Wo Long: Is Fallen Dynasty fun?
Hey, and we’re back with another episode of “Before You Buy”, that show we give you some straight up gameplay, and our first impressions of the latest games releasing.
It’s me, Jake Baldino, and here we’ve been playing a lot of Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty.
This is a Souls-like from KOEI TECMO, the folks behind Dynasty Warriors, and Team Ninja.
The legends behind like, Ninja Gaiden, and a bunch of stuff, more recently, the Nioh games.
And with this, they’ve made another Souls-like, and to be a bit reductive, this is kind of like the Sekiro inspired one.
Long story short, it’s not actually fair to compare it to Sekiro really, but like Sekiro is the perfect, beautiful, near flawless thing, where Wo Long is kind of like the messy cousin.
It’s inconsistent, it’s not like a beautiful refined work of art or anything, but it’s a lot of fun.
It takes fun parry mechanics, and adds in some RPG-ness, and some fairly complex systems, and you’ve got a decent game.
And just so you know, we’ve been playing a review code sent to us by KOEI TECMO and Xbox, and this footage is captured running on Xbox Series X.
We also put a few hours into the PlayStation 5 version, and we’ll talk about both in a bit.
So this game plops you into a kind of fantasy, later Han Dynasty era, China, with a bunch of warring factions, but also spirits, monsters, and dragons.
There’s a story set up, and it’s pretty loose, but you’re adventuring through, and meeting a bunch of characters along the way, in some surprisingly stylish, and cool choreographed cut scenes.
Characters often come and go, but some of them are kinda memorable, for they’re like so corny, it’s good voice acting.
Story just isn’t really what’s keeping you going here, but the presentation is decent, alright.
You create your own character before you jump in.
And shout out to the developers here, there’s a really flexible character creator, with a bunch of sliders for all different body parts, and features, and full color gradients, and you can make a total weirdo, and I love it.
Now you jump into the first kinda tutorial-ish opening area, and it’s trial by fire.
You know, it’s a fairly challenging game that relies on something called spirit, the give and take of trading blows and blocking them.
You wanna build onto an enemy to break theirs, and leave them vulnerable, while also making sure you don’t get attacked too much, or wait too long and lose yours.
So it’s a give-and-take style parry system, akin somewhat to Sekiro.
Spirit is tied to a lot though.
You’ll wanna store it up, and use it against your enemy for more damage.
The dodge button doubles as the kind of parry deflect button, and it is key to this game.
Successful parry builds your spirit.
So, time it just right and parry an attack, and then leave an opponent vulnerable to a special heavy attack, or a fatal strike that’s usually a one-hit blow against smaller enemies, or just a damage-heavy attack against bigger ones.
That one-hit blow also works for stealth.
I mean, there’s kind of stealth, it’s not great, it’s just kind of walk up behind enemies, and stab them.
I wish there was a bit more to it, especially ’cause you can run around on rooftops.
I wish there was a bit more nuance, it’s not great, but hey.
You can also burn your spirit on special attacks, such as moves called martial arts.
These are powerful, cool attacks that are weapon and loot-specific.
These are pretty satisfying, and there’s some good variation to them.
There’s a bit more I’ll get to, but first, I just wanna say here, the combat is good.
It’s very satisfying, and once it clicks, it’s just a ton of fun, and it’s the best aspect of the game.
The clash of swords and blows, the give and take, the push and pull is really satisfying.
Mastering an enemy where you can like have their attacks memorized, means you can satisfyingly deflect their first strike, and kill ’em in one hit with a quick, successful, cling, clang, pshhh, boom, dead, like it never gets old.
That perfect first strike, parry, and then kind of like back stab dark souls maneuver, is so satisfying here.
Enemies of all kinds, especially bosses, have these red attacks called critical blows, which can be pretty devastating to you, but if you deflect it just right it opens them up to a powerful counter attack, and goddamn, like I said before, it just, it feels good.
I mean like stop me if you’ve heard this before, but yeah.
Occasionally I did get screw up by some button press lags, or at least that seems like what it was, like where the animation didn’t finish, and also the actual dodge roll is kind of crappy.
Maybe it’s just me, maybe I just suck, but like as zippy as the game can be, it’s not always quite as responsive, but those are my only complaints really.
It’s mostly an absolute blast man, and I thought I was burnt out on Soul’s games, after a bunch of Eldon ring, but after an hour into this, I was like okay.
But the game takes this good satisfying core, and adds like a lot of systems on top.
The combat stuff I didn’t even finish getting through.
There’s the martial arts like I said, but also divine beasts, which are like temporary summons, of a special creature to either do a sort of attack, or you have the option of hitting a different button combo, to just have them come and bless you with a specific buff.
Then there’s also the wizardry spells, and I absolutely love the way spells work in this game.
I usually don’t rely on spells in these games, but something about it here just really works.
You’re not locked to any specific type.
There’s a ton of freedom.
You just need to have the right spirit, and morale parameters, and then there’s a good amount of spell variety too.
You map them to face buttons, you access by holding a trigger, and they’re just fun to execute, and actually useful.
Give yourself a defense buff, or a brief ability to absorb enemy’s health to your own upon striking them, or fireballs, lightning bolts, different elemental stuff, you name it.
I just liked finding them, leveling up, and unlocking them, trying them out with the different elements.
It’s just nice between that and the martial arts, with layers of different triggers that access different face button mappings, like you just feel like you have a lot of tools in battle, and it’s nice.
Oh, and then the weapon differences too.
So like I said, you have special abilities that are tied to different weapons, but also every weapon feels pretty different, and they have a lot of distinct and cool animations for them.
Different swords and swords styles, two swords, pole arms, staffs, heavy weapons, and just lots of stuff to mess around with, and build upon, as well as a blacksmith, and a full weapon upgrade system.
And there’s throwable and range weapons too.
It’s a lot, but it’s an impressive offering, and there’s a lot of loot, like the game just piles crap on you all the time.
If you played Nioh, you probably know, and as much as the crap is useful to break down, it’s still kind of tedious and annoying sometimes.
Like, hey loot is cool, but relax guys.
Now the general flow, it’s linear kind of mission level based, with selectable sub-missions a bit further in.
You progress through areas that get progressively harder, and eventually face off against the boss.
But there’s this morale system, it’s kind of like you’re in-level power level, I guess that’s how I would describe it.
You still have RPG stats and stuff to get to.
You have your own level, but this number also matters.
All enemies also have their own respective morale levels, and it matters more with the bigger mid-guys and bosses.
The higher your morale level is, the less damage you receive from enemies, and the more stuff you can do during a fight, like cast certain spells, that are locked behind morale requirements.
And morale points go up by killing enemies, landing special attacks, fatal strikes, and accessing certain things.
If your level is higher than an enemy’s, you’ll do more damage.
If you get hit by one of those glowing red attacks, or die, your morale level will drop.
It’s an interesting system, because it kind of incentivizes a little bit of grind, and just full level mastery.
It’s kind of like a dark souls style game spin on, like level point control, I guess is how I would say it.
Since you start off a little bit weaker, it’s tougher at the start, but kill your way around, and get deeper into a level, and kind of memorize a couple of things, and the easier it gets, and you can start farming, or getting ready for a battle ahead of you.
You’ll either think it’s a bit of a distraction, or something that’s kind of cool.
Ultimately I liked it, you’re gonna be working on this, as well as just traditionally leveling up, and putting resource points into one of a few different affinity pools.
Now you do this by bringing your souls back to a bonfire in the level, you know what I mean? It’s just easier to say it that way.
Managing morale and farming souls has a bit of a different flow here, and it’s good, but my issue is, that most of the levels are pretty boring or ugly, just not as compelling as I’d hope.
I’d wanna spend more time in them if they were a little more interesting, but I found a lot of it really generic.
There’s a good amount of elevation, and some good ways to get sneak attacks, and a couple of memorable bits here and there, but nothing I’m really gonna remember, and I’m not just talking looks, I’m talking layout wise too, simple, straightforward kind of forgettable stuff.
The bosses also are hit and miss.
A lot of them are actually fairly easy.
I was genuinely surprised, as someone who naturally sucks at these types of games, like this isn’t me flexing at all, but then at least there are some sprinkled throughout who are incredibly hard, I will say.
Also, the first boss, he’s a bit tricky.
It’s kind of like that first test type of thing.
I expect that one to make or break people.
It’s where you gotta kind of learn how the game feels.
Some bosses are really cool screen filling monsters, while others are more like generic boring pushover monsters.
The one-on-ones with individual powerful dudes though, are mostly very cool.
Oh, and sometimes you have, or you can call upon AI allies, that will help you out and draw the fire a little bit, just throughout the game, not just boss battles.
You can command them a little bit too, which is nice, and that helps because they are absolutely dumb.
They get a little better once you level them up past a threshold, and eventually you can get their armor, like they have their own little sub-progression.
But yeah, very nice and useful to have in a pinch, but not the sharpest tools in the shed by any means.
You can also play cooperatively, once you get past the intro too, and that’s pretty big.
I mean imagine Sekiro-ish with more RPG mechanics, and co-op gameplay? Yeah, like I keep saying, it’s a lot of fun.
Depending on your experience, and how much you might suck, expect this one to take you anywhere from 25 to almost 40-ish hours.
Visually I will say the game looks pretty dated.
It just feels old, colors and textures fall kind of flat.
There’s not too much to the lighting, and it’s all just kind of drab.
Even in the more colorful areas, and cooler armor pieces later on, a lot of it’s still just a bit stale.
And performance wise, we did have some significant performance issues on Series X, some noticeable slow down during bosses, but some of that seems to be fixed with a patch now, so just pointing that out.
On PlayStation five, we also did have some frame drops during cut scenes, and a few big moments, and on both consoles, a few times where the game froze.
I also had one hard crash on PS5 at one point.
It’s not an absolute mess, but worth noting some kinks need to be ironed out a little bit, and we haven’t seen the PC version either, so bear that in mind.
Still, it doesn’t get in the way of the fact that Wo long is a lot of fun.
The combat just clicked with me, and I had a blast going through it, and just kind of bad-assign my way around.
Like I said, it’s not insanely brutal the entire time, so I think maybe it’s a little bit more accessible, at least for the first few hours, maybe that helped me enjoy it more? Either way I like the combat, I like the depth of the systems, and a lot of that makes up for the whatever story, the forgettable characters, and boring presentation and levels.
I know, it seems like a lot, but I just got into the combat zone, and really, really had fun.
Now, if you played the demo they put out, I can kind of confirm that’s a decent representation.
Also shout out to them for putting out a demo.
I really want demos to return.
There was a time where we had a lot of demos for games.
I don’t know if any developers listen to this.
I mean like, I think some developers do, I’ve met some, but publishers, like the actual business corp-type people, I don’t think they listen to these videos, but if they are, hey business people put demos out, we like them.
Try before you buy is good.
Anyway, that’s a “Before You Buy”, you know how this goes by now, I give you some pros, some cons, and some personal opinion, and now I want to hear yours.
Let me know what you think of this game.
If you played the demo, you probably got something to say, so let me know how you feel.
Let’s talk about all this stuff in the comments, and I just wanted to say thanks for sticking with us.
We’ve been cranking out a lot of “Before You Buy” videos.
We’ve been very hard at work, playing a lot of games, and we appreciate you guys showing up.
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But that’s it.
Thank you very much for watching and we’ll see you guys next time.