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Astrobot and Dynasty Warriors: The Welcome Return of Fun

While the State of Play was an underwhelming start to the Summer games news blowout, there was at least one major bright spot. Astrobot and Dynasty Warriors mark another welcome return to mainstream fun.

That’s not something to take for granted. The actual prioritisation of entertainment over production values or spectacle is something that rarely comes along. And while Dynasty Warriors was edging a little closer to edge than I’d have traditionally liked, that series represents the purest of video game fun.

Seriously, how often is a game announced at a major event and it just looks like a good time? Not interesting. Not epic. Just good fun? Alas, pure fun doesn’t sell in numbers needed to justify AAA development these days.

Astrobot especially is a welcome reveal. It being a terribly kept secret aside, it genuinely is a surprising announcement. The free pack-in Astrobot game is one of the best PS5 titles. it’s also one of those games that seems against the current direction of the brand: it’s not a live service game, nor is it a story driven action adventure. With Japan Studio gone, the provision of this kind of title was presumably a thing of the past.

And yet Astrobot is a welcome holdout. It embraces entertainment, fan service and cheesiness in a way not usually done, neither by the brand nor the industry at large. Whatever else it is, it will be a fantastic good time. I hope that people put their money down for it. It’s been a common request since the launch for the PlayStation 5.

But it’s Dynasty Warriors that was the biggest surprise for me. Not because I wasn’t expecting another Dynasty Warriors – it was inevitable, unlike Astrobot. But because it’s been a long wait and it looks… good?

Dynasty Warriors: A Return to Fun

Dynasty Warriors has been a Marmite franchise since the PlayStation 2 days. You either got it or you didn’t. I remember sitting in a classroom listening to two kids unfavourably compare them with God of War. The latter had sex, violence and a badass protagonist that you loved to hate (and secretly hated to love). Dynasty Warriors specifically told you NOT to fight Lu Bu.

And yet the gameplay loop was so pure. You were given simple goals and simple tools to achieve them. That’s not to say it was easy – Dynasty Warriors 3 starts out fairly difficult. But it was simple. Your main concern was blocking damage and health management. It was pushing forward in the right place.

As the series developed it got away from its roots. While Dynasty Warriors 8 is the most complete the franchise ever felt, it feels like a different game. Dynasty Warriors 9 is barely worth mentioning. That released in 2018, the longest the franchise has even been on ice.

If they can bring that back to the quality it once was, few other things in the video game world would make me happier.

And that’s the beauty of games like these. At their hearts, they’re about the pure enjoyment of the moment. And I for one can’t wait.


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blank Mat Growcott has been a long-time member of the gaming press. He's written two books and a web series, and doesn't have nearly enough time to play the games he writes about.

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Twitter: @matgrowcott