress more rewarding. If you’re like me, cheesy in game wallpapers are more than enough reason to smack the hell out of another 25,000 troops and their 5000 generals, so your individual mileage may vary. DW8XL also has a Challenge Mode for those who want to beat on countless grunts with more of a purpose than what is normally provided. These challenges vary from time attack scenarios, such as knocking enemies off a bridge and defeating generals, to various survival modes to see how many face characters you can beat with a single health bar. These extra challenges aren’t anything the typical DW fan will spend a copious amount of time on, but they can be enjoyable here and there, and again, it’s about smearing as many dudes as possible with different goals.

Lastly, DW8XL features cross-play functionality with any existing versions of the game, including the impressive PS Vita edition, which allows you to put the entire wealth of the game’s content in your pocket. You can also play online with friends who may have any of the other versions as well, regardless of the version you yourself are playing. The Vita version of DW8XL is functionally identical to the PS4 version, albeit with reduced graphical fidelity, though you’ll honestly not see that much of a difference when the action gets fast and furious. The PS4 version does offer a few novelties that take advantage of the console’s capabilities, such as the ability to record gameplay footage and bonuses or challenges that can be decided by viewers who watch you stream, should you choose to so. Outside of those additions, both games offer the same features, added modes, roster of characters and more, and since the games feature cross-compatibility, you can transfer your progress from the PS4 to the Vita seamlessly to keep the action going at home and on the go. To say that this is a fantastic feature for those, like myself, who can’t get enough DW action is an understatement.

Short Attention Span Summary:
Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Complete Edition takes a good breath to recite, but the lengthy title is definitely indicative of the product it’s associated to. DW8XL is the finest Xtreme Legends add on since the one released for DW5 in my opinion, and I’m personally partial to that one because of the Destiny Mode. DW8XL is a total package of Warriors goodness that any fan can get excited over. While not a total graphical overhaul, the visuals have been noticeably polished from last year’s DW8, and the extra cost the PS4 version will run you is the best way to go if you have the console, though those who have a PS4 and a Vita will find value in getting both thanks to cross-saving between versions to allow you to play at home and on the run. The extras are of quality and plentiful in this Xtreme Legends edition, and having an actual Story Mode based exclusively around Lu Bu is worth checking out in and of itself.

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