Omega Force is undeniably known for retelling the Romance of the Three Kingdoms tale at least every three years in its universally acclaimed Dynasty Warriors series. On the side, the developer also channels its hack and slash knowledge into its spin-off Empires collection, which focuses more on kingdom building and governance. And with Dynasty Warriors 9 Empires now looming on the horizon, it seems as though a list detailing the best of the best is well in order.
Building on a monopoly isn't exactly a new concept. In fact, it has been done dozens—even thousands—of times. But building on a monopoly based entirely in 169CE China? Now there's a world only Dynasty Warriors can nail to a tee. The question is, which of the many Empires chapters made the board look the most appealing? Well, let's pin them up. Here are, in our opinion, the best Dynasty Warriors Empires games of all time, ranked.
5. Dynasty Warriors 4 Empires
A little while after Warriors found its feet on the hack and slash front, Omega Force looked to usher in a new wave of spin-off handles that would help push the series to new heights. Empires, of course was the result of that, with Dynasty Warriors 4 being the hub for such an opportunity. Unlike anything else from its time, the new and innovative design streamlined a fresh and invigorating concept; one that would further amplify its reputation.
4E didn't have the same fluidity of the other games, sure, but for its time, it was a breath of fresh air; a real game-changing comeback to help revitalize the Romance of the Three Kingdoms story. Forging a land to your own design was new and exciting, and was backed by a slew of additional challenges that failed to find a home within the base game. All in all, 4E was a real turning point for the franchise. Thankfully, it was also what paved the way for its many later releases, meaning credit is definitely due here.
4. Dynasty Warriors 9 Empires (Demo)
At the time of writing, Dynasty Warriors 9 Empires hasn't released. Its demo, however, has been available for a short while, meaning we've had enough time to spool through its bite-sized world and get a feel for its core features. Because of this, the placement is very much likely to change, depending on how Omega Force tweak it before launch day. At present, however, its demo isn't the most gratifying thing in the world, and there certainly are a lot of areas that need seeing to.
While the open-world environment is back, nudging the new style a little further into the limelight, 9E falls short in terms of combat, which wasn't all that great the first time around. Customization is the defining feature all around, but the game itself doesn't put so much as a dent on its siblings that basically ooze nostalgia. At this point, it's almost as if Omega is biting off way more than it can chew, and it shows.
3. Dynasty Warriors 5 Empires
Only a couple of years before Omega Force booted the Warriors kingdom into the next generation of consoles, the rising faction put one last-ditch effort into giving the series a well-deserved send-off. Dynasty Warriors 5, being one of the last few video games to release prior to the Xbox 360 launch, was a perfect homage to the beloved timeline that came before it. And as for its Empires follow-up, well, let's just say it was merely the icing on the cake.
While not offering anywhere near as many features as its later instalments, 5E still showed a lot of promise, and lay the foundations for what was destined to be a well-oiled machine. Gameplay-wise, the game had a lot going for it, and gracefully upped the ante with a helping of polished and finely tweaked visuals. Conquering Ancient China was as riveting as it was in previous games, only it had a lot more personality than its former ports. A standout entry, for sure, but nothing textbook. Perhaps in 2006, maybe?
2. Dynasty Warriors 8 Empires
In all honesty, Omega Force hasn't been able to retell the Romance of the Three Kingdoms any better than it did in Dynasty Warriors 8. Just a few short years before the series went AWOL and resorted to open-world settings filled with barren voids, the series was most definitely at its strongest. Sure enough, Empires was bound to cash-in on the popularity and sample a shred of the goods.
As far as customization goes, the eighth counterpart had it dialed, boasting infinite opportunities to flesh out an entire army and conquer the whole of China. With more key features, in-depth strategy systems, as well as a major mechanic overhaul, 8E managed to maintain the impeccable status that its predecessor had once forged in stone. Did it overtake its elder sibling and claim the throne? Well, it wasn't far off.
1. Dynasty Warriors 7 Empires
To many, Dynasty Warriors 7 was the beginning of a whole new chapter for the series. Despite retelling the same old tale that fans had heard a hundred times before, it somehow managed to breath a second life into the franchise, once again escalating the hype for a new batch of next-level reboots. Empires, of course, wasn't all that far behind, and actually followed up only a year after its initial launch.
Being the flagship entry in the Warriors kingdom to pilot a new style into ignition, it was only natural for long-term fans to get behind it as it soared to wondrous new heights. And they did. Dynasty Warriors 7 Empires had it all, and then some. With fleshed out and fluid combat, instantly recognizable and nostalgic maps, and an abundance of opportunities to strategize and formulate a kingdom, the seventh instalment ushered the series into a whole other realm. Funny thing is — two instalments later, and it still sits smugly at the apex of Empires entries.
So, what's your take? Do you agree with our top five Dynasty Warriors Empires games? How would you rank them? Let us know over on our socials here or down in the comments below.