Monday, September 21, 2009

Grinds I Don’t Mind: Dynasty Warriors 6

This game and the others in the Dynasty Warriors series have immense replayability for me. I grew to love the Romance of the Three Kingdoms through playing this game and its predecessors.

The defining oddity in Dynasty Warriors titles: the core gameplay is really repetitive and “grindy”, yet I find myself playing through the same battles many times without getting bored. Individual enemies are seldom challenging to beat and, when they are challenging, they are usually “turbo-charged” officers who have the same mediocre-at-best AI but have ridiculously beefy stats. Once you get past the visceral coolness of wading through massive numbers of enemies, slashing as you go, the game seems to be quite a grind.

If the game were only a button-mashing beat-em-up, I would not enjoy it. Dynasty Warriors games have an added dynamic of choosing what path you take through each individual open-ended battle—even though you can be fairly certain of victory, the way that you can accomplish victory can vary significantly depending on which character you’re playing. If you play the same battle from the same side, but choose a different character, you may have a completely unique experience while still affecting the whole battlefield. Your impact on the battlefield is in evidence. It’s addictive and enjoyable.

Within a battle, there are numerous events that are triggered if certain conditions are met. This is a fun system not because it is particularly adaptive, but because it affords the battles more uniqueness and it invites you to “hack” it by doing actions in odd orders. It’s fun to learn the dynamics of a battle and then play it again and take advantage of your knowledge. The CPU doesn’t react reasonably as much as I’d like, but sabotaging an enemy force is surprisingly fun.

Why don’t I mind the grind in Dynasty Warriors 6?

  • Battle events are varied depending on my success or failure at certain objectives leading to a somewhat dynamic battlefield.
  • The visceral thrill of combat is sufficient—the graphics and presentation are good enough to keep the grind mildly pleasant.
  • The grind is punctuated with accomplishing objectives. This is a “killing with purpose”-style grind similar to early WoW and Aion.
  • Deciding where to go and what to do next within an open-ended battle at the strategic game layer involves enough in the way of interesting decisions to prevent the grind from becoming monotonous.
  • Whatever I do will have noticeable affects on the course of the battle.
  • I genuinely enjoy the Romance of the Three Kingdoms settings. Seeing the characters brought to life in the game world is worth more to me than it would be if I was not connected to the story.

1 comment:

Tesh said...

I've been playing Disgaea DS, and there are elements of that game that are decidedly grindy. It's hard to dodge when the game has a level cap of 9999, and you can reincarnate characters, starting them over at level 1 with some bonuses. (You carry over skills, so you could theoretically have a single character who has "lived" through all of the classes and picked up almost every skill.)

Thing is, I've spent more time in the Item World putzing around with Geo Panel chains than I've spent in the main storyline. I enjoy it, so it's not a grind, though it directly benefits my efforts in the main game. If I hated the Item World, I'd probably be grinding to keep pace with the storyline. As it is, I'm usually overleveled for the story.

And I'm enjoying it. 50-plus hours of it so far, and still going strong.