Video Game: Dynasty Warriors

Dynasty Warriors (Shin San Goku Musou note  in Japanese) is a series of games produced by Koei. They're based on the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which covers one of the most turbulent eras of ancient Chinese history (and the basis for Koei's popular series of hard strategy games of the same name).

The games epitomize the Hack and Slash genre, although many of the games have special levels and "modes" of gameplay, which allow single and multi-player duels between characters, as well as special "Challenge Modes", which allow the player to select a character and have them perform feats of strength and skill (although most of these are just an excuse to mash buttons).

The games feature a colorful cast of characters, most of whom are part of the storyline's three main warring factions, the Kingdoms of Wei, Wu, and Shu. There are also a few other characters thrown in, including the unsavory usurper Dong Zhuo and his Evil Minion Lu Bu, the greatest Badass in all of Ancient China. The games also feature lots of hammy voice acting, which is either very funny or very annoying... or sometimes both. This may make you want to plug your ears, but then you wouldn't be able to hear the game's cool Chinese-Techno-Rock Guitar soundtrack.

Warriors Orochi is a spin-off crossover of Dynasty Warriors with Samurai Warriors, while Dynasty Warriors: Gundam combines the formula with... well, Gundams. Meanwhile, Bladestorm The Hundred Years War transposes the action to The Hundred Years War and takes players to the battlefields in medieval France, as well as giving the player a whole squad to do the incredible feats with, instead of one man, but is otherwise the same. There's also a game (and a sequel) based on Fist of the North Star called Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage. There's also Warriors Legends Of Troy, based on the Trojan War. There is also a One Piece game called One Piece Pirate Warriors, which got two sequels. Aside from anime-based spinoffs, there's also a game based on The Legend of Zelda called Hyrule Warriors as well as a game based on Dragon Quest called Dragon Quest Heroes. There is also an online spinoff.

New releases in this franchise are ... frequent, and charges of Capcom Sequel Stagnation are often levied by reviewers.

Given the games' Loads and Loads of Characters, here is a character sheet to learn more about them.

Has nothing to do with the 1980s TV show Dynasty.


This game series provides examples of:

  • Absurdly High Level Cap: Played straight in DW 8:XL, where the highest level attainable is 150!
  • Acoustic License: A staple of the game, dialogue from characters when they appear in the ticker is heard as if they're standing right in front of the player. Even when an enemy is discussing their secret ploy.
  • Anachronism Stew: From types of clothing and weapons that would not be seen in China at that point of history to sentient tanks with flamethrowers, things can be pretty anchronistic.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Before 7, one of the benefits you get for leveling up is the ability to select alternate outfits for your character. These are often taken from previous iterations of the game. From 7 onward alternate outfits are available from the start.
  • Annoying Arrows: Zig Zagged depending on the game you're playing and in some cases what cutscene you're watching. In some games archers are deadly player-killers, in others they're just as much of cannon-fodder as any other mooks. The same goes for cutscenes: sometimes you'll see a character become a Human Pincushion and laugh it off as Just A Flesh Wound, and other times they get Killed Off for Real with a single shot.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • In 7 and 8, if an allied officer calls for help and you rendezvous with them, they'll automatically recover a portion of their health. This gives you a chance to actually rescue and abandon critical NPCs, as opposed to being force to babysit them through the rest of the stage.
    • Story Mode in 7 and 8 gives characters stat boosts to ensure they're ready to survive later stages with higher difficulties without any Level Grinding.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: Your kingdom in the Empires spin-offs is generally limited with how many officers you can hire with the only logic being avoiding making the game laughably easy. AI-controlled kingdoms, however, have much more hiring power and can usually squeeze as many officers in a handful of provinces as you can fit in your entire kingdom.
  • Artificial Brilliance: Varies wildly between individual games. In some games, even the lowliest of cannon fodder will use teamwork and do fairly clever things...
  • Artificial Stupidity: ...while in others the AI may appear to be programmed to being bipolar between Attack! Attack! Attack! and Dirty Coward tendencies. As a rule of thumb, higher difficulty settings affect the AI only by making it more aggressive, but not really any smarter.
  • Artistic Age: Just about every non-patriarchal character looks to be in the late-teens/early-twenties range, with only a handful of characters looking any older.
  • Ascended Extra: Over time many of the "generic" officers (those without unique character models and weapons) have become playable characters.
  • Ascended Meme: Dynasty Warriors 3 gave rise to the meme "DON'T PURSUE LU BU!", good advice considering Lu Bu was a beast who would wreck you if you did. Come Dynasty Warriors 7, the achievement/trophy you get for defeating Lu Bu for the first time is "Okay, you can pursue Lu Bu."
  • Automatic Crossbows:
    • The ballistae from 7, which are basically machine guns with arrows for ammunition.
    • The "orbiting crossbow" weapon in 8 is basically a portable ballista.
  • Babies Ever After: A feature promoted for 8: Empires is that you can have babies with the character you marry. And about a year after the birth event the child will be ready for battle, and be a custom character automatically created with characteristics of both parents.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Happens in the DW3 opener, as well as whenever a Double Musou is performed, and occasionally in cutscenes too.
  • Barbarian Tribe: The Nanman Forces; the name 'Nanman' literally translates into 'southern barbarians'.
  • BFS: Most blades are pretty huge, but the Greatswords really take the cake.
  • Big Dam Plot: The battles at Xiapi and Fan Castle. Both use a scheme of flooding castles during heavy rains by opening flood gates.
  • Body-Count Competition:
    • A few mission objectives invoke this, but it tends to inevitably happen when two players start playing co-op.
    • The "Defeat" mode in DW Online is also a bodycount race.
  • Book Ends:
    • In7, the first campaign you're likely to play is Wei, since it's the first selected. The last one is Jin, which is essentially Wei under a different name and ruler. Not only that, but the last battle for Jin has "The Last Battle" as its theme, which contains a section of Crush 'Em All, the theme from the first battle in Wei.
    • Wei's story in both 7 and 8 occurs this way with Xiahou Dun. Cao Cao even lampshades it in 8.
    • Most of the final hypothetical stages in 8 attempt to invoke this with the roster of playable characters generally mirroring those from the first stages.
  • Bow and Sword, in Accord: In 3, 4, and 5, all characters can switch between their normal weapon and a bow at will. Huang Zhong had the Curved Dao and Bow until 6, and Xiahou Yuan uses the Bow and Rod, which is essentially a Bow and Club in Accord.
  • Button Mashing:
    • Practically a defining quality of the series, and a big reason for its Love It or Hate It status.
    • Literally mashing the main attack buttons during a Storm Rush in 8 puts a lot more swings into it.
  • Call Back:
    • 7 has this with music in Story Mode, with each faction having two to three songs that are combined to their final stage's theme(or they're all based on it). Both 7 and 8 use musical callbacks in non-battle themes.
    • Some Musou and Rage attacks in the 8 series are fanservice-y call backs to movesets from the older entries in the series.
  • Call to Agriculture: A common feature of many of Wei's endings, due to the presence of Working Class Hero Xu Zhu, though many of the characters involved are still wearing their heavy armor as they work.
  • Changing Gameplay Priorities: In the early game, you care about your character's defense and health a lot. Later on, especially on higher difficulties, it's much more effective to just kill everything before it can become a threat to you. As better weapons and higher levels start rolling in, you'd want to maximize your attack efficiency and/or musou power in order to kill enemies faster. This is both for the Guide Dang It treasure acquisition missions and for the fact that enemies can combo-kill/musou you on any defense level in harder modes anyway.
  • Character Customization: Starting with DW4 some games, particularly Xtreme Legends and Empires, would allow you to create your own characters to use.
  • Color-Coded Armies: Blue/Purple for Wei, Red for Wu, Green for Shu, and Teal/Light Blue for Jin as well as Yellow for the Yellow Turbans, Purple for Dong Zhuo, Black and White for Lu Bu, and Gold for Yuan Shao. In Story Mode, Unique Officers are even colored as such when they are in their original faction or when they changed faction much like what occured in actual medieval China.
  • Combat Hand Fan: Comes in a few varieties, including folding fans, feathered fans, and a polefan (a fan at the end of a stick).
  • Combination Attack: If two players are close enough to each other and detonate their Musou attack at the same time, they can achieve this. Some games allow this to be done with bodyguards and friendly NPCs, especially in the Empires spin-offs.
  • Composite Character:
    • Some canon characters are combined into one for the game's characters, occasionally to reduce the appearance of characters that were essentially one-dimensional in the source material.
    • The child feature in 8 Empire does this, basically combining the features of both parents, not just looks but personality and weapon choice are also factors they take after their parents.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard:
    • There's a way for the AI to cheat in every single game, whether it be having unlimited musou, treating death like a slap on the wrist, teleporting, or even being immune to knockdowns and launches from throws.
    • Averted in the Empires spinoffs for 7 and 8, where you can now return to the fight if KO'd under most circumstances.
  • Cool Horse: Red Hare, canonically the fastest horse in the three-kingdoms era. As the oft-repeated quote goes: "Among men, Lu Bu. Among horses, Red Hare." There are also other notable steeds from the era such as Shadow Runner and Hex Mark.
  • Could Have Avoided This Plot: The tragedy of Fan Castle could have easily been avoided if not for Guan Yu's Honor Before Reason. A Hypothetical stage in 8:XL drives this home by showing that, had Guan Yu swallowed his pride and honored the deal with Wu, Shu would have been able to concentrate fully on Wei, leading to a decisive victory at Wuzhong Plains.
  • Cutscene Incompetence: Happens in many character death scenes. Despite the fact that you slaughter them by the hundreds during gameplay, surrounded by 20 or so mooks in a cutscene and it's a life-or-death situation.
  • Dance Party Ending: Most of the endings in the third and fourth games of the series; Zhang He's ending in the fifth involves him leading such a dance party.
  • Darker and Edgier:
    • 7 and 8 are noticably more dark than previous entries, due to them sticking closer and closer to the actual historical events of the Three Kingdoms era, especially 8's Historical routes.
    • Related to the above, Jin's story modes are generally the darkest out of the all the factions. Nearly all the non-Jin characters are already long dead by the time the Jin story begins with the exception of Shu's second generation and a handful of Wu officers, there is a lot more political intrigue such as assassinations, violent revolts and their equally violent suppression, and there is a seemingly nonstop string of betrayals.
  • Darkest Hour: Each kingdom's Historical path in 8 starts out with one, where key characters dying leaves every faction much weaker and snowballs into further tragedy.
  • David Versus Goliath: Strikeforce introduces giant monsters. Anytime you're forced to fight Lu Bu often becomes this too.
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts: Generally how you take on most of the harder enemies. It may also happen to a severely annoying xtreme in DW4's Xtreme Mode, thanks to having to buy your After Combat Recovery at progressively higher costs, and the enemies' tendency to Gang Up on the Human and throw Mook Chivalry out the window.
  • Decapitated Army: For the overwhelming majority of battles, defeating the commanding officer results in victory. The few stages that avert this tend to have your commander reaching an escape point or wiping out every single enemy officer as the victory condition.
  • Decisive Battle: Chibi, which has the fledgling kingdoms that dominated the era having a showdown with Cao Cao's massive navy being burnt to cinders by a smaller force of scrappy underdogs later forming Shu and Wu.
  • Defeat Means Playable: Almost exclusively how you recruit new officers in 8's Ambition Mode.
  • Demoted to Extra: Several characters went from playable into a generic officer in 6, though this was fixed in 7.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything:
    • In 5: Xtreme Legends, the mission Struggle for the Book involves an undefeatable character named Master Lao. Using cheats, it's possible to kill Master Lao. If you kill him, the mission doesn't end or become Unwinnable, It just spawns another Master Lao... with no ill effects, and with the "X has defeated Master Lao" messages.
    • In 8 and 8:XL, several stage and character combinations that make sense yet don't occur in Story Mode result in characters giving unique dialogue.
  • Didn't See That Coming: While you have to do a lot of work to set it up, the battle the branches off into the Hypothetical Path in 8 usually involves a case of this. For instance, Shu's battle of Fan Castle: Extra strategists being alive? Minor annoyance. The flood attack failing? The have contingencies. Extra troops arriving early thanks to inproved leadership in other battles? Wei still has backup from Wu. The Yellow Turbans, loyal to Liu Bei after being shown mercy all the way back at the first stage, showing up to completely blunt Wu's surprise attack? Not even Xu Shu saw that coming, and it was his rescue attempt.
  • Do Well, but Not Perfect: Unlocking certain "Ways of Life" for Create-A-Warriors in Dynasty Warriors 8: Empires requires you to do this. Ways of Life are unlocked by doing certain things to obtain Titles in Empire Mode, then beating the game. The problem is, you're automatically assigned the highest tier Way of Life you qualify for and you can't go backward, which makes it difficult to get some of the low-to-middle tier titles. Do you want your character to be known as an Undefeated Veteran? Fight defensive battles and do escort quests, but you better make sure those quests are all for the same person, because if you manage to get too many people to like you the game will automatically upgrade you to Trustworthy Hero!
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • The very first entry in the series was a PS1 fighting game. Justified in that the Japanese version of said fighting game is not considered to be part of the series. The original game was titled "Sangokumusou," and localized in North America as "Dynasty Warriors." A spinoff of that game was released in Japan as "Shin Sangokumusou," but was localized as "Dynasty Warriors 2" due to the characters being essentially the same ones as in the fighting game. The sequel to "Shin Sangokumusou" was "Shin Sangokumusou 2," which was localized as "Dynsasty Warriors 3," leading to an ongoing discrepancy in numbers between the Japanese and overseas releases.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The Hypothetical Endings in 8 require pretty specific actions in several battles and even with 99% of the requirements fulfilled can be averted with a single choice.
  • Elaborate Equals Effective: More powerful weapons will look progressively more ornate.
  • Elite Mooks: In 2 through 5, the Guard Captains who served as bodyguards to famous officers are this, with equivalents in the Unit Commanders of 8. The Empires spin-offs for 7 and 8 have elites summoned via tactic cards
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: After Shu's victory against Wei at Mt Ding Jun in 7, Huang Zhong mentioned to Zhuge Liang about Cao Cao's statement of being a decoy, leading the latter to realize that their real target is Guan Yu at Fan Castle.
  • Faction-Specific Endings: 4, 7 and 8 have these endings for each playable faction, 8 has two endings for each faction. DW Online and the Empires spin-offs have era-specific endings.
  • Fanservice: Every female character is attractive and most of them have VERY revealing outfits. A few of the male characters get in on it too.
  • Fashionable Asymmetry: KOEI seems to love doing this to character outfits, especially to accessories like shoulder-guards or gloves.
  • Flanderization: It has occurred to increasing degrees as the character roster increases, if only so that archetypically-similar characters can be told apart.
  • Foe-Tossing Charge: Use a character with the Special Ability True Speed in 6, activate it, rush and keep mashing the Swift Attack. It's hilarious!
  • Friendly Fireproof:
    • You can rain a hail of death on a crowd of soldiers, or race into said crowd with flaming swords flailing, but miraculously your allies will emerge unscathed. Not that it really matters, of course...
    • Zigzagged in DW7, where your Musou attacks can hit your allies but don't damage them.
    • Some Evil strategems in 7: Empires will damage allies, such as Poison Mist and Ultimate Might. Also the wise strategy Inferno.
  • Gameplay Ally Immortality: Averted. While most allied NPCs have finite health and can be killed by enemies, in 7 the "Guide" NPCs in Story Mode (e.g. Lian Shi in Yi Ling and Liu Qi in Chi Bi Shu) are made invincible with no health bar shown, saving players the frustration of having to protect them along the way.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: In the 7: Empires and following Empires games, you can have characters swear an oath or have them get married if they have high enough bonds, but you may also edit special scenes with characters. This allows you to have sworn enemies such as Liu Bei and Cao Cao having an oath of brotherhood. It is also even possible to marry characters of the same gender, or even a character with their own clone.
  • Gory Discretion Shot:
    • Xiahou Dun catching an arrow in the eye is done pretty well, given that they don't explicitly show the arrow in the eye (or Dun pulling it out) given the T rating.
    • In 7, during the Jin Campaign, the execution of Cao Shuang is handled this way.
    • The death of Zhang Liao in 7 involves a very gruesome sound effect, but the wound is obviously not shown for rating purposes, but instead zooming in on Zhang Liao's surprised face.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Older entries in the series generally allow lighter profanities, up until 7 completely removes them.
  • Grapple Move: Throws were introduced in 4, limited almost exclusively to C1 attacks and removed in 5. Many more were subsequently added in 7 and they appear to be here to stay as of 8.
  • Guide Dang It:
    • Yeah, good luck getting any kind of ultimate weapon, special item, mount, or elemental orb on your own. In which game? Pick one. To specify, it's the exact requirements to trigger the item appearance which is what makes them hard to obtain. You are at least informed of where it spawns via the combat log afterwards though.
    • Mostly averted in 8, which gives brief explanations on how to unlock ultimate weapons and fulfill hypotheticals after clearing all Story Mode stages, though occasionally the description being unclear or vague due to the language does set things back very slightly.
  • Hack and Slash: of the "One vs One Thousand" kind, which it is the Trope Codifier of.
  • Happily Married: All the couples in the game, even when history or the Romance of Three Kingdoms novels might say otherwise.
  • Hard-Coded Hostility:
    • The Yellow Turbans. They're very rarely a playable faction in the Story Mode (and then, only Zhang Jiao is a playable officer) since they're pretty much there to be the tutorial enemy; however, it is possible in some games to play on their side in Free Mode.
    • 8 plays it straight and averts it with Shu's story, allowing the Yellow Turbans to potentially show up later as allies.
  • Hard Mode Perks:
    • Playing on harder difficulties will get you better weapon-drops, better stat-increase drops, or just faster experience-gain in most of the games, except for 7. In most cases, the best weapons can only be aquired while playing on Hard Mode or higher.
    • The Xtreme Legends version of 7 changed it back, and added the exclusive Nightmare mode to boot.
    • Although considering that the game already had Chaos mode, what would Nightmare be? Harder Than Harder Than Hard?
    • Nightmare is pretty much what Chaos was in Warriors Orochi — it's the same as Chaos, but now enemy attacks completely ignore your defense, meaning a mook can kill you in half a dozen hits. On the flip side, your allies also get powered up.
  • Harder Than Hard: The Chaos and Nightmare(or Ultimate) difficulty settings. Chaos increases enemy stats and aggression to the point that officer constantly spam Musou attacks which leave them invincbible very frequently and hitting the player with said invincible attacks tends to result in one-hit kills. The Nightmare difficulty is even tougher than that, with enemies possessing stats so high even with the player at maximum stats you're likely to lose a tenth of your health if you're hit by so much as a gentle breeze, and enemies kill you just by thinking about it.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: In-Universe. Lianshi's statement in XL that no one would ever betray Wu becomes this if you've played Jin's Story.
  • Heart Container: Dim Sum baskets, at least in 3-5 and 7.
  • Hello, Insert Name Here: Edit Modes, figuring prominently in 4 onward, allow you to make your own characters.
  • High School A.U.: Koei actually did an entire line of college/high school AU outfit DLC for each kingdom in 7.
  • Historical Badass Upgrade: Most of the cast. Granted, some of those ancient warriors were actually pretty badass on their own....
  • Historical Beauty Update: A number of the characters, particularly Yueying; one of the few things we know about the real Yueying is that she was widely considered to be notably unattractive.
  • History Repeats: The final battle of Jin's hypothetical route in 8 takes place at Chibi, and involves a coalition of Wu and Shu forces trying to foil Wei's advance with a fire attack. This is pointed out in several of the camp conversations.
  • Hollywood History: Played straight in the early main games and the Empires games. Averted with 7 and 8, which follow the actual history of the Three Kingdoms Era much more closely.
  • Hollywood Old: Sun Jian. Despite his white hair, he doesn't actually look much older than 35 at the very most.
  • Hourglass Hottie: Basically every female character.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: Buns and meat will heal your character while wine fills your Musou bar.
  • Impending Clash Shot: At the end of the openings of Dynasty Warriors 7 & 8. they have Zhao Yun about to clash with Xiahou Dun, flying towards each other, weapons brandished.
  • Improbable Weapon User: You've got anachronistic weapons like a powered drill or the rocket powered Siege Lance, plus plenty of simply unlikely weapons like Razor Wire, two Musical Assassins (one consists of smacking enemies with a flute), one gentleman who uses an "arm blade" (it's a boat), a pool cue user, one guy uses a brush... there's quite a few bizarre weapons.
    • The DLC weapons runs the full gamut of improbable weaponry which goes from genuine weapons like the Emei Piercers and the Deer Horn Knives to blatantly anachronistic weapons like the arrow gatling gun that is the "Revolving Crossbow" to... a simple bench.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: Soldiers in 8 often make one if you talk to them in camp.
  • In Name Only: Jin in DW7 and 8 is basically Wei ruled by the Sima family instead of the Cao/Xiahou clan due to the plot being over before it's renamed.
  • In Spite of a Nail: In DW8, despite changing the outcomes of several important battles, you still have to persuade Jiang Wei to defect Wei with the sole differences being that you play as someone else and you are in a different level.
    • Saving the lives of Sun Jian, Sun Ce, Zhou Yu and Lu Su in the Wu campaign will still lead to them passing their duties to their successors and the plot continuing as normal until the battle of Hefei.
  • Interface Screw: Some stratagems can do this. For example, "Archer Ambush" confuses the enemy that falls into it. For the player this removes the map and the health and musou power gauges.
  • Interface Spoiler: In DW8 The battle of Xiapi shows Xiahou Dun Wearing his trademark eyepatch which is the result of events within the battle. His portrait on previous levels shows him without.
  • It's Pronounced Tro-PAY: Up until 7, character names are pronounced like a mixture of really low-level layman, English speakers' understanding of Spanish and Japanese rather than Chinese. Starting with 7, though, the pronunciations are very much improved, although zhong, Dong (as in Dong Zhuo), and Lu (as in Lu Bu) are all still off.
  • It's Up to You: While allied units can take out enemy bases and officers, the player still has to deal with most of them. In particular, the player must deal the final blow to the enemy commander in an overwhelming majority of instances.
    • Downplayed in the Empires spin-offs, where battles with your side possessing a great advantage can be won without so much as the player attacking a single time.
    • 8 downplays this in Story Mode and Free Mode with assignments given by the de facto leader in a stage. Generally completing your assignments flawlessly results in your side having such a morale advantage that allows allied officers kick as much ass as the player, albeit mostly offscreen.
    • 8 fiercely defies this in it's much happier hypothetical routes, where generally your preferred faction lives Happily Ever After.
  • Killed Offscreen: Numerous instances of this. In historical paths characters die off-screen to coincide with the deaths of their real life counterparts. By the Jin campaign in 7 and 8, any characters who didn't actually die in battle have died offscreen.
  • Last Stand: Depending on which faction or character you play as, the games until 7 usually have variations of this where the final battle is one of the rival kingdoms putting up a last resistance. In the cases of Shu and Wei this usually happens at Wu Zhang Plains. Played straight in the hypothetical routes for 8 as well.
  • Leitmotif: Lu Bu has always had his own theme(which also served as the game's theme up until 7), 7 and 8 give multiple themes to each faction.
  • Legacy Boss Battle: Orochi, Da Ji, and Kiyomori can optionally be fought in Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce after clearing certain objectives.
  • Level-Up at Intimacy 5: In Dynasty Warriors 6: Empires and subsequent Empires games and Conquest Modes you can marry another character. "Resting" with them will raise your level. Taking blood oaths with a member of the same gender (since there's no Gay Option) will also result in that character randomly giving you gifts and bonuses.
  • Lighter and Softer:
    • Lots of unpleasant bits from the novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms are omitted or reworked to be more family friendly, ranging from a subplot with a princess committing suicide to an infant being thrown to the ground and more.
    • While 8 follows more or less the same story as 7, it is still mildly less dark than its predecessor. The new Hypothetical routes allow you to prevent and negate the darker moments that were present in 7, and several characters who were morally grey and/or black in 7 have had their personalities reworked. (Xiahou Ba is less of an arrogant Troll and more of a conflicted, melancholy Apologetic Attacker, Sima Zhao's more ruthless traits have been transferred to new character Jia Chong, Lu Bu becomes a Well-Intentioned Extremist, etc)
  • Limit Break: Musou attacks.
    • Desperation Attack: True Musou attacks, slightly stronger. Unless a specific skill/attribute is in use, they can only be done while the player's health bar is red (as opposed to yellow or blue/green). Additionally, the musou gauge automatically charges when the player's health is this low.
  • Living MacGuffin: The Emperor of the Han is usually treated as such, because he has almost no agency of his own; whoever is in control of him controls the country.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: 35 in 3, 42 in 4, 48 in 5, 68 in 7 Empires and 85 in 8 Empires. And that's just the playable characters!
  • Luck Stat: Determines quality of found items and frequency of drops or something like that. You can usually equip an item/ability or apply a skill to boost this.
  • Luck-Based Mission:
    • Several quests in the online game have some luck in it. Usually, you can get a pretty high rank, even if you're completely screwed, but there are some quests where rank is determined almost completely by luck (we're looking at you, Rescue the Apprentice). Can also get like this in the single-player titles, since your allies have the tendency to get themselves killed at the most inconvenient time.
    • The "Infiltrate the Official Residence" quest in Dynasty Warriors 8: Empires. There are five total places where Wood Oxen can randomly spawn, and you need to find and break three of them to win. Two of them, however, are in an area where, due to poor AI pathing, you can not avoid the guards - you will be seen, which means several super-powered officers spawn in and the mission becomes unwinnable on all but the lowest difficulty settings. Better hope all three Wood Oxen decide to spawn in the space you can actually reach!
  • Mooks: The troops. Only on the higher difficulty settings and in large numbers will they even manage to inconvenience you. The main difficulty of achieving 1000 (or 3000 in 7) K.O.s is finding enough of them to beat up.
  • Morale Mechanic: The series eats and breathes morale. Morale determines who wins the battles when you're not in the area, and can make enemies harder to fight if they have a lot of it. You can reduce overall enemy morale and raise your own by killing troops, defeating enemies, and activating (or preventing) certain events.
  • Mukokuseki: Designs for some characters look decidedly non-Chinese, ranging from a barbarian Battle Couple that could pass as African to a blonde tsundere to a young man the western fans think looks suspiciously like Justin Bieber.
  • Multishot: Attacks with bows of any sort fired by an officer more often than not do this.
  • My Name Is ???: A few enemy officers in the Zhuge Dan's Rebellion stage of 8's Jin campaign are identified only as "???", as they were secretly dispatched by the Wei Emperor himself.
  • Nerf: Zuo Ci's weapon gets one hell of a downgrade for the online game. It's kinda understandable, though.
    • The ridable elephant in the online version as well. They no longer damage enemies by running into them, their basic attack is stupidly hard to aim at anything not as big as it is, its charge attack hits in a cone area instead of around it, and it's possible to dismount a rider with an attack that knocks someone down aimed at the elephant, along with killing the elephant outright. On the other hand, its musou is changed to a more powerful version of its original charge attack, it has its own life and musou bars, and if the enemy isn't relying on charge attacks, it is much harder to dismount a rider from his/her elephant, since attacks made onto the rider count as hitting the elephant instead.
  • Never a Self-Made Woman: Justified, since it's based around feudal China and almost every single female character is either the love interest or relative of a male character.
    • Averted with Wang Yi as her husband, Zhao Ang, is never referred as such.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The PC version of 8:XLuses the graphics from the PS3 over the PS4 version, after Koei advertised it using the PS4 graphics.
  • Noob Cave: The Yellow Turban Rebellion is this in most games, albeit that's pretty similar to the book, where several of the major characters would establish their reputations from fighting against the rebels.
  • Oddball in the Series: Strikeforce replaces the vast armies and epic retelling of ROTK with huge monster bosses, anime powerup forms, and four player online co-op.
  • Oh, Crap - "Lu Bu has entered the battlefield."
  • Old Save Bonus: You get a few things when playing an Xtreme Legends or Empires title if you have a save for the corresponding game in the main line.
    • The Xtreme Legends titles generally carry over all progress from the vanilla game's save.
  • One-Man Army: Most of the time figuratively, but occasionally literally, as well. Lu Bu and Guan Yu are treated as such, with entire stages devoted primarily just to defeating them.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Invoked in numerous battles. More especially present in Shu and Wei's endings beginning with 7, and picking the historical route in 8's branch out battle.
  • Pimped Out Cape: 7 Xtreme Legends gives this everybody, after you get the top title in Legend mode.
  • Power-Up Mount: Horses and elephants, as well as bears in 7.
  • Product Placement: Dynasty Warriors 8 has 7-Up armor for Zhao Yun. This is because the game is actually the 7th in the series note .
  • Public Domain Characters: Most characters are historical persons. Of those who aren't...
    • Fu Xi and Nuwa are Chinese mythological deities.
    • Bao Sanniang (and arguably Guan Suo) comes from another Ming Dynasty era work, Hua Guan Suo Zhuan (花關索傳).
  • Reality Ensues: For all the high-flying action, giant explosions, and unrealistic weapons it contains, Dynasty Warriors is still technically Historical Fiction. In real life not everyone gets a dramatic or heroic death, and not everyone gets to live out their dreams. That's reflected here, and can lead to a lot of Bittersweet Endings and Downer Endings.
  • Recurring Extra: An unnamed peasant that continues to appear in the main camp in Shu's Musou mode in DW7, who joined from as far back as the Yellow Turbans Rebellion and moves up the ranks as Liu Bei (and eventually Zhuge Liang)'s campaigning went on. He's back in 8.
    • In 7XL, we get the "It's Me!" guy. He shows up in literally every camp, which puts him on something like 11 different sides over the years. The closest to an explanation we get is that he's a history buff, and likes being where the action is.
  • Redshirt Army/You All Look Familiar: Does the character have a unique model and fighting style? If not he probably has no less than thirty identical twins in the game, provided he's a named officer at all. Does a name appear above his head at all? If not then he's so low on the foodchain that morality doesn't even apply to his life, and he'll die for nothing just like the thousands of his identical twins you yourself just finished killing in the span of about three minutes. Of course, given how often characters in these games get beaten in battle without dying, it's not much of a stretch to assume that a significant number off these casualties produce a Non-Lethal K.O.
  • Replay Mode: Most entries in the series have Free Mode which allows replay of story stages and cutscene viewers that allow swapping characters around.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Invoked numerous times within the game. Wang Yi, Ma Chao and Liu Bei are just a few examples of people who invoked the trope.
  • RPG Elements: Varies depending on the individual game, but defeating enemy officers is the one consistent trait in the series, either their defeat directly helps to level you up via EXP or they drop items that give permanent stats boosts.
  • Rubber-Band A.I. : DW4 is notorious of this. You've maxed out your character stats, acquired the 11th weapon and had the "Slay" Elemental Orb equipped, ready to rock and roll the stages that you've been struggling with most of your playthrough. It's pay-back time, right? WRONG. Because suddenly you find that the mooks are even stronger than they were on your first play-through, with even more devious A.I. and insane damage that renders your maxed-out stats and high attack feat moot, and you'd probably have a better chance of beating it playing as a fresh-start character...
  • Running Gag: In 7: Xtreme Legends, Liu Shan will intrude on certain battles, commenting that he was just taking a stroll and got lost. Xingcai follows close by to berate him for his "clumsiness."
    • In 8, Han Dang being constantly unremembered in Wu's story is source of many frustrations for him. Also in the same side, there'll be a soldier who'd comment on what Lianshi is doing behind the scenes, even if she's not present in the camp. Mostly about her budding romance with Sun Quan (or the soldier's being jealous at how Lianshi gave the attention to Quan).
    • Sima Yi and Sima Shi calling someone an imbecile.
    • Also in 8, each stage that has a camp will have a Private who tells his own little sidestory depending on which faction you're playing as. The Wei Private tells you historical trivia about Cao Cao, the Wu Private comments on Sun Quan and Lianshi's budding relationship, the Shu Private and later his son talks about how he will follow Shu to the end as repayment for Liu Bei saving his life, and the Jin Private talks about how he eavesdrops on Sima Zhao getting in trouble with his family and officers.
  • Scenery Porn: Inverted. The scenery in this series is infamous for being as bare-bones as possible so the computer can render as many enemy soldiers on screen as possible. Only much later in the franchise, like DW7 or Warriors Orochi 3, is there decent scenery.
    • Played straight by DW6 which, for all its faults, features some of the best-looking stages in the series, which are consisted of amazingly detailed landscape and nice lighting. The combined effect looks splendid, holding a strong contrast to its rather dull-looking counter-parts in the previous titles.
    • Played straight again in 8, the developers obviously put a lot of thought into area graphics, with levels like Baidi castle being downright awesome to look at.
  • Schmuck Bait: Some people will view the words "Do not pursue Lu Bu" as an invitation. They will most likely get their asses handed back to them.
    • In the online game, any canon officer announcing they have entered the battlefield will be unless you know what is going on.
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: 6E and occasionally ultimate weapons require this.
  • Sequence Breaking: Before 6, a common and effective tactic is to just bum rush the enemy commander since they're usually spawned immediately and defeating them immediately ends the stage. Since 6 though, there are usually hurdles in place to prevent this.
  • Shout-Out: A set of DLC costumes in 7 turn the cast into fairy tale characters, most especially western European ones.
    • Some of the DLC costumes for Shu characters very clearly turn them into a Super Sentai / Power Rangers type of group.
    • There's even a case of a Shout-Out to a Chinese idiom—"Speak of Cao Cao, and Cao Cao will appear". Dynasty Warriors 8 has a running gag in the Wei story mode where people keep commenting on Cao Cao's uncanny ability to appear soon after he's mentioned, and how he must have an incredible information network to accomplish this.
  • Slow Motion Fall: Happened frequently in 8.
  • Spin Attack: Quite a lot of Musou attacks (and a few Charge attacks) have an element of this.
  • Sprint Shoes: Equipment and weapons with the Speed attribute increase running speed. There's also a temporary boost dropped by enemies, which is a pair of boots. Mounts also fit to some extent.
  • Spreading Disaster Map Graphic: This is a standard depiction of the kingdoms' conquests and territorial expansion during the pre-battle narrations; with the occasional Tetris T-block to represent a particular officer or ruler moving from one province to another. Also Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Green for Shu, Indigo for Wei, Red for Wu, Cyan for Jin.
  • Super Mode: All officers have this in the Strikeforce games.
  • Suspicious Video Game Generosity: Does your army start with a higher morale than the others do? Then be prepared for something really bad to happen within the level.
  • Sympathetic P.O.V.: Every playable faction gets this in their campaign, and it works.
    • Wei: Pragmatism is the only way to fix things.
    • Wu: Unity and bonds are what it takes to unite the land.
    • Shu: Benevolence fixes everything.
    • Jin: Only the Sima Clan and those who work for it has the right to rule the land, the rest are all imbeciles.
    • Lu Bu: Only strength gets things done.
  • Talking To Yourself: Invoked in the Japanese side. A few notable mentions include both Qiao sisters, Sima Yi and Shi, and Zhao Yun and Zhuge Liang.
  • Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors: 8 introduces the three-point system, where every weapon has one of three affinities (Earth, Heaven, or Man). Having an advantage over the opponent's weapon gives enhanced attack and defense and allows a powerful "Storm Rush" attack, having a disadvantage means reduced stats, but allows the player to perform a Switch Counter to switch weapons, stagger the enemy, and enter Hyper Mode for a moment.
  • Tech Demo Game: Dynasty Warriors: NEXT, the first game in the series to be released on PS Vita, has game elements with touch-screen control schemes shoehorned in as an attempt to show off the console's touch-screen capability. The results range from being mildly fun, tediously dull, to downright frustrating.
  • Timed Mission: Omnipresent but mostly superficial as you'll generally need to go out of your way to run out of time.
    • Averted in 7, which has no stage timer.
  • Title Drop: Achieving 1000 kills in the Japanese versions have characters or their allies call themselves a "Truly Peerless Warrior of the Three Kingdoms."
    • English localizations use essentially the same wording, though in a few examples we find ourselves being called "True Dynasty Warriors."
  • Too Long; Didn't Dub: The combat vocals in 3 have no non-Japanese recording.
    • The English dub for 8 doesn't include audio for the narration between story mode battles or for most camp conversations.
    • Only text is translated in the English versions of 7: Empires and 8: Empires.
  • Trauma Conga Line: The canon story progression in 7 and 8, it's just one tragedy after another.
  • True Companions: 7: Empires and 8: Empires let your character become "sworn siblings" with up to two other characters. There's a special event based off of Romance of the Three Kingdoms if you arrange for Liu Bei, Guan Yu, and Zhang Fei to become sworn siblings.
  • Unstoppable Rage: The rare Rage coins in 5 improve your character's attack, defense, walking speed, attack speed, and allow use of an even stronger Musou attack for 60 seconds.
    • Rage mode in 8, which does most of the same slightly better but also allows the Rage Musou attack to last as long as you can keep picking up Musou refills. This leaves playable characters at levels of destruction just shy of making them a living Fantasy Nuke.
    • Soul Orbs in Dynasty Warriors Online. For the length of the battle, you are allowed to turn into the officer corresponding to that soul instead of having your weapon's Advanced+ ability for a LONG time.
  • Victory Pose: DW7, DW7E DW8 have an odd aversion: win poses were removed, but you can still run around until the screen fades out or you push a button.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Since only you are capable of downing the enemy commander, one of the possible amusements to get out of this is to strip the enemy commander of all his troops, have half a dozen or so allied officers surround him, then stand back and watch the poor soul getting juggled up and down like a helpless human volleyball.
  • Villain Exit Stage Left: All defeated enemy commanders do this during a given character's story, unless it's the last battle in the story, or if it was their time to die historically.
    • 7 has Jiang Wei doing this no less than four times (in four failed invasions of Wei — though he had three more in the novel) in Jin's story before being the final boss of Battle of Chengdu, and one of Zhuge Liang's Legendary Stages in 7 has Meng Huo doing this a whopping six times before finally surrendering after his seventh defeat — again, right out of the novel.
    • In 5, Zhang Liao reappears 4 times in the battle of Hefei.
  • War Elephants: War elephants are generally used as mounts by the Nanman, and sometimes unlockable as a companion animal by the player character.
  • The War Sequence: Dynasty Warriors is the very epitome of the war sequence. Pretty much the whole series is made of them.
  • Weapon of Choice and almost all its subtropes, most notably Blade on a Stick and Sword Fight: Absolutely everyone.
  • Welcome to Corneria: The soldiers in the camp from 7 onward always say the same things no matter how may times you talk to them.
  • What If?: The Hypothetical routes in 8, which essentially tell what would happen if everything just happened to work out exceptionally well for each kingdom.
  • World of Badass
  • World of Ham
  • Wrestler in All of Us: More prevalent in 7, but many officers use wrestling moves for some throws, such as Giant Swing for Zhang Fei and any wielders of the Gloves moveset, Backdrop Suplex and Muscle Buster for Huang Gai, and Armbar for Deng Ai. 8 gives Huang Gai or any who wields his default weapon the Spinning Lariat (via Huang Gai's Rage Musou or the weapon's Storm Rush). Also Zhuge Dan gains an elbow drop.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: The non-Empires expansion packs are titled "Xtreme Legends".