Needless to say, Dynasty Warriors Producer Akihiro Suzuki knows a thing or two about the Three Kingdoms. He’s been working on the Dynasty Warriors series since the historically-based franchise’s birth, helping grow the 1 vs. 1,000 game into a global brand, while helping celebrate the original game’s 20th anniversary at TGS with the surprise news of the forthcoming Dynasty Warriors 9: Empires. I caught up with Suzuki to find out more about this action-strategy game hitting Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S in early 2021.
Jon Robinson, Public Relations, Koei Tecmo America: Dynasty Warriors: 9 Empires marks the fourth Xbox system the franchise has been on. Walk us through the highlights of how each new Xbox system has allowed you to do more with the game.
Akihiro Suzuki, Producer, Dynasty Warriors 9: Empires: With the specs improving with each successive generation, we have been able to greatly increase the chaotic enemy actions that is a key element to what makes the series fun. At the same time, the increase in processing speed used to control the AI of the various troops that appear on the battlefield has allowed us to simulate a more realistic battlefield.
Robinson: What graphical upgrades can gamers expect to see in Empires on the Xbox Series X|S?
Suzuki: There will be improvements on the Xbox Series X|S versions in the visual quality, framerate stability, and crowded chaotic gameplay.
Robinson: The Dynasty Warriors franchise has been around for over 20 years now. What is it about this franchise that people keep coming back for?
Suzuki: I think that one of the reasons is that we have been able to retain and deliver the series concept of “the exhilaration of 1 vs 1,000” throughout while adding new features into each new game. There are features such as new actions and new game modes, but the addition of new characters allow us to show new episodes from the Three Kingdoms story and their relationships with existing characters, has allowed us to bring forth new drama to the storytelling in each game.
Robinson: As a history fan, have your opinions of certain characters in the games changed throughout the years as you learn more behind the real men featured as characters in your games?
Suzuki: My opinion has changed about Sima Yi. In the early games, I had the impression that as a rival to Zhuge Liang, he was a supporting character. But not only did he have many military exploits, he was victorious in the faction within Wei, and lived through the Three Kingdoms era to create the foundation of the Jin dynasty, so now I think that he is a hero that rivals Cao Cao.
Robinson: How is the Empires gaming experience different than the experience of playing a typical Dynasty Warriors game?
Suzuki: It combines the simple controls and 1 vs 1000 exhilaration of the Musou action of the DW series, and the tactical strategy elements of conquering territories. Players can enjoy weaving together their very own Three Kingdoms.
Robinson: What can you tell us about the game’s evolved battle system?
Suzuki: The battles have changed compared to past games, and now the area around a castle used as the battlegrounds to conquer the castle has evolved into siege battles. Since the high-stakes situation changes constantly, players should make use of various strategies and their forces in the pursuit of capturing enemy castles. I hope everyone enjoys this new style of battle.
Robinson: How will the character relations influence gameplay?
Suzuki: It will impact the effect of strategies and abilities in battle. Also, becoming sworn siblings or spouses will influence the in-game events and ending.
Robinson: What can we expect from the expanded character creator?
Suzuki: The facial editing will allow for more customization compared to previous Empires games, and it’s similar to Nioh 2’s Character Creation. In editing body parts, it has been a system where the upper body, lower body, arms and feet could be changed, but in this game, we added a new feature. While I can’t talk about the specific details yet, I hope that you can imagine what is possible from the screenshots released showing off the character creator.
Robinson: What is your favorite type of character to create to rule the Three Kingdoms?
Suzuki: I create a lot of characters from the Three Kingdoms story. Using tales and legends of those characters as the base, I then come up with the parts that are lacking as I create the characters. It’s also fun to create family members of DW characters, such as Lu Xun’s son Lu Kang, and Ling Tong’s father Ling Cao. Also, I always create King Wutugu.