Are you curious about the new Team Ninja game “Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty“? I have a lot of interest in works that use the “Three Kingdoms” in China as a setting. This is why I was very keen to get my hands on the new game Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty. Based on the trailers and screenshots it looked just as if someone mixed Elden Ring with Chinese mythology but does it have any depth? I gave the title a test so you can have a better idea about whether or not you should get the title.
Some say it’s Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice in China, but there’s a bit more to it than that. Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty was developed by Team Ninja and published by Koei Tecmo. The game blends the traditional Chinese cultural elements of the Three Kingdoms with dark fantasy aspects, as seen in its beautiful art style. Players take on the role of a nameless hero without a shred of backstory, motivation, or narration. You walk through the areas, fighting off anybody you spot without even knowing who they are or why they are hostile to you.
Great visuals in Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty
You can create a character yourself, choose the gender, adjust various aspects about the hero, and later on change how you look, based on the weapons and armor that you can find throughout the game. The graphics are fine for a game appearing in 2023 but there is nothing remarkable to note beyond what you expect from a game like that. Truly pleasing and enjoyable but nothing beyond to note.
Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty feels heavily influenced by a souls-like game as far as progression and mechanics go, but does not add anything new that I found to be novel. While that’s acceptable as well, there are some things that I personally did not like very much. One point is that it’s disappointing to see all the potential of a Three Kingdoms game lost by skipping to design an open world. We all saw how well this could have worked in Elden Ring and there is just no excuse to go back to tiny maps with a bunch of enemies, and a gatekeeping boss at the end of a very linear path.
Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is very challenging very early on
The other aspect I did not enjoy was the difficulty and how a player is forced to play in a particular style and strategy in order to be successful. Parry is your only way forward. While I understand that many like a challenge in their souls-like games, I do too like to grind and farm and then eventually be better equipped for a boss. However, the decision to make the tutorial boss a two-phased nightmare, who is apparently amongst the hardest enemies in the whole game, is poorly done. This is certainly an early-game gate that would put off many gamers, especially such who are not familiar with the combat system or have no interest to follow a particular style to play in order to win.
This is however arguable and I’m sure that many fans of the studio are exactly getting what they are looking for in this title. In my books, it’s a lot of potential missed by squishing the gamers into small maps, without much to do, except for battling a hand full of mobs and then off to head to the next boss. It could have been a gem if they pursued an open way of gaming, letting people play how they like, instead of making parry the only choice for victory. It could have been the best Three Kingdoms game yet if it would have been just a little more like Elden Ring and a little less like a game from the ancient past of video game development.
Be careful about buying it
I managed to beat the tutorial boss eventually and progressed further into the game, but it’s just no fun grinding and there are just no ways how I can progress the game in a fun way. This is why I gave up on it, even though I still think it’s visually very appealing and has a great sense of atmosphere. If you’re a fan of the Nioh series, or if you’re looking for a classic Dark Souls in a Chinese setting, you might find Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty to be a great game, but if this is not you, I suggest you be careful with the purchase decision. The title is currently in the Xbox Game Pass, so if you’re a subscriber you can play and test it out without purchasing it first – so this is surely one way of giving it a try without the risk of a bad purchase as well.
In case you’d like to check into some video footage, you can as well have a look at the clip by Zack, below, from the Asmongold TV channel. He’s showing about five hours of early gameplay, but be aware that there are likely story spoilers within.
YouTube: Wo Long – Fallen Dynasty (gameplay by Asmongold TV)
Photo credit: All media shown is owned by Team Ninja as well as Koei Tecmo and was made available for press usage.