Is Liu Bei a benevolent ruler like he claims himself to be or is he an ambitious, naive warlord deluded by his ideals and self-importance or is he a cunning politician who uses the words "benevolence", "righteousness", "virtue", etc. to attract the masses and for his political advantage?
Is Zhuge Liang a brilliant, honorable strategist who wished to see justice brought back to the world or is he only in it for the fame and prestige?
Do the officers truly desire a land of benevolence and virtue or are they only interested in conquest and glory, hiding their real intent behind a veneer of righteousness? At its minimum, is Shu (more specifically, Liu Bei) really motivated by The Needs of the Many or are they glorified Knight Templars who believe anyone who goes against them is evil? Note the Shu Kingdom ending in Dynasty Warriors NEXT sees the faction killing all of its enemies, just as the Wei Kingdom does, including Liu Bei's wife Sun Shangxiang, while the Wu Kingdom ending has Sun Quan sparing his fellow warlords and convincing them they have a place in the new order. Not to mention that in hypothetical path for 8, Shu ends up destroying Wei (though still allied with Wu) while Wu's hypothetical path have them forming peaceful relation between all three factions.
In the source material, Liu Shan is dismissed as a moron, possibly outright retarded as a result of being dropped on his head as a baby (re: the "Battle at Changban"), but Dynasty Warriors reinterprets him as a Brilliant, but Lazy, highly enlightened leader who employs Obfuscating Stupidity to avoid letting things get "too complicated", and surrenders to the Jin faction not out of cowardice, but because of the realization this age of strife won't end until somebody takes the first step to ending the fighting.
Author's Saving Throw: In Dynasty Warriors 9, several players criticized Matt Fowler's performance as Zhuge Liang for being too emotional and rough in contrast to Lex Lang's calculating and soft-spoken performance which is akin to Masaya Onosaka's portrayal of the Sleeping Dragon. In the hypothetical DLC scenarios, Fowler's performance improved with his voice similarly closer to Lang's portrayal as it was intended.
Zhao Yun: no matter how many new characters Koei Tecmo can introduce into the series, it's clear he will always be the Series Mascot, constantly being on the cover of major installments and the primary focus of the intro CG movies; even Spin-OffDynasty Warriors: Godseekers makes him the protagonist of the game (aside from two Original Generation sharing the spotlight with him, other historical characters play second fiddle to Yun). In the developer's defense, they needed a character to represent what encompasses One-Man Army the most from a game-play perspective, thus relegated to Yun, citing the "Battle at Changban" from the novel as the motivating reason (even though it never occurred the way it did historically). While some are feeling tired of Zhao Yun being shoved in their faces perpetually by Koei, especially those who look past the source material and into his actual history, others enjoy the notion that for whatever feats he has pulled, inaccurate or not, it's still breathtaking.
Bao Sanniang: she's either loved for her Genki Girl traits and parading around in a Stripperiffic outfit, while killing thousands of Mooks, or she's hated for those reasons. Detractors claim she's pure Fanservice, which the developers tried too hard to get players onboard with her, while fans find her cute and refreshing. Seeing her akin to a Cat Girl for her "Musou Attacks" only gave the latter more reasons to love her, yet more reasons for the former to hate. All this is before mentioning Bao is the first playable character on the roster to not come from Romance of the Three Kingdoms or historical fact, making her inclusion a questionable addition.
Liu Shan, though given what he was in Real Life should come as no surprise: fans either love his Historical Hero Upgrade the developers have done or hate he isn't portrayed as the Sucksessor he historically wasnote There are just as many Real Life historians who believe Liu Shan was smart enough to have surrendered, but pretended to be a moron in order to not be killed by the Jin faction. The only thing these games did was change him into an Adaptational Badass (as all its characters are given) and he wasn't hiding his intelligence (provided one agrees with what historians argue about him).
Guan Ping was a lot more appreciated in prior installments, such as Dynasty Warriors 5, when he had a rapport with Xingcai. Once that was removed when Liu Shan became Promoted to Playable, Ping's stance didn't fare better, making some players believe he was thoroughly shafted, being only significant at the "Battle of Fan Castle" in order to die with Guan Yu. On the other hand, other fans welcomed how, since his siblings' introduction, the games have attempted to make him a Big Brother Mentor until his death, with a few noted appearances before the event at Fan Castle.Extra tidbits Additionally, pictures of deified Guan Yu in modern days are also often accompanied with two other people that aren't Liu Bei or Zhang Fei, but rather Guan Ping and Zhou Cang, considered his two guardians. Since Zhou Cang has become playable in 9, Guan Ping has more reasons to appear early to complete the latter Power Trio.
Guan Xing is either a decent addition to the roster or a wasted potential, as Koei Tecmo Downplayed a lot of his features from the novel, such as avenging Guan Yu by executing Mi Fang, reclaiming his father's guandao from Wu's Pan Zhang and Xing's sworn brotherhood with Zhang Bao, which was touched upon slightly since their debut in 8.
Subverted with Guan Suo: he isn't so much as base-breaking than he is The Scrappy (see below).
Before the modern installments, players were fine with Ma Chao's For Great Justice stance and immense utility due to the "Shadow Runner" mount. When 7 started to round out the Wei Kingdom's characterization, the fandom splintered - some say Chao's characteristics don't need to change, but others became appalled at how brutal he was historically and in the source novel, with the games Flanderizing him as a bringer of justice. This wasn't helped when Wang Yi was added to the roster, whose vengeance made Ma Chao's creed look extremely Hypocritical, yet Koei Tecmo doesn't have Chao acknowledge his deeds against Yi, treating it as an afterthought. Fans are less likely to run into discussions about Ma Chao that doesn't stray into debates on whether he should remain who he is or he's a douchebag.
Shu is often accused of being the Creator's Pet: while some argue this viewpoint is consistent with the novels, others are annoyed and believe what better light they got in the source material has been ramped Up to Eleven in the games (these camps are mostly historically-inclined fans who see the Shu officers as inefficient). There's even a base who's annoyed at how much of a downgrade its characters received during the rise of the Jin Kingdom, since the latter got plenty of sugar-coating (the historical Sima Zhao was crueler; Dynasty Warriors 8 foisted some of that onto Jia Chong).
Xiahou Ji's addition in Dynasty Warriors 9 turned controversial due to her touchy history with Zhang Fei, with her profile in Dynasty Warriors Blast omitting some of the murkier spots on her encounter with Fei, changing it into a Rescue Romance, which made some fans accuse Koei Tecmo of historical white-washing. Her addition as a unique Non-Player Character who will become playable via Downloadable Content isn't sitting well with players (to wit, Xiahou Ji retains her youthful appearance throughout 9, making her look younger than her children Zhang Bao and Xingcai and Zhang Fei just happens to be her type of preference in men - beardy, gruff and muscular); even her meeting with Fei is different, as she's the one who pursues him, fueling more white-washing accusations. However, some people have no problem with Xiahou Ji, citing her connections with the Xiahou and Zhang clans add a bridge for Xiahou Ba's defection to Shu, as seen in his ending for 9note Historically, Xiahou Ba is the uncle of Zhang Fei's daughters; when Ba defected to Shu, Liu Shan welcomed him with open arms due to his family relations with one of Fei's daughters, who is also Liu Shan's wife.
Of the Shu roster in post-Dynasty Warriors 8, Guan Yinping: just as popular for Eastern and Western players via dominating the Fanarts, despite less stages in Story Mode compared to Wang Yuanji. Regardless of the plentiful anti-Shu sentiments from the player base, both anti- and pro- sides agree Yinping was a great, tolerable addition to the rosternote Yinping wasn't an empress or someone of regal position like Yuanji or Sun Shangxiang (and while she is the daughter of one of the main relatives of the main founder of Shu, they tend to downplay their royalty status unless necessary), making her more of an Ascended Extra; furthermore, her unique move-set, cute physical features and character design, and being the least disliked of Guan Yu's children was what helped launch her popularity. Want more proof? In the Dynasty Warriors 8popularity polls, she ranked third for "characters players want as a sibling"note Far left tab and first for "characters players want as a girlfriend"note Far right tab. By the next popularity poll, she dethroned Wang Yuanji as the most popular female and she's the first female in Warriors Orochi 4 to be announced to have a Deification form.
Despite his minimal role in the story, Xu Shu ranked fourth in the latest Japanese polls and in the overseas' Shu character polls. This might have something to do with his move-set and weapon, wearing an Assassin's Creed-like outfit and, to some, his Adorkable personality.
Asides from Xu Shu, Fa Zheng is very popular among the Shu strategists due to his morally shady persona which added variety on Shu's good guy image. It helps that his Bishōnen appearance won many female fans.
Fanon: Back when he was still a generic NPC, Xu Shu is listed under Wei and the official historical records stated that he's a Wei officer. Though Koei Tecmo placed him as a Shu character because of his admiration to Liu Bei, most of his fans prefer him as a Wei character because his tenure under Liu Bei was very short (his individual story in 9 consist of only one chapter) and had a very meaningful role in Wei's hypothetical scenario of 8:XL. This coupled with their huge dislike on Zhuge Liang because he upstaged Xu Shu and the latter's What If? DLC which focuses more on him trying to get Zhuge Liang's attention.
Foe Yay: Liu Bei with Cao Cao in almost all installments; there's even a distinct "naivete vs. pragmatism" bent between them in Dynasty Warriors 7.
Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Guan Yu usually has middling scores in popularity polls from Japan amongst Shu characters, due to being The Big Guy and not a pretty boy. When Koei Tecmo America held a popularity poll per faction pre-9, Guan Yu ranked third behind the more obvious choices of Ma Chao and Zhao Yun, yet surpassed fan favorites Xu Shu and Yinping, who'd more likely win by a wide margin in the Japanese polls. Justified when non-Japanese audiences are aware of his deification into a god in Chinese Mythology, thus much of his reception relies on this fact.
Depending on the games, Zhao Yun will usually be this with Liu Bei, but Dynasty Warriors 6 didn't pass on the chance of giving him a friendship with Ma Chao.
Zhuge Liang with Jiang Wei; often mixed with Mentor Ship, though it's considerably one-sided for the latter. When Xiahou Ba made his debut in 7, the games played this up for Jiang Wei as much as possible.
Most Annoying Sound: Benevolence (which, thanks to the less than stellar pronunciations endemic to this series, sounds a lot more like "The Netherlands" to a lot of fans); beginning with 7, this word is spoken a lot throughout Shu's story mode that one can make up a drinking game out of the series for every time this word is used. This even served as an In-Universe example, considering Sima Yi ridiculed it in 7 and 8, and in Jin's hypothetical route finale, where him and his sons are fed up with Jiang Wei using that word to justify his actions, eventually calling him out for being an imbecile.
Fa Zheng's death in Dynasty Warriors 9 is very anti-climatic: after discussing with Liu Bei about the possibility of Wu killing Guan Yu, he closes his eyes and bows his head; Liu Bei attempts to wake him up, only to realize he's dead. Though the latter did mention beforehand that Fa Zheng was ill, Zheng suddenly becoming lifeless, while sitting in front of his lord, led many players to believe he simply fell asleep. Liu Bei's reaction to this is calling out his name in shock, sadly shaking his head.
Liu Shan's defeated yells for 9 in Japanese and English sounds so hilarious, it wouldn't be entirely plausible if it replaced the "Game Over" sounds from the Pacman franchise.
Zhou Cang already wears green even when he was in Yellow Turbans. Considering that he's some sort of Starter Villain since he's always the mini-boss in the first mission for Chapter 1, it can be a bit distracting.
Ships That Pass in the Night: Fa Zheng and Xu Shu seem to be a popular pairing particularly in Pixiv despite that these two never crossed paths because when Fa Zheng joins Liu Bei's side, Xu Shu is already in Wei.
The Scrappy: Guan Suo is disliked by the Eastern and Western fanbases mostly as a result of the latter's distaste of pretty boys, but also for his lack of character traits beyond admiration of his father Guan Yu. That Suo is also a questionable addition to the roster (like Bao Sanniang, the only significant character he interacts with, aside from Guan Yu), adds to his unpopularitynote Suo didn't exist historically, but he is mentioned in the novels, giving him more roster legitimacy than Bao. Note in the character polls for the Xtreme Legends expansions of 7 and 8, Suo ranked in the 60's.
They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: Modern installments can't seem to give Yueying a permanent weapon - her trademark dagger axe was swapped with a generic bow in Dynasty Warriors 6, a bladed tongnu for 6: Special, then the chang gun for 7. While she got it back briefly for 8, it's swapped out for the tongnu in 8: Empires, and currently sitting on a generic ji in Dynasty Warriors 9. Needless to say, fans are upset the developers can't stop zigzagging Yueying's Weapon of Choice.
Similar to Lu Lingqi never interacting with Diaochan during Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends, in the Wu and Shu's hypothetical stories for 8, where Liu Bei and Sun Shangxiang remain Happily Married, Liu Shan never had a chance to interact with his step-mother.
Despite that her storyline focuses on her perspective on certain Shu VS. Wei battles (e.g. Battle of Changban and Battle of Chibi) and her Conflicting Loyalty with Zhang Fei and Xiahou Yuan, many fans were disappointed that Xiahou Ji has less interaction with her children as her story stops with her reaction on Yuan's death at the Battle of Hanzhong. This would have been a good opportunity to expand Zhang Bao and Xingcai's characterization.
Zhuge Liang in Dynasty Warriors 3 has short-ranged attacks by proxy of using a feather fan, a slow-starting fourth charge attack (which is one of his only wave-clearing tools), his Frickin' Laser Beams is ineffective at juggling opponents, nor can he inflict as much damage overall in order to fill the Musou Gauge. There's a reason why he's ranked as the lowest on tier lists for stage completion time/officer-killing. Just about the only acceptable strategy with him is to stay at low Hit Points and spamming away his "True Musou Attack". However, compare this version of him to his counterpart in the fifth installment...
Ma Chao in the same game has an inaccurate Musou Attack, with an average spear-based moveset, including subpar defense against arrows (though not the flat out worst, as Guan Yu had the lowest in 3). Of course, this becomes the other way around in 4, thanks to his superb mounted combat and the Shadow Runner making him unable to be knocked away from the horse.
Guan Yu told the Wu forces that Liu Bei entrusted him Jing Province and his honor doesn't allow him to give it back to Wu. You'd Expect: Guan Yu re-evaluates his brother's orders and asks him the details of his deal with Wu regarding Jing Province. They did make a deal with Wu that Jing Province is just "borrowed" for the sake of their campaign against Wei. At the very least, he should be considerate why Wu is very insistent regarding their demand of Jing Province and why they really need it. After all, Liu Bei already gained Yi Province and Han Zhong as a base for their campaign against Wei in the northwestern. So it's kind of understandable if Wu wanted Jing Province because it's essential for their alliance against Wei. There's no reason why he couldn't ask Liu Bei whether they should keep Jing Province for no reason or honor their alliance with Wu and let them have it. Apparently, he just wouldn't bother to ask. Instead: Guan Yu takes Liu Bei's orders at face value with absolution and practically yells "No!" at Wu's face. He never once considers that his refusal means unnecessary war against Wu and when Wu actually attacks, he's actually surprised that they would betray Liu Bei. Even Worse: He then attacks Fan Castle, an important territory within Jing Province that's still occupied by Wei. Historically, there's no record that Liu Bei orders him to attack. Guan Yu simply thinks it's a good idea to attack because Liu Bei just recently gained victory and occupied Hanzhong so the morale of Shu forces is pretty high at this time. Not to mention that he also attacked Wu's supply depots to boost his own troops' supply. As a Result: He and his eldest son Guan Ping are killed by Wu. Then Zhang Fei is killed in the middle of his journey to attack Wu, then Battle of Yiling happened with massive casualty on Shu and Liu Bei died of despair. Shu lost Jing Province entirely to Wu, who had become vassal kingdom under the newly-founded Wei Dynasty, who gave Wu the large portion of Jing Province. Oh, and Shu never got back the Jing Province for the rest of their reign until their downfall by Wei many decades later. Granted, this is all what happened in history anyway, but you can't deny that things wouldn't have been so bad if they just talked it out. In fact, the hypothetical route in Shu's story in 8 is possible because not only Guan Yu survived thanks to Xu Shu, but also because Liu Bei listened to his strategists to find out what Wu really wanted by consulting with Lu Su (after they fought against each other first). Although originally, Lu Su died before Fan Castle, so Guan Yu still being hard-headed would've caused the more radical Lu Meng to immediately decide that he has gathered enough reasons to attack.
WTH, Casting Agency?: Many players found Jiang Weis English dub voice from 7 to 8 very irritating, though that depends on where one finds his yelling of "BENEVOLENCE!" very suitable for him or very hilarious to the point of Narm.
The Woobie: Liu Shan inherits the throne at a very young age after his father's untimely death. At that time, he has to rely on Zhuge Liang on getting things done. But it turns out that this is very detrimental on his growth as a leader because after Zhuge Liang died, he's on his own with no idea on how to proceed while his court is ran by those who are debating on how to achieve his father's dream. It's true that he wants to fulfill his father's dream but the lack of progress against Wei and growing internal struggle within his court which both affected his kingdom's resources stresses him to point that he becomes very cynical which he hides by being a Stepford Smiler. Likewise, he feels inadequate when being compared to his father due to high amount of expectations on him and because of his status as an emperor, he doesn't have much friends who can confide his worries except Xingcai while the rest of the officers only see him as a mere figurehead. As Wei under Sima Zhao invades his city, Liu Shan makes one difficult decision which is to surrender in order to save what's left of his kingdom. Except that his people condemn his choice and call him a failure. After being force to exile to Luoyang, Liu Shan understands that he has to bear the burden of being a failure to his father. All of that would make you want to hug this poor guy.