Poll: Dynasty Warriors 9 or Kingdom Come: Deliverance?

Neurotic Void Melody

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The date is upon us!

For now we must decide...two titles portraying past eras, involving the clashes of sharp pointy things, angry powerful men and outdated courting sensibilities. Both with buggy open world's and niche appeal, released on the same day with equally suspicious late review embargos.
After that, the similarities become stretched, but that's enough for a poll, surely? To aid in your decision making process, extra data is provided below;


?Elder Scrolls without the magic,? is the elevator pitch for Warhorse?s historical RPG Kingdom Come: Deliverance, but magic is a relative term ? it all depends on what you?re used to. The game?s stringent recreation of alchemy may seem downright paranormal, for example, if you?re used to the streamlined, fire-and-forget approach of a game like Skyrim.

Given how many dungeons, dragons and mages RPGs tend to contain, Kingdom Come?s strictly historical approach often seems more fantastical and mysterious than its peers. That mostly helped me to make my way through this open world RPG with a spring in my step, even when bugs and crashes threatened to spoil the experience, and the story fell flat and the sidequests became repetitive.

Midway through the story of Henry of Skalitz, blacksmith turned countrywide errand boy, you?re asked to tend to wounded refugees at a monastery while dealing with a local plague outbreak. In many such games, this would boil down to visiting the nearest meadow, clearing out the local rat/unicorn infestation and harvesting a few generic herbs ? and you will, in fairness, be asked to fetch bandages and rustle up some deermeat for the sickhouse cookpot. But there?s also that alchemy system, whereby you must not only gather materials but follow written instructions at your worktable: bringing the cauldron to a simmer or boil using the bellows, grinding up ingredients and adding them at the right time using an hourglass.

It?s quite the adventure, and all of that assumes your character can actually read those instructions, a skill that must be obtained at some expense and honed with practice. It also assumes that you correctly match each patient?s account of their symptoms to the remedies in the monastery?s archives. Neglect to speak to all the plague victims before taking to your worktable and you might have to make a wild guess about the cure. And just to pile on the pressure, one of the people you?re trying to heal is a mercenary your liege-lord has ordered you to interrogate. Better do your homework, then.

Set in 14th century Bohemia, Warhorse?s debut RPG shines brightest when the quest design really digs into the peculiarities of its era, not quite cutting you adrift, but certainly not holding your hand. Broadly, the game blends the freeform progression and swirling, reactive NPC citizenry of an Elder Scrolls with the grot and skulduggery of a medieval conspiracy thriller. As the game begins, poor young Henry?s village is burned to ashes by a marauding tyrant, sparking a quest for vengeance that soon enmeshes you in a wider conspiracy.

The story keeps you moving around the game?s vast persistent map, and serves up an enticing variety of very open-ended quests. You?ll be asked to scout out a bandit encampment, describing the terrain to a general and advising him on how many troops to commit; as with the plague cure scenario, it?s possible to observe wrongly and screw up your side?s chances in the ensuing brawl. You?ll do a little detective work, hustling peasants for dirt on their neighbours using any combination of threats, theatrics and common-sense reasoning. You?ll serve as page to some toffee-nosed princeling, chasing down boars in the forest (if he really gets on your nerves, you might find a way to head home without him). All these scenarios float atop the placid tides of village life, with NPCs following daily routines and forming opinions of the player that have a range of effects. Act the brigand, and guards may insist on checking your inventory as you stroll about. Keep your nose clean, and you?ll be able to push for lower prices when haggling.

Henry?s stats, meanwhile, are increased by performing the associated action, and there are perks to unlock in each of the game?s skill trees, from combos and special moves to traits that let you carry more stuff, obtain valuable pelts from animal carcasses and minimise the wasting effects of time in jail. Or the effects of booze and hangovers.

Deliverance?s narrative is good at taking you places and changing its tune to fit the circumstances, but the tale itself dissatisfies. Largely that?s because it?s more about machinations than people, offering up a parade of soap opera sketches ? ornery lords, roguish priests, preening bureaucrats ? who further the plot but rarely tickle your curiosity. Henry himself is about as exciting as a bowl of porridge, though I enjoyed watching other characters respond to his rapid ascent of the hierarchy: there?s a hint of Geralt of Rivia, even, to how the character is at once courted and resented, a useful pariah in a world of rigid caste relations. But the script never crackles like that of The Witcher 3, and though they usually have ulterior motives, the merchants, peers and yokels you?ll meet harbour few genuine surprises.

It?s not a story that has much time for women. Since you play the pre-designated character, Henry, it?s down to the supporting cast to provide different perspectives. Unfortunately, female characters typically fall into the categories of maidenly love interest, prostitute or surrogate mother, in keeping with the portrait of a ?purely patriarchal? society described by Kingdom Come?s historical database. I don?t know enough about 14th century Bohemia to address this, but I?m not sure the defence of historical accuracy extends to blokier character buffs like ?Alpha Male?, which confers a +2 charisma boost when you visit the brothel.

Tedious macho elements aside, there are other questions about the depiction of the people of early 14th century Bohemia. During development director Daniel Vavra claimed that there were ?no black people? present in the area of Bohemia covered at the time of Kingdom Come?s events and though the game doesn?t present the region as a bastion of monoethnicity, the issue of race deserves further examination. I?d especially like to read a critique of its portrayal of the Cumans, a Turkic nomadic people represented by other characters as vicious killers, who often feature among the ranks of your enemies.

Vavra has defended the research that went into the game?s racial diversity and apologised for some of his comments, and it?s important to note that the development has been a collaborative effort of more than 100 people rather than the work of one man. If Kingdom Come existed in a vacuum, the treatment of the Cumans might seem like a meaningful depiction of the othering of outsiders, which might in itself help us to understand characters and the setting. In reality, it?s reasonable to dig deeper into the game?s claims to accuracy in this and other regards now that the whole picture can be seen, and that?s something we?ll be doing.

Kingdom Come?s world is grim and life can be cheap, but the game?s survival mechanics are gentler than they first appear. You?ll have to worry about hunger, which erodes your stats, but between hunting, stealing, the spoils of war and the pots of bubbling stew you?ll find at taverns, it?s hard to run out of grub. I?ve spent more of Deliverance worrying about the effects of over-eating than malnutrition, and much of the food I picked up eventually rotted away in my pocket. Fatigue can be tricky, as you?ll need to find a bed or pay for one, but you?ll acquire a permanent lodging once you?re done with the prologue, and there are perks you can unlock to make the effects of insomnia less pronounced.

The game?s approach to saving is harder to swallow. To checkpoint progress you must either sleep, reach a significant quest milestone or down a tot of Saviour?s Schnapps, a finite beverage that can be bought (expensive) or brewed (time-consuming). Fortunately, small amounts of booze improve certain stats for a time, including your charisma. My version of Henry has accordingly passed many a fateful conversation in an amicable stupor, swaying in and out of view.

Tethering checkpoints to boozing is fun, but the lack of a quicksave does get annoying. Partly that?s because the game is somewhat prone to crashing at the moment, and partly, it?s because Kingdom Come?s melee combat is as tough as horseshoes. The basics see you angling your weapon with the mouse, then left-clicking to swing and right-clicking to stab. To defend you hold Q, or tap it as your opponent swings to parry and create space for a riposte. Angle your weapon to meet a swing and you?ll block more effectively; conversely, you?ll want to lay into an opponent?s unprotected side to break through their defences. All this burns stamina, and exhausting your stamina isn?t a good idea if you plan on running away.

It?s a ferociously in-depth system that?s enjoyable to master, but you?ll need to grit your teeth. There are practice arenas at many towns where you can level up individual weapon stats and practice combos. It?s wise to train often, because if you prioritise the story you?ll quickly run into challenging opponents. Quality of equipment naturally counts for a lot, but it?s not just a question of overall defence values: you?ll need to layer gear properly, wearing a nice padded vest under your mail, and patch up any holes in your regalia between scraps. If nothing else, well-kept gear might help you talk your way out of trouble. NPCs judge by appearances as much as eloquence, and anybody whose helmet looks like a colander evidently isn?t much good at protecting himself.

There?s a point where Kingdom Come?s rigour loses its novelty, and the game?s rough spots grow more pressing. Some of the milder hiccups are delightful in that usual open worldy fashion ? at one point I beat a man senseless and stole his clothes, only for him to greet me gaily on the road a few moments later. Less forgivably, there are quirks like NPCs refusing to loose their remaining arrows in an archery competition, forcing you to throw the tournament. The landscape can also be unruly when you stray off-road. You?ll encounter fences topped with invisible walls, and hedges that spurn your advances where others pose no barrier ? worse, you might end up trapped in one.

Aside from story missions, side quests and recurring activities like alleyway brawling and dice games, there are random, pop-up scenarios that prompt awkward memories of Bethesda?s early forays with radiant storytelling. One of the common examples involves a corpse in the road and a stranger who immediately accuses you of being the killer, to varying outcomes. I have experienced well over a dozen renditions of this, but as far as Kingdom Come: Deliverance is concerned, you can never have too many roadside corpses. Fortunately, it?s always possible to ride around them.

The measure of an open world is ultimately not the story it tells but whether you?re happy to kill time within it, and Kingdom Come: Deliverance offers plenty of ways to do that, even if a lot of them will, in fact, get you slaughtered. It isn?t the departure I was hoping for, thanks to a shortage of character to set against the nuance of its historical sandbox, but the grubby realism is a pleasant shock next to the tales of elves and dragons that are its nearest competition.

(Source)
Metacritic says


Dynasty Warriors as a series hasn't changed much over the years. Sure it's had its playable character roster expanded significantly, and it's had the odd combat system overhaul here and there, but the core concept has always remained the same: it's one super overpowered Chinese warrior (you) versus entire armies that flood the screen. To be fair, it's a formula that's given Dynasty Warriors a unique identity ? a formula that fans have come to love and a formula that, for the most part, works well.

In a lot of ways, Dynasty Warriors 9 feels like a reboot. It's easily the most altered mainline entry in the series' history, thrusting the hack and slash action into an open world setting. It's ultimately a risk. Why fix what isn't broken? Is it to try and attract a new audience? Or is it an attempt to simply refresh a series that's often been criticised for growing stale and repetitive? In truth it's probably a bit of both, and the resulting game is the most ambitious Dynasty Warriors title to date ? but also one of the most disappointing.

By going open world, Dynasty Warriors 9 abandons much of the series' established structure. Instead of choosing a story mode or a stage before jumping into the chaos with your favourite character, you're now diving head-first into a gigantic map of ancient China, seeking out the next critical mission that moves the story along. The new formula takes time to click. At first, we really struggled to understand what good an open world is to a game that's all about getting lost in over-the-top battles, but it does start to make sense as you delve deeper into the experience.

Unfortunately, the release doesn't make a great initial impression, whether you're a fan of the series or not. The opening story chapters of the game are dull and monotonous, with little more than small skirmishes dotted about the map. It's not until later on that it truly feels like you're part of a vast army going up against an equally impressive legion of enemies. It's here that the open world starts to make sense, allowing for some colossal clashes across huge swathes of Chinese countryside. Dynasty Warriors has never felt so organic.

It's this same open world that also contributes to many of the game's failings, however. When it's not covered in thousands upon thousands of soldiers, the map's shockingly barren ? even cities and towns feel lifeless when they're supposed to be bustling hubs of culture and trade. There are side activities that you can try your hand at ? fishing, hunting, material collecting ? but none of them are entertaining or even worthwhile. And of course there's an unnecessarily convoluted crafting system in place, demanding that you gather laundry lists of items so that you can create weapons and accessories ? equipment that's quickly made redundant by the nearest shopkeeper's stock.

With nothing else going on, you'll find yourself just travelling from one mission to the next, capturing the same bases over and over again as you go. While it is satisfying to carve out a path for your army to follow, there's no denying that proceedings start to drag when an objective is way off in the distance. Fast travel is an option, taking you straight to the nearest mission starting point, but without a road that's free of enemies, you'll usually find that your allies frequently stop their march to deal with even the lowliest foe. If you're not prepared to take it slow, things can get tedious very quickly.

The new open world structure also impacts how the classic Three Kingdoms story is told. In essence, each big historical battle has been stretched out over individual story chapters, with dialogue and cutscenes occurring at set points. Each of the warring kingdoms has its own storyline, but you follow the plot as your chosen character, meaning that, at times, you'll see things from their perspective. Strangely enough, this allows Dynasty Warriors 9 to explore events in greater detail. Without the need to quickly jump from one scenario to the next, it's free to illustrate the finer points of each conflict, and we're sure more dedicated fans will appreciate that.

Some characters get a lot more time in the spotlight than others, though. No matter how well you perform within the story, proceedings don't deviate from history, so it's possible that your chosen character will be killed off just a couple of chapters in. The warlord Cao Cao, for example, lives through six or seven acts before he finally snuffs it, while stoic warrior Pang De only hangs around for two before he's taken out. The thing is, unless you know your Chinese history, you might end up selecting a character who only gets you through a small chunk of the story ? and that can be a bit frustrating when you're just trying to unlock later chapters.

Meanwhile, much like the open world, the overhauled combat system also has its ups and downs. Mashing square gives you access to 'flow' combos, which are basically your bread and butter attacks. On top of them, you've got specific techniques shared by each and every character: a launching move, which knocks your opponent into the air; a stunning attack, which opens your foe up to further damage; and a knockdown blow, which forces your enemy to the ground for a few seconds.

They may be three different techniques, but these moves all serve the same purpose in that you'll use them to extend your combos. Couple them with the new lock-on mechanic, which allows you to ? gasp ? actually lock on to key opponents, and you've got a more combo-focused system. It's fun enough, but it feels like a lot of individuality has been removed from the character roster as a result. Everyone has the same basic suite of attacks barring a unique special move that can only be used once every 30 seconds or so.

This issue is amplified by the fact that many characters have had their signature weapons taken away. Where Dynasty Warriors 8 ensured that every officer got their own unique moveset, Dynasty Warriors 9 brings back the clones, with some characters sharing weapon types and fighting styles. It's a real shame, because the varied movesets of games past really helped each hero stand out, and gave you more reason to take them for a spin.

Whether it was budget or time that stopped Omega Force from fully fleshing out the playable cast, the unfortunate truth is that Dynasty Warriors 9 feels rushed across the board. Despite being in development for at least a few years, the game's bogged down by bugs and graphical glitches. The open world doesn't have any load screens, but noticeable pop-in is a regular annoyance, with whole squads of soldiers just blinking into existence at times. The kicker is that aside from some nice lighting and weather effects, the title looks seriously dated.

Worst of all, however, is that the game struggles to maintain a consistent framerate ? even on PS4 Pro. There are two graphical settings to choose from: one prioritises resolution at 30 frames-per-second, while the other opts for a ?stable? framerate. The reality is that neither works very well. The former tanks the framerate to unforgivable levels during bigger battles, while the latter gives you that ?stable? framerate, which seems to jump between 10fps and 60fps depending on how much action there is on screen. It's just not good enough.

Speaking of not good enough, the English dub is abysmal. Dynasty Warriors is well known for its sometimes hilariously camp English voice acting, but recent instalments have featured decent work. Sadly, this isn't the case with Dynasty Warriors 9, which has thrown all the old voices out the window. Now, it sounds like over 100 characters have been voiced by three different people. Many of the new voices barely fit the characters that they're assigned to, and the delivery is often painful. It's so bad that it goes beyond being a joke and simply cheapens the entire experience. Thankfully, Japanese and even Chinese dubs are included.

Conclusion
Dynasty Warriors has been on a steady run since it fumbled with the divisive Dynasty Warriors 6, and now it's in danger of fumbling all over again. Dynasty Warriors 9 goes open world and the result is a game of extreme ups and downs. For every gloriously huge battle there's a boring stint of traversal across a dreadfully barren map. For every interesting story moment or interaction, there's a horribly ugly graphical glitch. Factor in an unconvincing combat system overhaul, and you've got a Dynasty Warriors title that may disappoint even the most dedicated of fans. There's still some good historical hack and slash fun to be had here, but we expected much more from the return of this flagship series.

(Source)
Metacritic says


Now place your opinion clicks into my data hole. No pressure, but a nearby coven of emotionally damaged mole rats told me they'd commit suicide if you didn't vote with responsibility. Like I said, no pressure, don't shoot the messenger here.
 

Neurotic Void Melody

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I have KC:D ready to preload download on Steam, but I might simply continue playing The Witcher 3: Complete Edition until they work out more of the notable, potentially game-ending-we-should?ve-included-a-normal-quick-save-if-our-game-isn?t-rock-solid-yet kind of kinks.

The Meta so far is right where I thought it would be, early on at least. Do I get hindsight prediction points?
 

Silentpony_v1legacy

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Jun 5, 2013
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The only good Dynasty Warrior games involve Gundams.

kingdom of heaven redux looks fun, but I don't have a lappy strong enough to run it. I'll have to go back to Bloodborne. At the Orphan of Kos. He's like a Dragon Ball Z villain!
 

Adam Jensen_v1legacy

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Sep 8, 2011
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Dynasty Warriors always seemed like a terrible series to me. And judging by the Steam reviews, the latest one is a very bad game.

KCD looks kinda dull because of how extremely realistic it wants to be. But I'm willing to give it a shot once all the major issues have been patched. In the absence of a new TES game, a realistic take on a medieval open world RPG might be a good idea. I want to see what mod support will be like first. It's a CryEngine 3 game, so I suspect that it will have mod support. And perhaps some of the things that I think are dull will be addressed through mods.
 

CritialGaming

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Neither game looks very good.

Kingdom looks to have the most potential to be interesting, but the footage I've seen in all the reviews makes the game seem like a Skyrim game trying to be a Witcher game and it doesn't look like it's half as good as either of them.

Dynasty Warriors 9 looks like shit.
 

kasperbbs

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Watch Jim Sterlings impressions on Dynasty warriors. I wouldn't play it if it was free. KC:D wins by default.
 

BrawlMan

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Neither. I've only barely heard about Kingdom Come, and Dynasty Warriors 9 I was going to pick up, but then I saw Jim Sterling's review. I decided just to transfer whatever money left to my God of War pre-order and any remaining money I took back with me. Instead, I took some of that money and bought Redout pre-owned. They had it for 8 bucks for elite pro members. We definitely don't get enough arcade racers anymore, and I heard nothing but good things about it so I got it.
 

Neurotic Void Melody

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KC:D is sounding better [https://www.pcgamer.com/kingdom-come-deliverance-review-in-progress/], aside from the bugs. Hopefully they have a good support system to patch them out, with possibly a tweaked quick save system to alleviate frustrating restarts.

What I like most about what I?ve read so far is the sheer variety and depth to the game?s systems and questing. It sounds like they have real significance and dynamic consequences, which extends to the combat. I?m getting pretty anxious to play a melee game that is designed to be much more than wailing on someone until their life bar is gone.
 

Cold Shiny

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Anything but DW9, it looks like an absolute train wreck.

Already been mentioned, but Jim Sterling has a video of it that shows it for what it is.
 

gigastar

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Neither game interested me from the start. I suppose if i were forced to choose id pick Kingdom Come, but then theres something coming out tomorrow that id much rather get instead.
 

Neurotic Void Melody

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kasperbbs said:
Watch Jim Sterlings impressions on Dynasty warriors. I wouldn't play it if it was free. KC:D wins by default.
Cold Shiny said:
Anything but DW9, it looks like an absolute train wreck.

Already been mentioned, but Jim Sterling has a video of it that shows it for what it is.
Sterling's video is provided in the last spoiler tag, because it is indeed recommended viewing for much needed perspective. :)
 

Chimpzy_v1legacy

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trunkage said:
Quick question... Where's the bacon?
It's under "No. More. Polls. FFS!".

It's really hard to tell because the bacon is silent.

Anyway, I'm going to give it to Kingdom Come. Not because it interests me that much, but because the other option is Dynasty Warriors 9, which is utter toss, judging from fan reaction (including no1 fanboi Jim Sterling).
 
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Of the two I'm more interested in KC:D, but I still have some reservations about the game. First off FPS melee combat can be tricky to pull off well, secondly the voice acting in some of the other trailers I've seen has been close to clingeworthy, and thirdly (and this may just be a console port issue) the texture resolution doesn't look all the great, to the point where the Xbox One trailer looks like it's for an Xbox 360 game.

Don't get me wrong, I'll still be keeping an eye on KC:D come release day, but I'm withholding judgement for the moment.
 

Kitsune Hunter

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Dec 18, 2011
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By default I would say KC:D, mainly because of the Jimpressions of DW9, I mean you know you fucked up when the biggest defender of the series says it's shit. Plus what Jim said about them taking out the iconic weapons and selling them as DLC at a later date may have turned out to be true. Monday is coming and I'm looking forward to it.

[link]https://twitter.com/JimSterling/status/963387961298575365[/link]
 

Ftaghn To You Too

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Kingdom Come is actually a really good game that unfortunately suffers from some big issues with glitches and a devotion to historical accuracy that can get in the way of fun if you aren't a weirdo like me.

Dynasty Warriors 9 just sucks.
 

Neurotic Void Melody

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altnameJag said:
Clearly, the only answer is Monster Hunter World,
Oi!

*Whacks head with rolled up newspaper*

Does monster hunter involve the clashing of sharp pointy things, angry powerful men and outdated courting sensibilities with a buggy open world and niche appeal released on the same day with an equally suspicious late review embargo?

No?

Then git your own poll, you cheeky scamp!
 

Recusant

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Isn't Kingdom Come the first game the developers have made? What leverage do they have to enforce a review embargo? Anyway, that kind of sketchy-ness should not be rewarded, as purchasing the game will do. Thus, I say you should eliminate that clause and seek a game portraying a past era, involving the clashes of sharp pointy things, angry powerful men and outdated courting sensibilities, with a buggy open world and niche appeal. As a bonus, it was released on the same day as Fried Green Tomatoes.

Go pick up Darklands. It's $1.49 on GOG (dependent on region), and you can probably run it on your wristwatch by now.