Home > Gaming > The History of Dynasty Warriors series

The History of Dynasty Warriors series

For nearly 14 years, the Warriors series made by Koei has sprang many lengths from where it started on Playstation to now on the next generation consoles like Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, and over those years, its made many fans aswell as many haters but one thing is for certain, it’s not going to go away anytime soon, it’s here to stay and it’s made a big impact in the gaming world. Here is just a quick rough guideline to how it started and what became of the series as the years went on.

It all started off in 1997, Koei decided to invent a game based on the Three Kingdoms Era of China from the early A.D ages. I would expect that Koei never thought it would progress this far, in Japan, this game is called Sangoku Musou, everywhere else, it was called Dynasty Warriors.

The game itself, many fans won’t be familiar with as believe it or not, the very first Dynasty Warriors game wasn’t a hack and slash that everyone seems to know. This game was actually, a beat m up, the character roster in this game is no where near today’s standards in Dynasty Warriors but it doesn’t include some of the most important and well known such as Zhao Yun, Xiahou Dun, Cao Cao and Lu Bu.

The system was just a bog-standard beat m up, the controls was a little like Tekken along with a 3D environment so you could move around rather than just left and right. The game was quite difficult due to the control responses was a little slow to react but the fighting itself was fun and it also introduced the “Musou Attack” which could turn the tide in any battle.

Sure the graphics then compared to now is nothing but back then, it was pretty detailed regardless of it being blocky, and for a 3D game, pretty fast-paced. The main trouble for this game was that not many copies were released so even upon release back in 97, it was hard to find a copy of the game.


The next Dynasty Warriors game didn’t arrive then until the release of Playstation 2, Dynasty Warriors 2 or Shin Sangoku Musou, arrived in 2000 and this game started the hack n slash revolution. It added a original story, army factions, take on loads of enemies at once and able to bring bodyguards incase you find yourself in a bit of trouble.

The character roster in this game has doubled since the first and has english voice actors, it also began the age that instrumental rock music started becoming popular in gaming and movies. This music is one of Dynasty Warriors trademarks, the high energy instrumental rock music suited the theme of what Koei was trying to show.

The system was completely new, as it introduced the so called repetitive button bashing that gave Dynasty Warriors it’s love/hate relationship with gamers, it worked for many and some was just bored with it but that never stopped Koei trying to reach out to a new audience of gamers.

The game also introduced a character that made Dynasty Warriors 2 a serious challenge, that in history was named the mightiest warrior of the three kingdoms era and in DW2, you should never face this guy alone, he brought fear and concern to fans of the series, especially to new-comers, this man was Lu Bu. In DW2, he was the most difficult character to beat and since you encountered at the second stage, facing him with a early developed character is next to impossible, he constantly healed and powered up everytime he was knocked down and he could defeat anyone with minimum effort even at easy difficulty. The idea to defeating Lu Bu was keeping juggled in the air or making sure he never falls on the floor.


The following Dynasty Warriors 3 (Shin Sangoku Musou 2) appeared in 2002 and it also become available for Microsoft’s Xbox console, this became the start of the major console wars between Sony and Microsoft.

Dynasty Warriors 3 revamped it’s battle system and upgraded it with upgradable weapons, increased combos, bigger character roster and scenarios, a more fair bodyguard system and the hyper musou attack for when you are in a critical state.

The main addition to the game is the Nanman faction, this also introduced a new mount, the elephant since it’s what the nanman used to induce fear into enemy soldiers. The elite nanman soldiers also had special armour to make them resistant to arrows.

Speaking of arrows, this game made a serious upside to archers and crossbows, their attack power has drastically shot up, being hit by a group of archers and your health will have gone down by 1/4. Most people thought this was unfair while some thought that it made the game more interesting and difficult.

On the subject of difficult, the game made differences to Lu Bu, his moveset has been changed, quickened and his weapon lengthened, his overall toughness has been halved but he was still a tough nut to crack regardless.

This also started the expansions to the series as several months later, Koei introduced the Xtreme Legends side of the series, this allowed more expanded things such a more items, more weapons, more modes, you could also add DW3’s data to XL and give the game both main and expansion together.


In late 2003, Dynasty Warriors 4 (Shin Sangoku Musou 3) arrived for PS2 and Xbox, and Koei again made more changes to the system and even more characters to the roster.

One of the biggest additions to this Dynasty Warriors is the Create-A-Warrior option or as everyone calls it now, CAW mode, this allows you to invent your own characters and send them into the fields of Chinese warfare, it also has a side mode to create and name your bodyguards.

Another new addition to the game is a one-on-one duels during gameplay, this only happens when facing enemy officers, in a duel, health and stats have been altered and you have been given a time limit to defeat or survive against the enemy, if you won the duel, your side gets a morale boost and get a morale crush when the time limit runs out, if you lose in a duel, it’s game over so it’s all to play for.

In terms of Lu Bu, nothing major altered in his difficulty, he is a little easier to defeat since they have totally disabled auto recovery and power ups from this game onwards so it makes the game series alot easier for new-comers to the DW series but what is really annoying with Lu Bu is that in duel, he is just as difficult as he was in DW2, unfair strength and reach.

DW4 then had 2 expansions, first there was Xtreme Legends in which offered you a extra story mode and a special Xtreme mode in which you pick a character and you go through endless stages, in which you come across random scenarios, it’s a very fun mode to play, some would say that DW4XL was the best out of the 4th series and I couldn’t agree more really.

Next expansion was new to the series, the Empires game gave a new turn to the hack n slash experience by adding strategy to the fray, conquering tactical locations and forcing the commander out, trying to take control all of china, it is good fun and the CAW mode had been improved with a vast selection of moveset and items of clothing along with a increase of CAW slots.


In 2005, Koei released the 5th series, Dynasty Warriors 5 (Or Shin Sangoku Musou 4) arrived for PS2 and Xbox. The series returned with more improved graphics, music gets a little more hardcore, movesets been refurbished, even more characters added and some more additions.

This game now has a hint of Empires in it as in the story and free modes, there are strongholds to conquer aswell as the officers, the normal games now are trying to be a little more tactical, it’s a nice addition to the game although it wasn’t a big success.

There was a few one-off features in DW5, one was the character, Zuo Ci, a surprisingly great character, many said he was a match for Lu Bu’s unfairness, he is a sage who wondered the lands, he found Cao Cao to tell him of his fate in the three kingdoms era, although a fictional character, he played quite a large role in DW5 and the Warriors Orochi series later on.

Another new feature is the use of Musou Coins which activates Musou Rage, this allowed your character to possess superhuman strength and speed, your attacking speed is doubled and you gain a musou refill and when you use musou attack while in rage state, you use hyper musou attack regardless of health, this is a good tide turner when in a difficult situation

Again, there is a Xtreme Legends and Empires additions to the series, nothing really new about these ones other than in Empires where you have plans before battles to aid you in combat or in politics, apart from that, nothing really new that separates the other versions.


The next generation of Dynasty Warriors hits the world in 2008 with Dynasty Warriors 6 (Shin Sangoku Musou 5), it was released for Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 but later was released for PC.

Koei takes a completely new direction for this 6th series, first by removing the odd button mixing system and replacing it was a new “Renbu” system, this basically is even more senseless button bashing but with fewer mixing, you have a sort of combo gauge, the more successful your combos, the more powerful and longer the combos go but this new system had very mixed results, the Japanese utterly hated this new system while Americans thought it was a good turn-about, magazines and websites considered this to be the best in all the DW series but fans thought differently, although it had the best story telling of the series, it was a sort of Marmite effect on fans.

This time there was a character drop in the roster which surprised many, characters like Meng Huo, Da Qiao and Zhang Wei were taken out which upset a few fans but in the Empires version of DW6, Meng Huo returned to lead the Nanman into the new generation.

Sadly, there was only a Empires version of the game for this series, only the Japanese had a Xtreme Legends version but it was mainly called “Special” rather than XL, this gave new movesets to the likes of Cao Pi, Ling Tong and Ma Chao.

The Empires version of the game improved the empires system much more so than DW5’s version, you could now become a officer, ruler or a vagabond, you can free roam as a vagabond, performing mercenary jobs and travel all over the chinese’s states, working for others and then deciding to join a army or forge your own. It is alot more tactical than the other empires games, more plans to use and more ways to improve.

The CAW system in DW6 Empires has upgraded drastically, the number of slots in CAW mode is 100! Koei also released DLCs for DW6 Empires which involves more music to use and listen to and the use of more clothing items for your CAWs which includes a Keiji Maeda, Himiko and Sun WuKong outfits.


In the spring of next year, Koei is set to release Dynasty Warriors 7 (Shin Sangoku Musou 6), for next gen consoles Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 (Apparently Japan will get a PS3 only exclusive but that is just a rumour).

In this 7th series, Koei are set to break standards yet again by removing the Renbu system and replacing it with the good old button bashing from the original series. More characters are set to return along with new characters and a brand new faction to the fray.

The new series is set to have a new mode called Chronicle mode, in which acts like a free roaming session (Or if you have played DW: Online, it works like that), your characters gets to explore china before you take part in vital battles that will shape the story plot.

The new faction is called the Jin army, if you read your history, the Jin faction is Sima Yi’s army after when Wei was close to meeting it’s demise and the Cao family meets it’s end. Several characters of the Jin faction have already been announced such as Sima Shi and Sima Zhao.

From what I have been reading up, DW7 will allow weapon swapping in mid battle, which is similar to that of DW Strikeforce (Multi-Raid), and apparently, each weapon will effect differently to each character and gender but from what some of the people have been seeing in early pics of the game, some were disappointed to see that some of the character’s moves seem similar to other’s but this is just a work in progress so hopefully there will be some changes.


It’s been a long journey for the series but Koei have set a big standard and made a huge impact on the gaming world and I am sure that Dynasty Warriors is here to stay and even if you love it or hate it, there is no stopping the Warriors series from going on and on.

This is one of Koei’s signature gaming series and it’s a gaming series that they should be proud for. Thanks for Dynasty Warriors, it’s made a path for many clones and spin-offs, some become failures, some become surprising good sellers but all-on-all, nothing can make a bigger impact than Dynasty Warriors, master of the hack n slash generation!

  1. Jediknight Vampire
    November 21, 2010 at 20:45

    Nice job with this however you have forgot about dw6 for the ps2 and cab for xldw3. I enjoy reading this and looking forward to read more from you

    • November 21, 2010 at 20:52

      DW6 PS2 was actually the DW6 Special I mentioned earlier but didn’t specify, but apart from that I never saw a DW6 PS2 at all and I did say a “Rough” history, I wasn’t meant to get every bit of detail of it or I would be at this for many MANY hours!

  2. JESUS!
    November 22, 2010 at 03:00

    Great job.. ialso enjoyed reading this.. but Dw7 is there going to be online co op ? just a question

  3. Silver Fox 20
    November 24, 2010 at 13:13

    Do you know if there will be any new WU characters?Also i hope that each warrior have their own fighting styles.
    I am hoping that they are putting in the new weapons of DW6 and the Characters old weapons.
    For example:Zhou You Elder Sword and his Staff.That would great.

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