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Dynasty Warriors Online – hands-on

Above: DWO is still mostly about slashing through lots of enemies and capturing forts to control the map

As for the actual combat, DWO plays like most other Dynasty Warriors games. You’ll have a light attack, which can be mashed for combos, a charge attack, which is good for clearing out multiple enemies, and a Musou attack, which works like an ultra powerful special move that needs to be charged. You can also equip your character with various items and flasks that can improve your battle stats or recharge your Musou meter, for example. It’s simple. It’s fun. But it’s still Dynasty Warriors.

DWO was originally introduced to Japanese audiences in 2006, but will be launched for North American and European audiences under Aeria Games’ care later this year. We’ve always been impressed with the way Aeria runs their games. Their GMs are always active and on the frontlines, organizing special events for players and answering questions in-game. Just visit Aeria’s forums, or try playing one of their titles, and you’re bound to see a GM in a starting zone helping newbies or posting about a special in-game treasure hunt or boss hunt event.

Above: A panda lieutenant. We want one desperately. The panda's general combo ends with him sitting on his enemy

DWO may suffer from the way Koei has saturated gamers with so many Dynasty Warriors sequels and spin-offs over the years. But even though the online version’s combat hasn’t evolved much since the old PlayStation days, the ‘MMO shell’ of your persistent character and the game’s world adds a lot to the free-to-play game. We love the idea of earning conflict points by battling to increase our faction’s control over regions in the world. Being able to constantly improve your character’s rank and armory with weapons, items, and new lieutenants as you keep playing, really adds a lot to the overly familiar hack ‘n slash affair by giving you rewards to look forward to and enjoy. Also, it’s free-to-play, so you really have nothing to lose except for the fifteen minutes or so that it takes to download and install the client.