Musou Mode (無双モード), or Story Mode (ストーリーモード) for the latest titles, is the main narrative mode in the Dynasty Warriors series. Several stages are strung together for a particular character, additionally developing personalities and revealing character relationships.
Each title tends to roughly follow the Romance of the Three Kingdoms's plot over historical events. This is due to the development team's preference to focus on presenting this IP as an "original historical-fantasy" to contrast Koei's other Three Kingdoms franchise. Though historical events and other fictional sources have been included into the games' narrative over the years, the producer insists their primary goal is to remain "as far away from reality as possible" to this day. He believes that fans would prefer to fight as graceful super human fighters rather than poorly imitate the gloomy grit found in real war.
The specific traits of this mode has changed between each entry in the series.
In Dynasty Warriors 2, all members of the same kingdom have the same five stages. Background history regarding the battle is optionally set aside for the player in the pre-battle menu. Finishing the mode with different characters unlocked more for use. This trait became the common method for unlocking the leaders for each kingdom, the Other characters, and Zhuge Liang.
Dynasty Warriors 3 adds two more stages and customizes the events for each character (ten for Liu Bei, Cao Cao and Sun Jian). In its Xtreme Legends expansion, the Other characters receive a Musou Mode for the first time. Their modes serve as "what if?" scenarios and largely deviate from history.
Musou Modes were adjusted for whole kingdoms rather than characters in Dynasty Warriors 4. More stages appear though they are overall smaller than previous titles. Battles were separated by chapters and each struggle is introduced with an exposition of scrolling text. Depending on the player's actions, certain characters can appear in battles they would otherwise not appear. For example, if Dian Wei survives Wan Castle, he can appear at Chi Bi. The Other characters were divided into their own forces for Yellow Turbans, Dong Zhuo's Forces, Lu Bu's Forces, Yuan Shao's Forces, and the Nanman. Secret stages can also be unlocked if the players meet certain conditions.
Dynasty Warriors 5 returns to the Dynasty Warriors 3 method. It removes the chapter setup from the previous title and gives five stages for most characters, eight for the founders of the kingdoms and Zuo Ci, and four for the Other characters. Characters have more personal interaction than previous titles, as they narrate their thoughts and impressions to the player. Briefings consists of the army's commander personally explaining their intentions to the player and ordering them to move out. Several in-game cutscenes found in Musou Mode also adds more drama and interactions within the cast. The concluding battle for select characters, such as Zhou Yu and Pang De, follows their last historical battle in history.
In Dynasty Warriors 6, only seventeen characters have Musou modes and each character participates in six stages. Plot-based briefings are read by a narrator and ten rendered movies occur for each character between battles. The story-telling format is similar to the style seen in the Samurai Warriors series. Though still somewhat faithful to Romance of the Three Kingdoms, each character's story deviates from the novel and borrows more elements from history.
Musou Mode is renamed "Story Mode" in Dynasty Warriors 7, and returns to the "Kingdoms format" from the fourth title. Players may choose between four factions: the Three Kingdoms and the new Jin Dynasty; the Other forces will not participate in this mode with their own stories. Players cannot choose what characters to use in Story Mode, and at times can go from using one character to another in the same level (for example, switching from Zhao Yun to Zhang Fei in the Battle of Chang Ban, or from Guo Huai to Deng Ai in the second Shu invasion).
Dynasty Warriors 8 provides more freedom in Story Mode by allowing players to choose between a selection of characters for each stage like in Dynasty Warriors 5: Xtreme Legends. The ability to save characters from their historic deaths has been brought back. If certain conditions have been fulfilled, players can unlock a kingdom's alternate story route.
- Dynasty Warriors 3/Musou Mode
- Dynasty Warriors 4/Musou Mode
- Dynasty Warriors 5/Musou Mode
- Dynasty Warriors 6/Musou Mode
- Dynasty Warriors 7/Jin Story Mode
- Dynasty Warriors 7/Shu Story Mode
- Dynasty Warriors 7/Wei Story Mode
- Dynasty Warriors 7/Wu Story Mode
- Dynasty Warriors 8/Story Mode