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Video Game: Dynasty Warriors

Dynasty Warriors (Shin San Gokunote  Musou 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 also got its sequel. Aside from anime-based spinoffs, there's also a Zelda inspired game called Hyrule Warriors. 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:

  • Acoustic License: In this series, as well as Samurai Warriors, and Warriors Orochi, you are always cognizant of what's going on over the entire battlefield even though you're controlling a single warrior (or single team of warriors traveling together, in the case of Orochi)—you can instantly hear allies calling for help, ambushes go off, reinforcements show up, etc., and get a corresponding Notice This ping on the mini-map.
    • Of course, if it was more realistic in this regard, anyone you try to help would probably be dead a little bit after a messenger sends you the message, so maybe that's a good thing.
  • Always Second Best: Almost all strategists feel this way when going up against Zhuge Liang. In some games, this actually becomes the primary cause of Zhou Yu's death.
  • Anachronism Stew:
    • Sun Ce wields tonfas, Zhou Tai wields some sort of Japanese sword developed well after the period, Ling Tong (and later Guan Suo) wields nunchaku, Zhurong uses a boomerang. 7 ups the ante with, among other things, a chain gun as Guo Huai's default/EX weapon.
    • Throughout the series, armoured characters actually wear stylized armor designs for generals and cavalrymen of the T'ang to Song Dynasties (c.a. 600's to 1200's AD, during which plate armour was integrated with lamellar) which defined Chinese Classical Armour. Armour around the Han Dynasty would look something like this or this.
      • Justified, as Koei's character designs were based on Ming/Qing (1300's-1911) dynasty illustrations of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms characters and other traditional Chinese images of some of the characters, given that the Romance of The Three Kingdoms is part of Chinese folklore, which present them in period-inaccurate armour most of the time.
    • The presence of 20th century short shorts, high heels, and qipao/cheongsam on female characters who are supposed to be living in the 2nd/3rd centuries A.D. China.
    • Dynasty Warriors 7: Empires introduces Xiahou Ba's new weapon in the form of the Siege Lance, a large rocket-powered lance...in an age before even fireworks were invented...
    • The online version has a giant metal fist. No, Seriously.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: In most titles, 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.
  • Annoying Arrows:
    • Treatment depends on which installment is being played. Arrows were very powerful in early installments, becoming merely a nuisance in later games. In DW5, they are one of the few things that can regularly knock a player off his mount, and the reload time is coincidentally about as long as it takes to get back on the horse.
    • Dynasty Warriors 3 archer ambushes spell instant death to those unprepared. Archer-heavy levels like Jieting and Tong Gate can be Hell at higher difficulties.
    • Averted in-story in Dynasty Warriors 7, with Sun Jian, Sun Ce, Taishi Ci, Dian Wei, Xiahou Yuan, and Guo Huai all dying on-screen from being shot by arrows, but played straight in-game where they slowly chip away your lifebar with the hit sound or your character slowing down as your only notice.
      • Let's not forget Pang Tong, being a delayed-action member of this trope aversion. And Guan Yu, who was heavily injured during the battle of Fan Castle.
      • Though it is still played straight when Xiahou Dun is shot in the eye and shrugs it off.
    • Dynasty Warrior Advance is dumb at this. The archers can endure pretty well, are weak to Rush Charge Attack (which, depending on your character, won't always dispatch them in 1 hits, taking up to FIVE HITS of RCA to kill them) and worst of all? They have a nearly 50/50 chance of removing a skill upgrade when they hurt you, something that ONLY knockdowns and third slashes should do.
    • Zigzagged in 8, because Lu Meng, Guan Yu and Pang Tong are killed by arrows while Zhou Yu and Dian Wei would die from overexertion if the conditions are not met.
  • Armour Is Useless: Subverted. While armors don't provide much visual protection per se, those who do wear armor, like Cao Ren and Guan Yu usually starts with more Defense stat than those who wear robes like Sima Yi and Zhou Yu. On the other hand the in-game defense powerup takes the form of a floating piece of armor, though characters don't actually wear it, but apparently just absorb its armoriness into themselves.
    • Dynasty Warrior Online is double rewarding in this. They don't only look fancy, but they DO provide a boost in vital stats, such as Speed, Jump, Life, Defense, etc.
  • Art Attacker: Ma Dai fights with a giant brush that shoots off solid ink "pellets" as well as pictures of tigers and dragons.
  • Artificial Brilliance: For a game filled with stupid soldiers, the smart actions stand out much more.
    • In Empires (5 at least), if you're taking a base that may cut off enemy support, the closest officers WILL stop whatever they're doing and head back to stop you should some of their army be in danger of being captured as a result. This is impressive considering that unlike most games the things that the AI does isn't scripted.
    • Allied officers in Empires are more likely to help you if your health is low. They're even more likely if they're close by.
    • Troops seem to get smarter with each game. For example, In 5 games, groups of soldiers work together more often to make sure you don't move, or to get their commander out of your combo. Even the manual points this out.
    • Mook intelligence seems to be inversely proportional to their numbers. In earlier games like 4, they are fiendishly shrewd on higher difficulties, like to come at you at the most inconvenient time and know not the meaning of Mook Chivalry. However as they rise in numbers with each progressive game, they start lose all senses of tactics and just charge blindly at the player.
    • 6's Mooks are always quite elusive to deal with as they are smart enough to encircle you and charge attack you in a sequential manner which can be a real pain in the neck. Things will get even worse should they receive the aid of officers, who are just as cunning themselves and can do serious damage should you let your guard down.
  • Artificial Stupidity: Computer-controlled officers will sometimes unleash a Musou attack when facing just a few Mooks, which is generally overkill.
    • They are also known to change focus to the player almost instantly, even when they are almost giving the player a "DEFEAT"
    • In more than one battle in 8, some officers will find an obstacle, but will refuse to go around it to get to their objective. For example, one section in Chi Bi fought on the Shu side has you and several officers cross to the Wei side on a ship. If one of those officers gets caught on the railing next to the gangway, they will just run right into it. The only progress they will ever make towards the boat is if you push them towards it, or if they run at a slight angle into the railing, at which point they will change direction again. Especially annoying if you're doing a timed objective involving them.
    • In 5 Empires, officers will take the shortest way to wherever they're going. Smart 90% of the time, but it's not uncommon to see officers run deep through enemy territory to do this, making them easy ways to reduce enemy troop numbers quickly and to put the enemy on a permanent handicap early in a battle.
  • Artistic Age: Type 2. Just about every non-patriarchal character looks to be in the late-teens/early-twenties range, with only a handful of characters looking much older. In most cases, this is because characters don't age over the 60+ years of history covered, but it leads to interesting moments like Biseinen Sima Yi dying of old age and a young-looking Jiang Wei launching campaign after campaign in Jin's story (in history, Jiang Wei was in his late 40's to early 60's during his Northern Expeditions).
    • This can also get confusing as Sima Yi and Zhang Chunhua, are portrayed as about the same age as their children, Sima Shi and Sima Zhao, portrayed in their early/mid 20's. This comic lampshades this.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • An unusual case in DW7:XL where it is done to weapons, as Xiahou Dun's sword, Guan Yu's pike, Zhang Fei's double-edged pike, and Zhao Yun's spear have been spun off into their own weapon categories.
    • Sima Yi gets his own kingdom in 7.
      • And in the actual history... Making the family a case of Ascended Demoted to Extra.
    • From the actual history... pretty much any named person from history can become a player-character in the game, no matter what they actually did in history. This is most obvious with the female characters, none of which are known to have actually fought during the historical conflict (Zhu Rong being the notable exception), but are all made warriors in-game to keep it from being a total sausage-fest.
      • Wang Yi - added in DW7XL - is also said to have joined battle at least once, though with somewhat less success than Zhu Rong... however, she has the significant advantage of being a HISTORICAL character, rather than made up for the book like Zhu Rong is.
    • Yet another rather unusual case in DW7:Empires, done to the common/generic officers by giving them a Musou Attack and making them playable. Since all characters can wield anyone's weapon in this game, playing as a common officer isn't that terribly disadvantaged, apart from the fact that you only have 1 Musou Attack and gets pretty whiny lines. The game even gives you an award for beating it as a common officer.
    • Liu Shan (or Liu Chan or A Dou as a baby) is an odd case of this, starting as an item in DW2-thu-4 the player can pick up at Chang Ban on Shu's side, then becoming a generic officer in DW5, and then becoming a unique playable officer in DW7.
  • Ascended Meme: In 3, we have the meme of "DON'T PURSUE LU BU". In 7, the achievement/trophy for defeating Lu Bu for the first time is, "Okay, you can pursue Lu Bu."
    • Cao Cao himself says the aforementioned "Don't pursue Lu Bu" in DW7 as well, and again in DW8.
    • Ever since one particular stage in DW7, Sima Shi and meat buns, full stop.
  • Autobots, Rock Out!: Roughly 70% of the soundtrack.
  • Automatic Crossbows: The ballistae from 7, which are basically machine guns with arrows for ammunition.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: In the DW3 opener.
    • Plus a Double Musou. The two characters stand together, strike a badass pose, and boast to high hell while time stops and lightning shoots around them. Then people die. Many people.
    • In story-sequences, Guan Yu and Zhang Fei are serial perpetrators, also often seen doing a back to back to back badass with their sworn brother, Liu Bei.
      • And in Shu's 'Hypothetical' scenario-path in 8, Zhang Bao and Guan Xing winds up doing this during the battle of Luoyang. Needless to say, their parents are delighted and suggest that they swear an oath of brotherhood to keep up the tradition...
  • Badass Adorable: Sun Shanxiang, Bao Sanniang, Daqiao, Xiaoqiao, Wang Yuanji, and Guan Yinping... Basically almost all the female cast fit into this.
  • Badass Family: The Sun family from DW3 onward. Now we have the Cao (and their relatives the Xiahou), the Guan (for all they do), and Sima families in DW7 and Zhang Fei family.
  • Barbarian Tribe: The Nanman Forces; the name 'Nanman' literally translates into 'southern barbarians'.
  • The Bechdel Test: DW7 passes with Sun Shangxiang & Lianshi, a minor conversation between Cai Wenji & Diaochan, some dialogue between Yueying & Bao Sanniang, and other specific Conquest Mode quotes (E.g, Yueying to Wang Yuanji or Cai Wenji).
  • Berserk Button: Musou Mode is literally this. So are some Special Attacks.
    • Some officers won't react well if a specific officer has been routed.
    • Xiapi? Watch out to not route Diao Chan if you are at a low level and/or at a high difficult.
    [Diao Chan has been routed]
    Lu Bu: Diao... Chan... AAAAAAAAARGH!
    • Guan Yu has been killed?! The Wu are doomed... They aren't. Liu Bei is too kind to kill every last of them.
      • In fact, Liu Bei gets more aggressive if Zhang Fei and/or Guan Yu are killed. And he gets somewhat stronger if they are forced to retreat.
    • Some officers spawns with absurd power levels. If you fought through Chang Ban, you must have seen one of those in action.
    [Zhang Fei started defending the bridge]
  • Best Her to Bed Her: Sidequests often involve male characters needing to prove they are worthy of their love interests by defeating them.
    • Cao Pi and Zhenji are a frequent example, since they first met on the battlefield of Guandu - on opposite sides. In DW8's 'Skirmish at Guandu' scenario, where you play as Yuan Shao, Zhenji will defect to the Wei side if she is defeated by Cao Pi...
  • BFS: Most blades are pretty huge, but the Greatswords really take the cake.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Most of the "historical" endings in 8, but Wei's hypothetical is also rather sad. Though Wu ultimately surrenders, and most of its officers survive, Shu unites the west against Cao Cao and, refusing to surrender to the last, sees most of its best and brightest slain, including Liu Bei. However, the land is now united, and Cao Cao, having taken Liu Bei's last request to care for the people to heart, leaves his son to rule a prosperous and peaceful China before Riding into the Sunset with his two closest friends.
  • Body-Count Competition: A few mission objectives invoke this, but it tends to inevitably happen when two players start playing co-op.
    • The entire point of Defeat in the online version is to get a combined k.o. count of 2,000/3,000 before the opposing team does. It is also the most popular alternate objective for Capture if all the bases aren't taken by one force before the time limit expires.
  • 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.
    • Also in 7 in Wei's story, you begin the game with Xiahou Dun and end the game as Xiahou Dun. This can also happen in 8.
      • Yuan can also do this, granted you filled the necessary requirements.
    • The same goes for Sun Quan and Sima Zhao in 8, Cao Cao, Sun Ce, Sun Shangxiang, Liu Bei and Sima Shi in the hypothetical route.
    • In 8, Shu's first cutscene has part of it from Liu Bei's perspective, and has the same in the final cutscene in the hypothetical route.
  • Bow and Sword in Accord: In 3-5, all characters can switch between their normal weapon and a bow. The bow is more or less useless, though.
    • Somewhat done literally with Huang Zhong and Xiahou Yuan, who alternated between bow and sword-based movesets; in 7, they both have the Bow and Sword as their default weapons (the Bow being their EX weapon).
    • The bow could be exploited to take down Lu Bu in Hu Lao Gate, by running away until he stops chasing you, sniping him until he is knocked down and/or spots you, then repeating.
    • Since characters in DW7 and DW7E can equip any weapon (although most of the time, either with reduced effectiveness or at worst, poorly), it's possible to set characters up with a setup like this.
    • Xiahou Yuan's new weapon is DW8 uses his club used like a sword from DW3-5, however this time he is keeping a bow on his person. His club is used as an arrow for his charges attacks.
  • Breakout Character: In Japan, Ma Chao has gained such a following that in deciding characters to add for 7, Ma Dai was chosen to better flesh out his story (while also fleshing out late-Shu characters). In 7 Xtreme, Wang Yi was added to Wei due to her own opposing relation to the two of themnote  as well.
    • Her personality had earned her a following as well.
    • And then in Warriors Orochi 3, Ma Chao is what can be said to be one of the main heroes, surviving the early onslaught and generally gets a lot of spotlight... moreso than resident poster boy Zhao Yun.
    • In the online version, Ma Chao is the leader of a faction in one section, supported by Pang De. The faction was somewhat odd in that they reused the old colors and capes (each section has its own, unique capes) from the previous scenario, purple and silver, for Ma Chao, but the other factions also lack new capes as well.
  • Button Mashing: Practically a defining quality of the series, and a big reason for its Love It or Hate It status.
    • Ding Feng's new weapon, the Ring Blade zig-zags with this. It requires certain timing in order to initiate stronger attacks.
  • Call Back: In DW7 the song for Fan Castle in Wei's story mode, Epic Man, is a re-worked and considerably less upbeat version of an earlier theme: Frenzy Moon for Guan Du. Which makes sense given that Guan Du ends with Cao Cao cementing himself as leader of the most powerful army in China while Fan Castle ends with Cao Cao dying of illness.
    • These both are part of a greater Leitmotif for Wei, which returns in 8. Each Kingdom has their own Leitmotif starting from 7 onward. All three are featured in the track for Chibi in 8.
    • Also back in 7, a cinematic cutscene shows Xu Zhu suggesting to Dian Wei that when it's all over they can plow rice field together and even getting Dian Wei to do some 'plowing practice'. But then, in 7, there's no way to avoid Dian Wei's death in Wan Castle so that dream goes unfulfilled. However, in 8, if you go through the hypothetical route (which involves getting Dian Wei to survive), one of the scenes in the ending is... Xu Zhu and Dian Wei finally plowing rice field together.
    • In the DW8 stage 'Defeat the Rebels' (part of Jin's Hypothetical storyline), Sima Yi and his wife, Zhang Chunhua, come out of retirement to put a stop to Zhong Hui's attempted rebellion, amidst much 'kids these days' and 'in MY day!'-type dialogue. (And complains from Zhong Hui that these old fogies should stay home and drink tea, not rush unto the battlefield.) The strategic approach Sima Yi uses, which he describes as 'just the basics', are highly reminiscent of the combat-system of older games, particularly the focus on 'capturing the Supply Depot to reduce enemy morale', which was a key part of DW6's combat-system. Guess he really IS a tad old-fashioned...
    • With the changes to the musou system, most characters changed their musou attacks, but with the musou rage in 8 a few of the old attacks that come from the old system return. If a character uses their old weapon, Xing Cai or Sun Ce, or something similar, Pang Tong, Then their rage musou ofter represents the older musou version. Others, such as Ling Tong, end up losing theirs.
  • Camera Centering
  • Call to Agriculture: A common feature of many of Wei's endings, due to the presence of Xu Zhu, though many of the characters involved are still wearing their heavy armor as they work.
  • 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/White for Lu Bu, and Gold for Yuan Shao. In DW7's Story Mode, Unique Officers are even colored as such when they are in their original faction or when they changed faction.
    • Truth in Television: as in multiple points in their history, Imperial China colour coded the uniforms (or at least the underclothes of armour and banners) usually to indicate from which province/region the unit came from. This is usually for Imperial Commanders to quickly know from which province an army comes from, and also their strengths (i.e. western provinces might be good in cavalry due to fighting steppe nomads.)
    • Some of the characters have separate color schemes owing to their having served in separate factions at different moments (Guan Yu and Jiang Wei have Shu and Wei colors, Zhang Liao has Dong Zhuo/Lu Bu and Wei, Zhang He and Zhenji have Yuan Shao and Wei, Sun Shangxiang has Wu and Shu—she even appears in a cutscene in the Shu storyline in her Shu colors) and Xiahou Ba has Jin and Shu colors and Zhuge Dan has Jin and Wu colors.
      • Come DW8, Jia Xu, Taishi Ci, Zhong Hui, Guan Yu and Xu Shu also use a Purple/Others/Wei color scheme (With black in Xu and Hui's cases and Wei for the latter two). In fact the only characters aside from the new characters that get a alternate color scheme for their DW8 costumes are those that appear outside of their main factions in Story Mode.
  • 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.
    • In 5 and 8 you could do this with your bodyguard.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Particularly egregious in the later installments, where ALL officers except you and the commanders can retreat when defeated and will come back later in the same battle.
    • DW Online manages to top this with its AI-controlled officers being able to travel across impassable terrain, amongst other abilities.
      • Not that they really do anything after they get there, though. The computers in the Online version are some of the dumbest things ever.
      • During treasure mode, they can't teleport... but they keep trying to. Instead, they just stand there if you're not escorting them past their teleporting points, or if their target gets taken over of a closer base gets taken.
    • Oddly enough, the ridiculously powerful Musou officers (playable characters in other games) are pretty much the only ones who don't come back in the same fight, pretty much inverting the trope. Makes sense in Defeat commander, but they still retreat in other modes (Though to be fair, they are almost always a bitch to kill, especially if you're unprepared).
    • Subverted in DW7: Empires, where you can now return to the fight if KO'd, so long as you still have enough 'resources' to do so and not get KO'd in an area the enemy have tight control over. The CPU is restricted by these new rules as well.
    • The instant Musou charging in DW7 Empires only because the player Musou bar fills EXTREMELY slow.
      • The more annoying aspect about this is that DW7's Musou Attacks function more like an instant-fire super move, and enemy officers can now fire them at will, where in previous titles they had a short charge-up time before unleashing their Musou Attacks. Gets more blatant in DW8 after a recent patch, which taught all officers to Musou the player whenever they get the chance. And unlike the player, the enemy is not restricted by a Musou Gauge.
    • The empires games always tend to have some sort of cheat going for them. In 4, you only got 10 generals and liutenants at most (for a total of 20). The enemy gets 3 a piece for each territory (six total per territory). There are more than three territories in the game (though on the flip side, no matter how bad things get, you will always have those officer slots). In 5, the enemy factions will pretty much always get reinforcements, even if it's impossible (For example, if there are only 2 factions left, and they attack you from an area that's only next to one territory? Expect reinforcements anyways). In 6, the AI never run out of troops, even if you constantly taunt them into attacking you. In 7, the player is limited to a maximum of 20 subordinate officers, but the AI can employ as many as they want.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: The Video Game
  • Cool Horse - Red Hare, canonically the fastest horse in the three-kingdoms era, is generally unlockable as a horse. Some other less-famous horses are unlockable in some games as well.
  • Counter Attack: In almost every game.
  • Cutscene Incompetence: Happens in many character death scenes. Despite you are slaughtering them by hundreds during gameplay, surrounded by 20 or so mooks in a cutscene and it's a life-or-death situation. Guan Yu's death in DW7 is one of the more egregious example.
    • Averted in 8, where most characters are ambushed.
  • 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.
  • David Versus Goliath: Strikeforce introduces giant golem-like enemies.
  • 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.
  • Decisive Battle: The most epic and important battle in the games is also the most important both in actual history and the novel: the Battle of Chibi, in which the coalition of Shu and Wu(led by the strategists Zhuge Liang and Zhou Yu, respectively) face the overwhelmingly powerful naval fleet of Wei. It is SUCH an important battle that in 8 winning the battle on Wei's side is what initiates Wei's hypothetical route.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Almost exclusively how you recruit new officers in 8's Ambition Mode.
    • Defeat Means Playable: You can play as any playable character after recruiting them, though only in Ambition Mode. If you want to play as them in Free or Story Modes, you still have to beat the relevant Story Mode battle.
  • Demoted to Extra: Several characters went from playable into a generic officer AGAIN come in 6, such as Pang De, though they've since become playable again. However, since 7, Guan Ping, despite being playable, goes from participating in many battles alongside Guan Yu... into just appearing at Fan Castle, not being playable, and then DIES like a glorified extra. Also his past interactions with Xingcai suddenly went poof as Xingcai now focuses on guarding Liu Shan.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: In the fifth installment of the Xtreme Legends expansion, in the mission Struggle for the Book, by 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.
  • 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. Zhang Jiao, loyal to Liu Bei after being shown mercy and hearing a Not So Different speech all the way back at his rebellion, showing up with his Yellow Turbans to completely blunt Wu's surprise attack? Not even Xu Shu saw that coming, and it was his rescue attempt.
  • Disney Death: Zhuge Liang's ending in the 6th game. After his last mission is complete, he collapses and Liu Bei holds him, begging him to stay alive to enjoy the peace they fought to obtain. However, Zhuge Liang closes his eyes and drops his weapon of choice, the strategist fan, going limp as Liu Bei assume he is dead. Then the save screen pops up and, after saving the game (Or not), the ending reveals he was now resting on a bed and was retired from military business, enjoying the peace they fought for.
  • Downer Ending / Bitter Sweet Ending: Jin's ending is this. Jin wins the war against Shu, and peace is restored... But Zhao dies one year later, then over a decade later Wu falls as well, and everyone who fought and died for Wei, Wu, and Shu died for nothing. It may verge into Tear Jerker territory when you learn that historically, it DID end this way. Yes, the Jin dynasty wasn't formed until after Sima Zhao's death, but they did win the war.
    • Historically, it got worse: the peace following the fall of Wu and the end of the Three Kingdoms didn't even last a decade, and the resultant chaos lasted for centuries.
    • Averted in 8. The What If? scenarios will make your chosen kingdom, not always the Jin, uniting China and restoring peace (with hopefully minimum casualties) and paving way to a hopefully better (if alternate) future compared to the history abovenote .
    • Similarly averted in NEXT, where every faction's ending is essentially equivalent to a "What-If" ending, and where the Jin ending comes with Sima Yi still alive to reign.
    • Even before 7, there were downer endings. Just from the starting characters alone in 5, Sun Shang Xiang kills her husband, and Zhang Fei continues to fight on, knowing that he witnessed Guan Yus death. There are plenty of others too.
  • Down the Drain: Fan Castle and Xia Pi, both battles which revolve around a "water attack" (flooding of the target castle-city).
    • Can be used as a stratagem in 7 Empires.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The very first entry in the series was a PS1 fighting game.
    • The empire series. The differences between 4 empires and 5 empires alone is staggering.
      • You didn't have a capital, but your rivals did. This made it stupidly easy to take entire empires down just by attacking their leader. (However, they did have the common sense to move their leaders farther into their territory if they were currently in one that bordered a different faction.)
      • It wasn't uncommon for your officers to present you with plans you just couldn't afford, especially early in the game. You could also only choose 1 plan, where in the other games, you could choose up to 5 if you were big enough. If you don't like any of the plans, too bad. You have to reject all of them and do nothing for the turn. Finally, you couldn't just decree a choice. If you wanted a specific plan, you would have to wait until one of your officers presented it, and as mentioned above, you couldn't always afford it.
      • While the amount of territory you had determined your officers, you only got 1 extra slot for a general and liutenant, going to a maximum of 10. Your rivals had 3 generals and liutenant slots for each territory they had, easily going over the max you're limited by with 4 territories. On the flip side, you kept your max general numbers (once you reach 10, you'll always be able to recruit ten, no matter how bad things get). Your enemy didn't.
      • There is only one historical mode, the yellow turban rebellion, but it went through the different events until you won (or lost) the game. Along with that, the AI would act like their real life counterparts did if they were allowed to (for example, Liu Bei would stay dormant until a little bit after he is taken in by Liu Biao, while Cao Cao would go on a conquering spree).
      • Officers would never turn down a bribe. This made it possible for the "Loyal" Zhao Yun to switch sides, for Sun Ces best friend to leave and join you, or for the three brothers to switch factions against their oath. It was probably very awkward.
      • There were no extra options aside from choosing a Historical or Fictional game.
      • Your officers could only level up through achieving personal goals (unless you paid for training via a plan). This ranged from reaching a certain number of points to their faction ruling several territories to governing a certain way to winning the game. It was completely possible to go through an entire game with a couple people still at level one, even if you used them at some point.
      • You can't tell your officers what to do during battles, making strategies requiring other officers harder to pull off.
      • Until Dynasty Warriors 6 Empires, you could only play as the lord of a faction. Officer interaction was kept to choosing their plans for the turn. Not that this stopped them from complaining for not choosing their plans or sending them to fight.
      • Your officers were also stupidly loyal until SamuraiWarriors 2 Empires (Unless they were captured, at which point they will probably leave you (guaranteed in 4).). Assuming they weren't captured, your officers would never rise in rebellion or switch sides. It was less annoying, but less...sensible at times.
      • In 4 Empires, bases were referred to as strongholds and you couldn't pick your favorite music to listen to.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The Hypothetical Endings in 8. If you just went down the usual historical route, you would go down the Bittersweet Ending or Downer Ending as noted above. But if you went out of your way to do extra things that would prevent loss of some key figures before a certain point, you're given a Hypothetical route where some bad things are averted (e.g: Guan Yu survives Fan Castle, Cao Cao didn't lose in Chi Bi, Sun Quan didn't lose in He Fei) and leading to a Happy Ending where your Kingdom unifies the land (and as of Jin, you just make sure that your dynasty would last longer than it does in history)
  • Elaborate Equals Effective: More powerful weapons will look progressively more ornate.
  • Elite Mooks: In DW2-5, the Guard Captains who served as bodyguards to famous officers were this. Most the time, you had more trouble dealing with them than the boss of the stage.
    • In 7:Empires, Elite Units who are summoned by the Orderly types are as capable as the officers in your party. It's not uncommon to see them zerg rush the enemy's main camp and win the stage in no less than 5 minutes.
    • In 8, introduce Unit Commanders and Mobile Unit Captains.
  • Escort Mission: There's usually some kind in every game, although "Guan Yu's Escape" was the most literal, being right out of the novel to boot.
  • Eye Scream: Xiahou Dun and the arrow that went into his eye. Ouch.
  • 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: Dynasty Warriors 7 had this for every kingdom... with the added twist that each is canon. Every faction's ending simply ended at a high point in their personal history.
  • Fake Difficulty: A very annoying one due to designing oversight. On most missions there will be closed gates/rockslides/impassable terrains blocking routes you have to pass through, and you'll have to trigger specific event to make them passable. Problem is, even when the player have met the required conditions, those obstacles won't be cleared until the "Gate opened/bridge lowered etc." message shows up on screen, and chances are they won't show up straight away becasue of in-game dialogues taking up their place. This could lead to numerous hinderances ranging from failing to rescue an ally in-time, or expiring the time-limit on acquiring a Secret Weapon, all just because the game won't let you through until your/other characters have stopped their babbling.
    • Finally fixed in 8. Most gates have no opening/closing notification and will do so immediately upon the conditions being met, even if there's currently a message queue. On the occasion where a gate does have dialog or other events attached to it, it will still wait for the right dramatic moment, but the clock stops once the conditions are met.
    • Another one is caused by the notorious "Phasing solider" bug found in DW7. To clarify, because there's now an insane amount of Mooks appearing in each battle, they've became too much for the engine to handle at once, so it can only render a limited number of soldiers at a time, while the rest getting stuck in hyperspace and ready to jump out of the thin air as soon as there's a gap. The result is more often than not that the player cuts down one swarm of Mooks with a Musou attack, only for another swarm to appear right where their comrades fell to strike the player with veagence, dealing huge damage, if not outright killing him.
    • This one was fixed in 8, which tones down the crowds of mooks so it only spawns enough to trigger the bug in a few specific spots in a handful of battles, and newly phased soldiers wait a few seconds before they're allowed to attack - at least long enough for the player to carve some breathing room.
    • Unfortunately, while this might have solved the phasing-mook glitch, it also generated a new glitch: phasing officers.
  • Fanservice: Every female character is attractive, most of whom have VERY revealing outfits.
  • 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 Romance Subtext: Dynasty Warriors is notorious for the legions of shippers who happily pair mortal enemies with each other, but the writers sometimes drop in some in-universe Ship Tease as well:
    • Wang Yi is repeatedly and explicitly compared to Ma Chao's Stalker with a Crush, and she herself often refers to her desire to horribly murder him for killing her family in romantic terms. In fact, it's even suggested sometimes that she gets a bit of a sexual thrill from the idea. In 8, she explicitly states that her feelings are akin to love.
    • Zhong Hui's envy and hatred for his fellow officer, Deng Ai, is cast in quite a different light by DW8 by other officers' comments on the subject and by the occasional Stupid Sexy Flanders moment he gets when contemplating his rival.
  • Foe-Tossing Charge: The entire game is one big Foe Tossing Charge.
    • Use a character with the Special Ability True Speed, activate it, rush and keep mashing the Swift Attack. It's hilarious!
    • Horses. Need I say more?
    • Pang De's alternate Musou the Xiliang Charge in 7 XL makes this completely literal - it causes him to mount up and summon a cavalry-squadron to his side, before charging through anything and everything in his path for several seconds - finishing with a broad sweep of his weapon that tosses his foes aside. You don't get more Foe-Tossing Charge-y than that.
  • For Want of a Nail: DW8 will allow players to, by fulfilling certain objectives, to change events where things play out differently (EX: Guo Jia appearing in Chibi, Xu Shu returning to Shu, Zhang Jiao and Lu Su appearing at Fan Castle).
    • It goes further than that. Because of some of the events, it change history altogether, leading to a what if ending where said kingdom manage to unify the land.
  • 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...
  • Gameplay Ally Immortality: Subverted. While most allied NPCs have finite health and can be killed by enemies, starting from 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.
  • Genius Bruiser: All of the playable strategists fit into this. But most of all, Zhuge Liang.
  • Genre Shift: The original Dynasty Warriors was an arcade-style fighting game, though some of the gameplay mechanics have survived.
  • Golden Ending: Wu's hypothetical ending in DW8: Sun Quan restores the Emperor to power, but keeps all three kingdoms alive as dukedoms with their respective leaders in charge. The only leader(in fact, the only character period) to not survive is Cao Cao, who is Driven to Suicide by not being able to realize his ambition. All other hypothetical endings have casualties on the other sides(especially Wei, who basically annihilates the other kingdoms), while Wu's is the one that resolves things most peacefully and happily for everyone.
  • 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.
  • Guide Dang It: Yeah, good luck getting every (read: almost any) fourth 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.
    • 8 has the mercy of spelling out all its Hypothetical Event Flags once you get an ending for that kingdom, but executing them is something else, and some of the wording is a bit dicky. For instance, "Lead Lu Su to the Castle" taken literally, will make the mission unnecessarily hard and make the trigger impossible anyway. You have to play out someone else's objectives and clear the castle's outer ward before he gets there himself: "lead" as in the context of racing him.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Notable, considering the amount of adult content in the source material.
  • Grapple Move: 4 introduced grab moves, but unfortunately they only work on mooks because enemy officers could easily telegraphs before your attempt. It was later removed in the next installment. It was brought back in 6 and later expanded on in 7 though, and unlike the previous mechanics note . It was expanded to other Charge strings, the new EX Attack mechanic and even Musou.
  • 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.
    • In 8, fulfulling Shu's Hypothetical conditions will make Zhang Jiao to turn up in the Battle of Fan Castle with his Yellow Turbans follwers as a timely reinforcement.
  • 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.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: In-Universe. Lianshi's statement in XL that no one would 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 AU: Koei actually did an entire line of college/high school AU outfit DLC for each kingdom.
  • Historical Badass Upgrade: Most of the cast. Granted, some of those ancient warriors were actually pretty badass on their own....
  • 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.
  • If We Get Through This: In 7, a cinematic cutscene shows Xu Zhu suggesting to Dian Wei that when it's all over they can plow rice field together.
    • In 8 when playing the Shu stage Battle of Chencang, Zhang Bao suggest to become sworn brothers with Guan Xing after the battle.
  • 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.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: Soldiers in 8 often make one if you talk to them in camp.
  • In Name Only: Jin in DW7 is basically Wei ruled by the Sima family.
    • It's officially Wei throughout the events of the game, which is a major plot point as much of the "Jin" story involves in-fighting within Wei between the pro/anti-Sima factions. It's also in line with historical events.
  • Insane Forgiveness: Check down in "This Is Unforgivable"
  • Insane Troll Logic: In this one mission for Cao Forces, Cao Cao wants to kill Liu Bei before he escapes with the refugees. By escaping, this means that he would successfully retreat and Cao Forces would be defeated. But when you defeat him? HE SIMPLY RETREATS! Your making him retreat equals to victory, him retreating on his own equals to defeat. Where's the logic in that?!
  • It Amused Me: Part of the stated reason why Meng Huo decided to fight against Zhuge Liang's forces is that he was simply bored.
  • It's Pronounced Tro-PAY : Before DW7 (DW6 for the Cao family), most of the names were pronounced as they were spelled. (Sun Kwan instead of Sun Chwen, Kee-ow instead of Chi-ow, etc). 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.
    • Easily subverted in the Empires games, where your generals can get competent at taking down the entire enemy army if you command them well and give them good equipment. With a good weapon and decent command, your generals can do everything to the point you can sit back in the main camp while they do all the dirty work. Hope you've got time though, as AI-controlled officers will follow a set path and they're not the fastest slayers out there.
    • Made eaiser from 6 Empires onwards by allowing the player to give his officers orders. If commanded well and the morale is on your side, your officers can knock over enemy bases like dominoes. 7 even gives you a trophy for winning a battle purely relying on your allies.
    • Also subverted in 4. While almost all levels can be won by defeating the commander, you can also win in most levels by helping the rest of your allies and all of them rush him, causing him to run. However, and the game subtly points this out, Lu Bu will not retreat, no matter how badly it looks for him.
    • 6 averts this greatly by making allied NPCs having stats on-par with the enemies. While this can get annoying at times since it's now easier for them to steal your kills or get themselves killed on-screen, most of the times it makes things a lot easier to have them around drawing enemy attentions away from you, giving you much needed breathing space when surrounded by a horde. You still have to deal the killing blow to the enemy commander yourself though.
    • It's hilarious when three generals have problem dealing with one that isn't even an important character, and then they BEG FOR HELP. And when you get there? The Generals barely lost any health and the enemy is almost dead, usually being killed as soon as you are around.
    Random general: The enemy is very strong! We are being forced back!
    Random general: The situation is dire!
    Random general: Argh! They are even stronger than I thought!
  • Jack of All Stats - No matter the game, the series poster boy Zhao Yun will always have the most balanced stats and a moveset with a perfect balance of speed, power and range. And he always has a trick up his sleeves that allows him to be one of the best characters in the hands of an advanced player.
    • There is also Xiahou Dun from Wei and Zhou Yu from Wu. Xiahou Dun sacrifices a bit of speed for more strength, whilst Zhou Yu prefers speed over strength.
  • Ki Attacks - The less physically-inclined characters (most obviously Zhuge Liang and Sima Yi) tend to rely on these.
  • Kill It with Fire - A number of battles hinge on fire attacks, which drain health rather quickly if you don't pay attention - one of the most noted ones is the Battle of Chi Bi.
    • Quickly becomes Jiang Wei's calling card in the Jin story... well, that and FAILURE.
    • Ever used the Special Ability "Flame"? Instantly initiates a fire attack if used in a base.
    • In some cases, the fire attack drops the health of the opposing unit within the burning area by a certain percentage, working more like a "decreased maximum health" than a health drain.
    • Oh, ever used weapons with Flame Orb/Element? They constantly causes damage on enemies set ablaze. Some Musou attacks and Charge attacks evoke the Flame Element.
    • In DW7E, the Orderly stragegem Base Fires and Evil strategem Explosions deal heavy damage to enemy units inside a base or camp, and the Wise strategem Inferno will have the same effect on whatever part of the battlefield it's set up for.
  • Large Ham - Well, it IS a World of Ham, as mentioned below, but even there, some stand out from the crowd - and qualify as Large Hams even when compared to a world positively AWASH in high-grade pork. Personally, I'd nominate Zhang Jiao as the largest of all the Large Hams. His every pronunciation resonates with religious fervor and aggrandized proclamations of heavenly favor.
    Zhang Jiao: IT IS A MIRACLE OF THE HEAVENNNNS!
  • Leitmotif: Lu Bu's theme, Theme of Lu Bu, has gotten numerous remixes throughout the series, to the point it is the theme of each game except 7.
    • In 7, each of the 4 Kingdoms gets their own theme which gets played during the camp before each battle, entitled "Tales of *insert respective kingdom here*" and remixed into "Grief of ___" for sad scenes.
    • Victory, Slain and Defeat theme. Do they even change?!
  • Legacy Boss Battle: Orochi, Da Ji, and Kiyomori can optionally be fought in Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce after clearing certain objectives.
  • Lethal Joke Item: As of the downloadable content in Dynasty Warriors 7, many of the silly weapons have the highest attack power available to each weapon class, as well as a strong element attached to them.
  • 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: Compared to the source material, anyway. A lot of questionable things done by the characters in the source material are toned down or treated as if it never happens. For instance, while Zhuge Liang still distrusts Wei Yan and vice versa, Wei Yan is shown to be more loyal and Zhuge Liang wasn't completely antagonistic to him either. Cao Pi is toned down from an utter Jerkass who'd order his own wife to commit suicide because he found another favorite, into a Jerk with a Heart of Gold who does love Zhenji. Zhou Yu manages to keep his cool all the time instead of being driven to death with jealousy by Zhuge Liang. Liu Bei also didn't throw Liu Shan to the ground when he's a baby, and is shown to be capable of being proud on his son (and Liu Shan himself proves to be less of a pathetic Suck Sessor compared to the source material). And especially Sima Zhao, who didn't act like the tyrant he was in source material but shows to be a more compassionate, laid back dude. Some fans take these adjustments well, some don't.
    • Interestingly, some of these changes actually make the characters more true to their historical selves, as Romance of the Three Kingdoms went out of its way to flanderize everyone in order to make Shu look good. That's not to say that Dynasty Warriors is historically accurate; it's probably more like the games (in general) elevate everyone instead of just elevating Shu.
  • Limit Break: Musou attacks.
    • Desperation Attack: 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.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: In Dynasty Warriors 5 alone, the number of playable characters is 48.
    • Dynasty Warriors 7 tips the scales at 62, bringing back all but two of the characters cut in 6 (Pang De, due to "certain storyline constraints" and Zuo Ci, who was essentially a bonus character in 5), and adding the Jin "kingdom" (more specifically, Sima Yi's sons and their affiliated officers). Xtreme Legends then ups the scale a bit by bringing back Pang De and adding two brand new characters (Guo Jia and Wang Yi) into 65.
    • Dynasty Warriors 8 has 77 playable characters. Ambition mode reveals that the actual total of named characters is 790. This means there's a total of 723 generic NPC officers (outside Empires) running around in the whole game.
  • 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 (I'm 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.
  • 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: Even if Chinese people aren't as racially homogeneous as Westerners think, the character designs for some characters get a little...creative, to say the least. Dynasty Warriors 7 takes this to the limit, with some characters featuring unambiguously Western facial features, blue, green or grey eyes, as well as light brown, red and even blonde hair. Glaring examples include: Ma Dai (who looks like a cross between Gael García Bernal and Jake Gyllenhaal), Zhurong (green eyes and snow white hair), Xiaoqiao (blue-green eyes and honey blonde hair), Sun Shangxiang (green eyes and auburn hair), Diaochan (blue eyes and burgundy hair), Yueying (grey eyes and red hair), Zhong Hui (blue eyes and light brown hair), Xiahou Ba (hazel eyes and dark blond hair) and possibly the most incongruent, Wang Yuanji (golden eyes and ash blonde hair).
    • The blatant disparity continues in 8, with Zhang Chunhua who sports blonde hair and an unambiguously Western facial design (she looks like a Victorian saloon gal), as well as Guo Jia, who's also blonde and looks like David Beckham circa 1998.
    • The source material, which the game is based on, already had a great deal of Mukokuseki. Sun Quan was said to have green eyes, purplish hair and/or a red beard. (Although ironically it's Sun Shang Xiang who gets green eyes in the game instead of him) Guan Yu had red skin. Zhang Fei a black face. Cao Zhang, a son of Cao Cao, was said to have blond facial hair. The Nanman were described as exotic looking. So the novel was pretty creative in its own right.
  • Multiple Endings: Each ending in the game will depend on the character you've chosen and his family/group affiliation. Each family or group will have their own ending cutscene and credits sequence.
    • Notably in 7, the ending cutscenes are broadly canonical (even if the original Three Kingdoms' treatment of shared events is rather different), while Jin's ending cutscene is actually the overall ending.
    • In online, instead of an "ending", you see more of a "finality" once an era ends. You unlock it by being a high enough rank once the era ends and it will be of you and the commander you serve under. It appears to be that each cutscene for your general is the same. You get shown, and can pull up at any time after that, a scene between the general and your Mute Hero, at least for the cutscene, doing something related. Each cutscene is designed to show a scene that could be taken as either "we won, and now we no longer have to fight" or "we lost, but the war is over, so we can rest now" view.
  • Multishot: Huang Zhong and Xiahou Yuan's bow and Lian Shi's crossbow deserve special mention.
    • Xiahou Yuan zig-zags this in 8, in cutscenes and his carry over aerial Musou, the Arrowstorm plays this trope straight. However, his bow & rod shoots single arrows.
  • Name's the Same: A few examples. Zhang Jiao's brother and Zhang Fei's son are both named Zhang Bao, and up until 8 they were both generic officers to boot. And then there's Ding Feng (playable) and his brother, Ding Feng (generic). In one camp in 8, the two Ding Fengs can converse.
  • 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 from 184 to 234 (and 263 in 7); every single female character is either the love interest or relative of a male character.
    • We finally get an exception in 7, with the poet/songstress Cai Wenji, and another in XL with the vengeance-driven Wang Yi. Apparently Wei is a very progressive kingdom.
  • 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.
  • Not So Different: A person's family is killed by a general's army and thus joins a faction just for a chance to kill that general. Are we talking about Wang Yi or Ma Chao?
    • Liu Bei thinks so of Sun Quan after exacting his revenge on Guan Yu's death, which results in Wu merging with Shu as soon as Liu Bei captured Sun Quan and asked him his goal.
    • Lu Bu and Zhang Liao so much that, in Legend of Lu Bu, Zhang Liao ALWAYS sounds as excited of battles as Lu Bu himself.
      • Added to the fact that, in DW6, Zhang Liao uses Twin Halberds.
      • Also later, Zhang Liao also earns a Mass "Oh, Crap!" reaction from his enemies.
  • Oh Crap - "Lu Bu has entered the battlefield."
    • In the Battle of He Fei - "Zhang Liao has entered the battlefield."
    • In the online game, anytime a canon officer enters a scene, pray you don't meet him unless you are using a weapon that was designed just for killing such officers. Both Pang Tong and Lu Bu have most of the same bonuses; you can't make them flinch with normal attacks but only elemental attacks can flinch or stun them, they can kill you in one hit after full upgrading, in online you upgrade in battle according to your weapon rather than having regular stats, unless it's a tanking weapon, their health is UNGODLY, and have the same movement... rubberbanding as any other CPU player. Pang Tong and Lu Bu differ in that Pang Tong can be flinched with Musou attack but Lu Bu can only be moved by using the special attribute just meant for making people move. A select few also have the ability to resist even the Limit Break. As you can see, pretty hard to fight. However, they are still daft and get stuck by literal waist-height fence that need to be jumped over.
    • "[Enemy Officer] has used Lightning Speed / Raid / Immovable / Fire Arrows / Catapult Base / Pitfall / Defense base / Explosions / Poisonous Mist/ Peerless!" in DW7E.
  • Old Save Bonus: You get a few things when playing an Extreme Legends or Empires title if you have a save for the corresponding game in the main line.
    • Also, if you play 3 with saved data from 2 on your memory card, the game will give you a larger starting roster of playable characters in Musou mode than if you played 3 normally.
    • The PS3 version of 8XL allows the entire save file of vanilla 8 to be brought over, including officer development and game progress. Inserting the 8 disk for a moment also unlocks all the vanilla content to be played via the 8XL disk.
  • One-Man Army: Most of the time figuratively, but occasionally literally, as well.
    • Lu Bu, Zhang Liao, and Guan Yu deserve special mention. Their mere presence on the battlefield tends to cause panic amongst the enemy and they often require entire stratagems just to deal with them.
  • Pimped Out Cape: 7 Xtreme Legends gives this everybody, after you get the top title in Legend mode.
  • Pocket Protector: Even if you kill Sun Jian's would-be assassin at Xiangyang in DW8, Jian will still get shot. However, he will get shot from the front, instead of from the back as he would be normally, and the arrow will hit the imperial seal, leaving him uninjured.
  • Powerup 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).
  • 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: Everyone but the named officers, and sometimes even them (the ones with generic character models, anyway).
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Liu Bei attacking Wu at Yi Ling after they kill Zhang Fei and Guan Yu.
    • Zhang Feis Musou mode ends this way in 5.
    • Defeating Diaochan will anger Lu Bu.
  • RPG Elements: As you complete missions, your character gains levels, and you gain permanent attribute bonuses from defeating enemy commanders. You also collect better weapons and gear.
    • 7 removed leveling, with enemy officers instead dropping attribute bonuses directly and skill points with which to pay for specific upgrades (i.e. a character's moveset, adding a second Musou attack, increasing the length of the Musou gauge).
  • 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...
    • Inverted as Anti-Frustration Features in 8. The enemies for a given battle in story mode have a fixed level. If any of the characters available for that mission are below that level, they get instantly boosted up. Since there's no longer any stat-boosting pickups and skills are shared across all officers, this serves to cut out what would otherwise be a painful amount of grinding, and lets you bring back an overleveled officer to make some of the Event Flags easier later on.
  • 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.
  • 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 lightings. 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.
      • Lu Bu actually appearing may also inadvertently invoke this to anybody who hasn't gotten their asses handed to them before. Especially if you miss the key detail that he doesn't flinch against your Limit Break like most other officers of the same power.
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: 6E and occasionally ultimate weapons require this.
    • This is actually a very popular thing among players series-wide, understandable given their dynamically set-up stages and wide array of choices in tackling them. Commonly seen ones include speed-runs, no-damage runs, no ally-defeat runs, no Musou run, beating a stage with an underpowered/underleveled character, or not using game elements which are considered overpowered (such as the Steel/Slay element, the Shadow Harness, etc.).
  • Sequence Breaking: One of most common tactic used in achieving this is to charge at the enemy commander as soon as possible, used often in speed-runs and character-grindings.
    • In DW6, enemy bases and some slopes can be bypassed by making your horse to leap, dismount in mid-air, and then use the airborne Charge Attack. If done correctly, the player would be landing inside the base/onto the top of the slope without having to make the extra effort to break down the gates/climb up the mountain, very useful and sometimes essential in reaching an objective in time.
  • Serial Escalation: Strikeforce has more or less broken the sound barrier of insanity. It makes the already Mundane Made Awesome moments of previous installments look like gritty minimalist realism.
    • Before the 7th installment, getting 1000 kills in a single map was fairly tough to do and required you to chase down straggling or retreating soldiers, leaving absolutely none alive. Come DW7, and getting 1000 kills on any map is a given; one of the trophies/achievements now requires you to rack up 3000.
  • Serrated Blade of Pain: Dong Zhuo combines this with Sinister Scimitar before using a huge mace and later bombs in later titles.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog / Heads I Win, Tails You Lose: In DW7XL, even if you do save him, Ma Su will be put to death anyway. Something that really affects Zhuge Liang, who is implied to be the one to execute him.
  • Shout-Out
    • Possibly. One of the Dynasty Warriors 7 "lances" is entitled the Heaven Piercer.
    • Additionally, whenever a character uses Great Swords, at least one of them look quite a bit like the Buster Sword.
    • Character designs are quite the Shout-Out to other medias. First there's the similarities between Zhang He and Vega/Claw, and at least in 7, Ding Feng is a 'smarter' Balrog/Boxer (he wielded gloves in 7, but had his weapon changed in 7 Empires). Then there's the similarities between Lianshi and Litchi Faye-Ling, then XL made Guo Jia wield a pool cue like Venom and even had something similar to his Dark Angel super for his Musou. And if you squint, you could see similar designs between Deng Ai and Jecht.
      • Huang Gai getting some wrestling moves is pretty normal. But come in 8, him getting a Spinning Lariat is probably one Shout-Out to Capcom's wrestler characters (in particular Zangief and Mike Haggar). Doesn't help that his design gets even closer to a white-haired Zangief.
    • The new additional costumes releasednote  seems to be shout outs to Western-based fairytales (IE. Knight!Xiahou Dun, Puss in Boots!Zhang Liao, Witch!Cai Wenji). 8 includes Shu characters with their own Super Sentai/Power Rangers costume set, including Red Ranger Zhao Yun, Green Ranger Guan Yu, Black Ranger Zhang Fei, Blue Ranger Ma Chao, Yellow Ranger Huang Zhong, Mentor-esque Liu Bei (think of the Zordon figure), Zhuge Liang as the Big Bad with Yueying as his Dragon (or Dark Chick), Wei Yan as the Monster of the Week... and Liu Shan as your average Mook.
    • Incidentally, the 8 DLC costume for Xiahou Dun makes him look like Big Boss. Han Dang's DLC costume also has an MGS-feel in it, which can also count as an ironic voice actor joke, since Han Dang's VA is Otacon's.
    • 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.
  • Sugar Apocalypse: Take the likes of characters like the Qiao sisters. Dainty schoolgirl-ish characters with bubbly and sweet personalities bragging cheerfully once they have massacred their way through 100/500/1000 men as if the figures were mere scores in a game with friends.
  • 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.
  • 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 "Spirit 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.
  • Tempting Fate: Cao Cao manages this twice in the Battle of Chibi by downplaying Zhuge Liang and Zhou Yu's ability, saying "they're not so smart, if they'd set up an ambush here I'd really be in danger". The first time is amusing, the second one borders on Cao Cao being blatantly genre-blind.
    • Right out of the source material, the last instance (before encountering Guan Yu) being the most egregious because even his officers had caught on.
    • Liu Biao does this in 8, saying "I am not worried about surprise attacks. Those sort of tricks don't work on me." literally right before Sun Jian orders a surprise attack, and being that you are the player on the first stage, will most assuredly work.
  • This Is Unforgivable: Played straight by Liu Bei at first after Guan Yu dies. He swears to kill every last of the Wu army with not a single pity, however, in the sixth game...
  • Timed Mission: Every battle.
  • Title Drop: In DW5:Empires, if you gain 1000 K.O.s, after the battle, you will get a cutscene where your ruler will declare you a true "Dynasty Warrior."
    • Prominent in the Japanese versions where characters will mention "sangoku musou" word-for-word, and some English versions have used the more direct translation "True Warrior of the Three Kingdoms."
  • Too Long; Didn't Dub: The combat vocals in 3 have no non-Japanese recording.
    • When you think about it, it was the first in the series to include voice-overs during ingame cutscenes and not just the cinematic ones.
    • DW7:Empires has no English dubbing, making it the second Warriors game exported overseas without localized vocals (the first being Warriors Orochi 3).
    • The English dub for 8 doesn't include audio for the narration between story mode battles or for most camp conversations.
  • True Companions: Dynasty Warriors 7: Empires lets your character become "sworn siblings" with up to two other characters, and has 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.
  • This Is a Drill: Deng Ai's Lance in 7 act more like giant drills than what you'd expect of a lance.
  • Unstoppable Rage: The Musou RAGE tokens in 5 allow you to temporarily claim this.
    • Get the Imperial seal, instant Musou Full for 10 seconds. Hold that Musou Button and forget what pain is.
      • Shame they are not dropped when you need the most.
    • 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. Shame you can lose your orb if you don't use it in battle.
    • In 8, you get a Musou rage gauge. Also a special Musou attack to go with it.
  • 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.
  • 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 Cheng Du, 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.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Gan Ning and Meng Huo
  • War Elephants: War elephants are generally used as mounts by the Nanman, and sometimes unlockable as a companion animal by the player character.
  • We Cannot Go On Without You: Defeating the enemy commander automatically ends most stages, while losing your commander will mean defeat for you. Overlaps with Decapitated Army.
    • In some stages where there is more than one force (and thus more than one commander), defeating an enemy commander will cause every officer of the corresponding force to retreat. To a lesser extend, defeating a commanding officer of a certain unit will cause his lieutant officers to just give up and flee.
  • We Have Reserves: The main enemy tactic does seem at times to be 'let's keep hurling men at the player until he gets exhausted from killing so many.'
  • Weaponized Ball: has Guo Jia, one of Cao Cao's strategists, who wields an "Orb and Scepter", though it's practically "Pool Ball and Cue Stick", and yes, that does mean he attacks with billiard ball moves and Hyper Destructive Bouncing Ball antics.
  • Weapon of Choice and almost all its subtropes, most notably Blade on a Stick and Sword Fight: Absolutely everyone.
    • 7 even acknowledges in its description of the single-edged broadsword ("Sword") how common the weapon is as well as the fact that it's the only weapon that almost every character can obtain a three star rating with it. This allows for characters who are naturally weaker early on to fight on even ground until they can either utilize their weaker EX Weapon fully or generally catch up in stats.
    • 8 takes this Up to Eleven, for all 77 characters have their own EX Weapon.
  • 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.
  • White and Grey Morality: With the exception of Dong Zhuo and to an extent Lu Bu, this trope is generally played straight, particularly in 7 where the four stories follow the same overall plot and timeline, though sometimes dipping into Grey and Grey Morality.
  • 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: Dynasty Warriors Xtreme, one of the special editions.
  • You ALL Look Familiar: The NPC minor generals. And they all sound familiar, too.
    • Mildly averted in 7, as the generic NPC generals' faces were created by some mix-and-matching of head features, giving some a more distinct look than others — for example, Huche'er is a freakin' ninja — which befits the game having quite a few more NPC generals as stage bosses, particularly in Jin's story mode (i.e. Gongsun Yuan, Wang Ling, and Cao Mao all leading opposition to the Sima clan).
    • This is absurdly funny in the online game, because Lieutenants NPCs suffers from this, having randomly generated combinations that can result in an apparently young guy talking like an old man, or an old man having a high pitched voice.
  • You Are Already Dead: True to any notification chain that involves someone getting routed. Due to how the notification system work, someone may have been routed as the notifications of captured base, approaching army, killstreak and many others still happens, as notifications are made based on order rather than priority. By the moment the officer's assistance and struggle notification pop up, they may be already dead. Bonus points if the one who ends routed is your lord and eventually you get defeated from this.
    Random general: Argh! They are even stronger than I thought!
    [Random general is struggling]
    [Random general is struggling]
    [Random general has been routed]
    • Due to Dynasty Warriors Advance being turn based, there's a chance that your forces will be defeated before you can backup your boss. in Cao Cao VS. Yuan Shao, pretty much any enemy can wipe Cao Cao himself in TWO TURNS. By the moment you see "Cao Cao is struggling", it might be too late.
      • Within the same scenario of the example above, until Liu Bei and Guan Yu reunite, ANY unit in Guan Yu's path is bound to fall in one turn.
    • Averted by Sun Jian in a hilarious bug in dynasty Warriors 4. In the Battle of Hefei, Cao Cao Forces, you can defeat Sun Jian before you get notified to kill him before he jumps over the broken Xiaoshi bridge. If you do so, he will be indicated by his blip in his minimap, but he cannot be seen physically nor in the Mission Stats (pause screen). Technically, the game treats him as already dead, but doesn't trigger his defeat, which allows him to still return to the battle later, as if he had succeeded into jumping over the bridge.
  • You Can't Fight Fate:
    • Depends on the game, map and scenario. Example: In Dynasty Warriors 6, in the Battle of Chi bi, you cannot fully prevent the fire attack if you are playing as Cao Forces, because Huang Gai and his ship won't even appear in the map until the cutscene of the Fire Attack takes place. So, defeating Zhuge Liang and Pang Tong will just lessen the damages a little and will instantly trigger the cutscene.
    • Fan Castle and Xia Pi feels like this when it comes to preventing the flooding. If one gate is open, it is too late! They will use the flood attack.
    • Can be subverted in 8, with the Hypothetical scenario.

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alternative title(s): Dynasty Warriors; Dynasty Warriors
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