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Dynasty Warriors Vs Samurai Warriors



Koei Tecmo has this old saying: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Such is the case with its Warriors anthology, a collection of hack-and-slash tales that depict some of China and Japan’s most famous time periods. As two franchises with a staggering amount of iterations, both the Han Dynasty and the Sengoku Empire have successfully managed to conceive a myriad of compelling and historically accurate representations. Evidently so, what with each timeline having not just the one, but dozens of instalments under their belts spread over several generations.

Of course, there’s another question that comes to mind whenever we envision the Warriors IP: which of the two is better — Dynasty Warriors, or Samurai Warriors? And to formulate an answer to that question we have to brush over a number of elements; the gameplay, lore, and accuracy, to name but a few. So, without further ado, here’s what you need to know about the two, and above all, the series that sets the benchmark for Koei, in general.

What Is Dynasty Warriors?

In case you missed the memo, Dynasty Warriors is a hack-and-slash series that dates back to 1997. In these twenty-something years that it’s been on the radar, Koei Tecmo has successfully managed to establish a plausible timeline of events that depict the famed Han Dynasty, otherwise known as The Romance of the Three Kingdoms period. And while the stories told in each of the nine iterations have never really strayed all that far from the actual plot of the era, they have gone on to include various backstories, factions, and battles.

Regardless of the entry you select, be it the first or the ninth, the Three Kingdoms era is one and the same, and a fully comprehensive love letter that has only become more refined with age. For what it’s worth, though, the installment that truly knuckled in on the period and gave it the best visual representation was Dynasty Warriors 8—an entry that revolved around a sense of linearity and not a sandbox open word, which featured in the ninth mainline chapter.

For the most part, Dynasty Warriors is a level-based series that houses a variety of modes; Musuo Mode, being the go-to choice. Outside of that, there’s also the Empires subsidiary, which lets players create their own officer and strategically control and conquer China as one of the four warring kingdoms, Wei, Wu, Shu, or Jin. Bundled together with a selection of free play modes and custom scenarios, you’ve got yourself a franchise that boasts hundreds, if not thousands of hours of gameplay.

What Is Samurai Warriors?

Samurai Warriors isn’t all that different from Dynasty Warriors, in the fact that it depicts certain key events from the Sengoku Era in Japan. Set with a slightly darker undertone in mind, the Japanese entries move away from the subtleness of the Three Kingdoms period and instead cast their focus on another struggle—an era-shaping series of events known as the Warring States. It is within these times, much like the brother franchise, that you take control of a roster of highly skilled officers and move to unite Japan.

At present, there are only the four mainline entries in the Samurai Warriors sagaeach of which depict the same characters’ battles and story arcs during the Warring States phase. These chapters, in a true Warriors format, are broken down into episodes known as Legacies, each pertaining to a series of events that take place between the years 1500 and 1600. On that note, not a whole lot is different, other than the perspective from which you play.


As far as gameplay goes, both Warriors divisions boast the same high-octane format—a style that consists of short-burst battles in compressed arenas, as well as thousands of enemies and officers to dice through in a power metal-induced quest to conquer the masses. Bread and butter hack-and-slash games, both Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors’ primary focus is on mashing buttons with the odd combination of special character-locked attacks. That’s all textbook material, and a formula that, quite frankly, Koei Tecmo has finessed over and over again, with the benchmark being set somewhere between both Dynasty Warriors 8 and Samurai Warriors 4.

It goes without saying that, as far as gameplay goes, Warriors as a whole isn’t all that complex. Matter of fact, other than having to mash buttons and activate the occasional overcharged combo, the bulk of the extracurricular activities merely revolve around loitering in camps between stages, and conversing with the everyday officer to help build alliances out on the battlefield. This is a formula that Koei Tecmo has been gradually enhancing since 1997, though each new iteration is more or less the same game on a vaguely different scale. Visually, they improve, as does the fluidity of the controls and additional features strewn within the core game modes. However, as far as the breadth of the narrative travels, each division retells a similar story, though often from a different perspective depending on the kingdom or character you choose.

Of course, the thing that changes the most in each new chapter is the arenas—the battlefields that tend to feature the same landmarks and names, but with different terrains and obstacles. However, for the most part, battles are structured in a traditional A-to-B format, meaning, well, one size fits all. The same goes for Samurai Warriors, too.


While we could quite easily sit and mold over the ins and outs of each respective franchise, we could also paint a circle around another side entry altogether. Warriors Orochi, although a spin-off of the two, is the culmination of both Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors’ characters and lore merging into a standalone venture. And it works, incredibly well at that.

Mechanically, Warriors Orochi encapsulates the same blueprint that Koei Tecmo has been enhancing over several decades, which is reason enough to give it some food for thought. Add the fact that it also wrangles in an entire roster of characters from both series as well as franchises including Dead or Alive and other noteworthy favorites, and you’ve got yourself one of the best all-in-one packages on the hack-and-slash market.

Of course, if it’s accuracy you’re after, and not to mention a deep insight into the Han Dynasty and all its trials and tribulations, then there’s no doubt about it — Dynasty Warriors 8 Xtreme Legends is your best bet. For a similar journey that takes you down all the avenues of the Sengoku Era, Samurai Warriors 4 is hands down the most compelling and accurate of the whole series. For everything else, seek solitude in the arms of Orochi. 


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Jord is acting Team Leader at If he isn't blabbering on in his daily listicles, then he's probably out writing fantasy novels or scraping Game Pass of all its slept on indies.