Sometimes, it’s good to go outside your comfort zone as a video game player. When I signed up to review Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty, my first impressions were that the game would be one hell of a handful.
I don’t typically go for the brutally hard titles myself — just a matter of personal preference. Yet something about Wo Long intrigued me. Maybe it was the venerated status of developer Team Ninja and publisher Koei Tecmo. Or perhaps it was a desire to challenge myself.
Whatever the case, the game has finally arrived to the delight of Team Ninja fans. After playing Wo Long for three hours and conquering the first two story missions, first impressions are certainly high.
Warriors, come out and play
Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty takes place during a turbulent time in China’s history. Rebelling soldiers, power-hungry leaders, and demonic forces are running amok. (Okay, that last part isn’t historically accurate, but it’s happening!)
The in-depth character creator lets you customize your nameless warrior with a litany of options. I went for a pirate look myself, complete with an eyepatch and stud earrings. Further customization comes from your Wizardry Spells, magical abilities in five classes that provide enhancements or supporting attacks. So far, my swordsmanship has been the biggest focus in combat, but with plenty of skills at your disposal, you always feel prepared.
That leads me to one of Wo Long’s best features: its accessibility. You might think of Dark Souls games as inaccessible because of their brutal difficulty, and to be certain, this game is pretty hard. But the controls are tight for the most part, and plenty of visual, controller/keyboard, and audio options can be fine-tuned to your liking.
You’ll need to appreciate a challenging game to get into Wo Long in the first place. Yet if you’re up for that, it will be a rewarding experience. There might not be a difficulty slider, but so far, I don’t think Wo Long really needs it. The combat feels pretty naturally balanced, not to mention encouraging. Which is great, because you’ll be fighting a lot.
Fight. Die. Repeat. Win.
I’m glad to say that Wo Long nails the combat, and our first impressions of the controls are a step up from the demo released last week. I thought the game was brutal back then, but perhaps I was just having an off day as I found it more comfortable playing the full game.
Perhaps Team Ninja noted common complaints about the parrying window and adjusted it, or perhaps fiddled with the speed of attacks. Whatever they did, the end result is a system that’s complex to learn but oh-so-fulfilling to master.
Part of the reason why is the Morale system, where you and every enemy have a certain level of hardiness in battle. You increase this level by killing enemies, but if you fall, it gets reduced and your vanquisher gets a boost. By exacting revenge, you gain that power back — an incredibly rewarding system that actively encourages going in for a tough fight.
So far, attacking enemies hasn’t felt like a chore. That’s not easy to do with action-adventure games like this, especially ones where you die frequently. If reports are correct, I’m only about an eighth of the way through the main campaign right now in terms of missions. That’s likely at least 20-25 hours of playtime left to go, and I’m pumped to keep cracking onward.
Our first impressions of Wo Long are incredibly high
Despite some minor issues that will hopefully be patched out, I’m still having a blast with this title. My first impressions of Wo Long shattered my expectations, especially after having played the demo. But I’ve got a long journey ahead of me, so it’ll be interesting to see if the game can keep up this pace for long.
Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty is developed by Team Ninja and published by Koei Tecmo. It is available now for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC via Steam. You can also play it via Xbox and PC Game Pass.
What are your impressions of Wo Long so far? Let us know!