Cao Cao (onyomi: Sō Sō) was the Chancellor of the Han Dynasty who laid the foundations for the future
kingdom of Wei. A clean-cut, tall, and crafty individual, Cao Cao excelled in war and politics. He was loved and feared for his perceptiveness and swift retaliations. Chen Shou commented that he was a leader who possessed a unique mindset and was a timeless hero. His legitimate successor is Cao Pi, born from his consort Bianshi. Xiahou Dun, Xiahou Yuan, Cao Ren, and Cao Hong are his well-known cousins.
Cao Cao is a leader who dedicates himself to his ambitions. A childhood friend of Yuan Shao, he joins him at the Yellow Turban Rebellion and in the Allied Forces. After Dong Zhuo's death, however, Cao Cao disagrees with Yuan Shao and they face one another at Guan Du. Cao Cao wins the conflict and gains Yuan Shao's territory soon after. A few titles also state his army capturing Guan Yu and having the general momentarily serve within his army during this time. Cao Cao often desires to have the brave general to serve him, but he respects Guan Yu's wishes to depart from Xu Chang.
As the largest force of power in the land, he then targets Liu Bei and chases him at Chang Ban. His naval fleet suffers defeat at Chi Bi, and Cao Cao's army is crippled from the loss. Even so, Cao Cao is able to rebound from the loss and orders Ma Teng's execution. His order sparks Ma Chao's rebellion and he gathers the regional lords around Quan Zhong to be his allies. In most titles, Cao Cao has the opportunity to speak to Han Sui, and the latter's defection at Tong Gate turns the tides against Ma Chao. With Tong Gate under his control, Cao Cao may participate in Wei's battles at He Fei or Mt. Ding Jun. In most titles, he lives to end either Shu orWu. In recent scenarios, he may pass away due to illness after the events of Fan Castle.
His Legend Mode in Dynasty Warriors 4: Xtreme Legends details his escape from Chi Bi. With the army already faltering from the Allied Force's fire attack, Cao Cao runs for his life to escape Shu's generals. Cutting his way past Liu Bei and Sun Quan's generals, he faces Guan Yu guarding the exit. Mentioning the kindness he previously treated the general, Guan Yu turns his back on his duty and repays the debt that he owes Cao Cao.
Described as a scholar during peace and a villain during chaos, Cao Cao is a talented leader in Dynasty Warriors 5. Knowing that a better land lies beyond the chaos, he joins the efforts to defeat the early insurgents of the age. Zuo Ci magically appears near Cao Cao and repeatedly asks the warlord his vision for the land. Cao Cao does not grant him an answer, yet he is offended when the elderly sage compares him to the rogues he stands against. After assisting Liu Bei's request to slay Lu Bu at Xia Pi, he sets his sights on the nearest enemy to him. Knowing that Yuan Shao only believes in his family pride and neglects the good console of his advisors, Cao Cao believes his former friend to be threat to the land. For these reasons, he slays Yuan Shao at Guan Du.
He then attacks Liu Bei, but his forces lose horribly at Chi Bi. Narrowly escaping with their lives, he rebuilds his forces and, to avenge his humiliation from Chi Bi, he claims victory at He Fei. Wu withdraws and Liu Bei passes away. In honor of the only man who he deemed to be the land's hero, Cao Cao decides to conquer Shu at Wu Zhang Plains. Zuo Ci, impressed with Cao Cao's longevity, remarks that he will slay him for the good of the land. Cao Cao prevails in the conflict and Sun Quan dies at He Fei Castle. Though the land's wars are at an end, Cao Cao continues to fight in order to fashion a land worthy of his image.
He has two Legend Modes in the Xtreme Legends expansion. One he shares with Xiahou Dun, Dian Wei, andXu Zhu. To further his ambitions, Cao Cao leads an expedition to rescue the emperor from remnants of Dong Zhuo's army. With the young highness escorted to safety, Cao Cao designates himself as the emperor's new protector. He shares his second Legend Mode with Xiahou Yuan, Cao Ren and Zhang He as they band together against the Five Bushel Sect. Cao Cao has two goals he wants met in this battle. On one hand, he thinks the sect's teachings are preposterous and doesn't want a sham religion to proclaim to help the people. He also wants Yang Ping Gate subjugated as it impedes their march against Liu Bei in Han Zhong.
Dynasty Warriors 6 has Cao Cao start as a member of the Allied Forces. Although he is interested to end Dong Zhuo, his primary goal in the battle is to judge the other regional lords. He is the only one present who sets his eyes on the future and designates himself the land's hero as a result. To secure his lands, Cao Cao puts aside his fond memories of Yuan Shao and claims victory at Guan Du. After winning victory against Liu Bei and Sun Quan at Chi Bi, the emperor congratulates his efforts and offers the throne to Cao Cao. The conqueror refuses, stating that he only wants to dedicate his efforts to creating the new future that he sees for the land. To do so, he is willing to sacrifice his body and soul for this vision. He then leads another march and claims Mt. Ding Jun from the newly appointed king of Han Zhong, Liu Bei. Although he knows that Liu Bei is weakened, he remains weary of the former's ability to gain the people's trust and leaves Han Zhong in charge of his son.
With his forces keeping an eye on Liu Bei, Cao Cao decides to deal with Wu to bring a quicker end to the land's strife. Cao Ren struggles at Shi Ting and Cao Cao decides to personally reinforce his relative. Wu eventually falls in the wars and all that remains is Liu Bei. Deeming his final foe a worthy opponent, he wins the battle, and the new land he envisions is created. He decides to leave the fate of the land to the people. Cao Pi presumably assumes position as the new emperor and his generals protect the land's peace. Left with no other ambitions, Cao Cao removes himself from the capital and declares that he now walks the path of the heavens.
In Dynasty Warriors 7, Cao Cao begins his usual role of suppressing the Yellow Turbans Rebellion with his cousins. He desires to create a new world in which one's effort, not status, nourishes the land. Ignoring Yuan Shao's demands to eliminate the Ten Eunuchs as the Han Dynasty falls into decay, Cao Cao suspects Dong Zhuo to be the greater threat and is invited to Luoyang Castle. Using the opportunity to observe the tyrant for himself, Cao Cao refuses to help Dong Zhuo and stages a dramatic escape. He then joins Yuan Shao's coalition to rout Dong Zhuo. The lop-sided balance of power ends with the warlords disputing and Cao Cao low on men. Therefore, he decides to subjugate the remnant Yellow Turbans in Yan Province for himself, gaining Dian Wei and Xu Zhu in his command after compelling them with his resolve. Tao Qian aims to eliminate him at Xu Province, but Cao Cao's forces are too strong to topple.
His influence in the center is undeniable, which is instrumental for his right to house the emperor at Xuchang. Choosing to first deal with Zhang Xiu, he invades the area surrounding Wan Castle. Due to Jia Xu's plot to feign a harmless surrender, Cao Cao and company are unknowingly trapped in an ambush at the castle. Cao Cao barely escapes the attack at the unfortunate cost of Dian Wei's life. Reuniting with his forces outside the castle, they lead a counteroffensive to drive Zhang Xiu into submission. Cao Cao personally corners Jia Xu and, though Xiahou Dun protests, decides to spare the man responsible for Dian Wei's death. While he compliments his new strategist's talents, he grimly warns Jia Xu to never double cross him. Soon after, Cao Cao and Liu Bei deal with Lu Bu at Xiapi.
After he orders Liu Bei to deal with Yuan Shu, Cao Cao learns the emperor had plotted an assassination for his life. He therefore confronts the emperor in person to learn the frightened man's intentions. Learning that the emperor is afraid of being killed by him, Cao Cao affirms his denial of the claim. A land without an emperor would cause the people to riot and render his ambitions meaningless. With the emperor left as his puppet to power, Cao Cao leads his army to conquer his former ally, Liu Bei, establishing Xu Province as his own. Uniting the north by defeating Yuan Shao, the common folk who fear Cao Cao follow Liu Bei's leadership. Demolishing Liu Bei's position in Jing Province, he orders that Liu Bei and the peasants be eliminated at Changban. He reasons that they have made their choice against his vision and are not worth of mercy.
He continues to pursue Liu Bei south and his navy suffers a deafening defeat at Chibi. Although heavily surrounded, Cao Cao escapes to safety. He inwardly feels unease by the losses he experienced and his uncertainties leak through at times, despite his will to suppress them for his ambition. After driving back Ma Chao's army, he seeks to take Hanzhong as his own and orders the majority of his army westward. Upon Xiahou Yuan's death, however, Cao Cao makes the hard choice of avoiding revenge and orders the withdraw from Mt. Dingjun. He does so in order to decimate Guan Yu's position in Jing Province, a man whose prowess stayed with Cao Cao as an impressive yet dangerous threat. With Guan Yu's death at Fan Castle, Cao Cao fortifies a strong future for Wei. Six months later, an ailing Cao Cao drops the pretense of living solely for his ambition. He speaks his honest thanks to Xiahou Dun, looks forward to reuniting with Dian Wei, and apologizes to Xiahou Yuan before he dies in bed.
Cao Cao's first Legendary Battle has him taking down Dong Zhuo before he can retreat to Xinyang. He fights through several officers blocking his path, including Lu Bu. In his second Legendary Battle, Cao Cao fights both Dong Zhuo and Yuan Shao to protect the emperor.
Dynasty Warriors Next has Cao Cao first appear as reinforcements near the end of the Yellow Turban Rebellion. His story begins in the second chapter as a part of the anti-Dong Zhuo coalition, seeking to gauge the threat of his future competition. After cutting down Dong Zhuo at Chang'an and assisting Yuan Shu's fall, he conquers the north and confronts Yuan Shao. He has Jia Xu soften the enemy assault before personally joining the front lines at Guandu. His general activities from the previous title are repeated up to Chibi.
His fate is decided by the scenario the player has chosen. Shu's final chapter has him mortally wounded by Liu Bei's army at Xuchang. Sun Quan spares him for his irreplaceable intelligence in Wu's scenario, and he swallows his pride to accept the offer. He and Liu Bei survive under Sun Quan's leadership. Lu Bu's chapter has him unite with the other warlords to eliminate Lu Bu and fail, perishing during his second attempt. Wei's scenario has him attack Shu after Guan Yu's death, Wu's retreat from Hefei, and Sima Yi's strategies to weaken Shu take effect. He claims Chengdu as his own and personally defeats Sun Quan in honor of those who died for his cause. Despite achieving his unification, he ponders a future beyond his conquests. His soliloquy expresses his belief for every person to use their talents to find their purpose in life.
In the eighth installment, Cao Cao is first seen after his failed attempt to assassinate Dong Zhuo. Despite this setback, he manages to escape from Lu Bu and Dong Zhuo's generals with help from his cousins, Xiahou Dun and Xiahou Yuan with a mysterious dancer's help. He soon joins Yuan Shao's coalition to claim victory over Dong Zhuo. Cao Cao quickly abandons the alliance in search of talented followers and opportunities for conquest, first pacifying the remnants of the Yellow Turbans. Within a few months time, he protects the emperor's carriage and his forces provide him shelter. Cao Cao becomes the emperor's protector through his act, well aware of his lord's disdain for him. His major conquests from the seventh title occur again for the historical narrative, except Cao Cao leads a secondary campaign to dispatch the remaining members of Yuan family and he personally captures Xu Shu at Xinye. Cao Cao passes away off screen shortly after Fan Castle.
The hypothetical route has Dian Wei survive Wancheng, Guo Jia recover from his illness, and Xu Shu join Cao Cao willingly to allow Cao Cao to foil the fire attack at Chibi. Shortly after his victory, he continues his march through Wu and obliterates the Sun Family. While Cao Cao was preoccupied by Sun Quan, Liu Bei conquers the western side of the country, and the two compete for supremacy. Their struggle ends at Baidi Castle. Cao Cao retires and lets his son lead in government affairs, leaving Xuchang with his cousins for other horizons.
In Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends, Cao Cao is one of the main antagonists in Lu Bu's story. The Hero of Chaos first appears at Hulao Gate to cut down Dong Zhuo personally after his strategist Chen Gong tests the might of Lu Bu for himself. He appears again later on at Puyang, surprised by the assault and is forced to retreat. After regrouping his men, Cao Cao follows Guo Jia's advice and attacks the undermanned garrison of Dingtao. In the historical route, he wins the previous conflict and regains control of Yan Province. When tensions flare between Lu Bu and Liu Bei, his sends Xiahou Dun along with his other top officers to Xiaopei to assist the latter. In a short amount of time, his men corner the "beast" at Xiapi. With a combination of fire and water attacks on the castle, he captures Lu Bu along with Chen Gong and Zhang Liao while deciding to ignoreLu Bu's daughter and lets her escape. Cao Cao decides to ask them theirs thoughts on strength to determine their fate and executes his former officer, hire Zhang Liao, and cuts down Lu Bu himself. Noting his wildness to the end he says farewell to "the beast of the chaos".
In the hypothetical route, he loses at Dingtao facing Liu Bei and Yuan Shao's intervention on behalf of Diaochan. Cao Cao is forced to abandon Yan Province altogether and attacks Liu Bei at Xu Province to restore his power base. After losing once more, he is forced to work together with the other warlords by sending reinforcements to his old friend at Guandu, and gather whats left of his army to defend Chang'an with Yuan Shao, Sun Ce, Liu Bei, and the remnants of Dong Zhuo's army. As Lu Bu and his men approach the north-east corner, the Hero of Chaos will try to stop him, only to fall in battle with the other defenders.
Cao Cao is playable in two of Wei's Xtreme Legend stages. In the first one, he works with Dian Wei and Guo Jia to rescue Xiahou Yuan's regiment as well as drive back Zhuge Liang from Hanzhong in "Mt. Dingjun Rescue Mission". In the second one, he appears with Xiahou Dun and Yu Jin defeat Guan Yu and his allies in "Pacification Of Jing Province". After the battle, the Shu and Wu get seriously weakened; allowing Cao Cao to end the chaos and celebrates with his men. Noticing Yu Jin by himself, he goes over to tell him that its okay to relax every now or then. Cao Cao praises the veteran for being at his side for so long.
During Wu's expanded storyline, Cao Cao will appear at Shouchun, fresh from his victory at Guandu being attacked by Sun Jian. During the battle, he will abandon his castle to charge at the allied main camp. He later appears at Runan opposing Yuan Shu's advance. At Lujiang, he is victorious at Chibi, and attempts to pursue the scattered Sun forces. He also appears to reinforce Liu Cong at Xiangyang.
In Shu's storyline, Cao Cao reprises his role at the altered Changban, and is present in his final confrontation with Liu Bei at the Wuzhang Plains.