Dynasty Warriors Unleashed is a spin-off free-to-play action game from Nexon for the Android and iOS devices based off Koei Tecmo’s Dynasty Warriors franchise.
The game puts you in the shoes of one of the generals under Warlord Lui Bei in the early stages of the Three Kingdoms period. As the general of Liu Bei, you are tasked to take on hordes of grunts, captains and hero opponents as you follow through the game’s story, which is pretty much what happens in the main Dynasty Warrior titles.
However, unlike in the main series where you can just interchangeably go from one PoV character to the next, Unleashed gives you the option of choosing three heroes that will form your squad. And as a collective, they are considered as the story’s general. You can choose the “leader” of the team and he or she will be the first person you’ll be controlling in matches. You can then tag other heroes in your team to change the one you’re controlling. Also, you can hire “support” officers who will work as the AI controlled hero for a locked period before they disappear in the mission.
The game currently has a roster of 48 officers that you can choose from with each character having three element variants and are classified into three hero types.
Controls follow the usual virtual keyboard style of system where you have a dedicated directional stick with dedicated buttons for normal attacks and active skills plus a musou button whenever you fill up your meter to do it in game.
Unleashed has all the features you’d expect in a Dynasty Warriors title aside from the hordes of opponents. You can also equip weapons, armor, legendary items and other accessories as a means to increase your officer’s stats. You can also increase your officer’s overall power output by increasing its level through the use of experience point giving items or using other officers as experience fodder.
For a free-to-play title, what surprises me the most is that Unleashed has tons of gameplay features that a player can spend tons of time on. Aside from the normal story-driven campaign and 1v1 team-based PvP, Unleashed also presents players the option to go capture resource points that net premium or in-game currency, time-locked skirmishes and various forms of AI controlled instances. Players have a lot of things they can spend time on in-game and would be a really good time sink even though this game relies on energy for players to actually do things non-PvP related. This keeps things interesting even though the game tends to be a bit too repetitive in the late game. However the AI and the solo games Unleashed presents are just the nice icing in the overall cake that the game presents.
The Value of Choices
Unleashed’s overall gameplay options and features allow players to play around with various team compositions that aren’t concerned with Player vs. Player battles. This keeps the game surprisingly fresh longer and allows for a wide choice of officers to play around with.
Team composition choices are going to be integral as the higher difficulty campaigns, boss hunts and etc. would require you to have a specific set of heroes. And the variety of attack patterns and speed is obvious per hero class that you’d prefer to either have a wider scope of options or a more concentrated set of officers in your team. You can even say that these team comp choices can be a shallower version of team comp planning in Pokemon battles. Just instead of turn-based strategic combat, Unleashed emphasizes on real fast on-the-microsecond control changes and tweaks.
The game’s difficulty curve is steep as you are babied in the normal earlier stages of the game. However, as you steadily go along the higher difficulty missions, you will be required to actually invest on the equipment and officers you will be putting in your team. This doesn’t mean though that the AI becomes better in the later stages. The opposing officers, captains and grunts though will hit harder than ever, especially on the unprotected officers in your team.
What makes players come back to Unleashed is the game’s battle system. The simplistic three-element min-max strengths and weakness system on top of the three hero type system makes things interesting for PvP battles. There are tons of variations and team compositions that you experiment with to find your niche in PvP. Pennypinching players who don’t want to spend time and money on the game can still compete competitively as long as you are smart in the officers you deploy and the weapons, armor and accessories you equip to your deployed heroes. The game is still new and in that very generous new state with devs handing out edicts and weapon boxes left and right, so keeping up with good gear and obtaining rare heroes is quite easy at the moment.
The Face of Despair
However, as you reach mid to late game, you will be expected to at least have spent some money to make your team as strong as possible. There will be opponent teams packing raw unimaginable power… like a team of Lu Bus at max level split between the three elements. It’s already hard enough to face a single Lu Bu, but going against three is a gauntlet of pain. At least you can say that PvP never feels dull or too easy, as strong teams will push your skills as a general.
Overall, Dynasty Warriors: Unleashed is a really solid spin-off from the franchise that I have come to love. With a different skew in the Dynasty Warriors storyline, the game presents you with a fun and really ridiculous plot that keeps it engaging as game fluff. Meanwhile, the gameplay elements and streamlined PvP system prolongs replayability more than what you don’t normally can expect in a free-to-play title.
The game is visually beautiful and is consistent to what you’d already expect from a Dynasty Warriors title. Playing it on an android phone and ipad, I would say that the game is better suited to be played on an ipad than on a small screened device. Since virtual controls are always better done on a tablet than a small device.
As a fan of the Dynasty Warriors series I am pleasantly surprised with what Unleashed has presented to me. It’s a solid free-to-play title that can and will please long running fans, and at the same time is welcoming enough to series newbies. It’s a game that can and will cure your itch if you’re looking for a title that’s not strategy centric, and if you’re on the lookout for a game that you can just turn off your brain and hack away at for a fun time.