Video Game / Dynasty Warriors

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"Unleash your inner warrior!"

Dynasty Warriors (真・三國無双 Shin Sangoku Musou note  in Japanese) is a series of Hack and Slash action games produced by Koei. The games' storylines are loosely 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 them 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 extra excuse to mash buttons). The gameplay follows a simple format: allow the player to choose a character, then plop them onto a large battlefield facing waves of enemies. The player then uses button combos and special techniques to decimate armies of mooks in the most stylish ways possible as they complete mission objectives to turn the tide of the battle in their favor. There's also the occasional titular Musou attacks, which the player can perform after having killed enough enemies or collected enough restorative items. The Musou attack is an automated and cinematic attack sequence, that effectively function as screen-nukers. All of the games have some form or variant of the Musou attack present, though different games may call it a different term.

The games feature a colorful cast of characters, most of whom are part of the storyline's three main warring factions, the Empires 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 Dynasty Warriors formula has expanded into other settings:

The Dynasty Warriors parent series has also spawned a plethora of spin-off games that apply Warriors-style gameplay to adaptations of and crossovers with other popular franchises and IPs:

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.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Of course there's a lot in the Shu team, as well as majority of playable characters.
  • All for Nothing: Since DW7, all of the efforts of Wei, Wu, and Shu have become this with the addition of Jin, who wins it all in the end.
  • 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.
  • Anyone Can Die: Being based on a history of warfare, it's inevitable that some characters bite the dust throughout the timeline, which spans roughly 60 years. In fact, by the final chronological battle of the series (Wei conquest of Shu), only Deng Ai, Ding Feng, Jia Chong, Jiang Wei, Liu Shan, Sima Zhao, Wang Yuanji, Wen Yang, and Zhong Hui survive, and out of all of them, only Jia Chong and Wen Yang live to see China united after the Jin conquest of Wu (which isn't portrayed in the series).
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: Your empire 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 empires, 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 empire.
  • 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.
  • Art Evolution:
    • While the changes from 1 to 2 are significant, besides the Three Kingdoms setting they were two unrelated games in Japan, so it doesn't count. From 2 to 5, most characters had gradual changes with each game, while a few had more near complete redesigns, most of them in 4 and 5 as a part of hardware generation change. 6, being a soft-reboot of sorts, had the characters' visuals overhauled, from the exaggerated versions of their old outfits to completely new looks, all of which looked outlandish. The backlash from 6 led to 7 returning to the older style of 2-5, and the designs from 6 that were kept were redesigned to match the old style. Also, with the more prominent presense of the "second-generation" characters in 7 and 8, most of the younger(-looking) "first-gen" were made to look slightly older.
    • Dynasty Warriors 9 is set to do this on two fronts. First, all of the games assets and character models are being rebuilt from the ground up specifically for the Playstation 4. Secondly, the overall character designs are being tweaked to tone down the "flashiness" and focus on more era appropriate designs and costumes.
  • 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."
  • Autobots, Rock Out!: Oh so frequently. You'd think that it wouldn't fit at first, but given how over the top the series is, it does anyway.
  • 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.
  • Badass Normal: The unplayable characters in 2, ranging from the very minor Officers to even the lowly Sergeants and Bowmen, can surprisingly hold their own against the odds when you mod the game with cheat codes to enable them to be selectable.
    "The almighty Gate Captain!!" ~Random YouTube Comment
  • 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.
  • Bittersweet Ending: As the epilogue text of 7 reveals to you, a few years after the Fall of Shu, Wei experiences a coup d'état that sees the last emperor of Wei being deposed by the Sima family, who change the empire's name into Jin. They proceed to conquer Wu less than two decades later, after which China is finally united under one ruler. However, by this time, nearly all playable characters and an endless amount of generic mooks are dead, including all the famous officers you know. Also, it isn't long after Jin's founding that conflict would arise, giving way to backstabbing, civil wars, and eventually fragmentation to come along...
  • 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.
  • Bookends:
    • In 7, 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, giving a simplistic yet carthatic experience. Later games in the whole franchise put the emphasis on other buttons to be mashed in order to make up for it (such as mashing the charge attack button during some moves only).
    • 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.
    • An egregiously annoying example in 2 is for an enemy Officer that you're currently fighting to recover some or all of their health instantaneously, despite the fact that you've whittled them down to a tiny sliver of health.
    • In Advance the AI Officers and higher have random moments where they can resist your attacks and then combo you, taking away one OR MORE abilities from you. And if this bastard is the Victory Trigger you have to defeat, don't expect to recover enough ability to score 1000 points.
      • You die, it's Game Over. Same applies for AI in most cases... But, in some circumstances, the AI won't die until you Triumph over them. If your level is too low and you don't have a powerful weapon, your best bet is to Reset and New Game.
      • The archers. Oh boy the archers... Every other enemy needs to successfully land the third or sixth or ninth hit of their combo in order to take one ability from you, but the archers are purely based on RNG. And somehow their shot from behind ALWAYS takes one Ability away.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Another staple of the series. Granted, harder difficulties downplay this somewhat, but it's still there.
  • 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, Cao Cao's horse, and Hex Mark, a horse dubbed unlucky for the rider.
  • 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 Wuzhang Plains.
  • Counter Attack: In almost every game. 8 has a Switch Counter function, which, when the player is against an Officer their affinity is a disadvantage against (Man against Heaven against Earth against Man etc.), they can activate a Switch Counter when they're attacking at the right moment. It comes with temporarily increasing their defence and attack.
  • Cowardly Mooks: The games and its numerous spin-offs often employ this through a Morale Mechanic. Defeating area leaders causes the surrounding troops to instantly lose all their morale and start fleeing from battle.
  • 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 noticeably darker 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 empire's Historical path in 8 starts out with one, where key characters dying leaves every faction much weaker and snowballs into further tragedy.
  • David vs. 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. On the other hand, if you encounter an enemy Officer that seems too tough to take on, you can use the inversive tactic of eliminating their subordinate troops to demoralize them.
  • Decisive Battle: Chibi, which has the fledgling empires that dominated the era having a showdown with Cao Cao's massive navy being burnt to cinders by a smaller force of 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.
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • Grey and Gray Morality: In the series, no faction is truly evil or good. Earlier games, to follow the novel's biased depiction, lean more on painting Shu as the good guys, Wei as the Chaotic Evil, and Wu as the Lesser of Two Evils, yes, but it's not exaggerated enough to the point that it generalizes them all, as each side has their own plus and cons. Later games begin to follow history more closely, going for this trope even further. What everyone can agree, however, is that Dong Zhuo is Obviously Evil, either here, the novel, or in real life.
  • 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: Most of the time, this trope affects the "Other" faction, especially since 7 (which removes individual Musou Mode in favor of factional ones), due to the sheer fact that they're not affiliated with any faction.
    • The Yellow Turbans is the worst about this, since their only representative is Zhang Jiao and they're usually only faced in the very first stage of the games, the Yellow Turban Rebellion. To give you an idea on how hard to make them playable, three fictional pre-Rebellion battles had to be created specifically for Zhang Jiao's 4-stage Musou Mode in 5. In 8, however, there's a potential of recruiting the Yellow Turbans as allies if you're headed for the hypothetical route.
    • The Nanman Forces, too, as while there are two representatives (Meng Huo and Zhurong), all the battles they appear in are variants of Nanzhong. This is since their only appearance is technically a Wacky Wayside Tribe; the Han Chinese's excursion to Nanzhong is merely to "pacify" them and expand their territory.
    • Dong Zhuo's and Yuan Shao's forces are a bit better at this, since their involvement aren't restricted to one event only. Yuan Shao, for example, has leading the Hulao Gate campaign under his belt, in addition to Guandu. Still, the games generally won't give you control of Dong Zhuo, though they're more generous about Lu Bu and Diaochan (the two, and other affiliated characters, are finally expanded in the Musou Mode of 8: XL).
    • Zuo Ci is an example, but it can be forgiven since, like the Nanman, he is a Wacky Wayside Person for Cao Cao. There are also many evidences that point to him being more than human (indeed, the Warriors Orochi series makes Zuo Ci a mystic).
  • 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.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Either this or Face–Heel Turn, some characters end up switching sides at some point in the story. Zhang Liao is loyal to Lu Bu up to the latter's death, when he's recruited by Cao Cao as part of his fledgling empire. Zhang He and Zhenji start as Yuan Shao's lackeys (the former as general, the latter as his daughter-in-law), but both defect to Cao Cao's side during Guandu. An interesting example is Xu Shu in 8. He's classified as part of the Shu faction, but that's because he is persuaded to defect from Wei in the historical path. Going for Wei's hypothetical path will ensure that he won't defect. Same with Xiahou Ba; going for Jin's hypothetical path will ensure that he won't defect to Shu (although unlike Xu Shu, he's classified as a Jin officer).
  • 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 empire 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. Possibly justified, given he dies at about 36.
  • Hourglass Hottie: Basically every female character.
  • Hufflepuff House: The series tends to frame Wei/Jin and Shu up as the main players of the era due to their bitter rivalry for each other, whether one is evil, one is not, or the reverse. Meanwhile, Wu sits around in the corner comfortably while espousing family virtues, being called into action only when others want them in, though they mostly side with Shu. At least until Fan Castle, when they start to figure more now that Shu is weakening. Ironically (or not), Wu is also the last of the three empires to fall, so their destruction also marks the end of the Three Kingdoms era.
  • 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:
    • Wei, Wu, and Shu are actually empires (well if you want to get technical, they're dynasties, as in Qin, Han, and Ming), not kingdoms, so their rulers are properly styled as emperors, not kings (Wu is known as a kingdom for seven years after its establishment, though). That said, the discrepancy in the translation has been grandfathered too long to be changed.
    • The Jin faction introduced in 7 is basically Wei ruled by the Sima family instead of the Cao/Xiahou clan. This is because the plot is over before the empire is able to change its name. Logically, this means that the two factions can be grouped together and have the same continuity; Jin's first stage in 8 is even the Battle of Wuzhang Plains, which is the stage Wei's story mode in earlier games ends with. Some characters also end up crossover into each other, like Sima Yi, who was a part of Wei before 7.
  • 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.
    • Also in 8, 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.
  • 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 empires 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.
    • The 4-part Battle of Chengdu of Jin's Musou Mode in 7 is a triumphant example, given that Shu really does have to put up an ultimately futile last effort to preserve their empire from being assimilated. Since you're playing as Jin, it doesn't end well for them.
  • 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. There's also the stronger True Musou attacks. 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!
  • Mook Lieutenant:
    • 4:Empires introduced "Lt. Generals". They use generic officer designs, but they are significantly weaker than any named officer. They don't always drop items if you defeat them, and your character won't even say their "officer defeated" quote.
    • In 5:Xtreme Legends's Destiny Mode, there are "Lieutenants" who, while weaker than named officers, are still considered officers game-wise and trigger declare player character "officer defeated" quotes.
    • 8 also introduces "Unit Commanders" who will usually drop weapons and gold if you defeat them. Unlike named officers, Unit Commanders can't use Storm Rush and you can't trigger your own Storm Rush by attacking them, either.
  • 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. By DW6 or SW, they pretty much said "screw it" and embraced anime hair.
  • 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.
  • Mythical Motifs: Shu is symbolized by dragon, Wei by fenghuang (Chinese phoenix), Wu by tiger, and Jin by qilin (sort of a Chinese unicorn).
  • Named Weapons/Rule of Symbolism: Very akin to the source material of the original novel, is the names of all the characters' weapons. It's interesting to note that the original Asian ports of the weapons all have largely different names compared to their localized counterparts, and they are often rife with a rich amount of symbolism towards a ton of Asian-based mythology and legends depending on the character. This even carries over to other Musou Warriors-based titles as well.
  • 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. There are exceptions, though; both Cai Wenji and Wang Yi have spouses in real life, but since the people in question do not appear or mentioned in the series, they stay single.
  • 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.
  • Nintendo Hard: The third game in the series is infamous for being the hardest game in the entire series on normal mode of all things! While the first couple of stages in a characters' musou mode aren't that hard, once you've reached their later stages, they are next to impossible to clear due to the fact that the officers AND their personal soldiers will be insanely difficult to defeat because they will have a very high defense making them extremely hard to kill and to add insult to injury, they can kill you in an instant if you're not careful. While it's true that you can switch the difficulty to easy to make things easy for you, it makes the officers go down FAR to easily as their defense is almost nothing and their strength has been lowered drastically making the stages seem too easy and not much of a challenge at all.
  • No Ending: Before 7, the game's Musou Mode would always end with the Battle of Wuzhang Plains as the outlier, despite the fact that the end of the Three Kingdoms, both in real life and in the ROTK, is nowhere close to that. Even out of context, the battle feels anticlimactic, since it doesn't give resolution to the participants (i.e. Shu basically flees in a We Will Meet Again fashion) and conveniently leaves Wu out of the table (they instead get the fictional Battles of Baidi Castle and Xuchang). 7 remedies this by introducing a new story that takes place after it, which, while still not touching the true end of the era, comes much closer to its conclusion.
  • 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 also 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 .
    • Then there was the time Lu Bu discovered the modern invention of Pepsi just in time for Dynasty Warriors NEXT....
  • Public-Domain Character: Most characters are historical persons. Of those who aren't...
    • Fu Xi and Nuwa are Chinese mythological deities.
    • Zhou Cang and Zhurong are fictional characters created for the Romance of the Three Kingdoms novel. Diaochan and Guan Suo, while recognized long before ROTK was written, are also fictional figures taken from legends of the period.
    • Meanwhile, Guan Suo's wife, Bao Sanniang comes from another Ming Dynasty era work, Hua Guan Suo Zhuan (花關索傳).
  • Promoted to Playable: Another staple. However, No one was promoted in 6, in fact, some characters were taken off the roster. 9 is stated to have less promotions than previous entries, being focused on rebuilding assets and other things from the ground up, as well as toning down a character's appearance's flashiness.
  • 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: 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 AI:
    • 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.
    • Inverted in 8; see Anti-Frustration Features above.
  • 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.
    • For the most part, starting with 6 - thanks to improving technology, the old "fog of war" technique used to help generate all the soldiers onscreen without bogging down the action could finally be scaled back almost completely; allowing the designers to actually put some focus on the backdrops in general.
  • 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.
  • Sequel Number Snarl: Due to the Genre Shift of the series after the first game, the series is called "Shin Sangoku Musou" in Japan while the fighting game that started it is just "Sangoku Musou". Every sequel after the first Shin Sangoku Musou is numbered with respect to that installment but in English it was named "Dynasty Warriors 2", causing every English release to be off by a number to their Japanese equivalent titles.
  • 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.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: The hypothetical endings in 8 fall onto different spots on this scale.
    • Surprisingly, Wu gets the most idealistic ending: Sun Quan convinces all three empires to rule together, as he believes the burden of leadership is better shared among many than overwhelming just one man. It does take Cao Cao being slain during the final battle, though, before his son Cao Pi is convinced to stop the fighting.
    • Shu's ending sees Cao Cao and many of Wei's more loyal vassals slain in the final battle; afterwards, only Shu and Wu remain, their alliance ironclad.
    • Wei's ending has them ultimately subjugate and absorb Wu, then slay Liu Bei and his loyal officers, preventing Shu from even being established. Cao Cao realizes, however, that a future unified empire could easily slip back into chaos with a conqueror at the top, so he voluntarily steps down and disappears from the empire he created, leaving his loyal vassals in charge.
    • By default, Jin's ending is the furthest towards cynicism, since it takes place after many of the Three Kingdoms' heroes are long gone, their ambitions unfulfilled. Still, the Sima clan manages to convince a pointlessly-relentless Jiang Wei to finally stand down, allowing them to more peacefully integrate the remainder of Shu into a united Wei - or rather, Jin.
  • Slow-Motion Fall: Happened frequently in 8.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Zhenji was the sole female character Wei had from 3 (her introduction) until Cai Wenji's introduction to the main series in 7. The Wu faction had Sun Shangxiang as the only female until the Qiao sisters were introduced in 3, and Shu didn't have a female character until Yueying was introduced in 4, and then Xingcai in 5. Jin originally had only Wang Yuanji in 7, but then her mother-in-law was swiftly added in the following game.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": This trope hits the female characters. Originally, their names were romanized in line with the male characters (i.e. surname + given name), despite the fact that many of them have only given names. Yue Ying, for example, makes little sense, as it implies that Yue is her surname. The fact is both are given names, while her actual surname, Huang, is not carried over. Ditto with Xing Cai (surname: Zhang) and Lian Shi (surname: Bu). Beginning with 8, most have their names combined (e.g. Yueying, Xingcai, Lianshi).
  • Spin Attack: Quite a lot of Musou attacks (and a few Charge attacks) have an element of this across the franchise's many installments. Played straight in Hyrule Warriors, where Link, the character who popularized the concept in video games, has the spin attack as his charge attack.
  • 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 empires' 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.
    • Starting from the 5th one going forward- there is a Rage Mode. Generally in this mode your Musou gauge fills instantly and you get access to a ridiculously long chain of attacks. Other features of the mode vary depending on the title you're playing, but common features that appear across most titles are increased damage output, increased defense, decreased knockback received from enemy attacks, and increased speed while in this mode.
    • Hyrule Warriors has the Focus Spirit mode as its own take on this. When the time-limited mode reaches its end, your character performs a powerful finishing attack animation to signify the end of the mode.
    • One Piece: Pirate Warriors has its own variant by giving you support characters to assist you in combat while in this mode. In the second entry, you can temporarily take control of an assist character in this mode, but in the third entry they're limited to just doing attacks alongside you. If characters have different forms that they have assumed in canon, their appearance in this mode will likely reflect that.
  • 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 Fantastic 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. Notably, throughout the series - a number of officers don't wield what they canonically did in the novels or in history; but thanks to the new weapon systems in the more recent entries that allow for sub-weapons, many of them now have an affinity with what would be their "proper" weapon of choice had they been given it in the first place.
  • 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.
  • Wham Episode: The Battle of Fan Castle. Not only about Guan Yu's death (though his no doubt is a major shock), but because it is shortly followed by Emperor Xian's forced abdication courtesy of Cao Pi, who proclaims himself emperor of Wei, extinguishing any hope of the Han dynasty's restoration. Then he's followed by Liu Bei's and Sun Quan's own proclamations for their empires, officiating the start of the Three Kingdoms era. In every battle after Fan Castle, you no longer play as part of [insert name]'s Forces, but as part of either Wei, Wu, or Shu Forces.
  • What If?: The Hypothetical routes in 8, which essentially tell what would happen if everything just happened to work out exceptionally well for each empire.
  • World of Badass: Everyone, full stop. Those who weren't necessarily battlefield type badasses were turned into them for the sake of the setting and gameplay.
  • World of Ham: For Rule of Fun, there is little subtlety to be had here.
  • Worthy Opponent: See character page for individual examples. For more generic example, there's one in 4:Empires. If you keep defeating an officer several times and they keep retreating, in your third encounter with them, they may challenge you for a duel where they say "It appears we are fated to fight" or something along those lines. If you defeat them in the duel, they will be captured and can be recruited if you win the entire battle.
  • 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.
  • Xenafication: All the female characters with the exception of Wang Yi and Zhurong undergo this from the novel, turning from demure, non-action wives/daughters to kickass Action Girls.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: The non-Empires expansion packs are titled "Xtreme Legends".

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