Akihiro Suzuki is the producer for the Dynasty Warriors series and has been on it since the first game in 1997. With Dynasty Warriors 9, the series is undergoing its biggest change since turning into an action game, becoming an open world title. This means less picking a level out of a list and more marching toward your goals and clearing armies out of the way. Suzuki shared with us his thoughts on the game evolving and hearing the feedback from western fans.
Fans are obviously very excited for Dynasty Warriors, but the critical reception by and large tends to peg Warriors games as repetitive. Is that something you were looking to change with Dynasty Warriors 9?
Suzuki: With the previous Warriors games, the battle systems are generally the same, and the majority of the mechanics are similar. So with this title, we decided to go with the open world primarily for new experiences.
Why open world specifically? Why that direction to freshen up the franchise?
Suzuki: We chose the open world for two reasons. The first is to show the scale of China and the second is the storyline. Most players already know the general storyline of the Dynasty Warriors titles, and we wanted to create more opportunities for them to get closer to that storyline.
What open-world games have you been playing that have informed what you wanted Dynasty Warriors 9 to be? Were there titles you felt like inspired the game more than others?
Suzuki: We view the open world in Dynasty Warriors 9 as completely different from other open world games, mainly because we wanted to show the entire battlefield. Although, for balancing purposes, I did look at Zelda fervently.
Dynasty Warriors has a cast of characters beloved to fans. People count down to their reveals, and have their favorites. Has there ever been any thought to adding or removing characters from the cast?
Suzuki: With every entry in the series, we always think, “We don’t want to remove characters, but we always want to add characters.” We have been listening to feedback from fans to make sure we know which ones they like.
This game has been announced for PlayStation 4 and PC worldwide, with an Xbox One version in the U.S. as well. It seems like KOEI Tecmo has had a very close relationship with Nintendo in recent years, so is there a reason Dynasty Warriors 9 won’t be on Switch?
Suzuki: [laughs] Honestly…we actually just didn’t plan for the Switch.
Are there any plans in the future for it?
Suzuki: We haven’t decided for it yet.
The last Dynasty Warriors mainline game was on PlayStation 3. Were there technical limitations preventing you from taking the series open world before this?
Suzuki: As you mentioned, there were limitations with previous platforms. In previous games, our priority was always to increase the number of enemies on the screen. Because of that priority, though, we couldn’t show the scale of the battlefield or much in the distance. With the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, though, we could show enough of the distance that we could just make it open world.
Warriors games have gotten more popular in the west than they were before in the last five years. Have you started considering the needs and desires of the west when making these days?
Suzuki: We definitely hear the voices of the western fans. Originally, we made Dynasty Warriors for fans all over the globe and have them be familiar with the story of the three kingdoms.
Is the open world going to be the template for Dynasty Warriors going forward? Will the next game follow the same form?
Suzuki: [laughs] We can’t talk about anything like that yet.
The game is coming out on Xbox One in America, but not in Japan. Why is the port only being added for the Western release?
Suzuki: It is because the sales for the Xbox One in Japan are so low.
What would entice a new player to come in at Dynasty Warriors 9?
Suzuki: This is the first game we’ve done in open world. There’s a lot of new systems we’ve implemented, it’s been a lot of different challenges for us. We hope the open world brings in new fans and entices them to join the Dynasty Warriors fanbase.
Dynasty Warriors 9 releases on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on February 13 and is the first mainline game in the series since 2013.