In Dynasty Warriors 7
, there are two main areas for you to play, Story Mode and Conquest Mode. While this might not sound like there's much to do, I'm about 30 hours in and I've only completed half of Story Mode and maybe 1/5th of Conquest Mode making Dynasty Warriors
the longest hack 'n slash that I have ever played. I love that there is so much to do; even of some of the areas are the same layout. Given that this is a historical game, it makes sense that the places are the same when different battles are fought there. The only thing that really feels repeated is the very beginning of the stories when you're fighting the Yellow Turban Rebellion. It is more or less the same for all parties, but that's a real small part of the game. I do wish there was still a Free Mode as well, but I guess that Conquest Mode somewhat replaces the need. I liked being able to play Free Mode though, because I could use any character for any scenario.
Let's start with Story Mode since that's where you'll spend a lot of time unlocking characters. The biggest difference is that it now feels like much more of a story, with once scenario flowing directly into the next. Before you start most battles, you'll start off in a camp where you can wander around and talk to people (there is an achievement for triggering all conversations). You can also buy weapons when there is a weapons dealer. These things make Dynasty Warriors 7 feel more like an RPG than just a hack 'n slash. Granted, you're not going to change the game with any of the conversations, but it's still interesting information. I really like that there is even more story for the characters in this game. It makes it feel more like the real people that they were in history. You will notice that there are now four kingdoms, Wei, Wu, Shu, and now Jin. The new addition of the Jin Dynasty historically appears at the fall of the Three Kingdoms ushering in a new Era, just in case you were wondering (like I was) how they magically added a kingdom to history. I have to wonder if the new Dynasty Warriors game will pick up there and give us even more new history lessons. One thing that I miss is that it doesn't tell you when you've unlocked a character to play as, when you're in Story Mode. I liked knowing that as I went along, but you can assume that if you played with them in a story, they're unlocked for Conquest Mode.
Conquest Mode looks like a really large Settlers of Catan board with hexagon tiles stretched out across the screen. You start in the upper right corner and you'll have to complete a tile to unlock the ones near it. Most of the tiles are battles, some of which have to be played as a specific character. Some of them are cities though. In these you can buy various things, talk to more people, earn money answering history questions, and more. The Conquest Mode battles are relatively short compared to Story Mode, so you can explore quickly but there is a whole lot to get through! One thing to note, you can only play two players in Conquest Mode. If the second player decides to leave, you need to choose 2 Player Exit from the Menu. Otherwise, even when you go back to Story Mode, you'll have to keep that second controller active or you'll keep getting a message to turn it back on, which is very annoying! You can unlock some players, like Xing Cai in Conquest Mode.
A huge change from the previous games is the weapon system. Previous weapons were tied to players, so when you wanted a better weapon for a player, you had to play with that character. Now, there are shared weapons between all the characters, so when you find or buy a weapon (new ones, as well) any character can equip it. You can still add special traits called Seals to the weapons. As is normal, some characters are going to have a greater affinity for certain weapons, so make sure to equip weapons with the highest stars (one is lowest, three is highest) since your character will be able to use those best. One other thing you'll notice is that some characters only have two stars, with a third greyed out on the weapon that they can EX attack with. Don't worry though; you can unlock that third star in the character skills. Skill points are accumulated as you attack and kill enemies. You can use these skill points to unlock character skills like stronger attack and additional musou.