Interview: Dynasty Warriors 4
25th Jun 2003 | 17:30
Enormously popular in Japan, and carving a deep impression into the hearts and minds of US gamers, the Dynasty Warriors series has repeatedly impressed and delighted with its heady blend of brutal, crowded violence and ancient Chinese history.
Koei, having recently opened a new office in the territory, has now turned its attentions to Europe and hopes the might Dynasty Warriors series can achieve the level of success it ahs enjoyed elsewhere. With Dynasty Warriors 4 out in Europe this Friday for PS2 and an Xbox version on the way, you'll be able to sample the game for yourselves very soon, but if you still wondering what all the fuss is about, let senior development manager Takazumi Tomoike fill in the gaps .
What's the story behind Dynasty Warriors 4?
Tomoike: The Dynasty Warriors series does not feature a particular story that progresses in each sequel, but is rather based on a shared historical background, that is, the period of Chinese history known as the Three Kingdoms. Dynasty Warriors tells the stories of these three kingdoms, Wei, Shu, and Wu and their struggles to bring peace to a war-torn land.
Obviously this is a continuation of the series - how have you advanced this title from previous games?
Tomoike: All the character models and map data were recreated in order to improve processing speed and to render a more realistic battlefield. Additionally, more effort has been put into individual units as well as the main characters, giving them even more attack and AI patterns. By doing this we wanted to achieve a more vivid and balanced playing experience.
The new Musou Mode uses a campaign system and "Kingdom Play" that allows players to have the ability to choose a new general from their kingdom at the beginning of each stage rather than having to play through the entire game with the same character. Additionally, the flow of the stages is more flexible and can change depending on how the player proceeds through the game.
Three new officers have been added as well, allowing the player to choose from 42 fully redesigned and remodelled playable characters. Additionally, the player can create up to four new officers on his own and take them into battle.
Other things such as the new siege engines and weapons and the brand-new Weapon Experience System and Orbs allow for even more varied gameplay and attacks.
In some ways, Dynasty Warriors seems to be quite a complex, esoteric series with its close bearing to actual historical events. How do you make the series attractive to gamers who perhaps don't have an interest in the background story?
Tomoike: The Dynasty Warriors series is designed as an action game. Even players without any knowledge of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms or of Chinese history can enjoy action on the battlefield. We want the player to experience ancient warfare at its best, to have his selected officer and allies roam the battlefield and fight epic battles as mighty warriors. Additionally, players can experience stages in a whole new way by simply changing their Kingdom and playing the stage again.
Can you tell us about some of the new siege engines in this latest edition?
Tomoike: The players are not actually able to control these siege engines and weapons themselves, but they appear during battle and can have a major influence on both your allies and enemies. You'll need to protect your siege engines from enemy attacks, and try to destroy the enemy ones as quickly as possible. Like any war, the proper use and/or targeting of these units can be the key to victory.
How do the new duel sections work?
Tomoike: Players may be challenged to a duel by enemy officers during battle. If the player accepts, he will have to fight the opponent one-on-one for 45 seconds; if he declines, the morale of his army will suffer. Winning the duel will improve the army's morale according to the defeated officer's rank. If the outcome is a draw, the player's army morale will suffer if the duel opponent was weaker than the player and improve when the duel opponent was stronger than him.
Finally, if the player loses the duel, the game is over. At least in the beginning, it is probably wiser to live with lower morale or at least try and hold out for a draw, rather than going against somebody like Lu Bu or Guan Yu and getting killed. It adds an important strategic element to the player's decision.
Clearly therefore DW4 is much more than just a mass brawl, but there's actually a tactical element, too - can you explain that to us?
Tomoike: Morale is the main tactical element in Dynasty Warriors 4; every single victory improves the fighting spirit of allies standing close and the player will have to seek out and assist allied troops with low morale in order to achieve an overall tactical advantage on the battlefield.
One characteristic of ancient warfare is the importance of individual unit achievement in battle. Although massive armies are put against each other, limited mobility and simple weapons force troops together and to fight in small groups. Victory of a single warrior or group takes effect on the morale of surrounding allies and enemies alike.
Another strategic aspect is simply choosing your targets. Going straight for the enemy officer may bring victory to your forces, but you may find yourself cut off from assistance, or even worse, have your own ruler defeated while you are searching for the enemy one. While cutting off enemy strongholds will obviously weaken the enemy army in the long run, making the last moments of the battle easier for you.
How does the new Edit Mode function?
Tomoike: With the Edit Mode, players can create their own officers and bodyguards. With the officers, you can not only choose things such as the gender, clothing and attack animations, but you can also choose which Kingdom they will belong to, allowing you to fight alongside the greatest warriors from each of the three kingdoms.
The bodyguard edit allows you to create your own bodyguard unit from multiple character models and have them accompany your character on the battlefield. You can name each bodyguard individually as well as the entire unit name. Like normal bodyguards within the game, your created bodyguards will develop over time, so it is important to build them up.
Will the plot and direction of the game change according to your actions?
Tomoike: Definitely. If certain conditions are met, additional stages will appear. Clearing these will unlock new characters, weapons or special items. Characters also have relationship attributes between them. Characters whose friends will assist each other in battle, while hostile ones will team up with the enemy against the player.
What would you say is the most remarkable new addition to the gameplay in this version?
Tomoike: I would say that compared to earlier titles of the series, we were able to introduce objects such as the siege engines, new units and features that expanded the gameplay possibilities. Personally, I like playing through the Musou modes repeatedly, trying different ways for them to progress.