Famitsu interviewed Dynasty Warriors 9 producer Suzuki Akihiro after presenting the game at Sony’s conference in ChinaJoy with the world-premiere gameplay footage.
Famitsu: This gameplay footage is the first one ever, but when we watched the video, we were first captivated by the vast fields.
Suzuki: Thank you. I’ve also talked about this in the previous interview, but we have already released 7 games even just for the hack’n’slash genre Dynasty Warriors (not including the fighting game Dynasty Warriors 1). We’re thinking for the story of this game to be based on the Three Kingdoms period, so fans who have played this for a long time have already known the story development.
In this world there are also titles that can be enjoyed with predetermined developments, but we wanted to provide new experiences to our fans. Without changing the general framework of the story, we thought what we should do to make it new, and as a result, we settled at the answer of Open World.
Famitsu: However, even though you said Open World, we think each user will have different images (imagination/interpretation) of it. What kind of Open World are you aiming for in Dynasty Warriors 9?
Suzuki: Indeed, the way of grasping the term Open World is “to each their own”. In this game, in order for people to be able to enjoy it their own ways, we added a high degree of freedom to the Three Kingdoms story. With this, we’re bragging that we can make it into a new experience not in the past Dynasty Warriors series.
Famitsu: How would you elaborate further on the high degree of freedom in the story?
Suzuki: The story in this game is divided by over 10 eras in the Three Kingdoms period, starting from Yellow Turban Rebellion. In each era, there is a final objective being set such as destroying Dong Zhuo, and when this objective is fulfilled, there will be a major transition to the next era.
Until you take the mission for the final objective, there are also other main objectives that you have to fulfill, and it’s up to the player on how to play those individual objectives.
Famitsu: Which means, if the conditions are fulfilled, you can even suddenly fight Dong Zhuo.
Suzuki: Of course it’s possible, but the Luoyang city where Dong Zhuo resides in will be guarded very heavily, so even if you directly attack him it won’t be easy to beat Dong Zhuo. The advantageous way is to do various missions and requests that happen along the way.
For example, if you clear the mission to conquer Sishui Gate, the mission to attack Hulao Gate will be more advantageous. And then when you conquer Hulao Gate, it will be easier to fight Dong Zhuo at Luoyang. Missions are connected to other missions like this, and by doing them in order it will be easier for you to clear the final objective.
Famitsu: You can clear all the missions, or you can also instantly try to clear the final objective… Indeed, that means each person can play it in their own way.
Suzuki: Even so, the difficulty will be high if you instantly try for the final objective. We’ve made it so that the battle difficulty can be judged by comparing levels between player character and enemy officers, but when you’re no match in a battle, you can also get out of the battlefield area and try again. I think a popular playthrough method would be to first clear nearby missions little by little, and then trying the final objective after that.
Famitsu: Can the game difficulty be freely changed like usual?
Suzuki: We don’t assume a difficulty system like before. In this game, we’d like to set the game so that the difficulty can be adjusted by doing things like raising player character’s level or clearing related missions. However, as the Dynasty Warriors series has a broad fan-base, we do want to consider things like being able to change difficulty at the options menu.
Famitsu: And then, we’re also wondering on how much freedom you’ll have in moving. For example, ignoring Dong Zhuo to go towards Nanzhong instead…
Suzuki: You can. While you’re heading towards Nanzhong, you may be assaulted by bandits or wild animals. Other than the usual way of enjoying Dynasty Warriors series like efficiently capturing forts by looking at the movements of each army, we’ve also prepared small-scale battles against bandits or wild animals, as well as RPG-like gameplays.
Famitsu: Please tell us what kind of gameplay it will be like in concrete.
Suzuki: There are missions where you will rely on the mini-map to find items or people. It’s an orthodox thing in open world games, but it becomes a new test-bed for Dynasty Warriors. While you’re going in and out of cities with these missions, other than being able to gather information about the current era, you’ll be also able to understand the current situations.
We have also prepared several ways to clear a mission, so everyone will be also able to experience their own way of playing.
Famitsu: The fields are vast, so it would be also fun to take detours indeed.
Suzuki: We are developing this game with a setting so that there is no place the player character cannot go into. Under this setting, that means you’ll be able to move towards all places. If you use new actions like wall-kicking jump and using grappling hook to climb high places, you may be even able to reach steep places.
There are also ideas like searching for treasures or enjoying commemoration photos in secluded regions, so we’d really like to consider those.
Famitsu: For the commemoration photos, please also implement motions [& poses] exclusive for them! (laughs)
Famitsu: Previously we’ve heard about the story of this game being divided into more than 10 eras. Does that mean the playable characters will be also tied to the eras?
Suzuki: Yes. For example, for Shu faction in the era of Yellow Turban Rebellion, you can play as characters like Liu Bei, Guan Yu and Zhang Fei.
Famitsu: I see. For example, the longer a character lives, the more eras they will be playable in?
Suzuki: That’s right. On the contrary, for characters like Dong Zhuo, they only have a short period on which you can control them.
Famitsu: Does that mean you’re also able to even play as Dong Zhuo?
Suzuki: I’ve answered this in the previous interview, but all characters who appeared until Dynasty Warriors 8 Empires will appear here, and can be controlled in the story. Many of the characters will be unlocked as playable characters as you progress through the story.
Famitsu: If you play as Dong Zhuo or Lu Bu, the story might largely change though…
Suzuki: That’s right. The usual final objective would be to defeat Dong Zhuo. But when you play as Dong Zhuo himself, we’ve also prepared different objectives for him. You can experience different stories based on the faction you belong to, so it’s not just Dong Zhuo.
But we are not thinking of [putting in] major what-if/hypothetical developments like in past series games. For Dong Zhuo, we plan to depict [his story] until just before his death.
Famitsu: In that case, [players] would want to replay the same era multiple times.
Suzuki: Basically we are assuming [for the game] to be played by progressing through eras. However, there isn’t the likes of a Free Mode, so we’re also thinking of [another] structure in which you can play the same era. We’re still considering right now on whether it will be changing the player character or otherwise.
Famitsu: In this game, the actions of the unique characters have also been renewed indeed.
Suzuki: Just like giving variety to ways of progressing story, we’re also thinking of changing the [gameplay] system to also give variety to actions. Out of the various ideas that we had, we’re implementing the State Combo system where the action changes based on enemy situations.
The basic attacks don’t change with still mashing □ button, but by pressing R1 and either △, □ or × buttons at the same time, you can forcibly change the enemy situation. This is called Trigger Attack which starts a combo.
From this Trigger Attack, other than changing enemy situations to be juggled in the sky, stunned or toppled down, it will also connect to the □ button attacks.
Famitsu: When you’re attacking enemies, sometimes there’s a △ button mark showing up above an enemy’s head. What’s this system?
Suzuki: This action is called React Attack. It is shown on occasions such as when you might be able to counter enemy attacks, and if you press △ at the right timing, it will unleash a React Attack to change the enemy situation.
Even when you’re mashing □ button, the React Attack input will be prioritized, so it will be also easy to be used by people who are not too good with action [games].
Famitsu: So you’re also creating the action frontage in a wide way.
Suzuki: We’re leaving things like the Musou attack intact, so you can also experience a simple yet instantly exhilarating action. Furthermore, in order to add more variety to the action, we’ve also implemented Forward Rolling evasion with the R2 button.
Famitsu: Can you learn the new actions by raising character levels?
Suzuki: For character growth features like learning new actions, we’re still considering things like game balances for them. They’re not included in the version we’ve shown you this time, and we’ll also have to adjust weapon elements after this.
Famitsu: Speaking of weapon elements, can we also enjoy collecting strong weapons just like before?
Suzuki: Weapons can be obtained from the likes of mission rewards, but we are considering a system where you can attach elements with a separate feature, so we’re going to prepare more enjoyable collectibles other than weapons.
However, we are planning to change the method of obtaining powerful hidden weapons for each characters unlike before. I can’t say the details yet, but we’re thinking of an even more challenging structure where you have to obtain weapon blueprints with a certain method to produce them.
Famitsu: So the replay value is also getting powered up! I think a lot of Japanese fans also want to see the footage soon.
Suzuki: I’d like to prepare a special gameplay video for the Japanese fans, so I hope they can watch that first. Of course we are considering to have some kind of exhibit at Tokyo Game Show 2017, so please look forward to future information batches.