The final ending to Dynasty Warriors 7 is symbolic in a number of ways. From the game's perspective, it's bittersweet (and of course follows the story); Shu is conquered by Wei, Wei headed by Sima Zhao wins he major conflict of the war, Sima Zhao dies the following year, Sima Yan overthrows Wei and established Jin, and (While the game doesn't delve into it) Wu is eventually felled years later. The establishment and scenes of this, which showcases the heroes of Shu, Wei and Wu (and Lu Bu) duking it out and glorifying their deeds on the battlefield, gives you a sense that their era is over, and the final shot of Cao Cao, Sun Quan and Liu Bei, engulfed in a fire and showing an empty throne with likenesses of Sima Yi, Sima Shi and Sima Zhao over it is symbolic that, in the end, the efforts of the Three Kingdoms all came to naught and were conquered by Jin. On the bright side, though, it means China is finally united, and a new era of peace can finally begin.
Sadly, if you read the history around which Dynasty Warriors and Romance of the Three Kingdoms are based on, you find that just 10 years later, Sima Yan dies, and a 16-year civil war begins between the various Princes of Jin...
The presence of this alone is also a really strong feeling; after 5 games, the true ending to the Three Kingdoms is shown.
Go play Da Qiao's stage in Dynasty Warriors 7 XL and witness how happy she is with Sun Ce and how he claims they will be together forever. Then play Xiao Qiao's stage and see how sad and broken hearted she is since it's been years since Ce died You'll feel terrible if you know your History and how he died and she was the last person to see him and knowing how she must feel that her husband is gone and she is left to live on.
Guan Suo's, Yue Ying's, Xing Cai's, and Ma Dai's death speeches in the final level of Jin the Capture of Chengdu, each one lamenting they didn't have the strength to fulfill the dreams of the ones before them that despite doing everything they could it was all for naught, especially if Shu's your favorite of The Three Kingdoms.
8's Guan Yu's death report. His surviving children are the ones that delivered the news, and it's pretty gut-wrenching to see Guan Suo collapsing to his knees due to being denied the chance to defend his father for his own safety, and Guan Yinping openly sobbing and weeping. Not to mention even if Guan Xing was delivering the news without emoting, his face is not seen (so we don't really see if he's got tears on his face)... but his speech is a little disjointed and shaking, signifying that he's also pretty crushed on his father's death. And even if Liu Bei didn't go for the 'roaring' route in his vengeance declaration, it's still a powerful scene to see him apologize to Sun Shangxiang for what he would do in face of all these.
The battle beforehand is also a complete tearjerker, things go from bad to worse as the battle rages on. Guan Ping's death to buy the rest of his family some time, complications continue to mount up as the Wu ambushes them, their own allies can't even come to their aid and Guan Yu's own men betraying him. It is especially heart wenching if you completed the hypothetical objectives as Xu Shu laments that he was powerless to prevent this tragedy.
Zhang Bao's death in Chencang if you didn't fulfill the requirement to stop the ambush. Bao died in both Guan Xing and Xingcai's arms after succumbing to his wounds via ambush. Previously, he made a promise to swore an oath of brotherhood to Xing after the whole thing. His last words are immediately acknowledging Xing as his sworn brother even before the oath took place. What follows is the only time Xing openly breaks down with aBig "NO!".
In Dynasty Warriors 7, you spend a good bit of time with Dian Wei, and his last stand to protect Cao Cao, while maybe not acted or Choreographed well, still manages to be fairly sad, even to the player who again, spent time getting to know him and play as him.
In Dynasty Warriors 7, you spend a lot of time with Xiahou Yuan, since he's with you from the very start of Wei's Campaign, you're getting to know him, and he lasts almost until the end. You see how carefree, and nice he is, he gets along with his soldiers and fellow officers well. And then You/Xiahou Yuan beat Huang Zhong, he's ordered to be taken in to custody, only for him to escape, and let loose an arrow (after Xiahou Yuan's bow breaks on him.) He falls over, closes his eyes with a peaceful smile and just asks. "...Where's the luck?" They way the line is delivered, the excellent song used here, and how well the player knew him. It's Gut Wrenching.
Cao Cao's passing in 7. He's ill in bed with Xiahou Dun telling him not to worry himself over matters. Cao Cao breaks his cold facade and thanks him for everything he's done for him and that his conquest is at an end and he can finally apologize to Dian Wei and Xiahou Yuan for laying down their lives for him. When Dun turns around he sees that Cao Cao has died.
Becomes Harsher in Hindsight if your a fan of Wei the next scene as you know with Cao Cao dead and his son Cao Pi passing away six years later, there's nothing stopping Sima Yi and his plans now.
Guo Jia lamenting his lack of life whenever he's not being The Hedonist is rather sad to see.
Guo Jia: I don't have very long left. This is perhaps the first time I've ever regretted that fact.
It was pretty heartwrenching in some Legend Stages though, in particular Ding Feng's... He recalled the time when everyone he knew was alive and the scene was very cheery... but then cut to present and it's a snowy night in Dong Xing, and only Lian Shi was around (it's gotten lonely), while Wu at the moment were filled with talentless hacks like Zhuge Ke. And despite knowing that they'd fall with those people, the only path for Ding Feng is just to move forward for the dead...
Even earlier than that, there is a very sad scene in DW5XL, when defeating Ma Chao at Jia Meng Gate. Even though the games certainly don't shy away from his history, it's then that it becomes very clear, after all the crap he's gone through (even if some of itwas his own fault), how badly it's hitting the poor guy.
Ma Chao: My family...my friends...my homeland...All has been stolen from me. And now I lose again. Am I so weak?...Is there nothing I can protect?!
Made a bit better by the fact that Liu Bei took him into his ranks after the battle.
Dynasty Warriors 7 Empires allows you to become sworn siblings with, or marry, other characters. If your sworn sibling or spouse dies in the same battle you are participating in, you are made to see an event where you rush to your ally's side, only for them to die in your arms...
All of Pang Tong's death scenes in every game he's featured in. 5 was probably the best, where he has a message to Zhuge Liang:
"Zhuge Liang, tell me... if I... were a... dragon too... would I have... flown... higher?"
Xiahou Yuan's Death in Dynasty Warriors 7 is gut wrenching after you spend so long with him, getting to know him, and showing how is a stand up guy (which given he works for Wei, says alot about him.). And then........his bow breaks in the moment he needs it most, Huang Zhong cuts him down, and his reaction? He closes his eyes with a peaceful look on his face, all while 'Grief - Sorrow' is playing, and asks ".....Where's the Luck?".
While most, if not all of the bonus stages in 8:XL are hilarious, Shu's "Find Red Hare" stage takes a surprisingly somber turn when the identity of the horse thief is discovered. Its Lu Linqui, and she "stole" Red Hare because she was desperate to have something to remember her father, Lu Bu, by. With Xiapi fallen and all of his soldiers either dead or defected, Red Hare is all that remains of her father's once proud legacy. She practically begs the Shu officers to let her go, but they have none of it.