Answer Me This – Romance of the Three Kingdoms

Question: Can you force yourself to fall in love with a game?

In my last blog, I talked about how I was worried that I was losing my love for gaming. That amidst the huge changes in my life, my passion for my oldest hobby had waned. I wondered and worried about whether the unbridled joy I used to experience playing videogames was but a memory, never to be within my clutches again.

Since then, I’ve uprooted my life once again as I implement a change in the direction of my career. I moved back home, having three days off before undertaking my next month-long job in Edinburgh. For those three days, I slept, sorted out bank guff, slept, went clothes-shopping, slept, got my hair cut, slept, caught up with a few friends and slept. Did I mention I slept? I did a lot of sleeping. Being very tired does that to you.

Oh, and time travel. Lots of time travel.

Amidst these activities, I ordered Dynasty Warriors 8 online. Typically, it didn’t arrive until an hour before I had to leave for the capital. I placed it on the couch as a reminder to open it when I got back home and then set off for Edinburgh.

…In the first few minutes of play, I fell in love all over again.

After two weeks at my latest job, my pre-booked day off arrived. I packed an overnight bag and jumped on the rip-off locomotive transport known as Scotrail (seriously, £12.50 for a single journey lasting 45 minutes is a joke).  When I arrived back home, the first thing I did was sit down and play Dynasty Warriors 8.

And in the first few minutes of play, I fell in love all over again.

Those of you who are fans of the series will know that innovation is not exactly its strong point. Each new instalment may add a few new features here and there, but it’s never anything particularly groundbreaking: each new version will just be hacking-and-slashing hundreds of enemies over and over again, albeit it with an expanded story and improved graphics.

Dynasty Warrors Women of Shu
Those lovely, lovely graphics.

But that’s what makes it so fantastic: you don’t have to worry about changes to the basic engine ruining proceedings; developers fundamentally altering the engine to the game’s detriment; poorly implemented change for the sake of change. What you get is the same action, only bigger and beefier than before.

I remember absolutely falling in love with Dynasty Warriors 2 when I played the demo that appeared on an Official PlayStation 2 Magazine demo disc (remember those?) Taking control of an all-powerful legendary warrior and wandering around an entire battlefield without being funnelled down a linear path was manumission from the linear gameplay of everything that had come before it. I immediately adored the demo and had to own the full game.

When I played the actual title, it was better than I could ever have imagined: more open-ended levels, an abundance of fighters and just oh, so much fun. It opened up an amazingly fascinating, intricate and delightfully obscure interest in feudal Chinese history and cemented itself as one of my favourite games of all time.

Mastermind Chair
It’s definitely a contender for one of my specialist subjects.

And then 3 was released and things got even better. More warriors, bigger levels, higher bodycounts, all with better graphics and production values.

And then came 4, then 5, 6, 7 and now 8. With each release, things got incrementally better: the graphics got flashier, the voice actors serve up bigger hocks of ham and the fighters’ moves become ridiculously awesome, but at its heart, Dynasty Warriors 8 is exactly the same game as the first open-world hack-n-slasher released 13 years ago.

But you know what? That’s why I love it. I know that no matter what number the series gets to, I know that, at its core, it will be the same game that I fell in love with over a decade ago. It’s like putting on a favourite jumper, cuddling a childhood teddy or watching an episode of your favourite programme: it’s one of few constants in the gaming world that will make you smile without fail every time.

Xu Zhu Happy
Not every game can make you this happy.

It’s the total opposite of Animal Crossing, where something is missing every time I visit my town in New Leaf. There’s nothing there drawing me back in, whereas, for the moment, I find myself playing mission after mission of DW8.

Yes, like all the others before it, this one will get samey and my enthusiasm for it won’t return until 9 (hopefully) comes out, but for that period after release where I’m addicted to the pure, unbridled joy the Dynasty Warriors series has to offer, I’m in videogame heaven.

Wei Yan
Pure bliss.


Conclusion: You can’t force yourself to fall in love with games you don’t adore. You just have to wait until the right ones come along.


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