Dynasty Warriors 4: Empires (真･三國無双3 Empires, Shin Sangoku Musou 3 Empires) is a spinoff of Dynasty Warriors 4 and the first Empires title for the Dynasty Warriors series. Unlike other Warriors related titles, the players can see a simplified map of the Three Kingdoms area and are not asked to regularly perform a string of conflicts. Instead, the player chooses a character to act as the land's unifier and has the freedom to expand their territory at their own pace.
Generally, the Empires installments combines gameplay elements found in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms series with the Warriors titles.
The main scheme of the game is split into two different stages: the Political screen and the Battle screen.
- This stage takes place in between battles and gives the player an overworld map of China. The land is separated into 14 regions. Territories for each army are marked under a particular color on the map. Time progresses forward when the player chooses to end the turn (or Advance) on this screen.
- Each region has a given Revenue which is necessary to acclimate gold for policies.
- Policies maintain the player's government in their territory. As long as the player has enough gold, they can use an unlimited amount of policies. Depending on your choices of policies, you may be seen as a tyrant or a hero by your people. If you're seen as a tyrant, ally generals may declare independence and may revolt. The method to determine a land's order is indicated by the outlining color for each policy. Black policies lower order in exchange for more resources while white policies keep the people content.
- Four officers may present two different policies to perform. The player is given the choice to use or not use any of their suggestions. Policies range from the following categories:
- Officer Affairs - Option where officers can be improved or promoted. Officers can also be recruited by searching the province or by enticing an enemy general to defect.
- Product Development - Oversees the development of products for ally regions. Each region has their own manufactured item.
- Diplomacy - Decides momentary alliances with other armies. May also improve the local region's commerce.
- Battle Tactics - Any policy that affects the battle. A couple examples include stalling enemy reinforcements and inviting ally assistance. Only effective for one turn.
- Rest - Since officers and troops do not immediately restore after a battle, these policies restore their health.
- Military - Seeks to improve the strength of the ally army. This grants the permission to use warfare inventions such as Juggernauts or Fire Arrows on the field.
- Government - Policies that flex the sovereign's powers. People may be asked to know their desires and have them fulfilled or may be forced to experience tax hikes or drafts.
- Officers with particular accomplishments may be appointed a certain rank or position within the player's empire. These are often warriors who are favored in some manner by the player. Choosing to accept an officer's policies fifteen times, for instance, may promote them to the army's strategist. Officers who advance in ranks will have greater benefits during battle.
- Players can also form their armies during this phase. A player's army can have up to ten generals and ten lieutenants serving them, but only three generals and three lieutenants can be present on the player's side in battle everytime.
- Information regarding the strength of the player's army can also be glimpsed here. Weapon proficiency for troops are swords, spears, and clubs. If a blacksmith is present in ally lands, they can temper weapons and improve an army's attack strength in the process.
- When the player is choosing the officer they wish to control during the battle, in addition to being able to choose created officers and normal playable officers (i.e.: Xiahou Dun, Zhuge Liang, Cao Cao, etc.), but the player can choose Generic NPCs (i.e.: Guo Jia, Mi Fang, Zang Ba, Zhou Cang, etc.).
The controls for battles remain the same as Dynasty Warriors 4 but the conditions differ in this installment.
- Objectives range from defending the land from an attacking army or claiming it for the player's territory. Players can also choose to help their allies perform a similar task. Offensive battles are won by either taking the enemy camp or routing the enemy leader. Defensive fights can be won by defeating the enemy Grand General or by enduring the enemy attack until time runs out.
- Offensive battles normally last 30 minutes, while defensive battles last 15 minutes. If the player chose a time-extending policy before the battle, the battle will be 15 minutes longer.
- Each side of the field is separated into colored zones on the battle's mini map. The blue zone indicates ally space while the red zone is where the enemy is stationed. Essentially, the goal of the battles is to increase or defend the ally zones. The victor of the battle either successfully defends their land or gets to have possession of it.
- Zones can be conquered if the surrounding officers and bases in the area have fallen.
- Enemy officers are much more resilient than before. Unique officers will retreat after their first defeat but will return to the field two additional times. On the third encounter, they will challenge the player to a duel. The player is free to accept or decline the offer.
- When an officer is defeated, there is a chance that the player may capture them if they are defeated within an ally zone. Captured generals may serve the player or may be dismissed after the player claims victory. If the player defeats the territory's leader, they may also recruit all their subordinates as well. These same rules apply for when the player loses a battle.
The main goal of the game is to unify the land under the player's rule. If the players lose all of their lands or cannot conquer all regions within 100 turns, the game will end in defeat.
Other changes however, exist:
- The automatic-lock-on is now more lax and/or non-existent, which carries over to later titles in the series.
- Towers can no longer be damaged.
- Acquiring stronger weapons often involves leveling up one's stats through special requirements unique to each officer, or leveling up a weaponsmith, spearsmith, swordsmith or macesmith within a region that's under the player's control through a proposal. From there, it's also possible to equip officers with the Level 11 weapons from the prior Xtreme Legends expansion.
- However, one major change is that all weapons unlike from the prior 2 Dynasty Warriors 4 games, have decreased base attack stats from their original versions; two major examples include Level 10 weapons no longer having their attack power range within the 50s, and Level 11 weapons no longer having max attack at 60 (but still have the same exact item attributes attached to them from Xtreme Legends).
A one player feature that is the game's main focus. Players can either start their mode with rulers in their historical locations or opt for a fictional version. Players can choose who they wish to use as their land's unifier based on the region of land they first select. If the player chooses the Yellow Turbans forces in the historical setting, they will start with only one region, rather than having multiple regions to start with; the said regions will be under control by nearby forces instead. If there are edit characters created, the player can start with one of them as a ruler in one of the empty regions.
Multiplayer mode that pits to two players' skills against one another. There are four different modes of competition.
- Vanquish - Try to be the one who has the most KOs. Players who have enough summon points through collecting pickups can use the "Announce" ability to surround their rival with powerful enemies (i.e.: Juggernauts) or officers (Zhang Jiao or Lu Bu).
- Pilfer - Find as many treasures as possible and sell them to the merchant. The more treasure you pick up, the slower you move, and if you fall, you will drop your treasure. Playable officers (mostly Lu Bu) will act as guards and attack you and the merchant.
- Melee - Places the players on top of a tall platform with an opening in the middle and asks them to knock enemies away from the platform. Knocking off normal enemies give you one point, and the amount of points given for knocking off generals depends on the distance between their landing point and the platform. The lesser amount of health your character has, the further the enemies will fly when you hit them. Projections for characters being blown away by attacks is greatly increased.
- Endurance - See who can survive the enemy onslaught the longest. Enemy officers will appear and attack you, and if they are killed or retreat after a certain amount of time, they become stronger when they reappear.
New power-up items have been added in this mode to help or hinder players along the way.
Similar to Dynasty Warriors 4 with more additions. If there is a save file for Dynasty Warriors 4 containing any Edit Characters, they will also appear with a few adjustments. Players can additionally customize the color of their character's costume, skills, tone of voice, battle motions (copies the unique characters as well as Fu Xi and Nu Wa), and stat growth. Body shape and the preset models can also be adjusted from three different sets.
View officer biographies, weapons, troop types, and items. Also features a gallery section with artwork from Dynasty Warriors 4, as well as a model viewer with weapon model toggling included.
- Performed by 2HEARTS
- Mysteriously in the English versions, even if the voice options are set to Japanese, all playable generals in-field controlled by the computer (allied and/or enemy) save for the player's own character still have their in-game battle voices set to English.
- However, the battle message dialogue and all other instances during Empire Mode (as well as the any of the selected characters in VS Mode) will still be voiced in Japanese.
- Official site
- Official European description
- Official Japanese site
- Official Taiwanese site
- Official Korean description
- Official Japanese PlayStation site
- Opening movie
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