What I think DW lacks and how to go about improving it

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What I think DW lacks and how to go about improving it

Unread postby Jordan » Mon Feb 04, 2013 11:42 pm

I posted a long message on 4chan earlier today about what I think DW is missing and how to go about improving it. With some changes, I feel like posting it here to see what people think.

here is my opinion on the state of the series:

As of Dynasty Warriors 7, Koei has upped the bar in terms of content. Prior to DW7, it would have been reasonable to call Koei "lazy." DW6 was regarded even by fans as a massive disappointment. On the flip side, adding in Jin as well as the conquest mode gave fans of the series a ton of new things to appreciate in DW7. But the inherent problem with adding content in a Dynasty Warriors game is this: In any given stage, the way you fight your enemies is exactly the same. Sure, sometimes the battles will order you to complete different objectives, but the way you do so is always the same. You run up to a crowd of mooks or enemy officers and slash them till they die. The number of options you have to confront these peons (block, regular attack, charge attack, musou attack) are limited, and in many cases it doesn't matter which tactic you adopt to deal with them (whether that means parrying their attacks and then countering, mashing square, using square->triangle strings or mounting a horse and confronting them this way).

I'm going to explain what I feel Dynasty Warriors should do by first talking about three games that do it right. The first is a turn-based RPG. The second is an action game. The third is an action RPG that comes very near to being a hack-n-slash. Although each can be considered different genres than Dynasty Warriors, in a way, they are good examples because they do one thing very well: They force the player to use different strategies against different opponents, thus adding a significant level of depth to the game. I am addressing these games for the gameplay they offer and not for any other factors (such as story, character, graphics, etc.; ironically, in all these categories, all three of these games are somewhat lacking compared to Dynasty Warriors).

The game I've been playing most recently is a turn-based RPG called Touhou: The Genius of Sappheiros. Excusing my playing a Touhou game for a minute, please hear me out on why this game demonstrates well-designed gameplay mechanics.

In many RPGs I've played, I felt that I was just grinding for the best skills/stats or exploring for the best equipment. In either case, I felt that once I had these things, I could just steamroll through every random battle and boss battle. In Genius of Sappheiros, this is either untenable or undesirable, depending on your perspective. Perhaps it is a little of both.

This is because each enemy is largely individualized in terms of what it is weak against and strong against. There are several different types of physical attacks: Stabbing/Slashing/Striking. Some enemies may be weak to striking type weapons (such as fans and axes) but enormously resistant to the other two types. Then you might encounter enemies that are resistant to the strike-type weapons but weak against slashing type weapons such as swords.

The logic that went into physical attacks in this game also goes into every other mechanic the game offers. In some cases, you may need to forego patk and rely on magic. But what magic do you use? There are several different elements in GoS. Again, you might encounter one enemy who is resistant to everything except one or two of these elements. Then you might encounter another enemy who is resistant to those elements but weak to another. Adding to the complexity of the game, using a lot of spells of one element changes the "environment." If a character's element is the same as the dominant environment, they will start healing every turn and elemental attacks of that environment will do nasty damage. There are also moves that flat out change the environment to allow the player to stack the game in their favor. But sometimes physical attacks and magic won't do shit, and you'll have to rely on status. Here, again, each enemy has different weaknesses and resistances in terms of exactly what status effects can affect them. On other occasions, you may need to use very specific buffs, perhaps to evasion against high power but low accuracy enemies, or to defense or magic defense, in order to get out of some battles alive.

As a turn-based RPG, however, GoS is very far from Dynasty Warriors, a third person action game. Because of this, at this point some people might be skeptical. However, it is for its "logic" and not for its "style of play" or "genre" that I admire GoS. It forces the player to use different strategies against different enemies, which is something that Dynasty Warriors does not do but should.

The second game I want to talk about comes closer to Dynasty Warriors in terms of genre/gameplay, but doesn't quite approximate it. This game is Monster Hunter--in all of its varieties.

Like Touhou: The Genius of Sappheiros, Monster Hunter requires a modicum of thought while playing. Each monster has its own resistances and weaknesses. While this is not as huge a focus in Monster Hunter as in GoS, it still plays a role in deciding the outcome of your monster battles. If you learn how to exploit each specific monster's weakness, you'll get through the game more easily. Some might be weaker or stronger against traps. Some might be weaker or stronger against certain items you have. Some might be weaker or stronger against certain weapon types or require the player to exploit the environment in some way in order to win.

However, because it is an action game, Monster Hunter can also do some things that GoS cannot by virtue of its genre. The most important of these is forcing the player to react to the enemy attack patterns. Each huge monster has its own unique attack patterns. These attack patterns demand that the player respond in different ways. Sometimes this may involve blocking an incoming attack or attempting to dodge it, or attempting to run and then dodge it, or attempting to dodge in a specific direction, or attempting to stun, status or hit the monster as it charges up an attack.

This is again something that Dynasty Warriors lacks. Monster Hunter is like a thinking man's action game by contrast.

The third game, or game series that I want to talk about is Kingdom Hearts (particularly later games in the series). Of all the games I mentioned so far, this game series comes the absolute closest in approximating Dynasty Warriors' style gameplay. Kingdom Hearts is...for all intents and purposes...a hack n slash. But it is a better one at least as far as gameplay is concerned (everybody sane knows that the plot and characters are fanfiction levels of stupid).

If Kingdom Hearts and Dynasty Warriors are both hack-n-slash type games, what makes Kingdom Hearts any better? The answer lies in the game philosophy that went into making Kingdom Hearts. It is the same philosophy that made Genius of Sappheiros and Monster Hunter games good: Rewarding the player for using specific strategies against specific enemies.

One of the issues with Dynasty Warriors is that most of the peons are exactly the same. Kingdom Hearts doesn't have this problem, however, as there are a wide variety of adversaries you must contend with. As in Monster Hunter, these foes have specific attack patterns that the player eventually learns to confront and deal with. As in Genius of Sappheiros, in many cases these enemies have specific weaknesses, as well, in terms of magic, skills, aerial vs. land attacks etc. As in Monster Hunter, sometimes use of the environment is required to beat some bosses or enemies.

Of all the games mentioned so far, the Kingdom Hearts games are probably the most shallow. However, in recent games like Birth By Sleep and Dream Drop Distance, it definitely felt like an effort was made to force the player to rely on different techniques to confront different enemies. I like it when I discover that one enemy is weak to a specific element, which I then use to my advantage. I like it when I discover a "trick" to defeating a certain boss that stretches beyond running up to it and whacking it. I like it when I know exactly how to deal with an enemy attack, whether that means blocking it, dodging it, using some skill to mitigate it or attacking the enemy before they can charge up something powerful. It is things like this which makes Kingdom Hearts games have better gameplay than Dynasty Warriors, in my opinion.

By now, you probably understand the gist of what I'm trying to say. Either you are a diehard fan of Dynasty Warriors who accepts the status quo and despises everything else, a moderate who is willing to consider some changes or a radical who wants the entire series reworked. I feel that I myself would fall into one of the latter two camps. Some of you by now probably think that it's time for me to stop posting.

I want to talk about what I think they should change about dynasty warriors though. It is not so much that I want Koei to abandon their gameplay system entirely and make a GoS, Monster Hunter or Kingdom Hearts style game. Instead, I want Koei to adopt the game philosophy that went into these games:

1.) Having a wide variety of enemies in the game, each with their own strengths as well as weaknesses.

2.) Each playable character (or perhaps each weapon) also having their own strengths as well as weaknesses.

3.) Certain enemies using different attack patterns to throw the player off from time to time and force the use of specific strategies to counter these attack patterns.

4.) Some levels requiring unique methods of approach.

Things like this is what these other games have that Dynasty Warriors does not.

One change I would like from the start is the option to command all the subordinate mooks I have ala the system Koei pioneered in the Empires games (starting with DW5: Empires) and in other games they've designed such as Kessen II.

It is here that I think they can make some of the easiest changes to the game. Because in addition to being able to command subordinates, I think Koei could add a lot of strategy with commanding them and do so with minimal effort.

Let us presume, for example, that in any given battle, each officer commands a certain type of unit. Units might include swordsmen, spearmen, fan-wielding strategists, light skirmish troops, archers, cavalry, heavily armored clunkers and so on.

Now let us presume that some of these unit types are weak to certain types but strong against others. This means that when you send Cao Hong to help your ally Yue Jin contend with Zhang Fei, Cao Hong will have a higher chance of winning if his unit type and Yue Jin's happen to counter Zhang Fei's. Perhaps some levels might even require more novel approaches than this basic rock-paper-scissors design. Perhaps it might pay to send your light skirmishy troop unit or your cavalry, which move faster than other units, to go raid Yuan Shao's supply depot at Wuchao before Yuan Shao realizes the threat you pose. And all of this could be done using a gameplay system Koei has already conceived: the one invented in Empires where you get to order your subordinate commanders around, with only minimal changes. However, such a change would improve Dynasty Warriors quite a bit, particularly if the decisions you make in this have a greater effect on the outcome of battles.

This is the first change I would consider in Dynasty Warriors.

A second change would be to give each individual move (say for example: Square+Square+Square+Triangle) certain properties. Perhaps, for example, this is a Piercing type move. However, maybe the same character's Square+Square+Triangle is a Slashing type move. Now, some enemies might be resistant to slashing attacks but weak against piercing attacks. Therefore, it would be up to the player to decide which move to use in which circumstance. This system would utilize a relatively new Dynasty Warriors feature, the ability to weapon switch, and add strategy and meaning to it. Some weapons might focus mostly on Blunt type damage (like hammers, clubs and the like) while others are stronger for slashing. Thus, you'd have a reason to switch depending on which dominant enemy peon wave you were facing or which boss you were confronting. Several people have aptly pointed out that having to switch your weapon every time you face a new wave of peons would get tiresome quickly, which is why I think to make this system work, they'd have to limit the different propertied attacks to perhaps two or three (as in monster hunter tri where you have either cutting or thwacking type of moves).

The enemies, of course, would have to change as well, with different types of enemies having different properties. To add depth to this system, they could incorporate the elements from items (that were in previous dw games) and make certain enemies weak to certain elements. For example, equipping the fire orb or using a character that naturally has fire elemental attacks might make the Nanman campaign a bit easier by allowing you to deal with the rattan soldiers.

Koei's Mystic Heroes game attempted to experiment with some of these ideas. although it wasn't great, I think that at least it was on the right track.

A final thing I'd like is to set aside the peon waves for a time when boss battles come about. This is something I heard Basara did (though as I didn't play Basara, I can't confirm it). The boss battles can have enemy peon waves be summoned depending on the enemy, but they should focus mostly on the player using his skills to defeat the boss. Bosses should have their own resistances and weaknesses, as well as attack patterns, that require the player to react to each one in a different way. This would probably be the most difficult change to implement in dynasty warriors but it would easily be worth it for relieving some of the game's tedium. Some bosses might require you to block more or to use moves that disrupt the enemy's own blocking. Some might require intensive dodging and some might have certain weak points. The bosses shouldn't just simply be "regular player characters and generics controlled by the game's meh AI." They should be something fun that takes skill and strategy into play.
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Re: What I think DW lacks and how to go about improving it

Unread postby Liao Ce » Sat Mar 09, 2013 5:53 am

I like much of these ideas.
I just posted on DW7 thread about what I thought was good and bad about 7E. I personally think it is better to have more emphasis on strategy and team work. I like that your allies are more helpful. I think that commanding your allies and using strategy should be much more of the focus. For instance, not being able to give commands from the pause menu would be awesome to me. You should have to give commands at times or else risk loosing the battle because your subordinates don't know where to be in order to win. But to have have to get away from the front lines in order to give those commands would add another element of realism to the game. I mean... with Lu Bu in your face, you shouldn't be allowed to simply pause the game and give orders to your officers, lol. Nothing should be possible untill you've either dealt with Lu Bu or retreated from him.

But not necessarily having to defeat 1000+ in order to win the battle seems fair to me. It should differ depending on what officer you control. If you're Lu Bu... sure, defeating 1000+ should be how you win. But if you're Zhuge Liang... getting 75 and using strategy and correct troop placement should be how you win.

I like your idea of certain attacks being useless or more effective against certain enemy types. Sound great.
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Re: What I think DW lacks and how to go about improving it

Unread postby Aaron.K » Sat Mar 09, 2013 12:05 pm

I like these ideas for the most part, and the interesting thing is that Koei (well Koei Canada) has already done some things which are similar to it, in their Warriors: Legends of Troy title. Not all of it, but things like utilizing different styles of play in order to effectively defeat different types of enemies. You can still hack and slash your way to victory, but it takes longer, and you might pay for it in the long run.

Another thing I'd like to see in Dynasty Warriors is more aggressive mooks/peons (which incidentally is not as big of a problem in Warriors: Legends of Troy), because as it stands right now, they're little more than things that get in your way and make a number count rise up in the bottom corner of the screen. There's no significant threat by them, unless you're on significantly low health and they get a sneaky fluke attack on you.

If riding a horse as a character for example, I should be a bit more wary when attempting to ride straight into a group of troops armed with spears who are set up in some kind of formation. Maybe something like in Mount and Blade Warband, where mounts have a health bar and can be killed, but aren't anything significantly superior to other horses (except maybe Red Hare or other special horses that you could unlock that might be more resistant) that you can find on the field, but you get the horse back once the battle is completed. Because as it is right now, there's only really a threat of failure when facing enemy officers, and even then it's really only specific officers in specific battles that ever seem to be able to put the hurt on my character if I'm playing reckless.

Really I just want to see something in the game that effectively simulates consequences for your actions. So if you charge into the front of spears, your horse gets killed from under you, you fall off, and then the soldiers butcher you. If you are on foot and rush through a group of enemies and get surrounded, you'll have more people swarm you to try and attack you at once. A more rewarding attack and defense system, (perhaps directional blocking like in M&B Warband?) and more exhilarating battles. Something that gets you excited, gets your heart racing and making you think "I'm gonna die, I'm gonna die" over and over, until you finally vanquish that foe and get a moment of respite, and you feel like you've accomplished something. As it is now (to me at least), it is a game of "Watch the number on the bottom right go up, beat important person, progress story".
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Re: What I think DW lacks and how to go about improving it

Unread postby Liao Ce » Sat Mar 09, 2013 7:52 pm

I like the idea of not being able to ride just anywhere you want to ride on your horse. But you don't even need a horse to go wherever you want, lol.
It's actually very easy to run thru a large army and go wherever you want to go. You can be completely surrounded, and simply run right out of it. That shouldn't be. If you find yourself surrounded or cornered, you should have to fight your way out.
The way it is, you can run forward and it pushes all enemies out of your way and lets you thru. It shouldn't. They should have their feet set and give very minimal ground to a moving player.

I like in WO3 how they have different classes: Power, Speed, Technique & Wonder.
A power character can continue swinging thru normal attacks. A speed character can double jump to escape situations, aswell as jump cancel an attack. They should add things like this to DW.
It would make things much more interesting, especially given my idea of not being able to simply run wherever you wanted.
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Re: What I think DW lacks and how to go about improving it

Unread postby Aygor » Mon Mar 11, 2013 11:53 am

Great post Jordan, I agree with most of it.
Here is my personal take on it:

The player should be allowed to control his subordinates, a general will control his troops and officers, the commander the whole army and generals: that would greatly increase the replay value, as fighting oriented characters will have a limited strategical impact, while others who may not be top tiers in hacking and slashing will make the most out of their authority; I would also implement differentiation of strategies available to different officers, so that some might be able to start fires or placing ambushes with a higher efficiency etc. and have a great battlefield impact, the yellow turbans might able to cast spells, some affecting their hack and slash move set, some affecting portions of the battlefield while generals might access to little or even none of those strategies.

Gameplay needs to be heavily changed, I have little experience with hacks and slashes, but the square-triangle string-charge system is just dull, at least the way it was in DW5 and seemingly in DW7: personally, I would keep the possibility to give officers 2 weapons; I would differentiate weapons more (there is no reason to have every weapon having the same set of attacks -I refer to the string of squares of the same lenght and the triangle charges with the same positional effect- I would expect an agile weapon, like the twin swords to have more attacks than a club, not to mention differences in strenght and speed); I would give characters different affinity for different weapons to influence both the availability of certain attacks in the moveset (personal weapons like Zhuge Liang's fan could give Kongming access to a couple of extra moves but he couldn't use some of the strongest moves from a club) and the efficiency of the damage/effects they deal; the differentiation of damage suggested by Jordan is great, weapons should heavily focus (while retaining some general versatility) in different kinds of attacks like piercing/slashing/hammering et cetera.

As Jordan said, different types of troops is crucial (cavalry, light armored soldiers, heavy armored soldiers, fan armed advisors etc.); as a general one should choose the type of troops he want under his command, as a commander one could choose the troops of the whole army; different troops will not only have different AI tactics (as combined attack, spear walls against cavalry etc.) but also different charachteristics when dealt damage: a heavy armored trooper might suffer few damage from slashing but high damage from piercing, a shielded trooper might suffer little from piercing and a lot from hammering etc.; there should also be cooperation between a general and the troops accompaning him: a strategist may require a volley of arrows (if he has archers with him) on the enemies in front of him and a cavalry general may have his fellow cavalry charge with him.

I would also add Aaron's idea of spear troopers being able to stop your ride (wouldn't oppose actually killing your steed to be honest), I would also get rid of mass attacks (most of DW7's attacks apparently) to avoid being able to sweep through crowds, I would expect troopers to be aggressive and a crowd, especially a big crowd, to be tough to get rid of, "forcing" the character to stay close to his troops and to not go for the kill alone (as it was in DW2).
I don't personally care about bosses for a game like DW, enemy generals being just characters with their main weapon is perfectly fine for me, as long as they also have access to troop cooperating abilities which would make it tough to kill them (or at least force you to deal with their troops and not rush to fight them).Lastly, character's development could be improved in a mild rpg style, but I am not familiar with DW7's system so I wouldn't know about that.

Replayability would be ensured due to the wild range of possibilities one would have to play his game, in story mode one would follow his kingdom by being able to select the main characters in in battle, while in free mode one could play as who he wants in every stage.
I am sure that with the due balancing such a DW game would be top notch.
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Re: What I think DW lacks and how to go about improving it

Unread postby plunged » Wed Apr 10, 2013 2:38 pm

My problem with Dynasty Warriors is that it is basically shallow in every aspect. For example the characters. They keep adding new ones, but they're not really unique, gameplay-wise. The game doesn't play much different depending on the character. Huang Zhong has a bow for example, but he essentially plays the same as a character with a short-range weapon. I'd like to see that changed.

Also, the maps don't offer anything to the gameplay. They are just surroundings, with different paths, but they don't enforce anything or make you change your tactics or whatever. A snow map doesn't slow you down for example (which would make attacking more difficult and defending more easy). Every map is basically the same. Also, every objective basically comes down to the same. Whether it's attacking the enemy, defending your own base, or supporting a siege ram, you Always hack through loads of enemies. The game system is not made to let you do much else than that. It's not made to solve puzzles, to support a catapult while it's actually being build, to have people on screen that actually do something else than fighting (farmers taking care of their fields would be nice, or guards on walls of cities patrolling in a typical patrol-walk)

I'm also getting a bit bored of the mindless slaying of the rank n file and I would like to see officers act more in a group and have the rank n file follow them in formations, rather than a long line of rank n file some metres behind some officer who is acting on his own and not in co-ordination with another officer.
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