The Dynasty Warriors franchise has remain unchanged during multiple installments and spinoffs since Dynasty Warriors 2, released for the PlayStation 2 back in 2000. Each entry is set during the Han Dynasty as political factions battle for control of ancient China and the player assumes the role of a single soldier defeating hundreds of foot-soldiers and slaying rival generals.
What once was an exciting adventure for players has, for some, become a stale experience due to the unchanged elements. And unfortunately for developer Koei Tecmo, that stagnant approach has resulted in declining sales for the Dynasty Warriors series. For all intents and purposes, things were beginning to look grim for the franchise.
In what was deemed a last ditch effort, Koei Tecmo partnered with Nintendo for Hyrule Warriors, a Wii U exclusive that combined the iconic Legend of Zelda property with Dynasty Warriors' gameplay.
The title may have had its detractors, but Hyrule Warriors proved to be the much needed boost that Koei Tecmo needed, while also delivering strong sales for the Nintendo Wii U. To date, he Zelda inspired hack-and-slash game has shipped over a million units to stores, which is quite an accomplishment considering Hyrule Warriors is the only non-Nintendo game to reach this milestone.
Why do the spin-off entries succeed, while the main installments struggle? The primary issue players appear to have with Dynasty Warriors isn't the gameplay moments, but the stale setting and overused characters. For example, within each entry there is a line of dialogue that tells players "Do not pursue Lu Bu!" Eventually players will obey, and not pursue Lu Bu... or Dynasty Warriors at all because they've already gone through these exact scenarios.
The new situations created for players during Hyrule Warriors highlight that the beat em up mechanics still resonate with fans, and that Koei Tecmo should consider more partnerships with outside properties. Producer Akihiro Suzuki hopes to use the Wii U exclusive as a springboard for Dynasty Warriors' future success:
"So Hyrule Warriors gave the series some freshness. Now our task is to keep the new players happy now that they’ve had a chance to play. But overall with the franchise, we need to keep it fresh."
The freshness mentioned is important for the continued success of the Dynasty Warriors brand. By partnering with existing franchise, that are more recognizable and accessible than the backdrop of ancient China, Koei Tecmo could expand their fan base and introduce the Dynasty Warriors' style to a whole new audience.
Have you played a Dynasty Warriors before? Which series would you like to see receive the Dynasty Warriors treatment next?