Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty – Review

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is a game that may seem challenging at first, but the process of improving in it is truly enjoyable. Mastery is the key to success in games like Wo Long. To reach mastery, one must put in the effort, dedication, and be ready to face disappointments and frustrations. Not every souls-like game creates a desire to achieve mastery, but Wo Long certainly did it for me.

As a fan of Team Ninja’s previous titles, I was excited to see what they would do with a game that mixed elements from Nioh and Sekiro. And I have to say, they pulled it off quite well.

Of course, no game is perfect, and Wo Long has a few shortcomings, particularly in the loot department and the game’s performance on PC. But the core gameplay and combat mechanics are well-executed, making for an enjoyable experience overall.

In this video game “Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty” review, I’ll help you understand whether Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is a game you’ll enjoy immensely. Let’s dive into Wo Long’s world.

You can watch our YouTube video version of this review on our YouTube channel, by clicking the below link:

The Combat In Wo Long

One of the most important aspects of a souls-like game is its combat, and Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty delivers in spades.

The combat in Wo Long is fast-paced, action-packed, and filled with tension. It revolves around deflecting enemy attacks and applying pressure through your own aggression. Playing defensively and waiting to parry critical strikes is a feasible playstyle, but it hinders your enjoyment of the game.

Instead, the combat in Wo Long is designed to be played offensively, bombarding enemies with normal attacks to unleash heavy hitters and pausing combos to deflect incoming attacks.

What sets Wo Long’s combat apart is how fluid and smooth it feels. There are no interruptions to your character’s movements, and animations flow seamlessly from one to another. Deflections and fatal strikes are incredibly fulfilling and provide a high level of satisfaction.

The use of visual and sound effects in both mechanics provides satisfying feedback, and boss fights feel fresh thanks to unique critical animations. The camera angles also change dynamically, adding to the feeling of a dynamic and exciting combat experience.

The risk-reward factor of deflections adds an extra layer of complexity to the combat, with successful deflections building up your spirit, allowing you to cast martial skills and spells, and perform spirit attacks. Failing to deflect attacks and blocking instead can leave you staggered.

Overall, the combat in Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is on par with games like Sekiro, with Team Ninja nailing the melee animations and fast-paced martial arts fights. It’s a visceral experience that will keep you engaged and satisfied.

Weapons in Wo Long

It seems like the developers made a deliberate choice to prioritize the mastery of deflections over the complexity of weapons in Wo Long. While the game offers 13 weapon types, the movesets are simplified, which allows players to focus on deflections and applying pressure to enemies.

Learning weapons was the essence of mastery in Nioh 2. In Wo Long, however, combat’s focus shifts to learning deflections. This is where the mastery of the game lies. And thus, developers made a conscious decision to simplify both the complexity of movesets and the number of available skills at our disposal.

The limited weapons’ movesets also provide mental space for players to master deflections, which is the core gameplay mechanic of Wo Long.

Overall, Wo Long lands somewhere in the middle with weaponry – between extremely limited Sekiro and complex Nioh 2. The game gives us options to choose various weapon types. Still, it limits the depths of our movesets to provide us with mental space for focusing on deflections.

The Loot

Looter games are always a treat for players who enjoy collecting and experimenting with different gear sets. As someone who has played many major looter games across different genres, it’s no surprise that Elden Ring and Nioh games are among my favorites in the Souls-like category due to their diverse and exciting loot.

When it comes to Team Ninja’s latest release, Wo Long, however, I can’t say that I’m as impressed with the loot system. While the reduced number of gear drops is a welcome change from Nioh’s end-game inventory management hell, Wo Long falls short in two key areas: gear variety and incentives to change gear.
For instance: compared to Nioh 2’s 29 different types of axes, Wo Long offers only 5 hammers, which limits the range of options available to players.

Moreover, the lack of item levels and the focus on rarity and upgrades means that the gear you find early on can be just as effective as what you discover later in the game. As a result, players may not feel the need to explore and experiment with different gear sets, which can make the loot system forgettable.

Even the Baihu armor, a 4-star armor set given as a bonus for pre-ordering the game before March 16, outperforms much of the gear you find throughout the game.

This lack of variety and incentive to explore the loot system can make the game’s maps exploration suffer.

As someone who enjoys tinkering with different gear sets, Wo Long’s loot system left me feeling unsatisfied. While the system may be suitable for players who prefer a more straightforward approach to the game, it does not provide enough variety and incentives to engage players who enjoy the complexity and experimentation of looter games.

Exploration & morale system

Team Ninja’s latest release, Wo Long, stands out for its unique approach to exploration. Unlike other Souls-like games where players tend to rush through maps with minimal encounters, Wo Long incentivizes players to explore maps thoroughly with its Fortitude and morale system.

Morale is a difficulty modifier for each map, with players starting at a rank of 0 and increasing it by unlocking bonfires and waypoints, as well as fighting enemies effectively without taking much damage. Low morale ranks result in taking more damage from enemies and dealing less damage, while spells also require a certain morale rank to cast.

Fortitude, on the other hand, is the base morale level to which players will drop upon death. Raising fortitude is as simple as unlocking bonfires and waypoints. This system encourages players to search for marking spots, as doing so makes the final bosses and enemies they encounter easier to defeat. The difference between fighting a map’s boss on a rank of 10 versus 20 is significant, as a critical hit on rank 10 could potentially result in a one-shot kill, while on rank 20 or higher, players can survive such hits.

And speaking about difficulty, let’s discuss just how hard Wo Long is.

Is Wo Long difficult?

The difficulty in Wo Long is one of its defining features. At first, the game can be incredibly challenging, with a steep learning curve. Initially, battles require players to be very careful and focus on deflecting. This approach can lead to battles lasting longer and giving enemies more opportunities to attack, resulting in mistimed deflects and death. However, this approach allows players to practice deflections and improve their skills.

As players progress through the game, they will learn to anticipate boss timings more intuitively. However, some bosses require a lot of work to time right, and their animations can be challenging to read. Overall, the game’s learning journey is in a perfect spot, with the beginning being tough, and the middle and end being “just” challenging. Players will feel rewarded for their improvement with a smoother and less frustrating experience as they progress through the game.

Wo Long is one of the most accessible Souls-like games, but this may depend on the player’s ability to click with the deflection timing mechanics. Players who do not click with deflections may have a different experience with the game. While the game can be challenging, it is not overly punishing, and players can overcome difficult encounters with patience and persistence. Overall, the difficulty in Wo Long strikes a balance that is both challenging and rewarding.

Game’s Performance

Unfortunately, 2023 has rather shitty releases on PC in terms of performance. And this is especially the case for KOEI TECMO publisher, who already had a big fiasco of a release with Wild Hearts. I expected Wo Long to perform well since the game is developed by Team Ninja, and both Nioh games ran very well on my system – having fairly stable 110-120 FPS on 1440p max settings.

I have Ryzen 5800X with RTX 3070 & 32 GB RAM. Wo Long runs much better than Wild Hearts did but that’s rather a low bar. The game’s performance is certainly worse than Nioh 2. Starting areas gave me 80-90FPS when prioritizing FPS on 1440p but consistently dropped to 50s during busy fights. I ended up locking FPS to just 60 on 1440p for a more consistent experience.

I encountered annoying stutters with the latest Nvidia drivers from the end of February. So, I had to roll back to the previous version, which fixed the stutters completely.

Wo Long also flickered a lot with textures. It was caused apparently by the Ambient Occlusion setting – I just had to turn this off.

Lastly, but most annoyingly, the gamepad detection was also an issue, which I had to resolve by installing the HidHide application – you can check my other video for more info on that.

Overall, the game is very playable, with a fairly stable 60 fps on my machine, but there were a lot of hiccups on the way.


You will enjoy Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty if you:

  • Wish Sekiro and Nioh had a child
    Wo Long combines Sekiro’s focus on deflections, with the aggression and flashiness of Nioh’s titles
  • Are a fan of Chinese martial arts movies
    Fans of Chinese martial arts movies may enjoy the video game Wo Long due to its similar dance-like rhythm to the combat featured in these movies. The game features various martial arts techniques and weapons that are reminiscent of those found in classic kung-fu films.
  • Don’t mind the steep learning curve at the beginning of the game
    The game is more challenging at the start than in later chapters of the story, at least for me

You will not like Wo Long if you:

  • Prefer methodical defensive playstyle in souls-like games
    You may be successful playing defensively but will have a subpar gaming experience since the game was designed to be played offensively.
  • Are heavily focusing on the loot
    The loot drops are there and quite frequent, but it’s not the focus of the game as much as I thought it would
  • Expect weapons to have skill ceiling as high as Nioh titles had
    Weapons mastery is not the focal point in Wo Long, so the movesets and customization of weapon skills have been limited.

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty
Review Summary:

In conclusion, Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is a thrilling action game that combines the best aspects of Sekiro and Nioh, with a unique focus on Chinese martial arts. The game’s combat system is fluid and satisfying, with an emphasis on fast-paced, offensive gameplay that rewards skilled players. The game’s setting is also a standout feature, with stunning environments and beautifully rendered character models that bring the world of ancient China to life.

While the game does have some technical issues that detract from the overall experience, including performance hiccups and gamepad detection issues, these are ultimately minor complaints that don’t overshadow the game’s strengths.

Overall, if you’re a fan of fast-paced action games with an emphasis on skill and aggression, or if you’re a fan of Chinese martial arts movies, Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is a must-play. While it may not be as approachable as some other games in the genre, the learning curve is ultimately worth it for the thrilling, rewarding gameplay that awaits.

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